Incentives Offered to Raise College Graduation Rates –

April 1, 2011 at 9:58 am 7 comments

A “Race to the Top” for Universities?  Pretty interesting idea!

In addition, as part of its 2012 budget, the administration has proposed the $123 million “First in the World” initiative for programs that hold down tuition, increase completion rates and move students through college faster. Last, the $50 million College Completion Incentive Grants would reward states and schools for reforms that produce more college graduates.

“We all know that the best jobs and fastest-growing firms will gravitate to countries, communities and states with a highly qualified work force,” Mr. Duncan said.

The administration will calculate each state’s expected share of the eight-million-graduate increase, taking into account their current college graduation rates. Currently, only 28 percent of young adults in Arkansas, Nevada and New Mexico have college degrees, compared with more than half in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and North Dakota.

via Incentives Offered to Raise College Graduation Rates –

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Still Separate is Still Unequal The role of computing education in the productivity paradox

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

    At the beginning of an article I wrote for Scientific American in the early 90s I quoted the Physics Nobelist Murray Gell-Mann, who said “Education in the 20th century is like going to the world’s greatest restaurant and winding up eating the menu”.

    Or as the proper British lady said to me at a dinner “You Americans have the greatest High School education in the world. What a pity you have to go to college to get it”

    We are a “designer jeans” and a “gaming the system” culture, so it is dangerous to set goals which have labels that can act as substitutes, and can be purchased independently.

    And BTW, what is at the center of real education has nothing whatsoever to do with competitions, races, or labels.



  • 2. Bonnie MacKellar  |  April 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

    This will simply increase pressure on faculty to pass students no matter how little they have learned. And, if everyone gets a college degree, grad school will become the new ticket to the middle class.

  • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  April 2, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Let’s try a different perspective. Students aren’t learning well in undergraduate, and drop-out at fairly high rates. Faculty seem relatively unconcerned: they don’t measure learning in their classes and they adopt method that interest them, not that have been shown to improve learning. What would change this picture? Definitely, we could improve K-12 education and we could get parents to care about learning in the home (e.g., read more, read more to kids) — we should certainly do both of those. How about those faculty? Do they have any reason to change? What could encourage them to change? Could federal dollars encourage improvement in undergraduate teaching? Absolutely, we want to measure real learning, but I’m interested in an earlier stage in the process. What will force improvement in undergraduate teaching? Maybe instead Congress should pass a bill revoking all tenure?

  • 4. Bonnie MacKellar  |  April 2, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Do you read the Chronicle of Higher Ed? These are issues that are being discussed extensively in the Chronicle. I agree with you about the fact that faculty are not effectively assessing what is happening in the classroom – but that is not what this proposal is about. Do you see the words assessment anywhere in it? Do you see any mention of learning outcomes? No! It is simply about increasing graduation rates, and decreasing time-to-degree. The simplest and cheapest way to do that is to simply ask less of the students. The book that is just out, Academically Adrift, is an eye opener as to how little students are actually learning in college, and how all of us – students, faculty, and administration – are complicit.

  • 5. Briana Morrison  |  April 2, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Some faculty are unconcerned about the learning going on in their classrooms because student learning is not tied to any faculty evaluation. Let’s face it, at the root, faculty are concerned about their careers and how to improve them. This leads to research, grants, and publications. Until valid methods are established for measuring student learning within a single class and the results of those measurements impact faculty pay and/or promotions, many faculty will continue to pay lip service to assessment.
    I have to agree with Bonnie, I don’t see how “Race to the Top” will do anything more than increase pressure on faculty to push more average (and below average) students through the gristmill. This is what has happened with public K-12 education. More students may be graduating, but what’s the quality? I have students in intro programming that honestly can’t do arithmetic in their head, not to mention logic puzzles. And please don’t ask them to write a coherent paragraph on a topic, most can spell and grammar is atrocious. So if Race to the Top succeeds then we’ll have liberal arts and business majors who are marginally better educated than high school graduates…but what exactly is that saying? Don’t know that I would hire them to manage my company.

  • […] an interesting implication of this finding related to the higher-education “Race to the Top” funding and President Obama’s goal of having more college graduates.  If college education is […]

  • […] wonder if Pink’s story also helps to explain why it’s so hard to get faculty to change how they teach.  Being a professor is filled with “Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose” — it’s […]


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