Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs
Source: Institute of Medicine
Since the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in 1965, the public has provided tens of billions of dollars to fund graduate medical education (GME), the period of residency and fellowship that is provided to physicians after they receive a medical degree. Although the scale of government support for physician training far exceeds that for any other profession, there is a striking absence of transparency and accountability in the GME financing system for producing the types of physicians that the nation needs.
The IOM formed an expert committee to conduct an independent review of the governance and financing of the GME system. The 21-member IOM committee concludes that there is an unquestionable imperative to assess and optimize the effectiveness of the public’s investment in GME. In its report, Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs, the committee recommends significant changes to GME financing and governance to address current deficiencies and better shape the physician workforce for the future. The IOM report provides an initial roadmap for reforming the Medicare GME payment system and building an infrastructure that can drive more strategic investment in the nation’s physician workforce.
Redefining Full-Time in College: Evidence on 15-Credit Strategies
Source: Community College Research Center (Columbia Unversity Teachers College)
To complete an associate degree in four terms or a bachelor’s degree in eight, students must enroll in at least 15 credits per semester, yet relatively few students actually take 15 credits, often enrolling in 12 credits (or fewer), which colleges typically consider to be “full-time.” To increase rates of on-time completion, a number of states and higher education advocacy groups advocate defining full-time as 15 credits, and a growing number of institutions are implementing policies based on such a definition.
This report provides an overview of three distinct types of 15-credit strategies being used nationally—financial incentives, social marketing, and structural reforms. It reviews the research evidence on their effectiveness and outlines their potential challenges and unintended consequences. The report also identifies three types of additional policies that are designed to promote higher intensity enrollment without focusing exclusively on 15 credits—tuition policies, financial aid policies, and structural policies. It concludes by identifying issues that colleges and states wishing to implement 15-credit strategies should consider.
Moving the Goalposts: How Demand for a Bachelor’s Degree Is Reshaping the Workforce
Source: Burning Glass
- Employers now require bachelor’s degrees for a wide range of jobs, but the shift has been dramatic for some of the occupations historically dominated by workers without a college degree. The credential gap can amount to 25 percentage points or more for middle skill jobs in some occupational families, like Office and Administrative and Business and Financial Operations. For example, 65% of postings for Executive Secretaries and Executive Assistants now call for a bachelor’s degree. Only 19% of those currently employed in these roles have a B.A.
- In some roles, employers prefer bachelor’s credentials even when that makes the position harder to fill. For example, Construction Supervisor positions that require a B.A. take 61 days to fill on average, compared to 28 days for postings that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.
- In other occupations, such as entry level IT help desk positions, the skill sets indicated in job postings don’t include skills typically taught at the bachelor’s level, and there is little difference in skill requirements for jobs requiring a college degree from those that do not. Yet the preference for a bachelor’s degree has increased. This suggests that employers may be relying on a B.A. as a broad recruitment filter that may or may not correspond to specific capabilities needed to do the job.
- Jobs resist credential inflation when there are good alternatives for identifying skill proficiency. Many health care and engineering technician jobs, such as Respiratory Therapists, show little sign of upcredentialing. That is likely because those positions are governed by strict licensing or certification standards, well-developed training programs, or by measurable skill standards such that employers do not need to look at a college degree as a proxy for capability.
On Trigger Warnings
Source: American Association of University Professors
A current threat to academic freedom in the classroom comes from a demand that teachers provide warnings in advance if assigned material contains anything that might trigger difficult emotional responses for students. This follows from earlier calls not to offend students’ sensibilities by introducing material that challenges their values and beliefs. The specific call for “trigger warnings” began in the blogosphere as a caution about graphic descriptions of rape on feminist sites, and has now migrated to university campuses in the form of requirements or proposals that students be alerted to all manner of topics that some believe may deeply offend and even set off a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) response in some individuals. Oberlin College’s original policy (since tabled to allow for further debate in the face of faculty opposition) is an example of the range of possible trigger topics: “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” It went on to say that a novel like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart might “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.” It further cautioned faculty to “[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.”
At Wellesley College students objected to a sculpture of a man in his underwear because it might be a source of “triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault.” While the students’ petition acknowledged that the sculpture might not disturb everyone on campus, it insisted that we share a “responsibility to pay attention to and attempt to answer the needs of all of our community members.” Even after the artist explained that the figure was supposed to be sleepwalking, students continued to insist it be moved indoors.
