Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)


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Colleges can do many things within their footprint, but the needs of students are sometimes greater than the resources available at campuses. For example, many students struggle with food security. Braiding a variety of resources within a region provides comprehensive assistance to high need students as they navigate their learning journey. Industries have more skill gaps than any one campus can address. In the healthcare industry, for example, hospitals face shortages of personnel ranging from nurses to sonographers to radiology technicians. Despite high need for these skilled workers, training for each occupation is expensive given the specialty equipment required.

Colleges are reticent to host too many high cost programs. Adopting a regional lens allows for a coordinated, portfolio approach to workforce pipeline development across and allows division of specializations among participating colleges. Postsecondary education and training must be ongoing endeavors for students and workers. Community colleges see a wide diversity of students, not just recent high school graduates.

Few colleges are able to deliver the affordable, convenient quality learning experience needed by their traditional base of high school graduates and demanded by displaced, employed, and underemployed adults. Postsecondary education needs to reimagine the student journey for adults and redesign programs and curriculum in ways that serve these students.

In much the same way that vaccinations need booster shots to remain effective, students wishing to keep up with the evolving economy must pursue education and training infusions to remain competitive. Globalization and digitization are transforming business and workforce needs at an increasingly rapid pace. Colleges need to talk in earnest with employers to understand what they value and align their curriculum with what employers need.

In order to stay current, higher education needs to improve workforce outcomes for students to help fuel a strong economy. The CCC prioritized which industry sectors drove each regional economy as a foundational decision for aligning programs with labor market needs. At the time, there were also 1, job openings projected across the state, while supply from CCC colleges was only Though this work, faculty found important gaps which they addressed and worked together on outreach and production of an enlarged talent pool.

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Students want their institution of higher education to solve the education-to-employment dilemmas. After earning their degree or certificate, the majority of students want to successfully enter the job market but often need help landing their first job. Career center and resume assistance are often inadequate. Work-based learning models are particularly helpful for students to practice employability skills such as teamwork, communication, and cultural competency while gaining exposure to the norms of the workplace, like showing up on time and dressing appropriately.

Models for experiential learning also allow students to apply technical and digital skills. Grants were made to introduce apprenticeship training in industries like biotech, healthcare, early childhood education, and more because this model proved a reliable way to help build a strong workforce. Colleges must think differently to help students adapt to the changing job market. In an era of Netflix and Amazon Prime, students increasingly want and expect everything to be personalized. One generation from now, students will want their educational journey styled the same way.

Students will want courses that offer relevant knowledge and skills, and that do not repeat what they already know and can do. They will want support services specific to their personal circumstance, recommendations for student clubs and activities based on their interest profile, and readily available classes at times and in formats that work for their schedules.

Colleges must be ready for a day when students unbundle and rebundle their college offerings. For example, students may take online coursework from online provider Coursera to earn a specialization even as they live on college campus. Institutions need to upgrade data and technology infrastructure, as well as provide professional development to faculty and staff, to be ready to serve this new generation.

Artificial Intelligence AI and machine learning will continue to shift skill sets in the future of work. AI is part of daily life. Most people rely on their mobile devices for everything from conducting business to mapping directions. As AI and machine learning become more sophisticated, skillsets for humans to work alongside the machines robots, computers and devices or to work within the machine virtual environments will evolve.

Demand for rote memorization will diminish. Instead, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills will be the transferable skills that students must develop for employability. Thinking differently does not come easily to higher education institutions. There are decades of tradition to overcome and campus interests that favor preserving the status quo. However, change is essential if colleges want to be relevant in the 21 st -century economy and have their students thrive in the workforce.

Change is never easy, but it is possible. From through , the California Community Colleges ushered in a renaissance of its workforce mission. As a result, workforce education and training in California was transformed from an afterthought to a state policy priority. Van Ton-Quinlivan led the workforce mission of the California Community Colleges, the largest system of higher education in the United States, from to Figure 2.

View the discussion thread. Spring Series, Issue Image credit:. Introduction 1 Since , the California Community Colleges CCC system has been driving transformation of its workforce mission to better address labor market needs. Building CTE capacity and availability at community colleges institutions requires many program elements to be successful, including: - Understand labor market needs. Regional Coordination Collaboration and coordination among and between many organizations is key to a successful student journey, especially in geographies where colleges are densely located, as they are in urban areas.

Technical Assistance Anticipating that colleges would struggle in a number of areas, such as learning to use new data tools and navigating curricular approval processes, the CCCCO established a network of technical assistance providers whose role it was to support and train the field in specific domains.

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The role of AI in education and the changing US workforce

Identification of Further Reforms During this period, further reforms were identified. Staying current with changing workforce needs means partnering with employers. Students demand personalization in their educational experience. Conclusion Thinking differently does not come easily to higher education institutions. Supporting Data Figure 1. Energy Industry Competency Model Accessed April 2, Georgetown University.

