By Benjamin Wermund | 10/12/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Caitlin Emma, Mel Leonor and Michael Stratford
JIGSAW FALLING INTO PLACE: The National Center for Education Statistics is out this morning with a major development in higher education data, results from the Outcome Measures survey . The survey for the first time ever shows how part-time and transfer students in college are progressing toward graduation. Historically the federal government has only tracked outcomes measures - namely graduation rates - for first-time, full-time college-goers. But those students account for fewer than half of college students, and the data out today provide a much more complete picture than we've ever had before. "These changes help respond to those who feel that the [first-time, full-time] graduation rates do not reflect the larger student population, in particular public 2-year colleges that serve a larger, non-traditional college student population," Gigi Jones, who directed the survey, wrote about the new report.
- The big takeaway: Transfer students are doing better than their peers at almost all types of schools, but especially at public colleges and universities. The report measures how many students who enrolled in 2008 had earned a certificate or degree within eight years. Sixty-six percent of students who transferred into a public four-year university and attended full time had earned a certificate or degree within eight years, compared to just under 59 percent of full-time students who started out at those schools. Many public universities have articulation agreements with community colleges to encourage such transfers. "What you're seeing here is that is working," said Richard Reeves, the chief of the Postsecondary Branch at NCES.
- The data also make clear just how many students transfer out of public two-year schools. Thirty-three percent of students who enrolled at public two-year colleges had enrolled at another institution within eight years, according to the report. That is a much higher rate than the 26 percent of students who had earned a certificate or degree from the two-year colleges within eight years after enrollment there and did not transfer out.
- The data can make a big difference for showing how well some schools are actually performing. As Michael Itzkowitz, a senior policy adviser for higher education at Third Way and the former director of the College Scorecard at the U.S. Department of Education, points out , the University of Maryland University College is a good example of why this new data matters. The graduation rate for first-time, full-time students - historically the only students measured - was just 10 percent there. But those students are just 3 percent of UMUC's student body. The new data shows that 43 percent of transfer students attending the school full-time had graduated by eight years later.
- But how good is the data? It's a survey, so the data is self-reported by schools. "It could mean very inconsistent data," said Elise Miller, vice president for research and policy analysis at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. "The quality of the data is really unknown at this time," said Miller, who previously oversaw the postsecondary education data collection program at NCES. "This is progress, not perfection."
- Missing pieces: More information will be added to the report in the coming years, including measuring students with Pell Grants vs. those who don't receive the grants for low-income students, and a breakdown of the type of award students received - certificates, associate's or bachelor's degrees.
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DEVOS CONTINUES WEST COAST TOUR: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos today will visit Thomas Russell Middle School in Milpitas, Calif. to speak with students, teachers and administrators and "learn more about the school's commitment to personalized learning," per an Education Department press release.
FIRST LOOK: HOUSE DEMS WANT TO MAKE OBAMA TITLE IX RULES LAW: A group of House Democrats today plan to unveil a bill that would codify some of the most controversial elements of the Obama-era guidance on Title IX, which the Trump administration recently rescinded. Among other things, the so-called Title IX Protection Act would require schools to use a lower evidentiary standard in disciplinary hearings on sexual harassment, including sexual violence, than is used in criminal courts. That is the "preponderance of evidence" standard - essentially "more likely than not" - that was pushed by the Obama-era guidance. It would also require investigations to adhere to a 60-calendar-day time frame and would discourage mediation and cross examination. The bill also says if a school offers the right to appeal or access to counsel to either the complainant or the accused, it must do so for both parties. Morning Education has a first look at the text of the bill here.
- The bill is a response to the Trump administration's decision to scrap the Obama-era guidance. In its place, the administration issued a question-and-answer document that, among other things, told colleges they could use a higher standard of proof. The guidance also eliminated the 60-day timeline for when colleges should resolve sexual assault complaints, and allowed institutions to resolve complaints through mediation if both the accused student and accuser voluntarily agree to that format. The administration has said it plans to issue formal guidance after a notice-and-comment period.
- The bill also would codify elements of Title IX guidance issued by the Clinton administration and reissued by the Bush administration. It was authored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and the leadership of the Democratic Women's Working Group. It's signed by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the ranking member of the House education committee, will also attend a news conference announcing the legislation at noon, along with several advocacy groups.
- Speaking of Title IX... The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights this week opened one new investigation, and closed another, into allegations that colleges and universities mishandled sexual violence claims. The office launched an investigation at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. It closed one at the University of Denver without findings of wrongdoing. The department now has 353 active investigations at 256 colleges and universities. See the full list here.
- Also today: End Rape on Campus, which advocates for sexual assault survivors, is launching a new initiative aimed at "amplifying the voices of students targeted by the current administration," who the group says are most vulnerable to sexual violence. Read more about it here.
