The Promise of Proficiency

How College Proficiency Information Can Help High Schools Drive Student
OURCE: AP/Bebeto Matthews 

While schools have spent decades learning to measure and manage toward
graduation, they now need the data and measurement tools that will
demonstrate their college proficiency rate—or how well their students are
doing the year after high school. Without this information they must rely on
anecdotes at best and guesswork at worst.

By J.B. Schramm, E. Kinney Zalesne | December 3, 2009 

the full report (pdf)

_summ.pdf>  the executive summary (pdf)

Given the 21st century workforce’s demands, educators and policymakers agree
that high school’s purpose has changed. Whereas the goal of high school used
to be graduation, now it strives to launch students to college and career

Unfortunately, high schools’ tools have not caught up with their mission.
While schools have spent decades learning to measure and manage toward
graduation, they now need the data and measurement tools that will
demonstrate their college proficiency rate—or how well their students are
doing the year after high school. Without this information they must rely on
anecdotes at best and guesswork at worst.

And that seems risky, given education’s importance to people’s lives and to
the economy. Indeed, asking schools to deliver postsecondary success without
enabling them to measure postsecondary performance is to demand the
impossible. After all, we wouldn’t ask air traffic controllers to land
planes with radars that shut down at 10,000 feet. We wouldn’t let surgeons
operate if they could only guess at how previous patients had done. And yet
at the moment we are asking high schools to deliver students who can perform
in college without giving schools the tools to know whether or how their
current efforts are paying off.

Throughout America, districts, schools, and nonprofits are starting to see
postsecondary data’s value, and they are improving their offerings based on
whether, where, and how successfully their graduates are enrolled the year
after high school. The federal government, too, has begun to see the value
of this data and is moving the needle forward, especially with the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s call for better data systems and college
proficiency reporting.

But the urgency of getting more American students to and through college
means the federal government should use the significant opportunity it has
to ground certain Recovery Act principles into lasting education policy.
With three targeted steps, the federal government can help 21st century high
schools meet their 21st century mission. Specifically, the federal
government should:

§  Support the gathering of college proficiency data by school, so that each
school can see how their students are doing in “Year 13,” or the first year
after college 

§  Disseminate the data and empower educators to interpret the information
and lead relevant programmatic change 

§  Support and reward high schools for progress in college proficiency, thus
encouraging the visibility of and activity toward this success outcome 

This paper is about helping every high school in America learn in a
systematic, methodical way how its graduates are doing, whether in four-year
colleges, two-year colleges, vocational programs, or apprenticeships. And
it’s about making sure high schools can use that information every day to
make sound, strategic decisions to launch their students to postsecondary

the full report (pdf)

_summ.pdf>  the executive summary (pdf)

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Suzi Emmerling (foreign policy and security, energy, education,
202.481.8224 or [log in to unmask]

Print: Jason Rahlan (health care, economy, civil rights, poverty)
202.481.8132 or [log in to unmask]

Radio: John Neurohr
202.481.8182 or [log in to unmask]

TV: Andrea Purse
202.741.6250 or [log in to unmask]

Web: Erin Lindsay
202.741.6397 or [log in to unmask]

© Center for American Progress <> 



The Week Ahead:

d81c085ad44bd8a44df97efefb02c> EDUCATION: New reports on technical
assistance principles for performance pay and language for teacher
effectiveness; plus, three reports on the future of community colleges.




From the Lumina Foundation:

Back to School and Back to Work

December 3, 2009

Proposal for a National Strategy to Rapidly Train Workers for High-Demand,
High-Wage Jobs Through Accelerated Postsecondary Degree and Credential

Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO, Lumina Foundation for Education


A major part of the national strategy for putting Americans back to work in
living wage jobs must be to get more individuals into and through
postsecondary education programs very rapidly, especially those offering
degrees and credentials linked to high-demand, high-wage occupations. Two
overarching factors make this imperative. First, the vast majority of jobs
currently available—and those likely to be created in the near-term—require
some form of postsecondary education. Second, individuals and families
without jobs or with limited income require immediate relief, something that
has been difficult for college and university programs to accomplish. Many
programs take too long to finish, particularly for families already under
financial pressure. Time is a major factor that drives many individuals—both
adults and traditional age students—into low-wage, low-skill jobs that
simply exacerbates the need for additional, and often costly, education in
the future.