Accessed March 1, Accessed March 01, March 15, March 11, See also, Periscopic. See also, Carnevale, Anthony P.

The White House. August Written by various experts on the community college and addressed to those concerned with policies affecting higher education as well as those interested in the future of the community college, the book begins with a macro look at the policy context affecting community colleges, including federal policies, state governance structures, and the impact of globalization on community colleges. At the state level, chapter authors focus on timely and critical issues challenging state policy: links with K education, workforce preparation, dual credit policies, transfer and articulation, remediation, and technology.

At the institutional level, policies on general education and student persistence are examined. The book concludes with a plea for a more critical approach to community college policy for the 21st century. This timely work provides an update on the status of policies affecting community colleges and possible future directions for policy decisions. She has authored over two dozen articles on the community college, as well as edited several monographs and books on the topic, including A Search for Institutional Distinctiveness , Gender and Power in the Community College , Understanding the Impact of Reverse Transfers upon the Community College , and Two-Year Colleges for Women and Minorities.

She has authored numerous articles on the labor market for faculty and administrators, leadership, and women in community colleges and was coauthor, with Kathryn M. Moore and S. Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Get print book. Private institutions, by contrast, received about 29 percent from tuition and another 26 percent from investment returns NCES , tables , Perhaps the most vexing trend related to the accessibility of U.

Between and , total state appropriations for higher education increased by 13 percent, and total public enrollments grew by 23 percent. In the two years after , appropriations actually declined, falling by 7 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, while enrollment increased by another eight percent NCES , table ; , table Private, nonprofit colleges face a different set of financial challenges.

These institutions [End Page 9] feel the pressure to keep tuition levels high as a signal of the high quality of the education they offer, including small classes and a community-like environment. Many liberal arts colleges now offer tuition discounts to up to 80 percent of their students. The resulting negative impact on net revenues has led to operating budgets that are very tight in many cases NACUBO In apparent response to these and other pressures, colleges and universities have increased their reliance on part-time and nontenure-track faculty Ehrenberg , Nationwide, the percentage of faculty that is full time fell from almost four-fifths in to half in Ehrenberg , , citing Snyder and Dillow , tables and The percentage of faculty not on the tenure track increased from 19 percent to 37 percent in Ehrenberg , Perhaps reflecting these shifts, expenditures on instruction have grown more slowly over the past two decades than those on student services, research, and other support services.

Between and , the real annual rate of growth in public and private two-and four-year institutions was 1. Even with declining relative costs for instruction, prices have continued to increase. Over the last three decades, average sticker price at private nonprofit colleges and universities has increased at a rate 3. For four-year public institutions, tuition increases have exceeded inflation by an average of 5. To be sure, these increases in sticker price tuition, featured so prominently in news coverage, exaggerate the increase in the actual cost to students and their families net of financial aid.

Not only can students defray the cost with grants and loans, they often enjoy an additional cost reduction when colleges provide additional relief in the form of financial aid provided by institutions themselves.

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In an effort to attract desirable students, most private colleges and some public institutions have increasingly offered institutional aid, often packaged as named scholarships. Such assistance ends up being equivalent to a price discount. To return some tuition dollars to enroll students from the bottom half of the income distribution, higher charges were required for those families who campus financial aid officers determined could afford them Clotfelter ; Ehrenberg One principal culprit for price increases has been the rising real cost of inputs, especially faculty salaries.

To remain competitive, the leading private colleges and universities, in particular, have had to pay premium salaries to professors who are in high demand. These increases have trickled down to those public universities attempting to keep pace. Real faculty salaries have increased in recent years, after a period of decline during the s, though the rate of increase has not been equal in private and public institutions.

Start-up costs for newly hired faculty in the natural sciences also increased markedly. A second reason costs increased in many institutions was growth in the size of faculties at many institutions. This growth was accompanied by a reduction in teaching loads and the hiring of more nonregular faculty Clotfelter Third, administrative costs were also a contributing factor. Part of this increase could be attributed to expanding requirements for reporting and record-keeping, and part was due to the costs associated with the purchase of computer equipment. Consumer demand for services also encouraged staff growth.

Student affairs budgets grew markedly; these budgets supported student clubs, campus arts and entertainment events, fitness centers, health and counseling centers, dorm renovations, food courts, and the rest of the amenities residential college students expected to balance the time they spent on study. Campuses also continuously added staff to a range of offices required to maintain donor [End Page 10] and constituency relations, regulatory compliance, and economic development opportunities Ehrenberg No doubt empire building among administrators has also contributed at least a small amount to the growth of the managerial stratum.

