Monday, December 20, 2010

Early College hurting for bucks, improving students

Early College programs are having to shut down because of three things:
  1. Gates shifted their focus and cut off funding after $119 million
  2. States are not picking up the tab
  3. Organizations didn't find a way to become self-sufficient
When the money was flowing, this was spreading - but now the money is cut off.  No one thought to build a cost effective system leveraging technology that could be sustainable.  So the students lose.

Edweek has the details.  It is sad because these programs were working. From the article:

"Meanwhile, in two large-scale randomized, controlled studies of early-college high schools, researchers are finding that such schools have increased access to college for underrepresented students and enabled them to succeed in postsecondary education"

There is so much waste in high school.  Giving students increased access to college programs while in high school gets them better prepared and reduces the cost/time in college.  It would be great if the last semester of high school was all college work and could set students up for 3 years of college (instead of 6 which seems to be the target of most).  This could significantly reduce the financial impact of earning a college degree.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tax Bill keeps tax credit for for-profit colleges

Again with the good compromise in Congress.  After the scathing GAO report on for-profit colleges some in Congress wanted to eliminate the tax credit for students attending those schools.  But cooler heads prevailed and they decided that the new regulations would fix the problem.  So students in for-profit schools will still have the $1,700 tax credit available to them.  And the industry has 6 months to clean up our act.

The money quote from Secretary Duncan:

"The vast majority of the for-profits are part of the solution, Duncan said. "They're really helping disadvantaged individuals take that next step up the career ladder."

"Where we have some bad actors, we're dealing with that," he added. "The industry itself is desperately needed to get the country where we need to educationally."

NICE!  He gets it and Congressional compromise creates better bills.  An outstanding day for democracy!

GI Bill 2.0 - new authority to bar for-profit schools

Interesting change to the Post 9/11 GI Bill now called GI Bill 2.0 - it gives authority to the Secretary of Veterans affairs to deny a school participation in the program.  In the past, the VA had to accept any state approved institution - the state had the authority, not the VA.  The new change to the GI Bill was modified to give greater powers to the VA if it thinks an institution is being too aggressive in their marketing or dealings with Service members and Veterans.

IAVA  says that this clause is one of the reasonsons why Veteran's group supported S. 3447 when some were calling it a gift to online schools.  The gift was that all students now receive the housing allowance.  The housing benefit can be about $12,000 a year to a full time student but in the old version, online students were prohibited from receiving this benefit.  This hurt disabled Veterans who cannot attend class at a brick and mortar school as well as Veterans working full time and going to school.  The need online schools to meet their needs. 
The compromise was passed yesterday:  allow all Veterans to get the housing allowance, reduce the maximum allowed payment to any school and give greater authority to the VA to shut down schools that abuse.

Democracy in action - that worked for all with bi-partisan support.  Wow!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

GI Bill 2.0 - changes create fairness

More at the Edumiliary blog -but the House passed S.3447 giving all students, not just the brick & mortars, access to the housing allowance of the GI Bill and creates one payment rate instead of rates that varied by over $1,000 per credit hour which was ridiculous.

The fact that this passed even with all the scrutiny of online schools is outsanding!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Certificates or Degrees?

The tireless Joanne Jacobs has a great post at Community College Spotlight on Certificates are 'direct path' to success.  She points out that an associate degree doesn't really help unless you get the full degree - as she puts it - some college doesn't help.

Certificates on the other hand have a greater return on investment.  They "can deliver greater income".  Combine that fact with the low numbers of Community College graduate numbers and certificates really start to look like a better focus for students. Completion rates for certificates are "2-3 times higher".

It is what we have found here - less time required, lower cost = greater completion rates.

Some kids are not going to do well in college.  Getting them into high quality certificate programs is a far better option and doesn't bury them in debt with a low chance of success.

Monday, December 13, 2010

GAO Softens Report of For Profit Universities?

Very odd goings-on from the GAO.  The first report GAO report of for-profit colleges, complete with video, was scathing and didn't pull any punches.  It was pretty damaging to for-profits and created a serious call for reform.

Fast forward and now the report appears with revisions.  From the Washington Post article:

"GAO originally reported: "Undercover applicant was told that he could earn up to $100 an hour as a massage therapist. While this may be possible, according to the [Bureau of Labor Statistics] 90 percent of all massage therapists in California make less than $34 per hour."


The revised version states: "While one school representative indicated to the undercover applicant that he could earn up to $30 an hour as a massage therapist, another representative told the applicant that the school's massage instructors and directors can earn $150-$200 an hour. While this may be possible, according to the BLS, 90 percent of all massage therapists in California make less than $34 per hour."

In another example, the report originally stated that a college representative "told the undercover applicant that by the time the college would be required by [the] Education [Department] to verify any information about the applicant, the applicant would have already graduated from the 7-month program."

