Tag Archives: research

A Suggested Framework for Prison Higher Education Reform

An oft-forgotten yet important subsection of college and university programs are those that take place in prison. While these programs provide prisoners with an otherwise unachievable education, many have problems that prevent prisoners from accessing equitable higher education. These prison programs often are considered selective, with applicants having to prove their worth through standardized tests, essays, and even proof of extracurricular activities. These requirements can be difficult for the average student to meet, let alone an incarcerated student. Recognizing these problems, Erin Corbett and Second Chance Educational Alliance, Inc. (SCEA) created a three-principled framework to help transform these outdated prison programs into more equitable ones.

The Framework

  • Reconceptualize an admission process that accounts for incarcerated student access to time, information, and opportunity
    • Broaden partnerships with community-based organizations to ensure community representation in the admission and enrollment process
    • Implement an open and rolling admission timeline
    • Create an application process that centers on portfolio assessments rather than GPA or standardized test scores
      • Imprisoned students are often enrolled in life skills programs that provide certifications upon completion. These certificates can be used in place of more traditional guideposts of student success.
    • Shift assessment and program models to leverage a competency mastery model
      • Root curricula and credentials in competency mastery rather than credit hours
        • Project based learning is an excellent way for students to connect with their studies and demonstrate mastery
      • Implement and strengthen avenues to award credit for prior learning
        • Dismantle college-in-prison programs that do not accept credits for prior learning
        • Award credit though Prior Learning Assessments (PLA)
          • Using PLAs in prisons have shortened the average degree completion time and resulted in a 43 percent graduation rate compared to 15 percent in programs not using PLAs
        • PLA Considerations:
          • Waive prerequisites that would normally increase time-to-degree completion
          • Use PLA credits to meet general education and program/major requirements
          • Fund programs that award credit for prior learning

Authors of the framework hope that by better serving minority populations in prison, previous practices that have historically only benefited the privileged will be upended.

 

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org

Problems Associated with Test Optional Policies During a Pandemic

The Background

Test-optional policies have become popular among institutions of higher education in recent years, whether due to holistic admission policies or as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. While many celebrate the increase of test-optional admission policies as a win for equitable admission, authors Dominique J. Baker and Akil Bello highlight three major problems associated with the quick adoption of these policies. The authors also break down recommendations for both policymakers and practitioners that may help blunt the negative impacts they believe test-optional policies have on students.

Problems with Test-Optional Policies

The first problem highlighted by Baker and Bello involves requiring standardized testing to graduate high school. Even though many colleges and universities are going test-optional, 25 states require a standardized test to receive a high school diploma. However, due to the rise in test-optional policies as a result of the pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for students in these states to schedule these exams.

The second problem associated with test-optional policies in the age of coronavirus involves the swiftness with which decisions to go test-optional were made. These decisions are being made at faster speeds than ever before, which does not allow significant time for colleges and universities to prepare for the change.

The last problem with these policies involves the new reliance on student’s prior academic performance. As academic grades have been completely upended due to coronavirus, using these grades as predictors of college success no longer is viable.

Recommendations for Practitioners

  • Ensure that initial screening policies do not make negative assumptions about those who do not submit tests compared to those who do submit.
    • Research suggests that taking standardized tests multiple times correlates with an increase in scores. Minority students take standardized tests at lesser rates than white students, indicating that at least some of the score differential between white and minority students could be caused by familiarity with the standardized test.
  • Address the relationship between test scores and merit aid
    • The best approach would be to adopt a test blind policy when awarding scholarships.
  • Ensure that all policies involving test score use is transparent and inclusive.

Recommendations for Policymakers

  • Certain states need to revisit the standardized test requirement for high school graduation. With coronavirus still rampant, it is unlikely that students will be able to meet this requirement.
  • State Boards of Education should consider a systematic way to communicate grade changes from the most recent academic term.
    • Underfunded schools likely do not currently have this capacity.
    • States should create a single database of grading changes that occurred during the Spring 2020 semester that can be made available to admission professionals.
  • State Boards of Education should create better communication practices with colleges about the impact coronavirus has on different communities.
    • This context allows admission professionals to access contextual information while evaluating students.
  • State Boards of Education should provide coronavirus-related sickness and death rate information linked to the nearest high school or college. This would increase time for review as well as provide insight into the struggles students face during the pandemic.

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org

Equity Concerns Rise as FAFSA Filings and Enrollment Deposits Drop

The Background

Historically, Black and Latinx students have been at significant educational disadvantages. These inequities have crossed into many facets of higher education, from access to quality K-12 education to enrollment rates at selective institutions. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has deepened these inequities, as the virus has disproportionately affected low-income Black and Latinx students’ ability to receive a quality education.

The Study

Researchers at EAB wanted to determine if these inequities extended to enrollment deposits and financial aid at colleges and universities. To do so, they analyzed enrollment data and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deposit information of 500,000 students admitted to four-year colleges across the United States for the Fall 2020 semester.

The Findings

Results of the study indicate a widening equity gap. According to deposit submission rates, low-income and minority students are not submitting deposits as much as in previous years. While deposits are down across all low- and middle-income households, they are lowest among Pell-eligible households. When broken down by race and ethnicity, Black students were significantly more likely not to submit deposits when compared to other ethnic groups.

Also, of significant concern is the percentage of low-income students who have not filed a FAFSA form even though they qualify for financial aid. Eighteen percent of Black students and 15 percent of Latinx students have not yet filed their FAFSA form for the Fall 2020 year, rates much higher than white and Asian students. While minority students usually file at lesser rates than white students, the heightened rates for the Fall 2020 semester indicate that the coronavirus pandemic may be disproportionally affecting the minority student population.

