Evaluating the Return on the College Investment
With tuitions rising, college loan defaults setting records, new graduates scrambling for low-paying jobs, it's little wonder that parents and their families are confused about choosing the right college (and major) to provide a positive economic return on their major investment.
Degrees of Value: Evaluating the Return on the College Investment, written by Andrew Gillen, Jeff Selingo, and Mandy Zatynski, offers a careful analysis on using currently available tools (including the new federal College Scorecard) to judge the economic value of a particular degree from a particular college. But this report goes beyond to identify four significant gaps in college and government reporting, gaps that obscure effective school-to-school comparisons—using any tool:
- Graduation and default rates that count all students, not just first-time, full-time students (as the feds currently do)
- Earnings data that move beyond the first (often lowest-income) year after graduation
- Comprehensive career mapping that illustrates where graduates (categorized by major) end up, for example type of work or grad school
- Student satisfaction surveys that ask students about their experiences and how important their education was in securing that first job
“Higher education has been selling the degree premium for decades as a reason to pay its ever-escalating prices,” the article states. “Now the time has come for colleges and universities to help build a system that gives better information on the value of a college education.”
Also From Education Sector:
“We’re Great!” Syndrome
Officials in Montgomery County, Md., schools are looking into its math courses, as more than half of students failed end-of-course geometry and Algebra II finals last semester. Some say students aren’t taught the material well enough; others say what is taught in class doesn’t appear on the exams. Education Sector’s Kris Amundson chalks it up to the “We’re Great!” syndrome sometimes found in high-achieving districts, where successes receive more attention than troubles. “I think you have to take this as a signal that you have to look much more closely and see maybe there are some things kids aren’t learning—maybe as far back as fractions,” Amundson tells the Washington Post.
Exploring Educational Inequalities in High School
Peter W. Cookson Jr., a member of Education Sector’s K20 Task Force, recently spoke with Bloomberg Radio about his forthcoming book, Class Rules: Exposing Inequality in American High Schools. In this study, Cookson considers students in five high schools, the social class of their parents, and “how they came to see the world” as a result. “Most Americans want to believe in educational opportunity and equality of educational opportunity, and I do, too,” Cookson says, “but … the reality is the schools map out the stratifications of society almost perfectly. What really was interesting is how this actually happens in the school.” How so? Listen to the podcast here to find out.
Unbundling the College Degree
Jeff Selingo, an editor at large for the Chronicle of Higher Education and a member of Education Sector’s K20 Task Force, has written a new book, College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, to plenty of fanfare— agreement and disagreement. In the book, Selingo argues that the U.S. higher education system is broken. Tuition soars, while graduation rates linger and employers complain of a workforce that isn’t prepared for the demands of the 21st century. Selingo predicts technology will change higher education for the better, but forget the hoopla around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Selingo writes that competency-based education and hybrid-learning models have more potential to change the way instruction is delivered, to personalize learning, and to increase access to a high-quality education. Learn more and follow continued commentary on Twitter, using #collegeunbound.
Remembering Our Favorite Teachers
Teachers have an amazing task—raising and educating the next generation—and they work at it every day. As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, Education Sector staffers remembered (and thanked) those teachers who left a lasting impression. In this blog series, Peter Cookson recalls the tough love that got him into college and Ben Wildavsky remembers the one and only Miss Ono. Other staffers recognized family, some of whom have dedicated themselves to the classroom for years. Thank you, teachers!
Trending on The Quick & The Ed:
A sampling of our most popular blog posts of the week…
Why the Alachua County Lawsuit Could Reverberate Nationwide
“… The lawsuit could have broad consequences. If the judge in Florida rules for the NEA, his decision will likely establish the principle that teachers cannot be evaluated using tests from other subjects or other grades. Because most teachers do not teach courses associated with standardized tests, states may then face a difficult choice between greatly expanding standardized testing, exempting large numbers of teachers from achievement-based evaluation, or rethinking this form of evaluation altogether…” (by Danny Rosenthal)
How to Avoid Sounding Stupid on the Louisiana Voucher Ruling
“On Tuesday, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued its decision on the state’s private school voucher program, enacted last year with support from Gov. Bobby Jindal. … ]Voucher debates have a unique potential to bring out the crazy and stupid in people on both sides of the issue, so I thought I’d offer a few tips for folks to avoid sounding stupid when they talk about the May 7 Louisiana Supreme Court ruling…” (by Sara Mead)
Considering the Generational Divide in Online Learning
“A paper released recently by the Community College Research Center reminds the champions of MOOCs and other online initiatives of one very important detail: Not all students prefer an online education; many higher education students still want in-person discussions and on-the-spot feedback. But that’s not to say it will stay that way…” (by Mandy Zatynski)
Higher Ed Data Central: Death to the Perkins Loan
“… There is something very wrong when the amount of money awarded by a college from a program for needy students is based more on its political power than the need of its students. It is time to recognize that the Perkins loan program is not an aid program for needy students; rather, it is a slush fund for America’s aristocratic colleges.” (by Andrew Gillen)