4-21-2010. Students who enter Tennessee's public colleges and universities this fall will get the first taste of new policies designed to ensure they stay there until graduation. This past winter, the legislature ordered the higher education system to do something to improve graduation rates that are among the lowest in the nation. Only 45 percent of the students who start high school in Tennessee earn a college degree within six years of starting college.
04-20-2010. Leaders of the American Association of Community Colleges revealed details about a new national accountability system. The Voluntary Framework of Accountability is a joint effort of AACC, the Association of Community College Trustees and the College Board. As with most new programs in the community college world these days, the money is coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education. The idea is to build a community college equivalent of the Voluntary System of Accountability, which is a joint effort of the two main associations of public four-year colleges and universities: the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In that system, and in the one being created for community colleges, institutions report a wide variety of data in comparable ways.
4-15-2010. A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board analyzes the practices at public colleges and universities that have higher graduation rates than comparable institutions, and suggests that there are specific policies that make their successes possible. The report notes that these colleges include institutions that educate many disadvantaged students, not just those who attended the best high schools.
4-11-2010. Replicating success many times over is necessary if the United States has any hope of meeting President Obama's goal of becoming the world's best-educated country by 2020. Meeting that goal will also hinge on changing attitudes in states like Tennessee, which has long ranked among the lowest in the nation in the proportion of residents with a college degree, and in places like Dyersburg, a former factory town where educators often struggle to persuade residents that a college degree is no longer a luxury.
4-01-2010. Lumina Foundation for Education announced today that it will provide up to $8 million in grants during the next four years to support large-scale efforts to increase degree completion among adults who have already earned some college credits.
03-17-2010. Traditional economic development efforts have focused on leveraging money, in one guise or another. Some states had lower costs and lower taxes to brag about – money. Some emphasized helping new industry by improving roads and water and sewers – money. Some tried to make up for high costs by offering various grants and tax breaks – in other words, money. But in what economists have taken to calling “the knowledge economy,” it turns out that the key asset states must now deploy is, actually, knowledge.
03-03-2010. Complete College America, whose creation was formally announced Tuesday, focuses solely "on dramatically increasing the nation’s college completion rate through state policy change," and on building "consensus for change among state leaders, higher education, and the national education policy community." That's a logical focus for its president, Stan Jones, who spent 30 years working on higher education issues as a legislator, gubernatorial adviser and commissioner of higher education in Indiana. Governor Phil Bredesen was featured prominently during a telephone news conference introducing Complete College America, and that was no accident; Jones describes the Tennessee governor as "an all-star" in terms of his emphasis on higher education as an issue, and acknowledges that not all governors -- even in the 16 other states that have committed to the new group -- are likely to dive into higher education reform to the same degree he did. Participating states include Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.
03-01-2010. Policy makers are scanning the educational landscape looking for techniques and tactics that might help draw adults into college and help them move through -- and a new study suggests that one such tool holds promise. An examination of the educational records of more than 62,000 adult undergraduates at 48 colleges finds that students who had sought and been awarded academic credit by their institutions for "prior learning" earned in the military, corporate training and other non-classroom settings were more than twice as likely to graduate, and to persist even if they did not graduate, than were their peers who had not earned such credit. In total, 56 percent of the students who entered the 48 institutions in 2001-2 and earned some "prior learning assessment" credit by 2008 went on to earn an associate or bachelor's degree in those seven years, compared to 21 percent of students who did not receive any PLA credit, according to the study, "Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success: A 48-Institution Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Adult Student Outcomes."
02-02-2010. The governor proposed and the legislature passed the reforms (in the Complete College Act) by wide margins in both houses. There was universal agreement among these parties that the state must take bold steps to increase the number of citizens with higher education degrees. A more highly educated state will benefit from higher prosperity, lower crime and better health. Tennessee's current system of higher education produces fewer graduates per dollar invested than many states with which we compete. This is a luxury that we cannot afford. Just as our K-12 schools are being held accountable for producing better results, so must our higher education institutions.
1-26-2010. Governor Phil Bredesen today signed into law two bills passed during this month’s special session of the 106th General Assembly that was focused on improving K-12 and higher education; the “Tennessee First to the Top Act of 2010” and the “Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010.” The new laws enact a range of measures designed to spur improvement in Tennessee’s education pipeline — specifically, improving student performance and graduation rates at both the high school and college levels.
11-24-2009. The Lumina Foundation for Education will spend up to $1.2 million in Tennessee on a multi-year initiative to implement model programs for re-enrolling and graduating adult students who have left college and revising the state's higher education funding formula and Performance Funding program.
11-24-2009. The underlying thesis of the Lumina Foundation for Education's Making Opportunity Affordable initiative is that as colleges, states and the country strive to get more people into and out of postsecondary education with a meaningful credential (the "big goal" embraced by President Obama), they will have to do so without significant new public funds.
10-15-2009. Among all the issues in higher education today, retention once again captures our attention. Most influential is the publication of Crossing the Finish Line, a study of completing college at America’s public universities. It’s reinforced by the June 2009 report, "Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t),". The two studies have rekindled our concern about the percentage of undergraduates who fail to complete their bachelor degrees.
10-13-2009. To ensure that the country can maintain its competitive footing and close gaps in attainment among traditionally underrepresented groups, President Obama called for an additional five million community college graduates by 2020. The administration proposed to spend $12 billion over the next 10 years to support reform efforts by colleges and states. The legislation is now moving through Congress.
