Assessment

Using Data to Drive Performance

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ST. PAUL, MINN. -- Pockets of experimentation and potential change are cropping up all over the place in higher education. Here, it's the OpenCourseWare movement. There, colleges are adopting "just in time" remediation. And over here, some states are changing funding formulas to reward institutions for graduating students rather than merely enrolling them.

Community Colleges' Unfunded Mandate

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President Obama, foundation leaders and the heads of advocacy groups all agree that community colleges need to focus on more than access and drastically improve their generally low completion rates. By and large, these leaders believe that these institutions know, whether by research or common sense, just what to do – such as providing better academic advising, outreach to struggling students, financial aid to encourage full-time enrollment, smaller class sizes and so forth. So what’s the holdup?

Middle States Divided

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Accrediting agencies are facing significant outside pressure over their independence and performance, raising questions in some quarters about the viability of education's system of institutional peer review. But one of the country's six regional accreditors of colleges is facing a threat from within, in the form of a nasty internal battle with its parent organization.

The Faculty Role in Assessment

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Amid continuing debate, and sometimes disagreement, about the value and wisdom of measuring student learning outcomes in higher education, a few areas of consensus are slowly emerging.

Institutional Research Roundup

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CHICAGO -- Institutional researchers are higher education's version of a utility infielder. That doesn't mean they lack expertise: They specialize in bringing data to bear on issues and problems, and explaining and interpreting those data to campus constituents who often come at the information from widely varying viewpoints. Their versatility comes, though, in the wide range of subjects they touch and of decisions over which they have some influence.

Angst for an Accreditor

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College presidents, faculty/staff unions and state education leaders rarely agree about anything. But mutual frustration with a regional accreditor has united strange bedfellows in California’s community college sector.

A Jobs Mismatch

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WASHINGTON -- The United States economy is in serious danger from a growing mismatch between the skills that will be needed for jobs being created and the educational backgrounds (or lack thereof) of would-be workers. That is the conclusion of a mammoth analysis of jobs data being released today by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Coppin Plays Catchup On Retention

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Administrators at Coppin State University were hardly surprised when a report published last year showed that the public university in Baltimore had among the lowest graduation rates in the country, with just 19 percent of freshmen who entered in 2002 having earned a bachelor's degree by 2008. "We knew we had a persistence problem," says Reginald G. Ross, the vice president for enrollment management who had been brought to Coppin State in November 2008 in large part to help fix that problem.

Evaluating Community College Rankings

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Washington Monthly causes stir, yet again, by listing what it calls the "best" two-year institutions in the country -- using data collected by researchers who say their information shouldn't be used in that way.

Borrowing From Bologna

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Lumina proposes "qualifications profile" -- modeled on Europe's -- designed to set U.S. standard for what students must know and do to earn associate through master's degrees.

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