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Hoping For the Best: A summary of the national dialogue on higher education Melissa Hoping For the Best: A summary of the national dialogue on higher education Melissa Canady Wargo Office of Assessment Presented to WCU Strategic Planning Committee-Fall 2006

“We expect transparency and accountability in almost every area of our government-from housing to “We expect transparency and accountability in almost every area of our government-from housing to health care to K-12 education. But in higher education, we’ve invested tens of billions of taxpayer dollars over the years and basically just hoped for the best. ” (Margaret Spellings, U. S. Secretary of Education, in remarks to the NPEC’s National Symposium on November 2, 2006)

Top Issues in Higher Education Today • Affordability • Financial Aid • Access • Top Issues in Higher Education Today • Affordability • Financial Aid • Access • Quality • Innovation • Accountability

Affordability • From 1995 -2005, average tuition and fees at public, 4 -year institutions Affordability • From 1995 -2005, average tuition and fees at public, 4 -year institutions rose 51%. • Next to institutional financial aid, the largest growth has been in administrative costs for improvements in student services (i. e. , fitness centers, dorms, etc. ) Spellings’ Commission finding: “… affordability is directly affected by a financing system that provides limited incentives for colleges and universities to take aggressive steps to improve institutional efficiency and productivity. ” (p. 9)

Financial Aid • There at least 20 different federal aid programs. • FAFSA is Financial Aid • There at least 20 different federal aid programs. • FAFSA is longer and more complicated than the average tax return. • Aid information comes too late and discourages college attendance. • Unmet need among lowest-income families rose 80% from 1990 -2004 at 4 -year schools. Spellings’ Commission finding: “The federal financial aid system is confusing, complex, inefficient, duplicative, and frequently does not direct aid to students who truly need it. ” (p. 11)

Access • Number of high school graduates attending college has stalled and completion rates Access • Number of high school graduates attending college has stalled and completion rates have remained stagnant. • Only 1/3 of whites, 18% of blacks, and 10% of Latinos have obtained bachelor’s degrees by age 25 -29. Spellings’ Commission finding: “American higher education is unduly limited by the complex interplay of inadequate preparation, lack of information about college opportunities, and persistent financial barriers. . ” (p. 7)

Quality • The National Assessment of Adult Literacy indicates the percentage of college graduates Quality • The National Assessment of Adult Literacy indicates the percentage of college graduates proficient in prose literacy has declined from 40% to 31% in the past decade. • Employers frequently find college graduates lack basic critical thinking, writing and problemsolving skills. Spellings’ Commission finding: “… we are disturbed by evidence that the quality of student learning at U. S. colleges and universities is inadequate and, in some cases, declining. ” (p. 12)

Innovation • New methods of teaching and content delivery have not been adopted by Innovation • New methods of teaching and content delivery have not been adopted by most colleges to meet demand for lifelong learning. • Traditional academic calendars prevent efficient use of physical plants and result in less than optimal learning programs. Spellings’ Commission finding: “Numerous barriers to investment in innovation risk hampering the ability of postsecondary institutions to address national workforce needs and compete in the global marketplace. ” (p. 4)

Accountability • Constituents of higher ed have no information on how much students learn Accountability • Constituents of higher ed have no information on how much students learn at a particular institution or whether they learn more at one college than another • Data collected at the national level excludes nontraditional students and rarely focuses on outcomes • Accreditation reviews are rarely made public Spellings’ Commission finding: “Our complex, decentralized postsecondary education system has no comprehensive strategy … to provide either adequate internal accountability systems or effective public information. ” (p. 13)

Why is it important to address these issues? • Nearly 90% of fastest growing Why is it important to address these issues? • Nearly 90% of fastest growing jobs require some higher education. (Source: Dept. of Labor) • Most new job openings will be in STEM, health care, or education. (Source: Employment Outlook 2004 -2014) • In 2003, median income by educational attainment: – HS Diploma $30, 800 – Associate’s Degree $37, 600 – Bachelor’s Degree $49, 900 • Over a lifetime, an individual with a bachelor’s degree will earn nearly twice as much ($2. 1 million) as a person with a HS diploma. (Source: U. S. Census Bureau)

Recommendations - Affordability • Improve cost management through the development of performance benchmarks • Recommendations - Affordability • Improve cost management through the development of performance benchmarks • Reduce barriers for transfer students • Provide incentives to institutions fostering access, cutting costs, increasing productivity and enhancing quality • Eliminate or streamline the regulatory burden on colleges and universities

Recommendations – Financial Aid • Increase need-based aid by all providers (federal, state, institution) Recommendations – Financial Aid • Increase need-based aid by all providers (federal, state, institution) • Replace FAFSA with a shorter, simpler form. • Provide early estimates of need or ability to pay by 8 th grade. • Increase Pell Grant award to cover 70% of average in-state tuition at public 4 -year institutions

Recommendations - Access • Align K-12 graduation standards with college and employer expectations • Recommendations - Access • Align K-12 graduation standards with college and employer expectations • Expand early college or dual enrollment programs • Remove barriers to student mobility and promote new learning paradigms. • Address the information gap for students and parents on how to prepare for college. • Expand programs to adults through new technologies and innovations

Recommendations - Quality • Revise higher education worldview based on reputation to one based Recommendations - Quality • Revise higher education worldview based on reputation to one based on performance • Implement student assessments that directly measure learning and engagement (NSSE, CLA) • Develop regional or national venues to compile and share data on extent of student learning (Nat’l Forum on College-Level Learning)

Recommendations - Innovation • Revitalize and increase funding for FIPSE • Maximize information technology Recommendations - Innovation • Revitalize and increase funding for FIPSE • Maximize information technology by sharing educational resources among institutions • Establish course redesign programs using technology-based, learnercentered principles • Explore emerging interdisciplinary fields such as services sciences, management and engineering

Recommendations -Accountability • Create consumer-friendly information database to allow constituents to weigh and rank Recommendations -Accountability • Create consumer-friendly information database to allow constituents to weigh and rank comparative institutional performance. • Collect data and provide information in a common format • Develop a higher education information system using studentlevel data

Additional Recommendations • Increase investment in STEM fields, teaching, & healthcare • Increase emphasis Additional Recommendations • Increase investment in STEM fields, teaching, & healthcare • Increase emphasis on international education (foreign language, study abroad, etc. ) • Eliminate barriers to immigration for international students with advanced STEM degrees

Higher Education Response • AASCU • AAC&U • CHEA • SHEEO • NASULGC Higher Education Response • AASCU • AAC&U • CHEA • SHEEO • NASULGC

Suggested Reading • • U. S. Department of Education. 2006. A Test of Leadership: Suggested Reading • • U. S. Department of Education. 2006. A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U. S. Higher Education. American Association of State Colleges and Universities. 2006. Graduation Rates and Student Success: Squaring Ends and Means. American Association of State Colleges and Universities. 2006. Value-Added Assessment: Accountability's New Frontier. Bok, Derek. 2005. Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More. The College Board. 2005. Trends in Student Aid. The College Board. 2005. Trends in College Pricing. National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. 2004. Measuring Up 2004: The National Report on Higher Education. Venezia, Andrea, Michael W. Kirst, and Anthony L. Antonio. 2003. Betraying the College Dream: How Disconnected K-12 and Postsecondary Education Systems Undermine Student Aspirations.