10-03-2009. More than half a million Kentuckians have taken some college courses, but don't have a degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those, 11,000 between the ages of 25 and 50 have earned at least 90 credits but didn't graduate.
The project sets returning students up with an advisor, determines which courses that student still needs to take and waives certain fees.
09-16-2009. A National Center for Education Statistics report released Tuesday projects key education data out to 2018 and estimates that college enrollments will increase by 13 percent by 2018, to 20.6 million, and that the number of associate and bachelor's degrees awarded by American colleges would grow by 25 and 19 percent, respectively. Under those current conditions, the country is on track to fall short of President Obama's goal of returning the United States to the top of the list of developed countries in the proportion of citizens with a postsecondary credential.
07-28-2009. Tennessee higher education officials are debating a change to the way colleges earn state funding, and a new method could bring financial repercussions to some struggling schools.
07-24-2009. Tennessee colleges must aim to produce 44,000 graduates per year by 2015 if they are going to catch up with the national average, officials with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission say. The state now is on track to graduate only 38,000 college students per year by 2015, said THEC officials. Tennessee ranks 44th in the nation for average college graduation rates, figures show.
07-22-2009. Tennessee is among a number of states trying to determine why so many of its college students fail to complete their course requirements and receive a degree. Only 45 percent of Tennessee students graduate within six years. In community colleges, 14 percent graduate in three years. Only Arkansas and Louisiana ranked lower than Tennessee. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will begin revising its funding formula this fall to offer rewards to schools that not only enroll more freshmen but also move them to commencement.
07-12-2009. President Obama reports that in an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate's degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, it's never been more essential to continue education and training after high school. That's why we've set a goal of leading the world in college degrees by 2020. Part of this goal will be met by helping Americans better afford a college education. But part of it will also be strengthening our network of community colleges.
07-11-2009. The downtown Academic Village and Educate and Grow scholarship program were among things showcased at the Education Commission of the States 2009 National Forum on Education Policy in Nashville this week. “It’s quite amazing what Kingsport has accomplished in just a very few years to provide new higher educational opportunities to residents, young people and employees of Kingsport businesses,” Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Miles Burdine said in a news release. “And now other cities and academic entities across the nation are recognizing what we have done and are asking us to share this amazing story.”
07-01-2009. Education Sector, a think tank promoting education reform, analyzed accountability systems across the nation and found varied results in its report, "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems." The group’s survey determined that 38 states have little if any system for measuring learning outcomes, adding that 36 states have yet to develop a method for linking college funding to performance. Tennessee was one of ten “best practice” states.
05-26-2009. States fund public colleges primarily based on how many students are enrolled. But a number of legislatures are considering policies that would link funding to whether students graduate.
05-05-2009.Among the new programs the administration has proposed in its 2009-10 budget is the “College Access and Completion Fund.” This program would spend $2.5 billion, over the course of five years, on supporting state efforts to boost the college completion rates of low-income students. A to-be-determined evaluative component would assess these many efforts in order to pinpoint the most successful ones.
04-29-2009. A report about college costs and prices released today by Public Agenda, a nonprofit group that is working with the Lumina Foundation for Education's Making Opportunity Affordable project. Following up on reports that examined the views of college presidents and the general public, Public Agenda's new study, "Campus Commons? What Faculty, Financial Officers and Others Think About Controlling College Costs" compares the views of professors and campus and state financial officers with those of presidents on how they define the "problems" in higher education, the depth and breadth of those problems, and the potential solutions.
04-17-2009. Today’s economic concerns are obscuring what may prove to be even bigger strategic challenges ahead for higher education. In many respects, our key focus right now is survival. We are striving to protect the core of our colleges and universities. And we are hoping that higher education may yet again prove to be counter-cyclical to prevailing market conditions – a rare winner in the economic lottery. Beyond survival, however, higher education has to be thinking about its own sustainability. Even as we struggle with present conditions, a number of farsighted universities are working hard at decoding the future, too -- because change is certainly coming. Demographics are shifting. Competition for talent is global. And the very financial structures that have supported higher education for the past 40-plus years may now be at risk.
03-27-2009. Public college leaders in many states are looking to the recently enacted federal stimulus package as a lifeline, if not a savior, in the worst economic climate in more than a generation. But keep those expectations in check: As the murky picture surrounding the stimulus funds slowly begins to clear, the evidence so far suggests that higher education may fare well in some states, but could receive relatively little in others.
12-17-2008. One of the underlying premises of the Making Opportunity Affordable project -- that colleges and universities will need to become more productive if the country is to meet the widely recognized goal of significantly increasing the number of Americans with a postsecondary credential -- just got underscored by the economic downturn rippling across the states.
12-16-2008. At a time when state economies are reeling and educators and policymakers are anticipating significant cuts to public higher education, Lumina Foundation for Education today announced grants to 11 states to help develop and implement policy changes that promote cost-saving methods of delivering high-quality education to greater numbers of students. The 11 participating states were chosen from among 37 that applied. Each state will receive an initial $150,000, one-year grant through the foundation's Making Opportunity Affordable (MOA) initiative to develop innovative strategies in key policy areas to promote sustainable productivity improvements. Selected states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.