A review at Northern Virginia Community College has identified some areas of concern in the response to a campus shooter -- who fired but didn't hit anyone -- last fall, The Washington Post reported. Among the findings: The campus police officers who responded didn't have floor plans or master keys to enter various rooms or buildings, and 36 of the 45 security cameras on the campus where the shooting took place were not working.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Loyola Law School in Los Angles took some grief in the legal blogosphere when blogs noted that it had raised the grade of every student -- retroactively -- by one level (with every B turning into a B+ and so forth), saying that it was just reacting to easier grading standards elsewhere. It turns out that at least 10 law schools have in the last two years made grading standards easier, The New York Times reported. The goal has been to make students more competitive in a tight job market.
The Wadena campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College suffered substantial damage from a tornado last week. Officials have vowed to rebuild, but have announced that, for the summer, courses will be relocated.
Colorado College announced Monday that it is shifting its admissions requirements to offer more options for applicants. Instead of facing a choice of the SAT or ACT, applicants may submit any three exams from a choice of SAT and ACT exams (including SAT subject exams), Advanced Placement exams or others. At least one test must be quantitative and one must be verbal or writing. "The new testing policy will allow students greater flexibility in demonstrating their unique strengths and mastery of subjects, while allowing the Admission Committee to remain committed to focusing on both objective and subjective criteria," says a statement from the college.
Five Congressional Democrats on Monday asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to begin a study of for-profit higher education that would look at institutional quality and business practices. The request comes just days after a House of Representatives hearing on accreditation that included criticism on the sector, and on the same day that witnesses were announced for Thursday's Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the for-profits. (The group scheduled to testify has a decided slant against the sector. The witnesses are Kathleen Tighe, the U.S. Department of Education's inspector general; Steven Eisman, an investor who has warned that the sector is "as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the subprime mortgage industry"; Yasmine Issa, a former student at the for-profit Sanford Brown Institute; Margaret Reiter, a former California deputy attorney general and consumer advocate; and Sharon Thomas Parrott, chief compliance officer at DeVry, Inc.)
The request for a GAO review came from the chairs of the House and Senate education committees -- Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa -- and three other influential members, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Reps. Timothy Bishop of New York and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas. Citing "recent press reports [that] have raised questions about the quality of proprietary institutions" in a letter to the GAO, the members requested information on the sector's recent growth, as well as data on program quality, student outcomes and the amount of corporate revenues that comes from the Title IV federal financial aid program and other government sources. They also asked for a consideration of whether the Education Department's regulations on Title IV program integrity (in the process of being revised) do enough to safeguard against waste and fraud.
Harris N. Miller, president of the Career College Association, the sector's largest lobbying group, said he welcomes the review. "We have every expectation that the GAO, using facts and figures, will provide a full and fair review." He also asked that the Education Department hold off on issuing final regulations aimed at ensuring integrity in federal financial aid programs: "Secretary Duncan has said repeatedly he wants to get the regulatory changes right, and waiting for the GAO to conduct its study is one way to further that goal."
The Monterey Institute of International Studies, which offers graduate programs, will shift from being affiliated with Middlebury College to becoming a full part of the college on July 1. Middlebury has long been known for its strengths in foreign languages and international studies and officials said they believed having Monterey as a full-fledged part of the college would allow both institutions to improve. Monterey's current board will continue, but will now be appointed by the Middlebury board.
The Apollo Group on Monday said that its University of Phoenix subsidiary had received a letter signifying the end of the U.S. Education Department's review of its compliance with federal financial aid laws and rules, and that university had "successfully completed the corrective actions and satisfied the obligations arising from the review." Apollo said that the university had paid the government $660,000 in the second quarter of 2010 to resolve some of the claims, and returned roughly another $1.1 million in federal financial aid funds as well.
If you are worried that state legislators are making huge cuts to education programs without recognizing the consequences or taking responsibility, this video on The Huffington Post of an interview with an Arizona state senator won't comfort you. But if you are worried about the state of student journalism, you might be encouraged by the tough, informed questions about cuts in vocational and technical education.
After months of refusing to answer questions about access to a talk by Sarah Palin, California State University at Stanislaus has announced that reporters will be allowed to cover the event, the Associated Press reported. The appearance -- a fund raiser for the university foundation -- has been criticized for the selection of a divisive speaker, her high speaking fees, and secrecy over plans.
A new international affairs institute in Canada is the focus of a debate over academic freedom. The Globe and Mail reported that concerns have grown since the ouster of Ramesh Thakur, formerly vice rector of United Nations University, as the first director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The school is affiliated with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and a private think tank founded by Jim Balsillie, an entrepreneur. The concerns focus on the control that the think tank has over appointments at the university-affiliated international affairs center. Thakur, in an e-mail to the Globe and Mail, said: "Academic freedom is the bedrock of the university, and autonomy from outside interests (however well-meaning) is important in protecting that academic freedom.”