Yesterday's release of the Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education: A Joint Statement could be viewed as one of a long line of recent documents outlining the problem of remedial education and suggestions on how to reform it - but I do believe it is more, much more.
The Charles A. Dana Center, Education Commission of the States, Jobs for the Future and CCA worked for over a year on this statement for one compelling purpose - that we wanted the field to understand the unique and compelling set of reseach and practice that is showing the way toward a profound new direction on how to serve students who enter postsecondary education underprepared. By making a joint statement - we hope that the new knowledge of the failings of remedial education and understanding of how to effectively reform it would rise above the white noise of education research and practice that we are inundated with online, at conferences and in our work. The issue is too important and the findings are so definitive that we can't afford to let the moment pass without proper notice, and more importantly large scale action.
In a crowded universe of innovation and research in higher education - it is often hard to discern which strategies hold the most promise. Without a careful examination of the research and evidence based practice, we may either disregard a promising practice or invest in an unproven strategy.
CCA's Tom Sugar is featured in the online version of the Atlantic in an article published today by Pulitzer Prize nominated writer Anya Kamentz on the college dropout problem in the U.S. The story discusses the crisis of over 37 million Americans with some college, but no degree and the importance that a college credential has for accessing economic opportunity in the 21st century. With a lot of talk right now about the cost of postsecondary education being a barrier to college attainment, Sugar reminds us that droput is often caused the fact that many students barely get out of the starting gates because of the need for remedial education. According to Tom, "The biggest hindrance to completing college isn't really financial. It's academic fitness." He goes on to quote new data from CCRC showing that upwards of 50% of all students entering postsecondary education require at least one remedial education course. Tom makes the case for President Obama to continue to provide leadership on the issue of college completion through the improvement of federal higher education data collection to allow better tracking of college completion numbers and moving toward student achievement measures for distributing financial aid.
Kamentz, who has published some groundbreaking journalistic pieces such as Generation Debt and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, refers to CCA as a "do tank" that is "trying to help students earn degrees." A pretty apt description of our work here at CCA.
Jobs for the Future released a very helpful rundown of policy strategies for states and systems that seek to develop clearer and more structured academic pathways into programs of study and to high value degrees. The brief, entitled Cornerstones for Completion: State Policy Support For Accelerated, Structured Pathways to College Credentials and Transfer, provides a list of 10 policy recommendations on how colleges, particularly community colleges, can develop a comprehensive policy framework to support completion. The brief recognizes that there are no silver bullets when it comes to improving college completion, but the need for institutions to implement aligned strategies that work in concert and are data driven. Most interesting are recommendations to create more structured academic pathways for students and to make sophisticated investments in student advising and support services. CCA supports similar efforts as a means to decrease time to degree and improve student completion rates. There is a growing consensus around strategies that more effectively guide students into programs of study by creating advising systems that put students on a default academic path and then provide support to students if they veer off course. Stay tuned for new products around how states and systems can create clearer and more structured pathways through academic programs. C O L L E G E C R E D E N T I A L S A N D T R A N S F E R
Stan Jones, President of Complete College America, recently addressed the administration and staff of Prince George's Community College for College Enrichment Day 2011. Watch video of his remarks:
This week, Complete College America President Stan Jones was part of a four-person panel moderated by NBC's Andrea Mitchell at the 2011 Education Nation Summit in New York. The panel discussed Complete College America's new report, "Time is the Enemy," which provides – for the first time ever – a comprehensive picture of today’s college student, the challenges students face and the reasons why they are not completing their degrees and certificates.
The report includes self-reported data from 33 states on both full-time and part-time students at public colleges and universities. The federal government currently requires colleges and universities to track first-time, full-time students, but 40 percent of students today attend part-time.
Watch video of the discussion and let us know what you think about our groundbreaking new report.
Today, I issued the following statement in response to the formal announcement by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis of $500 million in grants to community colleges for job training and workforce development.
CCA provided technical assistance to a number of states for their applications. In her announcement today, Solis highlighted CCA’s National STEM Consortium, a collaborative of 10 leading community colleges in nine states organized to develop nationally portable, certificate-level STEM programs as well as build a national model of multi-college cooperation in the design and delivery of high quality, labor market-driven occupational programs.