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Muda69

Fixing the College-Dropout Problem

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https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/08/book-review-the-college-dropout-scandal-underreported-problem/

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Conservatives often take aim at the “college for all” mindset, the idea that education policy should be geared toward getting as many Americans into college as possible. In fact, a recent issue of National Review had no fewer than three articles that touched on the subject. But as sound as educational policy geared toward vocational training and apprenticeships may be, economists forecast that through next year, the American economy will have 55 million job openings, 65 percent of which will require some form of postsecondary education. Tens of millions of Americans will still need degrees.

The problem is, our colleges and universities aren’t particularly good at producing them. That’s where UC Berkeley professor David Kirp’s new book, The College Dropout Scandal, comes in.

The statistics Kirp lays out are stark and shocking: 34 million Americans over 25 have some college credits but no degree, meaning that many have debt without the career options that a degree permits. Dropouts are twice as likely to be unemployed as graduates and four times as likely to default on their loans. Fewer than 60 percent of freshmen graduate in six years; the percentage is below 50 at public schools.

But Kirp also goes beyond statistics, laying out specific examples of why students drop out. On the student side of things, the reasons tend to be personal and cultural. First-generation students, who make up more than a third of undergraduates, often feel out of place and alone on campus, plagued by a sneaking suspicion that they aren’t really cut out for college and easily disillusioned by setbacks. They also don’t have access to valuable reservoirs of knowledge about college life that other students do. And “first-gen” or no, many poorer students drop out because their financial aid runs out near the end of the year; often they are only a few hundred dollars short.

 

Administrators and professors make mistakes too: According to Kirp, 94 percent of professors never receive training in how to teach, resulting in many disregarding instruction for research or believing they teach well when they do not. Administrators of large public universities often fail to adequately coordinate with the community colleges that provide many of their undergraduates, and they ignore relevant data about which students are thriving and which are struggling.

There isn’t one solution to this very big problem, and Kirp cautions against top-down fixes. For example, tying government funds to graduation rates could make colleges shy away from admitting poor students, who are less likely to graduate. It would also worsen already-perverse institutional imbalances: Poorly performing schools, which are less likely to have the resources needed to help at-risk students, are penalized under this system, and grade inflation is rewarded.

So Kirp dives into the numerous small fixes that are needed, and his examples are why the book was such a refreshing read. There’s no focus on the mononymous institutions — Harvard, Stanford, Yale (although Amherst makes a brief appearance) — that contain a tiny minority of students but receive an overwhelming amount of press coverage. He highlights the schools whose names need acronyms: USF, the CUNY system, UT Austin, among others. Large, affordable institutions like these are where most of the students are, as well as where most of the dropouts come from. The 75,000 students at the University of South Florida outnumber the undergraduate population of the eight Ivies combined.

I won’t spell out all of Kirp’s exact prescriptions — each of the six schools he investigates uses its own mix of solutions — but there are some broad conclusions to draw. Schools that wish to graduate more students should take a data-driven approach to their policies. Compiling massive quantities of grades and demographic information is critical for identifying which, how, and when students are falling behind. One result of these investigations is that massive lecture-style classes, often needed to make up for subpar high-school educations, tend to bewilder students and set them back. Georgia State, seeing that half of students were failing required math courses, decided to replace them with smaller classes in computer labs. The number of students failing fell to 19 percent.

The lecture-class problem links to a larger one: There is too little focus in too many schools on the quality of teaching. Many professors who came up through an old-school, lecture-oriented pedagogy mistakenly believe that the format is the most efficient for conveying information. In fact, it’s inferior to more active class styles that engage students, such as the “flipped classroom,” in which students learn the basic information as homework, using class time to explore more advanced concepts. On top of that, without effective and frequent evaluations, many professors will shrug off students’ failures as a sign of the course’s rigor or a lack of student ability — a dangerous and self-defeating mindset.

...

Kirp has written an important book, highlighting an underreported problem. He’s lifted up the kind of institutions and leaders we need more of: those who leave behind the prestige contests of American meritocracy and quietly work for the common good.

These are shocking numbers, but I'm really not that surprised.    More than ever colleges & universities are more than happy to take your or the government's money with little to no regard to whether or not you actually graduate.

 

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Not all colleges have this problem. 91% of Notre Dame freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree in 4 years. At 6 years, it’s almost 96%.

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35 minutes ago, Bobref said:

Not all colleges have this problem. 91% of Notre Dame freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree in 4 years. At 6 years, it’s almost 96%.

Probably a bit of a selection bias thing going on.

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Also, for the record, as much negativity as I have towards the higher education system in Indiana, I’ve managed to do well in education despite my degree. My salary at Agassi was $45k; the Duke-educated math teacher made $42500.

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The push to send everyone to college results in things becoming laws at the State and local level, and even at the federal level to some extent. The push to increase the importance of standardized testing has lead to more remediation time for students, and less time and money for vocational programs. I rarely point back in time to my day when discussing education, BUUUUUUT, our campus alone at Warren Central, and the Walker Career Center had so many opportunities for students. I know that North Central and the J. Everett Light Career Center had them as well. The Walker Career Center had its own restaurant, daycare, computer lab for programming courses, accounting courses, a metal shop, electrical shop, carpentry, horticulture, plumbing, diesel mechanic, auto mechanic, auto body programs. We also had a radio station, a TV station was developing at that time. The bottom line is that when testing was limited to what it was supposed to be; simply checking student progress, schools could focus on getting college bound kids prepared for college, and getting kids bound for other careers well prepared for those. Republicans can decry the problems, but in this State, they sure did more than their share to create the problems. 

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Something else that all the testing and test prep has done.  Along these lines, as part of our day Friday, we drove around the various neighborhoods, apartment complexes, motels/inns, and trailer parks where our students come from. One thing very noticeable late in the morning...there were MAYBE 3 kids that we saw playing outside. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/to-really-learn-our-children-need-the-power-of-play-11565262002?fbclid=IwAR1vpVHQr2QtcqXdZFo63IhuQGnr--_oRaIRZPLTzK_5MzOB1FIhAd4usmU

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On 8/10/2019 at 10:05 PM, Irishman said:

Something else that all the testing and test prep has done.  Along these lines, as part of our day Friday, we drove around the various neighborhoods, apartment complexes, motels/inns, and trailer parks where our students come from. One thing very noticeable late in the morning...there were MAYBE 3 kids that we saw playing outside. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/to-really-learn-our-children-need-the-power-of-play-11565262002?fbclid=IwAR1vpVHQr2QtcqXdZFo63IhuQGnr--_oRaIRZPLTzK_5MzOB1FIhAd4usmU

But, but isn't it dangerous for children to play outside where they could get hurt, kidnapped, etc.?  And isn't the best form of 'play'  100% organized activities run by adults?  Children needs to either be supervised by an adult or 'supervised' by a device (phone, tablet, console, TV, etc.)

 

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3 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

But, but isn't it dangerous for children to play outside where they could get hurt, kidnapped, etc.?  And isn't the best form of 'play'  100% organized activities run by adults?  Children needs to either be supervised by an adult or 'supervised' by a device (phone, tablet, console, TV, etc.)

 

Yes they could get hurt, kidnapped.....I suppose it's possible they could be abducted by aliens (the outer space kind) as well. As I have often said, you can't protect your kids from life, ultimately it will kill them. After waiting in line for what seemed like hours at the pharmacy to pick up a script for my wife Saturday, and not being about to not overhear the customer in front of us and the discussion with the pharmacist over a Vitamin D supplement.....here's a thought, skip the supplement and just go outside and play. 

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