This Week’s Trends in Education and Technology (May 18-24)
[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education.]
“…any movement serious about improving education for low-income, rural, and minority students has to look outside of cities — especially in the South, where a majority of students live outside of city centers.”
Things That Caught My Attention
Poverty and socioeconomic disparity/disadvantage have been a recurring theme in education circles this month. Many have pointed to the updated statistics from NCES on Young Adult Educational and Employment Outcomes by Family Socioeconomic Status. This study looks at data The High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) collected data on a nationally representative cohort of ninth-grade students in 2009 and has continued to survey these students at certain points as they progress through secondary and postsecondary education and the workforce.1
Among 2009 ninth-graders, there was no measurable difference between the highest and lowest socioeconomic status (SES) students in the percentage who were employed in 2016 (62 vs. 64 percent), but the percentage who were enrolled in postsecondary education in 2016 was 50 percentage points larger for the highest SES students (78 percent) than for their lowest SES peers (28 percent).
In addition, a recent article at MarketWatch pulls together stories and data to show that, while more high school students are taking college courses before they graduate, the poorest students are being left behind.
- A recent report from the Government Accountability Office states that, during the 2015-2016 academic year, schools where the bulk of students qualified for free and reduced-priced lunch were less likely to offer dual-enrollment courses than those where less than 25% of students were eligible for subsidized lunch.
- Research from the NCES found that Black and Hispanic high-school students are also less likely than their white or Asian counterparts to have taken a college course in high school.
- Furthermore, students whose parents have a bachelor’s degree are more likely to take a college course in high school than those whose parents didn’t go to college, according to NCES.
Taking the discussion to specific geographic communities, I think a recent poll of rural Americans by NPR sheds important light on the financial insecurities of this population. According to the survey findings, “a substantial number (40%) of rural Americans struggle with routine medical bills, food and housing. And about half (49%) say they could not afford to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense of any type.”
Finally, while there is always plenty of noise — good and bad — regarding charter schools, we occasionally see actual research that provides insight into how traditional public school systems can encourage the integration of charter schools to support/improve the quality of education as part of a cohesive strategy. Can Successful Schools Replicate? Scaling Up Boston’s Charter School Sector is one such research study. In it, the authors offer a possible solution for expanding charter schools in traditional urban/metropolitan public school districts — allow only charter schools that can prove they are better than traditional public schools to expand. The study found that, at least in Boston, proven charter schools continued to produce outsized test score gains for students even as they added campuses and served more students. You can read more about the study here.
Getting back to the theme of poverty in education, a recent report from Pew reveals that a rising share of undergraduates is from poor families.
In 2016, 20% of dependent undergraduates were from families in poverty, a sharp rise from 1996 (12%). Since poverty in the wider 18- to 64-year-old population remained flat at about 12% during these same periods, it suggests that more poor students are participating in postsecondary education than 20 years earlier.
The share of dependent undergraduates who are from higher-income families has remained at roughly one-in-ten students from 1996 to 2016.
As the ranks of poor and near-poor students have grown and the share of higher-income students has held steady, the share of dependent undergraduates from lower-middle-income and middle-income families has decreased from 1996 (63%) to 2016 (52%).
Not surprisingly, income plays a variety of roles in what the New York Times is calling the college dropout crisis. Many good charts and statistical breakouts here, but a key takeaway is that “On average, colleges have lower graduation rates when they enroll more lower-income students, more black and Latino students, more men, more older students and more students with low SAT or ACT scores.”
These and other statistics also provide a nice gust of wind for the sails of nondegree programs in the postsecondary education sector. A report released this week by Strada Education Network and the Lumina Foundation. The report offers “evidence that short-term, nondegree certificates and other credentials can have a positive impact on an individual’s economic mobility.”
Adults with a certificate or certification but no degree are employed full time at a higher rate (85%) than those with no credentials (78%). The former also reported higher annual median income ($45,000) than the latter ($30,000). The report is based on responses from 50,000 people between age 25 and 64 that are in the labor force, don’t have a college degree and aren’t enrolled in college.
Richard Price and Alana Dunagan point to nondegree bootcamp programs as potential disrupters to higher education. Their recent paper, “Betting on bootcamps: How short-course training programs could change the landscape of higher ed,” outlines five different scenarios for the future of bootcamps.
And, speaking of credentials, it’s also worth noting that IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS Global) and Credential Engine announced a partnership this week that is designed to advance new interoperability and transparency standards for credentials and institutional data systems. I also see that a new online directory of college alternatives has launched. “Called Alternatives to College, the directory was launched as a joint effort between leaders at higher ed investment firm University Ventures and WhatsBestForMe, a platform for applicants to connect with postsecondary education providers.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, in terms of traditional higher education degree programs, there has been a shift over the last five decades regarding enrollment/major patterns. In a nutshell, business and healthcare are up while interest in the humanities has declined dramatically.