Report Finds Successful Online 2-Year College Courses in California

The Public Policy Institute of California released a report Tuesday identifying successful online courses in the state's community colleges.

Success was defined as having at least 70 percent of students earning a passing grade, and if student performance is at least as good as face-to-face versions of the same course. The study also defined success as when students in an online course continue to do well in subsequent same-subject classes either online or in a traditional setting.

The study found about 11 percent of online courses in 2013-14 were "highly successful" and they varied widely from one another. The courses were successful due to their design and the way they were delivered to students, although there wasn't a systematic pattern in online course success.

"This dispersion suggests that the factors determining online course success occurred neither at the college level, the subject level nor at the course level. Instead, success was determined in individual course sections. Design and delivery of online education in California's community colleges is idiosyncratic, depending primarily on the initiative of individual faculty members operating within the constraints and resources of their departments and colleges," the report said.

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Audit Criticizes College of DuPage Management

An internal audit released Tuesday by Illinois's College of DuPage found the community college invested far more in an investment pool than college policy allowed, and that this decision resulted in a loss of $2.2 million, The Chicago Tribune reported. College policies barred investing more than 5 percent of the college's money in local government funds, but DuPage officials placed 29 percent of its money in such a fund, without authorization to violate the college's policies. When that fund revealed that it had been defrauded, losing much of its investors' money, DuPage lost $2.2 million. Had the college followed its policies, it would have lost less than $400,000. Two finance officials from the university have been placed on administrative leave pending the final results of an ongoing investigation.

"These actions are utterly unacceptable," said the college's acting interim president, Joseph Collins, in a news release. "We are taking steps now to ensure this breach of trust with the taxpayer never happens again. We are addressing each of the auditor's recommendations…. In the meantime, we must continue to focus on doing our best work to serve our students and the region."

The audit is just one of a number of problems the college has been dealing with in the last year and a half. The Chicago Tribune reported that the audit was available to top administrators months ago, but was suppressed. The report resurfaced after a new Board of Trustees majority took over and President Robert Breuder was placed on leave.

SUNY Reaches K-12 on College Readiness

The State University of New York system will create and test a "universal diagnostic to assess and track college readiness among 10th- and 11th-grade students in diverse communities across the state," the system said this week. The pilot program will feature extra remedial support for underprepared students to help ensure they are ready for college when they graduate from high school. All participating students will have access to a forthcoming free online course from SUNY on college readiness. SUNY said it will soon begin accepting proposals for the universal diagnostic, which it hopes to have up and running by fall 2016.

California community colleges redesign listing of online courses to smooth pathways to four-year completion

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California community colleges redesign listings of online courses to create better pathways to four-year degrees.

Two-year transfers are finding not all of their credits go with them

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In many states, community colleges and four-year institutions renew efforts to promote seamless transfer.

Bill Gates on College Completion

Bill Gates is among a group of rich college dropouts people often cite when questioning the value of a college degree. He isn't buying that argument.

“Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success,” Gates wrote on Wednesday.

Gates published two blog entries encouraging more people to earn college credentials to help them get jobs. He cited data from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, which projects a shortage in the U.S. of 11 million skilled workers with college degrees over the next decade.

The blog entries included a video interview (below) with Cheryl Hyman, the chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. Hyman, who dropped out of high school, has led an aggressive campaign to increase the urban community college system's low graduation rate, which stood at 7 percent when she arrived in 2010. It has since doubled to 14 percent.

“Cheryl and I discussed the need for colleges to create a less confusing course selection process. Students often waste time and valuable credit hours taking classes that don’t help them progress toward graduation because they don’t understand the degree requirements,” Gates wrote. “New personalized online guidance tools provide students with clear, semester-by-semester maps to graduation and a career.”

Gates also touted City Colleges' increased focus on careers, its addition of student supports and its efforts to redesign remedial math.

Barriers for Black Students in California

Only 23 percent of working-age black adults in California hold bachelor's degrees, according to a new report from the Campaign for College Opportunity, compared to 42 percent of their white counterparts. And one-third of black adults in the state attended college but earned no degree. The report also found that black undergraduates are underrepresented at four-year public and private nonprofit universities in the state. They are overrepresented at California community colleges and for-profit institutions, however.

Rural Students Less Likely to Enroll and Persist

Rural high school students in Oregon were less likely to enroll and persist in college, according to a new study from REL Northwest, a regional research group that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The study tracked students in Oregon who began high school between 2005 and 2007. It found that 55 percent of rural students enrolled in college, compared to 63 percent of nonrural students. Likewise, 78 percent of rural students persisted into their second year of college, compared to 83 percent of their nonrural peers. Those gaps were apparent even when the study controlled for students' performance on state assessments, and they occurred at all types of colleges.

Minnesota Starts Pilot for Free Technical College

Minnesota's state budget for the next year includes a pilot of the idea of free technical college education, The Star Tribune reported. While the plan started as a proposal for free community college, an idea that the Obama administration has promoted, it was scaled back to a pilot. The state will waive tuition and fees for about 1,600 students in high-demand technical college fields over the next two years. The scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis for those enrolling in eligible programs.

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Student interest, or lack thereof, drives change in two-year college athletics

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Athletic programs at two-year colleges wax and wane depending on student interest and budget realities, but overall the number of programs appears to be holding steady.


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