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First Muslim University in U.S. Is Accredited

Zaytuna College has become the first accredited Muslim college in the United States, after the college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges granted its approval, The Los Angeles Times reported. Zaytuna is based in Berkeley, Calif.

Southern New Hampshire U. president takes temporary post at Education Department

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Education Department brings in Southern New Hampshire president, a prominent voice on competency-based education, to pursue its goals on innovation.

State-Level Completion Data

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center this week released state-level student completion data. The nonprofit center tracked 2.7 million students who first enrolled in college in the fall of 2008, following them for 6 years. The report builds on the center's previous research, which found more encouraging graduation rates than other studies had identified, in part because the Clearinghouse has huge data sets that can follow students across institutions and state lines.

Nationwide, the report found that one in three community college students earned a credential at an institution other than the one at which they first enrolled. And 13 percent of students who began at a four-year public completed at a different institution. In five states (Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia, Kansas and Texas), more than 20 percent of students who began at a community college completed at a four-year institution. The report includes state-by-state tables and other breakouts of the data.

Sojourner-Douglass College Loses Accreditation

Sojourner-Douglass College, a private institution in Baltimore that focuses on black students and black communities, has lost an appeal to hold on to its accreditation, The Baltimore Sun reported. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education upheld an earlier decision that the college lacked adequate financial resources to operate. The revocation of accreditation will now take place at the end of the academic year, allowing current students to finish the semester. Students must attend colleges that are accredited to receive student aid. State officials said that they would help students transfer to other institutions.

Charles W. Simmons, president of the college, sent an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed in which he vowed to fight the Middle States decision. He blames changes in Pell Grant eligibility for creating financial challenges at the college. "Sojourner-Douglass continues to emerge from this devastating, unpredicted and external, disruptive challenge, and is positioning itself to adjust its finance and business plans, its operations, curricula and programs to enable it to immediately get back on course, again thrive, and realize its vision and mission, while challenging the Middle States decision and continuing to meet the needs of its targeted student population and its service communities," said Simmons.

Report seeks to add specificity to debate over states' performance-based funding models

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Gates-funded report seeks to define and classify types of performance-based funding in 35 states, drawing tentative praise from researchers who have criticized the policies.

Gates Surveys Faculty Attitudes

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week released results from a survey it commissioned of faculty attitudes, with a particular focus on courseware that can "personalize" learning. FTI Consulting conducted the survey, receiving roughly 4,000 responses.

Daniel Greenstein, the foundation's director of postsecondary success, summarized the findings in a written statement. He said the survey found that a significant number of faculty members are "open to using courseware and other innovations to improve their students' success." The report also described specific obstacles faculty face in "evolving their practice," he said, and detailed what colleges can do to reduce or eliminate those obstacles.

“It’s vital to better understand the views of faculty and what supports they say they need to continue to advance student outcomes,” Greenstein said of the survey.

Defining 'Evidence of Learning'

An investment banking and consulting firm focused on education, Tyton Partners, is issuing a report today that attempts to create a framework for measuring "evidence of learning." The research, which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded, seeks to take a holistic approach to defining the "body of knowledge, skills and experience" people achieve in both formal and informal activities throughout their lifetime. Tyton, which until this month was Education Growth Advisors, also released a second report on the "supplier ecosystem" that surrounds related markets, such as accreditation services, portfolio platforms and assessment services.

Competency-Based Education Network Adds Members

The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) announced Monday that it has added 15 new college members. The Lumina-funded group now features 30 institutions and 4 public college systems, all of which either offer competency-based degrees or are creating them. The C-BEN was created for participants to share information on the emerging form of higher education. New members include several community colleges, a midsized for-profit chain and large universities, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Texas System.

Inequity on Rise in Higher Education

Rising costs and lower government aid have made it more difficult for lower-income students to earn a college degree, according to a new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania. The study tracked data over 45 years. It found that students and families paid for one-third of the cost of the higher-education system in 1980. But that proportion grew to a little more than half in 2012.

Progress on Transfer in California

California's community colleges and the California State University System continue to make "notable progress" in creating smoother transfer pathways for students, according to a new report from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO). The two systems have been working to comply with 2010 legislation that requires the creation of associate degrees for transfer, which are designed to help clear away some of the "maze of academic requirements that vary across campuses," the report said. The LAO recommends setting specific reporting and data requirements to make sure the public institutions stay on track.

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