Archives for Year: 2015

How one Texas community college helped lift prospects for all students

There is no question that racial, gender and income inequities in the United States hurt our nation economically, socially and morally. Higher education can be a great equalizer, lifting the prospects of the poor, near poor and working class – but only if we hold the entire higher education sector and its cadre of reform advocates to dramatically higher standards. We’ve been too satisfied, even self-congratulatory with small-scale programs that only serve a fraction of the student population and perpetuate a culture where helping all students succeed is someone else’s job. It’s not good enough. If the demographic of the near future (and in many cases present) is majority minority, why are we satisfied with efforts that not only fail to move the college completion needle in reducing inequities but create a terribly inefficient, fractured cottage industry of niche programs, whose return on investment can be questionable? Consider the very popular $14 million developmental education...

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Hiding In Plain Sight: Solutions to College Relevance

Ensuring college degrees are worth the time, money and effort is a challenge this nation must solve. Simply put: more degrees of value mean a more prosperous, equitable future. The college attainment enterprise is certainly working hard and using considerable resources to make college more affordable and beneficial, but it is missing an important solution right under our noses. The “big reveal” came during a recent meeting with higher education hall of famers: Stanford University Registrar Thomas Black, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce director Anthony Carnevale, and manager of strategic partnerships for IEBC’s Tuning USA John Yopp. The discussion focused on how higher education can be more in tune with employers to ensure that what is taught and learned in colleges prepares students for current jobs and emerging careers. The group lamented that surveys of CEOs and human resource directors don’t work, because CEOs are often not in touch with frontline...

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Hack this!

Another way to do and measure philanthropy to produce direct measurable results. In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster and the founding president of Facebook, called on the philanthropy community to do what he and his fellow digital pioneers did to create today’s tech giants: “‘Hack’ complex problems using elegant technological and social solutions, and an almost religious belief in the power of data to aid in solving those problems.” “While philanthropists like to talk about impact, they seldom have the tools to measure it,” Parker wrote. “This has led to a world in which the primary currency of exchange is recognition and reputation, not effectiveness. These incentives lead most philanthropists to favor ‘safe’ gifts to well-established institutions, resulting in a never-ending competition to name buildings at major universities, medical centers, performing arts centers and other such public places.” “How to” — selecting the right tools for...

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Getting Evaluations Right How to Get Better at Getting Better

5 ways grantees can get better at getting better Philanthropy has come a long way in evaluating and reporting on whether funded projects are working. Instead of furtively redirecting underperforming grants or attempting to shine up less-than-stellar results for an annual report, foundations are doing one better: learning to get better at getting better. When well designed and implemented, evaluations can provide useful information and insights that drive strategy and impact. The key is providing grantees feedback in ways they can use to learn what’s working (or not) and act on that information to continuously improve. Five lessons are emerging: 1. Shorter feedback loops When grantees receive evaluation feedback early and more often, they can make the changes necessary to deliver better results. The Doceō project, launched by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation (JKAF), established technology education centers at Northwest Nazarene University and the University of Idaho. The goal...

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Educations pea in the mattresses A tale of layers and royal domains

Sometimes the most obvious education solutions are the hardest to get attention for, much less implement. That’s the way it is with advocating for K-12 and higher education working together to improve college completion. The simple act of K-12 and higher education faculty and administrators together reviewing student performance data and observations about student needs delivers huge benefits. Student learning is made more relevant. The transition from K-12 to higher education is made smoother. Faculty understand more about what students need to succeed. More students earn degrees. But this solution is a bit like the Hans Christian Andersen “Princess and the Pea” tale with the pea that signals ‘happy ever after,’ stuck amidst layers and layers of separate K-12 and higher education cultures and control agencies. We’re still waiting for the most discerning would-be princess policymaker or philanthropist to discover this magical pea. Like the prince, we’re stuck grumbling about the...

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