Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 3:00am

The College Board will subsidize Advanced Placement classes in about 200 California high schools in hopes of bringing more of the college-level courses to poorer communities. In part a response to a new state law asking high schools to offer at least five AP classes, the program will provide teacher training and course supplies. The College Board will identify potential new AP classes based on students’ PSAT scores.

Students receive credit (or at least place out of requirements) for high AP test scores at many colleges. But the test takers tend to be whiter and wealthier than the population at large, leading critics to suggest that AP can place poor or minority students at a greater disadvantage. This project targets schools with a high number of students whose test scores suggest they can succeed in AP courses that aren’t offered.

Participating schools must offer the new AP classes for three years starting this fall or next fall. The College Board will then study the results to see if students in those classes are better prepared for college and then consider expanding the program elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 3:00am

State leaders in Texas have set admirably ambitious goals for its public colleges and universities, but some of those goals are not compatible, and huge inequities persist across the system, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Higher Education Research. Texas has also failed to understand the "policy tradeoffs" required to make needed improvements, the report said. For example, the state's push to expand the research capacity of its "emerging" universities is an expensive venture at a time when state financial aid has not kept pace with tuition increases. The report is the fourth of a five-state study from the institute.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 3:00am

Complete College America today released a report that diagnoses the failure of the current national approach to remedial education. The study, which includes self-reported data from 31 states, found that students who place into remediation are unlikely to eventually earn a degree or even complete associated college-level courses. Across all sectors, the report found that 30 percent of students who complete remediation don't even attempt credit-bearing "gateway" courses within two years.

Among the fixes proposed by the group, which is at the forefront of the college completion movement, is the report's recommendation that states and colleges end traditional remediation and instead use "co-requisite models." Under this approach, colleges place remedial students into "redesigned first-year, full-credit courses with co-requisite built-in support, just-in-time tutoring, self-paced computer labs with required attendance and the like."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The Modern Language Association has launched the Academic Workforce Data Center, making it easy to compare colleges on the percentages of their faculty jobs that are tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track, as well as the share of those off the tenure track in full-time and part-time positions. The center provides federal information, college by college, from 1995 and 2009, to allow academics to also examine trends over time. The MLA project in some ways updates the work of a similar analysis in 2006 by the American Association of University Professors. The data provided by the MLA cover all academic disciplines, not just those in the modern languages.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Derek Avery reveals how customer satisfaction can be tied to the diversity of a retail outlet's workforce. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

During a recent radio appearance, Representative Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican who leads the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, said she has "very little tolerance" for students who borrowed tens of thousands of dollars to attend college. "I worked my way through," said Foxx, a former president of Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine, N.C., on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show. "It took me seven years. I never borrowed a dime of money... I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that."

 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 4:27am

In the wake of an independent report that criticized the administration's and the police force's handling of a peaceful protest at the University of California at Davis, the chancellor has vowed that officials are "moving swiftly" on the issues raised. The report was an examination of why pepper spray was used on a non-violent protest (a move which the report found "objectively unreasonable"). In a statement, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said that parallel internal reports would soon be done on police officer conduct (possibly leading to personnel actions) and on police procedures. "Efforts to improve administrative coordination, collaboration and communication are also underway," she said. Katehi said that she would meet to discuss progress with authors of the outside report, and with others. "These actions are only a start; they will be part of a comprehensive action plan that will be shared with the campus community," she said.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Marijuana enthusiasts have long visited the University of Colorado at Boulder for a pot-smoking celebration on April 20. The university announced Monday that it would be shutting its campus to outsiders on April 20 this year -- part of a move to discourage the event. Students and employees will need identification cards to get on campus. “The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “The size of the crowd has become unmanageable, and limits our faculty, staff and students from getting to class, entering buildings and doing their basic work. It needs to end.” A legal challenge to the campus restrictions is possible. Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union told The Denver Post that the annual event is not just a party, but a political protest against drug laws, and that public universities cannot bar peaceful protests (or peaceful protesters) from campuses.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Politecnico, a leading Italian university, is switching the language of instruction to English, The Independent reported. The rector, Giovanni Azzone, said that the shift would "contribute to the growth of the country" and "respond to the needs of businesses." While some academics are supporting the move, others are angry. Luca Serianni, a linguist at La Sapienza University, said the move was "excessive and not only in the ideological sense."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

A Michigan court has fined a 61-year-old woman for assaulting her instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Michigan Live reported. The woman has also been expelled from the college. The altercation took place in class. "We are disappointed the student did not receive jail time," said Stephen Louisell, faculty grievance officer. "It sends the message that teachers are not valued."

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