Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 13, 2014

The Obama administration gathered several dozen community colleges, nonprofit organizations, and other groups focused on college readiness in Washington on Tuesday to discuss best practices in college remediation.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz, and other administration officials hosted the meeting in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The event, which was not open to the press, was a follow-up to the January White House summit on low-income students. Several colleges and organizations provided updates on the pledges they made at that summit to expand access to higher education. The goal of the meeting was to “discuss efforts to strengthen developmental education and explore effective strategies to improve success for students in need of developmental education,” a White House official said in an email. 

Administration officials also announced at the conference that they had secured more than a dozen new commitments from community colleges and other organizations that focus on remedial education, according to several attendees. 

James Sawyer, provost and senior vice president at Macomb Community College, said his institution was one of those making a new pledge. The college plans to make mandatory a college skills course for all students enrolled in developmental education. He said that such support had boosted students’ persistence rates by 23 percentage points in a smaller experiment at the college.

In addition, the event served as the formal launch of the recently-announced Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, which is funded by a nearly $10 million Education Department grant and will sponsor research of remedial education.

Karen A. Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College, who attended the meeting, said that she appreciated the administration’s focus on boosting the research and evidence base for remedial education. “The community college role in supporting under-resourced and underserved students was downplayed in the January summit and we weren’t as well-represented as some of the other sectors,” she said. “By hosting this today, the administration recognized specifically the value of the community college sector. This was a really great way to affirm the value of community colleges.”

Among the other institutions and organizations represented at the meeting were: Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University; Patrick Henry Community College; Lee College; Long Beach City College; Harper College; Achieving the Dream; Bunker Hill Community College; College of Ouachitas; Davidson County Community College; Eastern Gateway Community College; Edmonds Community College; Gaston College; Los Rios Community College District; Lower Columbia College; Passaic County Community College; Umpqua Community College; and West Hills Community College; MDRC; Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation; Borough of Manhattan Community College; and Khan Academy. 



August 13, 2014

Arts and sciences faculty members at Columbia University are increasingly complaining about inadequate resources, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among the concerns: facilities that need to be updated, sabbatical support that isn't complete, and insufficient staffing levels. Professors complain that professional schools at Columbia seem to be benefiting more from ongoing resource allocation. Administrators say that they are talking to faculty about the concerns.


August 13, 2014

Google Classroom, the search giant's lightweight learning management system, is now available to any institution that uses the company's Apps for Education. Classroom launched as a limited preview in May and adds a layer of course management on top of Google's productivity suite, which includes apps such as Gmail and Docs.

August 13, 2014

The American Bar Association's governing council has approved changes in the ABA rules for accrediting law schools, The National Law Journal reported. The changes will require that law school have students gain experience in clinics or other real world settings, and will shift an emphasis from the qualifications of entering students to measures of learning and placement rates. The ABA and law schools have been criticized for not doing enough in the past about law schools that enroll students who may have little chance at employment in jobs sufficient to repay their loans.


August 13, 2014

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles -- in print-on-demand format -- about strategies for recruiting, retaining and graduating nontraditional students. The articles involve a wide range of institutions, the use of technology and different curricular approaches.

This booklet is part of a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.

On Thursday, September 11 at 1 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman will conduct a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles. To register for the webinar, please click here.

August 13, 2014

As the Associated Press put it, new law school graduates "with mountains of debt were perhaps not the best crowd to tick off." In many states in July, those taking bar exams couldn't submit them due to technical problems at ExamSoft, the company that manages the process. Now, several of those people have filed suits and they are seeking class action status, the Associated Press reported. Their suits claim that ExamSoft should have identified (and fixed) the problems prior to the night that so many people were traumatized by being unable to submit their work. ExamSoft has apologized and noted that state bar associations extended deadlines. A statement from the company said: "Unfortunately upgrades, made in an attempt to improve the exam taker experience, played a role in the post-exam processing delay that some bar exam takers experienced."


August 13, 2014

After being told that she would have a course for the fall at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, Jayme McLellan found that her adjunct position disappeared. Officially the course was canceled. But as The Los Angeles Times noted, the college had recently confirmed plans for her to offer the course. And as the article explained, many are furious about this development because McLellan has been a leader of opposition to a current plan to merge the college into George Washington University.

August 13, 2014

Amid criticism from conservative corners that its new Advanced Placement U.S. history framework downplayed positive concepts, the College Board this week released a practice exam for the course and said it would clarify controversial elements, Education Week reported. In an open letter, David Coleman, College Board president, said he hoped the unprecedented move of releasing an exam to non-certified A.P. teachers would quell concerns that framework neglected or misrepresented important parts of American history.

"People who are worried that AP U.S. history students will not need to study our nation's founders need only take one look at this exam to see that our founders are resonant throughout," Coleman said, noting that the framework was just that, and that local teachers could add to it as they saw fit. He also said that the board soon would released a "clarified" version of the course outline.

Last week, the Republican National Committee approved a resolution saying that the framework ignored or misrepresented such topics as the motivations of early American settlers and the U.S. role in World War II, along with important historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Rosa Parks. Supporters of the resolution garnered more than a 1,000 signatures asking the College Board to delay enacting the framework, referred to as "APUSH," by one year.

August 13, 2014

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education on Tuesday released the latest estimates from fund-raisers at educational institutions about growth rates for the last year and the one about the start. The fund-raisers believe that donations to their institutions grew by 5.4 percent, on average, during the academic year that ended June 30. And they predict identical growth for the coming academic year.

August 13, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Pamela Keel, a Florida State University psychologist, discusses her research on the association between Facebook and a higher propensity for developing an eating disorder. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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