Archives for College & Career Readiness

Marquez Remembers Being in Students Shoes

  Desi Marquez was the first person in his family to attend college. Today he is well on the way to earning his Ph.D. But he still vividly recalls how unsure and confused he was about the college application process as a high school senior.  “The idea of college is something I wanted to do, but I assumed they would come to me,” says Marquez. “My mom and dad didn’t have a notion of what a student should do to prepare to go to college.” Marquez was fortunate to cross paths with Arizona State University recruiter Yira Thorne.  Twenty-six years later, he still recalls how she took a personal interest in Marquez’s success, helping him apply and pursue financial aid. Marquez was admitted and received a full scholarship. Once on campus, Marquez says, “She really cared. I came from a small town. Going to a big university was a shock to me. She must have picked up on that and took me under her wing… She was an angel in a sense.” Today, Marquez finds himself in a similar role as a...

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Serendipity Leads to IEBC Book

A serendipitous search for a better way to support her Hinds Community College (Raymond, Mississippi) colleagues in her role as Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness led Dr. Carley Dear to a new tool providing her with an entirely new approach to fostering student success. The tool was the book Creating A Data-Informed Culture in Community Colleges, written by Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) President and CEO Dr. Brad Phillips, and IEBC Vice President Jordan Horowitz. Dr. Dear was intrigued by its premise and ordered a copy. With nearly 100 different initiatives underway under the student success banner at Hinds Community College, Dr. Dear had grown frustrated with her efforts to determine which programs were working, and why. Lagging vs. Leading Indicators an Eye-Opener “I was drawn to the chapter on leading and lagging indicators,” said Dr. Dear. “Then I was grabbed by a chart on tracking interventions… I continued to read more, and wanted to find out...

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Finding it hard to go ‘All In’?

Read "The Problems and Promise of Bringing Educational Interventions to Scale” by Brad Phillips in Medium. Going all-in sounds exciting in poker but not for most educational institutions. Few are willing to bet big on going to scale with interventions, even if these interventions are research-based and have shown promise in improving student outcomes. So why is it so difficult to go all-in in education? Educators are, by their very nature, conservative and do not like change. There is an old anecdote in education. It starts off by asking …of all the world’s major systems, such as government, technology, religion, medicine and education, which systems have experienced the least amount of change over time? The reality is education and religion have changed the least. While one can argue online education has changed the system, it’s really only the technology to deliver education that has changed — like adding a train down the middle of the same highway. Another barrier to change is...

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Data Use Principles for Education Leaders

In our recent book from Harvard Education Press, Creating a DataInformed Culture in Community Colleges: A New Model for Educators, my colleague Brad Phillips and I present a data use model for student success grounded in the latest research on how people and organizations process information. Educators have focused on increasing data literacy for a few decades now, with little movement on the needle for increasing student success. We argue that, with so many advances in understanding human neuroscience, judgment and decisionmaking, and organizational habits, educational institutions should capitalize on what we have learned about our ability to present information in ways that will maximize its use.

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Moving the Needle on Community College Student Success

Americas community colleges work hard to serve their students. Dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators put in countless hours and commit their professional lives to improving student outcomes. But working hard does not mean that their efforts are making a demonstrable difference in student success. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the graduation rate within 150 percent of normal time from first institution attended for firsttime, fulltime degree/certificateseeking students at twoyear postsecondary institutions has remained fairly constant for the past thirteen years, ranging from 30.5 to 34.0 percent (2005 and 2008 cohorts, respectively). The most recent cohort (2012 first term) has a rate of 31.6 percent. While parttime student data is not available, community college educators know that the college completion rate for these students is much lower than their fulltime student counterparts.

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Why it is Better to Lead Than Lag

Imagine being made to follow the speed limit, but denied access to a speedometer – only learning how fast you are going after the police officer pulls you over and gives you a ticket. And when you protest, you’re told you should have been watching your gas gauge. That’s how it is in education. We post the signs for what we want performance to be and publicly report offenders, but do not provide educators with the right gauges for monitoring needs and providing timely responses. Drivers of education need indicators they can respond to in time to make a difference for students. Leading and Lagging Indicators Defined Why is it so hard to make a difference in outcomes? The problem could be the kind of indicator we are expected to use. Typically we use lagging indicators. Lagging indicators are our big goals, the long-term impact we hope to achieve: graduation rates, persistence to degree. These are important, but it is difficult to affect these indicators directly in any meaningful way....

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Automatic Admission: Setting Up Students to Succeed

This time of year many high school students are weighing their options for college. For most people getting a college degree is the difference maker in getting a good job and opportunities for a satisfying life. Seeing themselves in the opportunity-making business, Idaho public colleges are now automatically admitting high school seniors with a 3.0 or higher grade point average and SAT score of at least 1000. It is a brilliant idea, particularly for a state that lags far behind other states in college-going rates. Instead of the typical strategery and scramble to increase enrollment, University of Idaho’s president, Chuck Staben bypassed the step altogether, notifying all 20,171 graduating high school seniors that they are automatically accepted in the state’s public colleges and universities. The new automatic or “direct” enrollment initiative comes at a time college enrollment among low-income students nationally is dropping. Even though high school graduation rates are improving...

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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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Improving Response Time in Education

by Brad C. Phillips What if the solution to what ails education was a simple matter of timing? We know the fastest response times win the day in health care, retail, and other sectors, so why not education? The answer lies in when education’s data and accountability systems provide information – is it in time or too late? Too often the success or failure of education is measured after the fact. Education reporting and data collection systems almost exclusively focus on metrics like graduation rates, test scores, and even employment, which are reported too late to be acted upon. While important and representative of goals we as a nation must attain, they are not designed to help those in the delivery of education do the work required to meet those goals.  Imagine being made to follow the speed limit, but denied access to a speedometer – only learning how fast you are going after the police officer pulls you over and gives you a ticket. And when you protest, you’re told you should have...

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