Why these salary increases could not be mitigated through labor-saving measures, as in some business services, may be due to a deeper problem faced by colleges and universities, the so-called cost disease Baumol and Bowen To the extent that the operation of these institutions is like that of an orchestra, wholly wedded to a technology of operation devoid of opportunities to achieve labor-saving efficiencies, the argument goes, costs are forced to rise as long as the cost of workers rises.

If these institutions are actually motivated to expand their budgets, then it is natural they would seek any and all opportunities to raise tuition. Such an instinct might be driven simply by mission-related ambition, a virtually unbounded desire on the part of top administrators to improve the quality of their institutions—by offering new programs, by hiring more famous professors, and by attracting more talented students—combined with their inability or unwillingness to eliminate anything.

Higher tuition brought more borrowing to pay for college. Student loans were a backbone of the postwar expansion, but the average student owed relatively little. Those who attended public universities were on average only a little better off. This was a tough way to begin adult life, and opinion polls showed that most Americans doubted the need for such increases. Muckraking books like Generation Debt Kamenetz and The Student Loan Scam Collinge stirred debate about whether college was worth the cost and how it could be made more affordable.

In , student debt, then approaching one trillion dollars, exceeded credit card debt as the second largest category of debt in the country behind mortgages. Nevertheless, most students appear to accept debt as the inevitable price of a degree that remains a very good investment over the course of a lifetime, particularly given the virtual disappearance of good jobs open to those with only a high school degree see, for example, Rotondi We now turn to a discussion of the primary systems-level expectations of U.

S higher education, as identified by postwar policymakers, and the evidence of the effectiveness of U.


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A primary goal of postwar policymakers was to expand higher education to ensure human capital development to meet the changing occupational needs of an increasingly knowledge-based society. We therefore first take up the issue of human capital development and the connection of higher education institutions to desirable positions in the labor market. Few facts speak more persuasively to the importance of postsecondary education than the substantially higher incomes enjoyed by college graduates than by those with less education. Economists invoke supply and demand to explain this college earnings advantage.

Demand is strong because employers value skilled workers and because such workers are relatively scarce. Over the last three decades, the earnings advantage for college graduates has grown. The reasons for this growth are the subject of ongoing debate, but many economists would place considerable emphasis on changes that have occurred in the American economy. Knowledge-intensive industries, such as business services and education, have grown at the expense of manufacturing, and all industries have seen increases in the need for educated workers able to use computers and adapt to a wider range of job demands see, for example, Clotfelter et al.

As the unionized manufacturing sector has declined, the labor market for less educated workers has virtually collapsed, with low-income jobs replacing the bulk of middle-income jobs that did not at one time require postsecondary credentials see, for example, Bernhardt et al.

Thus, despite an increasing supply of college graduates, the demand for them has grown even faster.

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To find out what portion of the college earnings advantage can be attributed to attending college, rather than unmeasured personal characteristics, researchers must somehow remove the influence of unmeasured personal characteristics that might cause college-goers to differ systematically from those who do not go. Such selection bias would imply that differences in average earnings overstate the true effect of going to college, and overcoming this bias has proven to be a formidable challenge for researchers. Granted that at least some of the observed differences in earnings associated with postsecondary training are related to attending college, what explains it?

But the question remains, what explains the statistical association between productive value and postsecondary training? Social scientists offer two principal answers: human capital and signaling. A third explanation—that those with higher education degrees form a status group whose members choose one another without serious regard to productivity—is less well known, but worth noting.

Perhaps the most common explanation to the question is that colleges and universities carry out the same basic function as K—12 schools: they arm students with skills that will make them productive workers, allowing them to benefit personally from the result. Society at large benefits as well, in the form of a tangibly higher standard of living. Job-relevant knowledge may be quite specific, such as accounting [End Page 12] practices, or it could be more general cognitive skills that make educated workers more productive, such as skills in understanding data or written expression Becker For some, human capital also denotes socioemotional skills that students learn in college, such as how to interact with people from different backgrounds or how to participate in problem-solving groups.

The cognitive skill development is very important in some disciplines, but for most students it seems likely that academic development is less important as a source of human capital than persistence and the willingness to delay gratification, traits that reveal themselves as students do or do not listen to lectures, take notes, work on assignments, and pass tests.

The characteristics of study, work discipline, and deference to authority that these repeated behaviors foster may, for most students, be the primary productivity advantages associated with a college education. Human capital is a broad concept, and it is not surprising that most economists have not attempted to measure it directly and have instead taken educational attainment as an acceptable proxy measure.

However, this identification introduces a proven-by-fiat quality to the argument by equating the accumulation of skills gained during college with educational attainment, rather than with the qualities developed themselves. Over the last decade social scientists have measured the cognitive component of human capital more precisely by looking at students' scores on tests of cognitive skills Hanushek and Woessmann , — However, better measurement does not solve a fundamental objection to human capital theory: if those who go to college were already more skilled before they enrolled in college than those who did not, at least a portion of the earnings advantage they enjoy cannot rightly be attributed to college.