The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual. It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement and—as the Oberlin list demonstrates—it singles out politically controversial topics like sex, race, class, capitalism, and colonialism for attention. Indeed, if such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalized if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students. Although all faculty are affected by potential charges of this kind, non-tenured and contingent faculty are particularly at risk. In this way the demand for trigger warnings creates a repressive, “chilly climate” for critical thinking in the classroom.
Princeton, Williams Take Top Spots in U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings
Source: U.S. News & World Report
The benefits of graduating from college are huge: better job prospects, higher wages and lower unemployment. The drawbacks to dropping out are just as massive: time spent outside the labor market and accrued student debt without better job opportunities to help with repayment.
Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have dropped out of colleges, according to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That’s why choosing a college that fits academically and financially is so important.
Enter the 2015 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, released today.
This year’s 30th edition of Best Colleges includes data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities. Eligible schools are ranked on up to 16 measures of academic excellence, including graduation rates, selectivity and freshmen retention, to help families compare schools, narrow their searches and make informed decisions. The 2015 rankings methodology remains the same as the 2014 edition’s.
The top three schools among National Universities, schools that emphasize research and offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs, reprised their performances from last year. Princeton University remained at No. 1, with Harvard University in second and Yale University at No. 3. While a few universities shifted places, the schools ranked in the top 10 all remained the same, except that Dartmouth College, which tied for the 10th spot last year, dropped to No. 11.
There was more movement further down the list. For example, Pennsylvania State University—University Park fell 11 places, moving from a tie at No. 37 to No. 48, where it tied with four other schools. Northeastern University in Boston and the University of California—Irvine both rose seven spots, from a three-way tie at No. 49 last year to a five-way tie at No. 42 this year.
Student Loan Update: A First Look at the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances
Source: Brookings Institution
Earlier this year, Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos released a report aimed at injecting some much-needed evidence into what has become an often-hysterical public debate about student loan debt. Their report, “Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?” used data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) administered by the Federal Reserve Board to track how the education debt levels and incomes of young households evolved between 1989 and 2010. The data showed large increases in average debt levels over time, but also revealed some surprising findings.
First, the authors found that roughly one-quarter of the increase in student debt between 1989 and 2010 can be directly attributed to increases in educational attainment, especially at the graduate level. Second, the increases in the average lifetime incomes of college-educated workers appear to have more than kept pace with increases in debt loads between 1992 and 2010. Specifically, the increase in earnings received over the course of 2.4 years would pay for the increase in debt incurred. Third, the monthly payment burden faced by student loan borrowers stayed about the same or even lessened between 1992 and 2010.
One limitation of the June 2014 report is that its authors could only examine data through 2010, the last year of SCF data that was available at the time. Consequently, the analysis could have missed recent trends in borrower well-being. Last week, the Federal Reserve Board released the 2013 SCF data, which enabled Akers and Chingos to extend their analysis to capture a snapshot of education debt through just last year.
In this research brief, the researchers update key indicators from their earlier report with data from the 2013 SCF. In general, the 2013 data paint a broadly similar picture to the 2010 data, and do not reveal any sharp departures from prior trends. Debt levels continued to increase, but at a slower pace than in previous years. Average incomes of borrowers fell slightly, but the decrease was small enough that monthly loan payments as a share of monthly incomes remained the same.
The 2013 data confirm that Americans who borrowed to finance their educations are no worse off today than they were a generation ago. Given the rising returns to postsecondary education, they are probably better off, on average. But just because higher education is still a good investment for most students does not mean that high and rising college costs should be left unquestioned.
Interest in attending college continues to grow among U.S. high school graduates, according to ACT’s annual Condition of College & Career Readiness report. The report, which focuses on 2014 high school graduates who took the ACT® college readiness assessment, points to increased participation and high aspirations among the nation’s graduates, potentially leading to greater college access.
More than 1.84 million 2014 graduates—a record 57 percent of the national graduating class—took the ACT. This is a 3 percent increase from 2013 (despite a smaller total number of U.S. graduates nationally) and an 18 percent increase compared to 2010. This was the 10th consecutive year that the number of ACT-tested graduates reached a new record total.