We propose a new national program that allows students to achieve
job-relevant postsecondary degrees and credentials very quickly—in a year or
less. A "shovel ready" program focused on students seeking Associate’s
degrees in high-demand, high-wage jobs could be established very rapidly in
collaboration with community colleges and other providers that are able to
deliver curriculum on an accelerated timeframe.1 The highest priority should
be given to programs that: 

1.	Target unemployed adults. 
2.	Partner with employers. 
3.	Focus on high-demand, high-wage occupational areas—e.g., healthcare,
teaching, green occupations, information technology. 

Programs would require students to treat their education as a job—to go to
college 9-5 every day, with other needs addressed through a range of student
services (assistance with housing, childcare, transportation, and other
real-life concerns). Students would receive a stipend that is significant
enough to reduce the need for any outside work until they complete the
degree. In effect, the stipend becomes their "pay" while they are completing
their "job" of getting a high quality, workforce-ready postsecondary

Such a national, large-scale effort could be launched for an estimated $1.5
billion for every 100,000 participants who complete the program. Costs are
estimated at $12,000 per student for the stipend and $3,000 in other
institutional costs associated with course redesign, student recruitment and
assessment, and student services and counseling. We believe this could be
immediately implemented at approximately 10% of community and technical
colleges nationally (150-200 institutions) in the next year. Many more could
be ready within three years. 

Accelerated Associate’s degree programs have been piloted by states and
institutions with the goal of helping students earn quality credentials that
have real value in the new economy. Some of these are being developed
through support from Lumina Foundation and other philanthropic partners. A
large- scale expansion of these proven programs would help make President
Obama’s call for every American to complete at least one year of
postsecondary education a reality. 

Here are two promising examples of accelerated Associate’s degree programs: 

*	Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College has a new "second-chance"
option for at-risk high school students who commit to enrolling in a
tuition-free, accelerated Associate’s degree in a high-demand field. The
program includes a summer "boot camp" for students who need developmental
education and a tuition-free transfer option for students to move into
four-year institutions. Students will complete the 60 credit hours necessary
for an Associate’s degree in just 10 months. The program treats
postsecondary education like a full-time job, with full-day time commitments
and block-scheduling of classes. This intensive schedule not only makes the
program much shorter; it also minimizes the distractions many students
encounter at college that contribute to dropping out. Students are given a
stipend to help pay for transportation and some meals, to augment the living
cost allowances typically available through financial aid programs. 
*	New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) offers
free tuition, small classes, block schedules, and work experience to enable
highly motivated community college students to complete an Associate degree
more quickly. In 2007, a qualified cohort of more than 1,100 students
enrolled at CUNY's six community colleges (Borough of Manhattan Community
College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, Kingsborough
Community College, LaGuardia Community College, Queensborough Community
College). Data for retention are very promising: 80% of ASAP students re-
enrolled full-time in fall 2008; a similar group of fall 2006 students had a
59% fall-to-fall retention rate. 

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation for Education is the nation's largest private foundation
committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially
low-income students, students of color, first-generation students, and adult
learners. Our goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold
high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues
this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting successful practices,
through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and
convening power to build public will for change. For more information go to <>  

1 Various accelerated postsecondary programs, ranging from Certificate to
Bachelor’s degree programs, could be developed. We believe that accelerated
Associate’s degree programs would be the most immediate and impactful way to
connect high-demand, high-wage jobs with the required postsecondary
education needed to be successful in those jobs.






Dan Kern

AD21, Reading

East Central College

1964 Prairie Dell Road

Union, MO  63084-4344

Phone:  (636) 583-5195

Extension:  2426

Fax:  (636) 584-0513

Email:  [log in to unmask]


Veterans Day 2009:


Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is
it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks
the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a
position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it
because one's conscience tells one that it is right. (Martin Luther King,

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner. Put

yourself in his place so that you may understand what he learns and

the way he understands it. (Kierkegaard)


To freely bloom - that is my definition of success. -Gerry Spence, lawyer
(b. 1929)    [Benjamin would be proud, I think.]


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