This leads to a second explanation: signaling.

California’s Evolving Policy Context for Post-Secondary Learning in the 21st Century

An alternative to the human capital explanation for the higher earnings enjoyed by college graduates focuses on the informational content that simply possessing a college degree carries. Like the human capital view, this explanation accepts the essential accuracy of the neoclassical economics model of competitive labor markets and its implication that more productive workers will be more valuable to employers, holding constant their supply. Where the signaling explanation diverges from the human capital view comes down to what, exactly, the contribution of college is.

In the signaling view of the labor market, most of the skills or attributes that will be valuable to employers are already instilled by the time students have finished high school. All that is necessary is to identify those most richly endowed with those abilities. In the signaling explanation, that is the primary function of college— to identify and certify talent Spence Those who have prestigious educational credentials can advance to the head of labor queues, even if they have not developed human capital during their college years, provided that the reputational strength of the degree is stronger than the reputational strength of alternative degrees.

Moreover, the signal may be more about adaptability and trainability than about job-relevant skills per se Thurow In this explanation, any learning that occurs is incidental to, not the result of, college. The essential function of college is to certify, not to instill. Studies suggesting that not much learning is occurring in college lend weight to the signaling model see, for example, Arum and Roksa ; OECD It is likely that one of these explanations may be more relevant for particular students— or that both are relevant in different measures.

A student may learn to interact well with people from a wide variety of backgrounds by attending college a noncognitive form of human capital development and to improve writing skills while gaining benefits from the signaling quality of the college attended. The two viewpoints of human capital and signaling can be combined in whatever proportions the facts appear to support, allocating to each some portion of the observed college earnings advantage Bills Some who write about the rise of job allocation by educational credentials are skeptical of the association assumed by economists between [End Page 13] educational credentials and productivity.

Credentials are treated as valid because they are a convenient and relatively efficient way for employers to limit applicant pools, not because they develop or certify skills Berg ; Collins Taking this view one step further, some sociologists have argued that higher education credentials signal kinship with the culture of employers more than anything else. In this view, employers choose the highly educated over the less educated because they remind them of themselves.

The highly educated are thought to speak, present themselves, and dress in ways similar to their employers. For example, they do not have visible tattoos, use profane language in public, or record loud music on their answering machines. They tend to be deferential to authority and able to interact well in management-led work groups.

For those who focus on status group preferences, the economic benefit, if there is one, comes from the greater ease of understanding and the lesser friction created by those who share this culture. Pay is based on admittance to the authority structure rather than skills that boost the productivity of the firm. Some obvious problems exist in relation to this more critical perspective on the college wage premium. It is not clear why many employers would want to pay a hefty premium simply for being able to associate with people who are similar to themselves, if someone less expensive could perform the job just as well— or how employers willing to do so could stay in business.

At the same time, the number of shared qualities and outlooks found among highly educated people is indeed impressive. They include high correlations between educational attainment and behaviors such as healthy diet and exercise practices, higher levels of book reading, lower levels of television watching, comparatively liberal attitudes on social issues, and less frequent church attendance see Brint and Proctor Indeed, studies examining race, gender, and college quality have shown that co-membership preferences are common in hiring decisions see, for example, Deming, Goldin, and Katz ; Rivera Compared with the rest of the developed world, the United States is behind in producing young adults who hold postsecondary degrees.

A generation ago, the share of Americans with college degrees was one of the highest in the developed world. Since then, many countries have surpassed the United States. Whereas the United States has the highest rate of attainment of postsecondary degrees for fifty-five-to sixty-four-year-olds among thirty OECD countries, its twenty-five-to thirty-four-year-olds ranked only tenth OECD , table A1. Additional slippage is evident when we look at the most recent generation.

Findings on more direct measures of human capital development during the college [End Page 14] years are arguably even more discouraging. A study found that the average college student attended class and hit the books for more than forty hours per week in the s but just twenty-seven in Babcock and Marks Some have suggested that better tools for information retrieval permitted students to study less, but an obvious implication is that college faculty may have adjusted to lower student interest in study by reducing requirements.

Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa find that only about half of students made significant gains on a test of critical thinking between the beginning of freshman and the middle of sophomore year. A year later, with senior data in hand, they concluded that more than a third of college students failed to make significant gains on critical thinking between freshman and senior years Arum, Roksa, and Cho Those students who failed to make significant gains on the critical thinking test had shorter reading and writing assignments in their courses.

These students were most likely to be found in less selective institutions and occupationally oriented majors Arum and Roksa Regardless of field, cognitive skill level matters in the labor market Hanushek and Woessmann , In addition, labor market returns vary greatly depending on the field of study.


