Alternative Remedial Math in California

Alternate remedial math sequences that emphasize statistics and quantitative reasoning instead of college algebra have yielded promising results at community colleges, according to a new report from Policy Analysis for California Education and LearningWorks.

Most students entering two-year colleges are placed in remedial math courses, based on their scores on placement tests. Those math courses trip up large numbers of students and are unrelated to most students' career aspirations, the report found. Yet the addition of alternative remedial math courses has been difficult in California. The state's public universities have expected all students -- including transfers from community colleges -- to have completed two years of algebra.

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San Diego Community Colleges Boost Degree Production

Officials at the San Diego Community College District in California will see a significant increase in the number of degrees earned this semester. The district announced a 37 percent jump in associate degrees earned this year compared to last year. More than 3,300 degrees will be conferred compared to more than 2,400. The colleges are attributing the increase to the Earn More Than a Degree campaign, which seeks to double the number of students who earn a degree or certificate by 2022.

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Transfer Credits at UConn

New data from the University of Connecticut reveal transfer students from the Connecticut Community Colleges system lost on average 12 transferable college credits when they moved over to the flagship university.

The data are detailed in a report from Gateway Community College in New Haven and was based on reports UConn gave the state's Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee. It shows that 479 community college students transferred to the university last year with 54.17 credits per student, but only 42.57 credits per student were applied toward major or general education requirements.

John Mullane, the counselor who analyzed the data and published the report, said lost credits are harmful to students because they force students to pay more in tuition and extend their time to completion.

"This extra cost is harmful to both the student and the state of Connecticut," Mullane said in a news release. "Much of the problem would be solved if the University of Connecticut would join the State Colleges and Universities in the transfer articulation policy currently in development. Connecticut needs statewide transfer and articulation agreements that guarantee seamless transfer to all public four-year institutions."

Meanwhile UConn put out a news release that said the university describes transfer policies clearly on its website.

"We clearly specify on our website which courses transfer and which do not, and we have specific reasons for our decisions based on careful analysis of students' needs and the courses required for certain majors. We also ask all of our community colleges' academic counselors to help students interested in transferring to UConn by advising them early in their course selection to maximize the allowable transfer credit," said Stephanie Reitz, the university's spokeswoman, in the release.

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Coalition emerges to help promote free community college plan

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Coalition is forming to rally businesses, foundations and other groups behind a national free community college plan. And supporters say they realize the idea may not come to fruition this year.

College of DuPage President, Under Fire, Takes Leave

Robert Breuder, president of the College of DuPage, started a medical leave today, days before the college's board was expected to put him on administrative leave, The Chicago Tribune reported. Breuder has been the subject of intense scrutiny by many over accusations of inappropriate spending, and faculty leaders have been calling for his ouster.


Colleges begin to take notice of Common Core

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A growing number of states and colleges are beginning to use Common Core-based assessments to determine student placement and college readiness. 

Promising Results for New Approach to Remedial Math

Since 2012, community colleges in Texas have experimented with an alternative approach to remedial math that the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin has developed. Rather than focusing on algebra, the New Mathways Project emphasizes practical math skills and basic quantitative literacy and statistics.

The program is showing promising returns, according to a new study from MDRC, a nonprofit education research group. As of last fall, 20 community colleges in the state offer at least one of the alternative courses. And 30 percent of students in the program completed both their remedial and college-level math courses in the first year, according to the study.

Senate Democrats Push Debt-Free Public College

A group of three Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, this week introduced a resolution promoting debt-free public college. Several Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives put forward an accompanying proposal. The brief Senate resolution describes a plan to help states pay more for higher education, to increase financial aid to cover students' living expenses and to encourage innovation that would make college more affordable.

“A student at a public university today faces tuition prices that are more than 300 percent of what his or her parents faced just 30 years ago, and total outstanding student loan debt now stands at a staggering $1.3 trillion,” Warren said in a written statement. “Our country should be investing in higher education and working with colleges and universities to bring down tuition costs so that students don't have to take on crushing debt to get an education.”

The Washington Post reported that the push, which two liberal groups are supporting, is intended to encourage Hillary Clinton to make the plan part of her campaign proposals. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Demos released a policy paper this week that attempts to flesh out the plan. The groups are arranging events at 10 college campuses this week to promote it.


Survey shows participation in online courses growing

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Distance learning programs at community colleges continue to grow even as two-year institutions' enrollment falls.

Challenges remain for community colleges offering bachelor's degrees

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Community colleges find that winning authorization to confer bachelor's degrees is half the battle.


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