VA SCRAPS PLAN TO EXEMPT ALL EMPLOYEES FROM ETHICS LAW ON FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES: The Trump administration on Wednesday dropped its plan to exempt all Department of Veterans Affairs employees from a federal ethics law concerning for-profit colleges, after Senate Democrats and some veterans' groups criticized the move. The VA had been soliciting public feedback on the proposal to waive a requirement that its employees not have a financial interest in or receive a salary from for-profit colleges. The policy, which was announced last month, had been scheduled to take effect next week.
- "VA received constructive comments through the notice process, and we are withdrawing the notice to allow for proper consideration of that valuable input," VA spokesman Curt Cashour said in an email Wednesday. "VA has submitted paperwork to the Federal Register today, to be published Friday so that the notice is withdrawn before its scheduled effective date of Monday, October 16."
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and a group of other Democrats last week slammed the VA's proposal and questioned the legal authority for the agency to issue a "blanket waiver" exempting all employees from the law, rather than issuing waivers case by case.
- The VA had initially said that the law "has illogical and unintended consequences" and requires the removal, for example, of a VA employee who takes classes at a for-profit college or teaches courses at a for-profit institution. Michael Stratford has more.
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PUERTO RICO TARGETS REOPENING OF SCHOOLS: Education officials in Puerto Rico have set their sights on Oct. 23 for the reopening of public schools following the destruction by Hurricane Maria. A spokeswoman for the Education Department there told Morning Education it's not clear how many of the island's seven regions or 1,112 schools will be ready by the target date, but education officials are working with regional directors to approve reopening plans that include student and teacher relocation, and strategies to make up for lost instructional time. Right now, just 165 schools in Puerto Rico are open, offering multilevel educational activities led by available teachers and catered to any students who can arrive on campus.
- In the island's western-most educational region of Mayaguez , regional director Ismael Aponte told Morning Education that he hopes to have more than 100 of the region's 174 schools ready to reopen by Oct. 23. Aponte and education officials in the region are working to quickly asses and ready schools, and are also crafting a plan to relocate students from schools that are uninhabitable. "We're analyzing access to running water, which is the most important factor," Aponte said. "But we're hoping to have way more than 100 schools ready." Aponte said the region has also submitted a proposal to Puerto Rican education officials that would allow schools to make up for lost instructional time by extending the school day by 1.5 hours through the end of the year. That would allow students to catch up without canceling spring break or teachers' professional development days.
- The reopening of schools in the region represents a big leap from the days following Hurricane Maria , when Aponte says making contact with teachers, principals and families was impossible. The regional director turned to unconventional means - a local radio station still able to broadcast - and asked for a few minutes every morning and evening to send dispatches to teachers and students. "Any time we were trying to gather teachers, I would read out a time and place. We would let people know what schools were running as community centers and which had internet available to use," Aponte said. He said he's seen similar resourcefulness from education officials, principals and teachers throughout the island. "Some regions have been more affected than others, but right now, everyone is putting in maximum effort."
NEW PRIORITIES FOR COMPETITIVE GRANTS: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday proposed 11 new priorities for doling out funds through discretionary grant programs. That includes awarding schools, districts and other organizations that want to expand school choice or opportunities to learn computer science, among other things. Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank, said DeVos' list represents "almost every idea in American education, good or bad." Such a big menu gives DeVos "maximum flexibility," Petrilli told Morning Education. "They are going to have to be selective at some point, because if everything and everyone is a priority than nothing and no one is." Caitlin Emma has more.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
- Oregon's state schools chief Salam Noor has resigned, The Oregonian reports.
REPORT ROLL CALL
- Oklahoma teachers are more likely to keep teaching in rural school districts when there's better pay and more responsibilities on the job, REL Southwest finds in a new report.
- A new report from the nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners says Louisiana's teacher retirement system leaves teachers and schools paying for pension debt.
- Joe Biden to give talk on sexual assault at Rutgers today: NJ.com.
- Thousands of teachers could face deportation if Congress doesn't find a fix for DACA: USA Today.
- Connecticut governor says it's premature for the state's largest teachers' union to seek a court order blocking him from cutting education funding: The Associated Press.
- Some North Carolina charter school students' transcripts will get an audit: The News & Observer.
- Albright College kicked a backup quarterback off the football team for kneeling during the national anthem: The Associated Press.
- Shooting at Texas Tech University reignites debate over campus carry laws: Inside Higher Ed.
The sign that leads the way: The Pro Education team. @caitlinzemma (firstname.lastname@example.org), @khefling (email@example.com), @mstratford ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and @BenjaminEW (email@example.com).
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