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By mid-career, students who graduate in some engineering specializations, such as petroleum engineering, are earning on average two to three times as much as those who graduate in many of the human services fields, such as teaching and child welfare services Carnevale, Rose, and Cheah ; PayScale These findings raise the question of whether comparisons by educational attainment are the right ones to make for analyses of human capital development or whether fields of study are the more appropriate bases for comparison, at least for adults who complete postsecondary programs.

Given the labor market advantages held by graduates in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics STEM fields, it is not surprising that a final source of concern over human capital development is the unchanging share of American college students who complete degrees in these fields. STEM fields are a national priority area because of their contribution to economic growth see, for example, National Academies , 1. The stagnation in STEM degrees is associated with high rates of attrition among college students who start out majoring in a STEM field, only to switch majors, often because of difficulty passing introductory mathematics and science courses Weaknesses in science literacy start early.

The recent Program for International Student Assessment PISA international test of science knowledge indicated that average scores for American fifteen-year-olds were lower than those of students in all but four of twenty-four participating countries. American students also showed great variability in their scores around this average, producing a higher standard deviation than all but three of the participating countries see Han and Buchmann, this volume.

We now turn to a second major interest of national higher education policymakers, the provision of opportunities for upward social mobility. Although the quality of higher education can no longer be assumed and fields of study matter greatly for outcomes in the labor market, college degrees nevertheless remain a key foundation for labor market success, as evidence on the college degree premium attests.

For this reason, the distribution of opportunity to attend and graduate from college is a key issue for policymakers and scholars alike. Disproportional representation of affluent students has been a characteristic of American colleges beginning in the colonial period. Despite the rise of public higher education, this bias in favor of the moneyed and professional classes continued to exist for a century after the first Morrill Act see, for example, Angell , and it continues today in an only slightly attenuated form.

Consequently, American higher education has been regularly criticized for its contributions to the perpetuation of inequality. In so far as greater equality of access and completion are system-level measures of effectiveness, these criticisms amount to a fundamental challenge to the U. Rates of college enrollment have been rising over time, but rates for those from low-income families have lagged well behind those for children of the affluent.

Moreover, gaps in entry by family income quartiles have grown over time. For a sample drawn from to birth cohorts, postsecondary entry rates were 58 percent in the top quartile, 38 percent in the second quartile, 32 percent in the third, and 19 percent in the bottom quartile Bailey and Dynarski , figure 6. But for a sample drawn from the to birth cohorts, postsecondary entry rates were 80 percent in the top quartile, 60 percent in the third quartile, 47 percent in the second, and only 29 percent in the lowest income quartile.

This is a top-to-bottom gap of more than 50 percent for the later birth cohorts compared with the 40 percent gap for the earlier birth cohorts. Gaps in college completion by family income are greater than gaps in college entry. Among students in the to birth cohorts, for example, the share from the lowest income quartile who had completed four years of college was just 9 percent, representing a third of those who had ever enrolled. For those from the top income group, the corresponding rate of completion was 54 percent, representing two-thirds of those who had ever enrolled Bailey and Dynarski , tables 6.

Comparing cohorts born in the early s and the early s, Martha Bailey and Susan Dynarski show increases in college completion in all income quartiles for those born later, but also an increasing gap in the rate of increase in the bottom two as compared to the top two quartiles of family income. By contrast, gaps in access by race-ethnicity have narrowed over time, although gaps in graduation remain large.

Between and , for example, freshman college enrollment more than doubled for Hispanics, and increased by 73 percent for African Americans but only 15 percent for whites Carnevale and Strohl Among high school graduates who enrolled in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation, racial-ethnic gaps were not large: 73 percent of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college, 76 percent of blacks, 82 percent of whites, and 90 percent of Asians Ross et al.

However, minorities enrolled mainly in open-access two-and four-year colleges particularly community colleges and for-profits , and whites and Asians enrolled disproportionately in colleges and universities that select among applicants Carnevale and Strohl Even for those who initially entered a four-year college graduation rates have varied sharply by racial-ethnic identity. Nearly 70 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander students who entered a four-year college in completed within six years, compared with 58 percent of white students, 46 percent of Hispanic, and 39 percent of African American NCES , table Notably, the long-standing gender inequalities within higher education have reversed, favoring women rather than men outside of a few fields largely found in the physical sciences [End Page 16] and engineering disciplines but including also philosophy and economics.

Women are more numerous than men at every degree level in higher education. They are more likely to complete degrees. Their grades are higher, and they are more likely to win academic honors. Graduate education, even in prestigious fields such as business, law and medicine, has become more gender balanced and in nonquantitative fields women are more numerous NCES , table Why is the dropout rate so much higher for low-income and underrepresented minority students?