The revised version states that "the undercover applicant suggested" that possibility and the "representative acknowledged this was true."

Many calls for an investigation and testimony from GAO on why the changes were made.  To be honest, the report is just as damaging to for-profits so I don't think the changes really soften things too much.  The schools were wrong and the changes can't do anything about that. 

But this is Washington - and there is always a hearing about something.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NY Times hates For Profit Schools serving the military

No big surprise here - the New York Times wants to point out the bad things that many for-profit schools are doing with military throwing billions at education.  They do try to balance the article on the last page - but barely. 

Find it all here:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Michelle Rhee and the Rhetoric - the new cool for funders

Michelle Rhee is a great person.  I met her know that she truly cares about educating children.  But do we really need another organization raising money to change education?  I mean don't we have enough ed reform groups out there?  Couldn't she join an existing organization? 

Education needs to change and she has great ideas on how to get that done and has the pulpit to make it happen.  But we need to better coordinate education reform to get things done.  She could have been so much more effective if she took over another organization, absorbed some others into an uber-reform group destined to make a mark.

There are only so many funders and a limited amount of money that will go into education reform organizations.  Having a high profile person take a huge chunk (really - a billion dollars??) - means that many organizations will be starved.  In the Philanthropic community there is a a lot of wanting to be a part of what is the latest cool reform idea.  It will not be surprising to see many of them line up to hang out with the cool kids.

And Michelle Rhee and the Rhetoric is cool.  Until the next big change in education organization comes along splitting the put up into even smaller pieces.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Merit Pay for Teachers in Texas - promising results

The Dallas Morning news does a solid job covering education.  This morning's headline was "Study shows Texas teacher merit pay helps keep staff, slightly helps test scores"  This is pretty great news coming off a recent study showing merit pay had little impact.

This study provides some good indicators:
  • Better retention of teachers receiving merit pay - so we keep the good teachers and the bad ones move on to other jobs! 
  • Bigger bonuses = better student performance - so the tendency to water it down, give everyone something and lower the bonus/teacher is not really working
Give Texas a lot of credit - they abandoned the first merit pay program when results showed it didn't work - but they didn't abandon merit pay.  They keep working and studying to improve the program and and the results show they are headed in the right direction!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Governor Jeb Bush on Morning Joe for Digital Learning!

Absolutely love to see this - Governor Bush and Governor Wise on Morning Joe talking about digital learning.  My mom actually sent it to me and she wonders why we aren't doing this in every school. 

Taking common sense solutions to the voters is the absolute best way to promote digital learning and get the consumer demanding change.  They are working hard to de-politicize digital learning and show it for what it really is:  COMMON SENSE!

Thank you Governor's Bush and Wise!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

College Grads Need Experience

The National Survey of Student Engagement 2010 is out with good news and bad news about our higher education system.  There are some interesting statistics form the survey of 362,000 first year and senior students at 564 U.S. Colleges and Universities.

From the report:
  • Only about two in five seniors majoring in business administration or accounting have held internships or field placements, compared to the overall average of 50%, and students of color were less likely to have held an internship or field placement compared to their white peers.
  • African Americans were half as likely as their white peers to have studied abroad, and Latino students were one-third less likely to have done so.
I have two girls in the James Madison University Business program and I was very disappointed in the internship program.  It is not mandatory and there is little help provided to the students.  Luckily we saw a posting from www.Straighterline.com 's marketing chief and she has had a great internship.

Both daughters will have completed a semester abroad as well - but it comes with a hefty price tag of over $10,000 for the program, $3,500 for housing and around $4,000 for spending money.  So on top of normal tuition, you need an extra $17,500. My first daughter who studied in Belgium came back with an incredible appreciation for European history, culture and business and really matured so I do feel this is an excellent investment.  But it is financially daunting. 

Schools have to work with students who are first generation in college to help them in both of these areas.  Missing out on an internship will seriously hinder the job search - but if you don't know this, you will not make it a priority unless it is mandatory.  And believe me - there are a lot of non-profits that would love to have some interns help them with their mission.  Creating scholarships for studying abroad - or making it less financially punishing - would go a long way towards helping more students access this invaluable part of higher learning.

More support is needed so that all students have access to the incredibly valuable experiential learning programs available in college.  I hope more schools read and take action from this report.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Digital Learning

I am a fan Foundation for Excellence in Education and sad to miss their conference this year.  I am very pleased with the first offering from that conference:  The 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning. 

So many education reports have very loose recommendations with no hope of actual results.  This report puts the ball squarely in the hands of state lawmakers and school boards with specific action steps towards achieving a world class school system through digital learning.

It is well worth the read.  This is not a complex issue but state laws have created so many roadblocks that we can never really see the full benefit of blended digital learning.  Help spread the word and let's get all states moving on this recommendations!