The Implications

As a result of the findings, EAB encourages colleges and universities to act swiftly to ebb the impact of coronavirus on low-income and minority students. They suggest that the first step involves identifying and contacting students who have made a deposit, but have yet to complete and submit their FAFSA. Colleges can then provide FAFSA completion support to help students submit their financial aid information. EAB urges colleges to be consistent, persistent, and clear in their messaging to relate the significance of filing these important documents.

Read the full report: https://eab.com/insights/expert-insight/enrollment/drop-college-enrollment-fafsa-filing-raises-equity-concerns/?utm_source=Deposits&utm_medium=PR

Read more about FAFSA filings and enrollment declines.

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org

Most Selective Colleges Do Not Enroll Equitably

While recent protests and national unease have shed a light on many aspects of systemic racism in the United States, there has been less scrutiny of how racism specifically limits educational opportunities at selective institutions for underrepresented minorities.

According to a new report from the Education Trust, access for Black and Latino students at the nation’s 101 most selective public colleges and universities has shown very little progress since 2000, and the overwhelming majority of the nation’s most selective public colleges are still inaccessible for these undergraduates.

The report examines how access to higher education has changed for Black and Latino students and whether these institutions are serving an undergraduate student body that represents the racial and ethnic diversity of their particular state’s population.

“Improving access for Black and Latino students at the 101 colleges and universities included in this report is a matter of will,” the report said. “With larger endowments and more funding, these institutions have the resources to do so, but their leaders must make a conscious commitment to increasing access. Policymakers can also help institutions become more accessible.”

Read the full report: ‘Segregation Forever’?: The Continued Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at the Nation’s 101 Most Selective Public Colleges and Universities.

Research Associate, Cameron Hair, welcomes additional comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org.

Report: Enrollment Slide Continues in US Higher Ed

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The number of students enrolled in postsecondary education fell for the sixth straight year, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Enrollments in US higher education dropped by 1 percent from fall 2016 to fall 2017, a loss of nearly 200,000 students. Notable decreases were recorded among first-time college students, which experienced an overall decline of 2.3 percent.

The decrease in the new-to-college category was seen among both traditional-aged and adult students.

Continue reading Report: Enrollment Slide Continues in US Higher Ed

Report Examines Experiences of First-Gen Students

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Prospective first-generation college students cite high educational aspirations as 10th graders, but take longer to enroll in college and are less likely than their peers to earn a degree.

Those findings are included in a new research brief from the US Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences. The report uses 10 years of data collected from a nationally representative sample of students who were high school sophomores in 2002.

Continue reading Report Examines Experiences of First-Gen Students

Study: Interest in International Transfer Pathways Growing Among Community Colleges

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Community colleges are an integral facet of the US higher education system. Serving nearly 6.3 million students, these public, two-year institutions offer a variety of courses and degree programs at a third of the price charged by four-year colleges. Because most community colleges have transfer agreements with baccalaureate-granting institutions, many students who seek a bachelor’s degree initially matriculate at a community college to take advantage of its cost-saving benefits. In fact, data from the National Student Clearinghouse show that 49 percent of students who completed a degree at a four-year university in 2015-16 had previously enrolled in a community college during the last 10 years.

Community colleges have typically established transfer agreements with local and regional institutions. These include “2+2” pathway programs, which guarantee admission for students at the partner four-year college if specific academic requirements are met, and articulation agreements that delineate how specific coursework will transfer between programs.

Results from a recent survey of 140 community colleges conducted by NACAC and Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) indicate a growing number of these colleges are also interested in pursuing transfer partnerships with universities abroad.

Continue reading Study: Interest in International Transfer Pathways Growing Among Community Colleges

Study: Having a Black Teacher Can Help Keep Black Kids in School

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Low-income black students who have at least one black teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and consider attending college, according to a new working paper published by the Institute of Labor Economics.

Being assigned to a classroom led by a black teacher in in third, fourth, or fifth grade reduced a student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29 percent, the study found.

And the positive effects were even greater among low-income black boys, whose likelihood of dropping out fell by 39 percent.

Continue reading Study: Having a Black Teacher Can Help Keep Black Kids in School

Data Dive: Addressing Stereotype Threat and the Achievement Gap

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Background: Schools across the nation continue to grapple with the achievement gap, and the literature suggests that academic gaps between white children and their non-white counterparts grow as students make their way through school. Stereotype threat —  the sense of apprehension individuals feel when they are afraid their actions or parts of their identities will confirm a negative stereotype about the group to which they belong — is one factor social scientists believe contributes to the achievement gap.

The Study: A 2016 study by Geoffrey Borman, Jeffrey Grigg, and Paul Hanselman examined how one type of intervention, called self-affirmation, could offset the effects of stereotype threat. Exercises in self-affirmation offer students the chance to affirm their self-worth by thinking, writing, or speaking about the skills, values, or roles they view as important.

Continue reading Data Dive: Addressing Stereotype Threat and the Achievement Gap

Report: High School Graduates from Southern States Projected to Increase

The Southern region is set to produce the largest number of high school graduates in the US over the next 15 years, according to the latest enrollment projections from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Although the overall number of high school graduates in the US is predicted to decrease, Southern states (highlighted in yellow in the figure below) will see a significant increase in their number of public and private high school graduates. Specifically, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma will experience the largest growth.

Continue reading Report: High School Graduates from Southern States Projected to Increase