One set of explanations focuses on the students and examines the factors such as inadequate academic readiness or financial resources that may slow or derail their academic progress. Undoubtedly, academic preparation is on average lower among students from the bottom quartiles of the income distribution. Social scientists have documented the advantages of social class for students from affluent families relative to their counterparts.

Children of college graduates hear on average two to three times as many different words per day than the children of high school graduates. They are read to at night and are encouraged to begin reading and counting for themselves earlier than children from low-income families. They watch less television. They tend more often to live in stable and well-ordered households and communities, allowing them to fit more easily into orderly, rule-bound settings such as schools.

Their families are also much more likely to place them in activities that are educationally and socially enriching, such as attending museums and concerts, traveling abroad, and participation in afterschool developmental activities supervised by adults, such as music or tennis lessons. By contrast, children from lower-income families are more likely to spend time with friends in activities that are not educationally advantageous.

For an overview of these educational attainment based differences on groups of otherwise similar students, see Attewell and Lavin , chapter 6. Despite extensive efforts to provide financial assistance to needy students, the financial resources available to low-income students do not always meet their full financial need, placing greater stress on their families to identify resources for college completion. Many low-income families are loan-averse and encourage their children to work to put themselves through college, a choice that can greatly lengthen time to degree and may lead to non-completion if work interferes too much with study.

The research evidence suggests that when students work more than fifteen to twenty hours per week, it tends to be very difficult for them to keep their grades up Pascarella and Terenzini , —; King and Bannon A second set of explanations looks at the types of institutions in which lower-income and underrepresented minority students are disproportionately represented. Completion rates in public community colleges and historically black colleges and universities, where most minority students enroll, are very low.

These are typically colleges and universities with limited resources, meaning low-paid instructors and modest counseling and other student services. Only one-fifth who enter these institutions leave with a degree in three years NCES , table Transfer rates from two-year to four-year colleges are also low. Fewer than 25 percent of entering community college students transfer to a four-year college Dougherty and Kienzl Most of those who enter community colleges and become stuck in remedial programs are from minority racial-ethnic backgrounds Attewell et al. In a study seeking to explain the decline in college completion rates, John Bound, Michael Lovenheim, and Sarah Turner compared two cohorts of high school graduates, from the high school graduating classes of and The percentage of these students who completed four years of college within eight years declined from These declines were concentrated in two sectors enrolling a large portion of all students: two-year colleges and less selective four-year public institutions.

Declines in academic preparation were a major part of the explanation for declining graduation rates in community colleges. But in the case of four-year institutions, the authors blame characteristics of the institutions themselves—and in particular overcrowded classrooms and too few course offerings—for most of the overall decline in graduation rates. Because of the close connection between educational attainment and lifetime earnings, such disparities in college completion portend limited economic opportunities for those already at the bottom of the economic ladder and continued economic stratification in the country as a whole.

Contributing to these long-standing gaps in educational attainment, budget cuts and tuition increases in the last decade have increased at a particularly high rate in public institutions, the institutions that serve most students of modest means. Efforts by donors and colleges themselves to raise completion rates for disadvantaged groups have had more than a modicum of success in some notable cases. However, they have not yet found ways to match the impact of these deeply rooted systemic obstacles to equity in access and completion. We now turn to the third major function of higher education in the United States: universities are centrally involved in the production of new knowledge and prepare the next generation of scientists and scholars.

The new knowledge they produce enriches culture, contributes to new technologies and economic growth, and changes the way organizations work Baker By most measures, the research quality of American higher education is very high in comparison with that offered in other countries. Moreover, the United States continues to be the destination of choice for international students, hosting nearly nine hundred thousand international students in the — school year, double the number of international students studying in the United Kingdom, the second leading host country International Institute of Education One way to measure the growth in knowledge production is to examine how many papers are published in scientific journals over time.

This growth has been nothing short of spectacular. This phenomenal record of growth can be explained by an ever-increasing number of researchers, greater research intensity in universities, the rise of new specialty areas, and perhaps especially by the development of new journals. Within this rapidly expanding universe of scientific papers, the U. The U. Using [End Page 18] slightly different measures, British Royal Society researchers found a further decline to 21 percent between and The Royal Society Concurrently, the share of papers from European and East Asian universities rose, China making the largest gains The Royal Society Yet it is clear that industries populated disproportionately by people with advanced degrees are among the fastest-growing contributors to GDP.

The knowledge sector, so defined, accounted for 43 percent of GDP by Brint Economic geographers have shown that regions of robust economic growth are those with high proportions of educated workers, regions such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street. These regions show strong spillover effects on the salaries and wages of workers outside the knowledge sector because higher incomes there drive higher incomes for services in their regions Moretti The production of knowledge workers has altered the landscape of innovation by amplifying the level of scientific talent working outside of universities.

