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Trends in State Financial Aid: Actions from the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Trends in State Financial Aid: Actions from the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

Key takeaways from this report

  • Trends in enacted policy include changes to need- and merit-based programs, linking financial aid and workforce outcomes, and focusing aid on transfer student pathways.
  • States are playing an increasing role in loan repayment assistance or forgiveness policies, with at least four states enacting programs.
  • A growing number of states — with at least 10 joining in the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions — are using financial aid programs as a means to incentivize workforce outcomes.
  • Five states passed legislation appointing commissions to extensively research college affordability issues, with reports due through spring 2015.
  • At least 10 states created or made changes to existing need-based programs.
  • Maryland and Virginia both enacted financial aid programs geared to students transferring from two- to four-year institutions.

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014
Source: Babson Survey Research Group

This report, funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with additional support from Pearson, examines the attitudes, opinions, and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education. Some of the key findings:

  • Faculty are not very aware of open educational resources. Depending on the strictness of the awareness measure, between two-thirds and three-quarters of all faculty classify themselves as unaware on OER.
  • Faculty appreciate the concepts of OER. When presented with the concept of OER, most faculty say that they are willing to give it a try.
  • Awareness of OER is not a requirement for adoption of OER. More faculty are using OER than report that they were aware of the term OER. Resource adoption decisions are often made without any awareness of the specific licensing of the material, or its OER status.
  • Faculty judge the quality of OER to be roughly equivalent to that of traditional educational resources. Among faculty who do offer an opinion, three-quarters rank OER quality as the same as or better than traditional resources.
  • The most significant barrier to wider adoption of OER remains a faculty perception of the time and effort required to find and evaluate it. The top three cited barriers among faculty members for OER adoption all concern the discovery and evalua- tion of OER materials.
  • Faculty are the key decision makers for OER adop- tion. Faculty are almost always involved in an adoption decision and — except for rare instances — have the primary role. The only exceptions are in a minority of two-year and for-profit institutions, where the administration takes the lead.

New From the GAO

December 17, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Hanford Cleanup: Condition of Tanks May Further Limit DOE’s Ability to Respond to Leaks and Intrusions. GAO-15-40, November 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-40
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667191.pdf

2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: NRC Needs to Improve Its Cost Estimates by Incorporating More Best Practices. GAO-15-98, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-98
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667500.pdf

3. Defense Infrastructure: Risk Assessment Needed to Identify If Foreign Encroachment Threatens Test and Training Ranges. GAO-15-149, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-149
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667551.pdf

4. Higher Education: State Funding Trends and Policies on Affordability. GAO-15-151, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-151
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667558.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/667387

5. Tax Filing Season: 2014 Performance Highlights the Need to Better Manage Taxpayer Service and Future Risks. GAO-15-163, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-163
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667562.pdf

Rape And Sexual Assault Among College-Age Females, 1995-2013

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Rape And Sexual Assault Among College-Age Females, 1995-2013
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics
From press release:

Among college-age females (ages 18 to 24), the rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents than students for the period 1995–2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today. Nonstudents (65,700) accounted for more than double the average annual number of rape and sexual assault victimizations compared to students (31,300). For 2013, no differences in the rates of rape and sexual assault were found between the two groups.

Rape and sexual assault victimizations were more likely to go unreported to police among victims who were college students (80 percent) than nonstudents (67 percent). About a quarter of student (26 percent) and nonstudent (23 percent) victims who did not report to police believed the incident was a personal matter, and 1 in 5 (20 percent each) stated a fear of reprisal. Student victims (12 percent) were more likely than nonstudent victims (5 percent) to state that the incident was not important enough to report.

While college students experienced lower rates of rape and sexual assault than nonstudents in 1995–2013, their average annual rate was still consistently higher than females in other age brackets (ages 12 to 17 and 25 or older). A third (33 percent) of rape and sexual assault victimizations against female college students involved completed rape, compared to 40 percent of victimizations against nonstudents. The majority of student (56 percent) and nonstudent (52 percent) victims experienced attempted rape or other sexual assault.

This report uses data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to describe the nature of rape and sexual assault against college-age females ages 18 to 24. The NCVS is the only national source of data that compares rape and sexual assault victimization among college students (those enrolled in a college, university, trade school or vocational school) and nonstudents.

Eds, Meds, and the Feds: New CAP Report Details How the Federal Government Can Leverage Economic Power of Anchor Institutions

December 10, 2014 Comments off

Eds, Meds, and the Feds: New CAP Report Details How the Federal Government Can Leverage Economic Power of Anchor Institutions
Source: Center for American Progress

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how the federal government can play a larger and more meaningful role in encouraging partnerships between cities and communities and anchor institutions to increase community revitalization and economic growth. Universities and hospitals, collectively called “Eds and Meds,” are commonly referred to as anchor institutions, as they are rooted in the communities where they are located.

CAP’s report notes that many American mayors, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, are already smartly leveraging partnerships with anchor institutions to advance a variety of goals, including economic development, public safety, hiring, purchasing, and improving quality of life. The federal government—which has a history of supporting these partnerships—can help further this process and has a vested interest in exploring strategies that harness the power of anchors to increase community revitalization and economic growth.

Report — More Hispanics Earning Bachelor’s Degrees in Physical Sciences and Engineering

December 9, 2014 Comments off

More Hispanics Earning Bachelor’s Degrees in Physical Sciences and Engineering
Source: American Institute of Physics

A new report from the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center has found that the number of Hispanic students receiving bachelor’s degrees in the physical sciences and engineering has increased over the last decade or so, passing 10,000 degrees per year for the first time in 2012. The overall number of U.S. students receiving degrees in those fields also increased over the same time, but it increased faster among Hispanics.

From 2002 to 2012, the number of Hispanics earning bachelor’s degrees in the physical sciences rose 78 percent compared to an overall increase of 47 percent in all U.S. bachelor’s degrees earned in those same fields. Similarly, Hispanics earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering rose 64 percent, compared to just a 34 percent increase in the overall population.

Moving Teacher Preparation into the Future

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Moving Teacher Preparation into the Future
Source: Brookings Institution

New teachers are essential to K-12 education. They allow the system to grow as the number of students grows, and they replace teachers retiring or taking other jobs. In light of the size of the K-12 sector, it’s not surprising that preparing new teachers is big business. Currently more than 2,000 teacher preparation programs graduate more than 200,000 students a year, which generates billions of dollars in tuition and fees for higher education institutions.

Preparing new teachers also is a business that is rarely informed by research and evidence. In 2010, the National Research Council released its congressionally mandated review of research on teacher preparation. It reported that “there is little firm empirical evidence to support conclusions about the effectiveness of specific approaches to teacher preparation,” and, further on, “the evidence base supports conclusions about the characteristics it is valuable for teachers to have, but not conclusions about how teacher preparation programs can most effectively develop those characteristics.” That there is no evidence base about how best to prepare people to teach is concerning.
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