When You Assume…

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When education reformers insist that the Common Core “diet” of close readings, math worksheets, and standardized tests will better prepare our students for college and careers one would assume they have compiled data from reliable studies to support this claim.

One would also assume that recent studies regarding college drop out and low completion rates, including a report prepared for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, identified poor academic skills as the primary cause or reason for students who enroll, but fail to graduate college.

As Tony Randall warned us, when you assume…

“…This study is designed to test the assumptions many of us make about college students today and why so many of them fail to graduate. It also helps to identify solutions that young people themselves say would help most…

As background to the survey findings, it may be helpful to begin with a clearer picture of “college students” today. Many of us envision young people living in college dorms, going to school full-time, attending ball games and fraternity parties, maybe working a few hours a week or in the summer to bring in a little spare cash…

The facts, though, show quite a different picture:

Among students in four-year schools, 45 percent work more than 20 hours a week.

Among those attending community colleges, 6 in 10 work more than 20 hours a week, and more than a quarter work more than 35 hours a week.

Just 25 percent of students attend the sort of residential college we often envision.

23 percent of college students have dependent children.

…If we truly aim to help this new group of nontraditional students fulfill their aspirations, college and university officials, state and federal policy-makers, employers, foundations and other advocates trying to ramp up college completion need to take a fresh, clear-eyed look at their current assumptions and practices.

The findings here reveal gaps in the higher education system that serve to undercut the efforts of students who need to work and go to school at the same time. They raise serious questions about long-standing policies that seem profoundly ill suited to students who simply cannot afford to go to school full-time for several years…”

Source: “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them” – Myths & Realities About Why So Many Students Fail to Finish College / Research by Public Agenda, Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. December, 2009

“…In addition to the diverse pathways students take while working toward their educational goals, students who enroll in college full time immediately after high school no longer represent the majority among post secondary college students (Choy, 2002; Horn & Carroll, 1997; Reeves, Miller, & Rouse, 2011). Rather, many students delay college enrollment, enroll in college part time, and/or have a full-time job while enrolled.

To balance the responsibilities of family, work, and school, these students often take educational routes that require a longer time to a post secondary credential, such as enrolling part time, attending institutions with shorter terms, and occasionally stopping out…

Moreover, institutional accountability measures based on conventional graduation rates may underestimate the complexity and cost associated with improving outcomes and may disadvantage institutions, such as many community colleges, that enroll large numbers of students following nontraditional pathways (Belfield, Crosta, & Jenkins, 2013)…”

Source: Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2007 Cohort / National Student ClearingHouse Research Center 

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3 thoughts on “When You Assume…

  1. Pingback: Standards Are Expectations of Learning | WagTheDog

  2. Pingback: Common Core For An Uncommon Nation | WagTheDog

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