Research universities are responsible for just half of basic research and only a fraction of applied research National Science Board , chapter 4. Many of the most important inventions of the period, from the Internet and GPS to the birth control pill and the pacemaker, were developed in government laboratories and private corporations by university-trained Ph. Universities retain an important role in basic research, and they are almost certainly the most potent creators of conceptual structures that become influential in organizational practice and public discourse.

Yet institutions outside universities are also producing sophisticated conceptual knowledge structures that have a life independent of universities or are brought into universities to test and refine Collins, Evans, and Gorman ; Powell and Snellman Rather than university domination, the United States is moving toward a society in which knowledge production becomes characteristic of many institutional domains. The university retains a monopoly on the production of future scientists and scholars through its authority to grant the doctorate degree. Doctorate degree production increased by percent between — and — Today, U.

The United States retains a global educational influence through the strength of its graduate programs. In recent years, nearly 30 percent of all doctorates awarded by American universities have gone to students holding temporary student visas Bound et al. This does not mean that the U. Graduate students in the humanities and social sciences average seven to eight years from admission to doctorate.

About half of doctorates in these fields do not complete and of those who do complete about half do not obtain academic jobs Ehrenberg et al. Most [End Page 19] who do not complete obtain professional or managerial jobs, but quite a few are in lower-paid capacities Ehrenberg et al.

Doctorate production in the natural sciences and engineering does not take quite as long, but for those pursuing academic careers the doctorate is often merely the preliminary to a lengthy apprenticeship for as many as five or more years as a postdoctoral scholar before a faculty position becomes a feasible objective Powell Postdoctoral scholars accumulate coauthored papers but less frequently gain the autonomy to launch their own independent research careers.

Their salaries are low and rarely include robust benefit packages National Academy of Sciences The rise of non-tenure track faculty has made securing a tenure-track position far more competitive than before Schuster and Finkelstein Fortunately, many more positions exist for doctoral-level natural scientists and engineers outside of academe, and the majority of doctoral degree holders in these fields make careers in industry or government agencies rather than academe National Science Foundation , table Two large and unresolved problems are the adequacy of funding for doctoral students and the quality of professional development opportunities for doctoral students who will not succeed in obtaining academic jobs or are not interested in obtaining them Bok , chap.

This section examines the role of the federal government and the major philanthropic foundations in maintaining and improving system-level effectiveness. Federal higher education policy has been fundamental in two areas: financial aid and research funding. In recent years, major private foundations have also been centrally involved in the development of accountability mechanisms and in the promulgation of a college completion agenda. Scholars and policymakers have long recognized that financial constraints discourage many would-be college graduates from even enrolling in college, let alone finishing.

These constraints limit the effectiveness of the higher education system. In addition to financial constraints, low-income students may also be handicapped in college-going by ignorance regarding the application process, sources of aid, and the steps needed to take advantage of such aid. A primary role for national and state governments therefore has been to provide financial aid to support students whose lack of financial resources would otherwise prevent them from attending college.

In addition to these programs are a number of tax provisions that reduce the cost of making donations or specifically subsidize the cost of college attendance. Provisions in the federal personal income tax to subsidize college attendance include two tax credits, a deduction for college tuition, and a provision by which parents can claim their college-going children as dependents up to age twenty-four. The tax code also provides for tax-subsidized college savings accounts.

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There are reasons to believe that financial aid expenditures at this level are not keeping up with increases in unmet need. Bridget Long and Erin Riley found substantial increases in unmet need from the — school year to the — school year for all full-time, full-year undergraduates. Moreover, these increases in unmet need affected low-income students more than other students.

For example, they found that low-income students attending a public four-year college experienced a 59 percent increase in unmet need. High levels of unmet need persisted through the early s Saunders It is difficult to disentangle the effects of unmet need from other factors that affect retention and completion, such as academic preparation. However, unmet need is certainly one cause of the lower retention and completion rates of lower-income and underrepresented minority students.

Students with unmet need work longer hours to pay for college and are more likely to attend part time. Longer work hours, in turn, lead to higher dropout rates among otherwise similar students, and part-time status is also correlated with lower rates of college completion see, for example, Attewell, Heil, and Reisel A recent review of statistical studies of the effect of financial aid policies observed that the availability of the two largest federal programs, Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, do not affect the probability that low-income students will enroll in college.

In contrast, the merit aid programs that have been established in more than a dozen states do exhibit measurable positive effects on enrollments Deming and Dynarski The explanation for this difference in effectiveness is that the paperwork required to apply for federal aid is daunting, especially for applicants whose parents have limited education. By contrast, state merit aid programs have simple requirements, and state education systems typically assume the burden of getting necessary information to colleges automatically.

