Thursday, January 13, 2011

This new research study from AEI provides great food for thought ..

NEW STUDY: Filling in the Blanks
How Information about Graduation Rates Can Positively Affect Choice in Higher Education

January 13, 2011 - Over the past two years, the Obama administration and prominent foundations have promoted a "college completion agenda" designed to dramatically increase the percentage of Americans with a college degree. One barrier to making progress on this goal is simple: colleges that admit similar students often have widely different graduation rates with far too many colleges failing to get a majority of their students across the finish line.

Scholars of all stripes agree that an important step to a better outcome is improving the information available to prospective students and their families. Providing consumers with better information about college quality and costs should help students choose high-performing schools and put pressure on colleges that are not making the grade. But will providing such information really affect college decisions?

In their new research study, Filling in the Blanks, AEI's Andrew P. Kelly and Mark Schneider used an experimental survey to test whether providing graduation-rate information affects the way parents choose between two public, four-year colleges in their state. The study found that providing graduation-rate information for two similar colleges increased the probability that parents would choose the institution with the higher graduation rate by 15 percentage points.

Perhaps most importantly, the information had a large and significant effect on parents with less education, lower incomes, and less knowledge of the college application process. More advantaged and better-informed parents, meanwhile, did not significantly change their preferences in response to graduation rates.

In some cases, providing graduation rates led lower-income and less-informed parents to make choices that looked more like those made by their more advantaged peers. These findings suggest that giving parents additional information about college quality could help less-advantaged parents make decisions that are similar to those made by the savviest consumers in the market.

Kelly and Schneider propose that federal rules be altered to require colleges to share their six-year graduation rates with parents and prospective students in all admissions and financial correspondence. They further argue that policymakers should work to provide a broad array of college quality measures to allow students and their families to easily distinguish colleges from one another.

Kelly concludes that "providing such information to enhance consumer choice in higher education is a governmental objective that policymakers on the right and the left should agree on."

Andrew P. Kelly is a research fellow at AEI. Mark Schneider, a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education, is a visiting scholar at AEI. Both authors are available for interviews and can be contacted through Jenna Schuette at jenna.schuette@aei.org (202.862.5809).

For additional media inquiries, or to book AEI’s in-house ReadyCam TV studio and AEI’s radio booth / ISDN lines, please contact Sara Huneke at sara.huneke@aei.org (202.862.4870).

Monday, January 3, 2011

APATHY STEP ASIDE -- 2011 Promises to be a Year of Continued Change to the Benefit of Students Everywhere!


January 3, 2011 -- At ConnectEDU, we know that building the RIGHT technology to empower students means putting student  success front and center.

As we kick off the New Year, I'm excited by the infrastructure investments we have made at ConnectEDU to ensure that our platform for managing students’ curriculum, college and career pathways is on track.  
It has been an outstanding year, filled with affirmations ranging from our growing team and expanding product capabilities to our growing client engagements which now include the states of Texas, Massachusetts and Michigan, as well as the National Academy Foundation, National College Advising Corp, a consortium of thirteen Charter School Management Organizations (including Big Picture Learning, Cristo Rey Network, IDEA, Friendship, Camino Neuvo and others) and the National College Access Network.  Just this past month we deployed the third largest school district in the United States, Miami-Dade, on the Connect! platform for the coordination and management of their student’s curriculum, college and career planning..  We’ve also signed strategic partnerships with other progressive and efficiency-oriented technology companies in the education space, including Blackboard, Zinch and K12.com. In addition, we have extended the breadth of our technology offerings and student, professor/ teacher, administrator, and employer engagements with tools that drive greater efficiency and community engagement, such as CoursEval and TalentConnect!.

There is much to celebrate in terms of the progress made in 2010.  However, as the following New York Times article illustrates, there is also much work that remains to be done as it pertains to re-orienting the status quo to meeting the needs of the students this process is intended to serve.  As an example, we need to alter the current reality that students are faced with each time they use web-based systems that are not secure or reliable in the college application process.  After all, each student presents themselves through their college application and, in doing so, they are presenting their own sales pitch, their own personal brand, and, of course, their own value proposition.  That value proposition needs to arrive looking and reading the way the student intended it to appear.  Afterall, the students typically pay for this service in the form of an application fee.

In December, the following article ran in the New York Times and raised a lot of concerns surrounding the status quo when it comes to online college application completion technology.  The article created a stir that highlighted many concerns that we all need to take to heart.  Luckily, it also presented a call to action, which ConnectEDU is already focused on.  As one responding reader stated, "To the author of this article, you are spot on. It’s time for some REAL technology companies to begin addressing this marketplace with the goal of solving the needs of students."