Tuesday, May 5, 2015

News Links | May 5, 2015


Community colleges work to lower failure rate in online courses
Community college students fail online courses at a higher rate than traditionally-taught, face-to-face courses, a new study out of California has found. The results underscore the findings of a similar study in Washington two years ago. But educators at Washington’s community colleges have been working to try to close the gaps. ... Two years ago, a study of Washington’s community colleges found that completion rates for online courses were 6 to 10 percentage points lower than courses taught face-to-face. Since that study came out, Washington’s community colleges have done training for faculty members throughout the system to improve the quality of online courses, said Laura McDowell, spokeswoman for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. A number of colleges have taken additional, specific steps. For example, Seattle Central College’s Center for Extended Learning works to make sure students who sign up understand what they’re getting into before they register for an online class. Highline College has created a faculty learning community to figure out how to infuse technology into basic education classes. And Shoreline Community College has hired people for two new positions that support online students.
The Seattle Times, May 4, 2015

Big, feisty trout await battle with kids in fishing contest
Saturday, May 9 is the date set for the annual free Bellingham area trout fishing contest pitting youngsters against rainbows. The setting is Whatcom Falls Park kids’ derby pond. ... For the Bellingham derby as well as other area kids fishing contests hefty rainbow trout are raised and provided by the Hatchery Division of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with help from Bellingham Technical College students in the school’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Program. The BTC students also help get the derby pond set up.
The Bellingham Herald, May 2, 2015

A first: Bellevue College building hundreds of student housing units
Along with Bellevue College's evolution from a two-year school to one that also offers four-year degrees comes a need for a significant amount of student housing. The college is moving ahead on this and the result with be the 49-year-old school's first student housing. The first phase will have just over 350 units and cost around $44 million, according to Ray White, Bellevue College's vice president of administrative services. Future phases are also planned. ... The school has to get the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges' OK before financing can move ahead.
Puget Sound Business Journal, May 1, 2015

Afghan group takes tour of SCC
Trained technicians are in such short supply across Afghanistan that workers have to be brought in from Pakistan and Turkey to keep sophisticated medical equipment operating properly. Spokane Community College might be able to help.
The Spokesman-Review, May 1, 2015

Steadying hand in turbulent times
David Beyer: president, Everett Community College, Everett Herald Business Journal Snohomish County Executive of the Year. David Beyer believes it's called a community college for a reason. Since the first day of classes in 1941, when 128 students gathered in an old elementary school building, Everett Community College has been providing higher education to local students, and many of those students have used what they've learned to give back to their community.
Everett Herald Business Journal, May 2015

Prisoners at WA's Clallam Bay learn the art of French pastry making
Inside the Clallam Bay Correctional Center, about an hour west of Port Angeles, nearly 900 inmates are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Except for these inmates, who are in a seven month baking program that earns them 45 credits at Peninsula College, if they graduate, no other offenders get to eat this food. Almost everything they bake leaves the prison.
My Northwest.com, April 30, 2015

I-BEST model leads to higher rates of student success
For the past 11 years, Renton Technical College (RTC), in Washington state, has been spearheading a teaching approach that might reform remedial education. The approach — called Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) — combines college-readiness coursework and credit-bearing job training or academic classes. ... William S. Durden, an I-BEST policy associate for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, believes that the contextualization of content is a magic formula for students.
AACC 21st Century Center, April 29, 2015


How science-literate are you?
How well do you understand science? Jon D. Miller, director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, has been asking people in the United States and abroad that question since 1988.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2015

Attainment, completion, and the trouble in measuring them both
Here’s a seemingly simple question: How have the educational-attainment rates of various groups of Americans changed over the years? It’s a question with considerable impact. For example, the answer could help determine how well the country’s colleges and universities are meeting its labor needs, and how equitable education is across various demographic groups. And the answer is? Well … that’s the hard part.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2015

Students’ college choices aren’t totally rational (and that’s OK)
To be sure, many prospective students’ choices are driven chiefly by financial circumstances, geography, or clear career goals. But especially for traditional-age students on residential campuses, a single-minded focus on ROI ignores all that might happen to them between sending in an admissions deposit and receiving a diploma. College isn't just an investment in students’ human capital. It is also a phase of life.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2015

Opinion: American Dream? Or mirage?
Economic inequality in the United States is at its highest level since the 1930s, yet most Americans remain relatively unconcerned with the issue. Why? One theory is that Americans accept such inequality because they overestimate the reality of the “American dream” — the idea that any American, with enough resolve and determination, can climb the economic ladder, regardless of where he starts in life. The American dream implies that the greatest economic rewards rightly go to society’s most hard-working and deserving members. ... When asked to estimate how many college students came from families in the bottom 20 percent of income, respondents substantially misjudged, estimating that those from the lowest income bracket attended college at a rate five times greater than the actual one documented by the Current Population Survey.
The New York Times, May 1, 2015


Who's to blame for rising tuition?
Public university students today pay $3,000 more in annual tuition than their counterparts a decade ago. Why that is depends on whom you ask. Some pundits like to blame administrative bloat or the construction boom. Within higher education, many cite the decline in state support. ... The report attempts to pinpoint the factors driving up the price for students seeking a four-year degree at a public college. It asserts that while rising administrative and construction costs are a factor, they’re not as gargantuan as widely believed. A decline in state funding is the real culprit, says author Robbie Hiltonsmith, a senior policy analyst with Demos.
Inside Higher Ed, May 5, 2015

Debt relief battle continues
Corinthian Colleges’ declaration of bankruptcy on Monday finalizes the for-profit college’s unprecedented collapse that has morphed into a political firestorm for the Obama administration — which U.S. Department of Education officials are racing to extinguish. What began last year as a paperwork dispute between Corinthian and Education Department regulators is now a high-profile battle over student debt forgiveness. And department officials are scrambling to figure out how, and in what form, they will provide debt relief to former Corinthian students.
Inside Higher Ed, May 5, 2015

Revisions make a key loan-repayment plan more inclusive, yet more targeted
Negotiators on a federal rule-making panel have agreed on a plan to expand and remake Pay as You Earn, the most generous of the student-loan income-based repayment plans. The revised program — dubbed REPAYE,  short for Revised PAYE — would be at once more inclusive and more targeted than the current plan. It would be open to everyone, regardless of income, but it would focus its benefits on undergraduate students and lower-income borrowers. It would also provide a softer landing for borrowers who fell out of the plan by accident.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2015

Republicans agree on spending plan that could cut student-aid money
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have reached agreement on a spending blueprint for the 2016 fiscal year that could lead to deep cuts in education spending and a reduction in benefits for student-loan borrowers.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2015

Democrats offer amendment to reduce tuition at all state colleges and universities
A proposed amendment to Senate Bill 5954, co-sponsored by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, would have reduced tuition by 5 percent for all students of public colleges and universities in Washington. Today’s effort by Senate Democrats would have helped an additional 9,000 eligible students receive State Need Grants.
Ballard News-Tribune, April 30, 2015