A policy option at the federal level would be to simplify the application process for aid. By the s, international competition and the increasing number of students entering higher education with lower levels of academic preparation heightened worries about the quality of academic programs National Governors Association The Pew and Ford Foundations were notable among the many philanthropies funding the regional accrediting agencies to develop approaches to assessment of student learning outcomes. In , federal regulations first required accrediting organizations to examine student learning outcomes as a condition of recognition.

By , ten states, concentrated in the Midwest and the South, had experimented with or adopted standardized testing at the college level to assess student learning, but most of the regional accreditation agencies decided to allow colleges and universities themselves to determine how best to assess student learning outcomes. Assessment of student learning outcomes has had a mixed record, one that has not fully satisfied federal higher education officials. A [End Page 21] report on accountability in higher education released in Kuh and Ikenberry revealed that more than 90 percent of respondents from two-and four-year institutions said they were engaged in institution-level assessments of student learning.

Most were using survey instruments, such as the National Survey of Student Engagement, for this purpose, though nearly two in five respondents were using standardized tests of general knowledge and skill, such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Most confirmed that accreditation was the primary driver of their interest in assessment.

Many departments went through the motions of assessing student learning outcomes without using results to improve program performance Kuh and Ikenberry Engineering was an exception to this mixed record. Its professional accrediting organization issued a report in requiring schools to publish detailed educational objectives, to design a curriculum that ensured achievement of these objectives, and to put in place a system for using results of assessments to improve the effectiveness of the program.

In addition, it established specific outcome criteria that all engineering graduates were, in theory, required to demonstrate Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology A follow-up report showed that these recommendations produced real change in how courses were taught. More than half of faculty surveyed reported that they had increased their use of active learning methods, such as group work, design projects, case studies, and application exercises, due to the new requirements for accreditation.

A comparison of and engineering graduates showed small but significant self-reported gains in technical abilities, such as the application of mathematics and science to engineering problems. Students also self-reported sizable increases in their ability to work in teams, to understand professional ethics, to understand contemporary issues and to demonstrate global cultural awareness Lattuca, Terenzini, and Volkwein The postwar federal policy emphasis on increasing access for less advantaged groups assumed the opportunity to attend college would lead to improvement in outcomes.

However, rates of baccalaureate attainment declined, leading foundations of the early twenty-first century to focus on college completion as a necessary complement to improved access. The Lumina Foundation set the goal of 60 percent of all Americans with credentials, associate degrees, and baccalaureate degrees by To promote wider access and faster completion at lower cost, the Gates Foundation invested heavily in experiments in which online modules replaced courses and students demonstrated competency by achieving a passing grade on an online exam.

This Lumina-Gates completion push was embraced by President Obama , who, in a speech, proclaimed the goal of regaining by the year the world lead in the production of higher level credentials. The results of this effort have as yet not yielded changes in graduation rates as large as advocates had hoped.

Nationally, the proportion of students who entered college and graduated within four and six years increased in both cases by more than 5 percent for the cohorts entering in and those entering in Yet four-year graduation remains under 40 percent and six-year graduation remains under 60 percent NCES , table Constraints on seats and courses, financial aid availability, and student academic preparation [End Page 22] have conspired to keep the college completion movement from achieving its goals. Research policy is perhaps a misnomer for the decentralized advocacy and negotiation that occurs between scientists, funding agencies, Congress, the president, and the various advisory and advocacy groups whose efforts eventually result in apppropriations and national science and engineering initiatives.

This network of contending parties eventually produces federal budget appropriations that provide nearly two-thirds of nondefense spending on university research. International competition has been a major driver of research policy since the days of Sputnik in the s. In the s, the rise of Japan and the decline of American manufacturing triggered new competitiveness policies. One of these was the Bayh-Dole Act of , which allowed universities greater leeway in patenting and licensing of commercially viable products, therapies, and technologies.

Bayh-Dole accelerated trends in university patenting and licensing that were already developing in the s Mowery et al. The Act achieved its aim of contributing to the rapid increase of university-based patents and licenses yielding income. The income earned by universities increased by approximately 2.

The report noted a shortage of high school math and science teachers, the need for pipeline programs to increase STEM enrollments in college, and a restrictive immigration system that prevented researchers trained outside the United States from seeking employment in the United States. It also advocated a reinvestment in basic research to reverse trends toward larger shares going to applied research and urged a stronger research and development tax credit to encourage private investment in innovation. We now turn to campus-level initiatives to improve higher education effectiveness.

For more than a century, university trustees and administrators have looked to the corporate sector for practices that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. The Veblenian tradition of suspicion has lived on, with critics warning against excessive business influence in universities. Functions with revenue-generating potential receive special attention because of their centrality to institutional stability.

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Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century) Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)
Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century) Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)
Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century) Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)
Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century) Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)
Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century) Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)
Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century) Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context (Educational Policy in the 21st Century)

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