What to do with a record budget increase ...
Windfall, catch up or epic opportunity? 
California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced a budget deal with record increases for education, particularly community colleges. Some call it a windfall. Others call it catch up from deep budget slashing during the recession.

In an EdSource op-edretiring president of Ventura County's Oxnard College and former president of the National Community College Hispanic Council 

Richard Duran and Institute for Evidenced-Based Change CEO Brad C. Phillips called it an "epic opportunity."

The infusion of money combined with untenable economic and racial inequity provides "an extraordinary opportunity to slay some sacred cows and status quo thinking," Phillips and Duran said. 

With the clarity and liberty of retirement and experience helping colleges use data to improve student success, the two leaders list some Do's and Don'ts to deliver the equity and opportunity California students deserve.


Statewide, less than half of 2.1 million students are finishing community college within six years. The outcomes are even lowerfor the state's fastest growing populations. That rate remains largely unchanged over the last two years.


Helping California make good on the promise of the "Student Success Initiative" is a top IEBC priority. We have an opportunity to build a more effective state community college system that truly delivers equity and opportunity in the Golden State. But only if we stop assuming we know what's best for students, do the research on their needs and challenges and take time to connect with each and every student in ways that have never been done before. Let's get to work.

If you are on Twitter, share your thoughts and ideas using the #CACCGoldenOpp hashtag. 


NPR hs grad rate exposé got us thinking...
National Public Radio recently did an excellent set of stories on high school graduation rates.


They found that there is much more to the story of our nation's historic high school graduation rate of 81 percent.


A team of reporters months-long investigation revealed that states, cities and districts are pursuing a range of strategies to improve the graduation rate. The report listed mislabeling drop outs and making it easier to obtain alternative diplomas as two strategies that may be distorting a "true" graduation rate. The report also focused on improvements that are the result of schools providing students the support they need to succeed.


Similar strategies and shell games are at work in higher education. This closer examination of graduation rate reporting would be a great story for some of the many crack higher ed reporters out there. Too often institutions cream the cohort to make the grad rate higher than it really is, missing opportunities to identify and help struggling students. 


Education's "Princess and the Pea"
Sometimes the most obvious education solutions are the hardest to get attention for, much less implement. That's the way it is with advocating for K-12 and higher education working together to improve college completion.

But this solution is a bit like the Hans Christian Andersen "Princess and the Pea" tale with the pea that signals 'happy ever after,' stuck amidst layers and layers of separate K-12 and higher education cultures and control agencies. We're still waiting for the most discerning would-be princess policymaker or philanthropist to discover this magical pea.

In Florida, more community college students are skipping remedial courses they've been advised to take and are then failing college-level courses. Inside Higher Education's Ashley Smith examined the completion data in the wake of a Florida law that lets students decide whether to take remedial/developmental courses. At one college, of students who chose to take college-level math when they were advised to take the developmental equivalent, only 2 out of 10 passed with a C or better in the spring 2014 semester.
Like the prince, we're stuck grumbling about the current state of affairs and princess candidates that just aren't cutting it. The failure to link high school standards to post-secondary entrance expectations reverberates through a student's life and the nation's economy. The New America Foundation hosted an important conference on policies and practices that affect college completion, NAF's Lindsey Tepe authored an excellent report on the need to create a coherent pathway from K-12 to and through college. It's an issue that is gaining steam. 

Imagine all stakeholders -- K-12 school staff and administrators, higher education faculty and leadership, workforce leaders, students, government, and accrediting agencies  --all focused on one agenda that creates graduates who are prepared to succeed. The Texas gulf region is one model to follow. With IEBC's help the consortium of high schools and community colleges wrote math and English alignment guides to ensure a smooth transition from high school to college. 

We just can't afford to do reforms piecemeal any more. Finally getting student success right will require a more comprehensive look from K-12 through higher education - after all, we all share the same students, just at different points in their education journey.  

Just Ask Them: Tapping the Student Voice

A recent EdSurge article, Care About Educational Equity? Then You Should Care About Mobile, exhorts educators: "If you truly believe in equity and access in public education, it's time to meet families (and students) on their terms."


IEBC will host webinars and workshops on mobile and other digital survey tools, which allow higher education leaders to transcend time and place barriers to tap into the student voice. Such digital tools are more effective because they are available when, where and how it is convenient for students. Students have the ability to provide feedback 24-hours a day using their mobile device, tablet, laptop or desktop over a set period of days or weeks.


Understanding the student experience from the student perspective leads to dramatically more effective policies and practices. This is particularly true for younger adults who have low income and low educational attainment levels are non-white and call themselves "smart-phone dependent." 







College Completion is about more than money

In Norway where college is free, children of uneducated parents still don't go to college and earn a degree.

A recent Hechinger Report story noted that  all Norwegians have the same tuition-free access to college and the same allowance for living expenses, no matter what their backgrounds. 

But even though tuition is almost completely free, Norwegians whose parents did not go to college are just as unlikely to go themselves as Americans whose parents did not go to college.

This phenomenon demonstrates a critical point that is also true in the United States: money is not the only thing keeping first-generation students from seeking and completing degrees.

Students who are new to college need extra support and help navigating a system that is often not designed to be convenient or easily understood. 

Waiting on an Ed Tech Teaching Transformation?

A recent Education Week story highlights that while ed tech abounds, it is not changing teaching practices. 

According to the story, "the student-centered, hands-on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to the rule."

The Northwest Nazarene University and University of Idaho's Doceo Center for Innovation + Learning helps student teachers and in-service teachers use technology to engage students in deeper, more relevant learning. 

Funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, the project seeks to scale and sustain student-centered teaching practices using an array of tech tools.  

The project is using an innovative blend of evaluation methods to ensure the best, most effective practices are spread and scaled. 

This approach recognizes that merely having technology in place is not a guarantee that it will be used in ways that transform teaching and learning.
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about the big opportunities and challenges of data use in education. We would love to learn more about your organization and how we can help. E-mail me at bphillips@iebcnow.org or call us at 760-436-1477.