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Highlights from Higher Ed: Improvement in Communication Needed Across the Board

In the absence of placement exams, more Florida high school graduates pass entry-level classes

When Florida adopted a state law eliminating placement exams in 2013, it also gave high school graduates the opportunity to take entry-level English and math classes. After the implementation of this law, more minority students and first-time college students passed these courses than ever before. In addition to eliminating the exams, the law also required two-year colleges to use credit-bearing developmental courses instead of remedial courses. The number of those who passed English courses increased by about six percentage points (from 48% to 54%) between 2013 to 2016, and the number of students who passed math courses increased by about five percentage points (from 17% to 22%).

 Source: Inside Higher Ed

How effective are local community relationships?

Partnerships between local communities and nearby colleges or universities are crucial on several levels. However, these town-gown relationships, which often involve schools establishing a public-service graduation requirement or committing to hiring neighborhood residents, may not be living up to their potential. For example, one recent study of 100 urban schools revealed that only 16 of them include community members on boards that guide work within the community. One great example of effective relationships is the University of Utah’s Hartland Partnership Center, which is run by a group of neighborhood leaders. Other schools showing innovative partnership programs include Virginia Commonwealth University and Portland State University. 

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education 

Students expect cost transparency, but not all colleges are delivering

A recent study of 80 colleges and universities shows that some institutions aren’t being as transparent as they should be about costs. For example, the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act requires that students have access to net price calculators, yet not all institutions provide those tools. Also, some schools offer “misleading or incomplete” information — such as simply suggesting students can cut costs by “spending conservatively” — while others provide out-of-date data. Recommendations from the University of Pennsylvania study include making calculators easy to find online, keeping the data up to date and making sure variations are noted when they exist.

Source: Education Dive

The college admissions scandal thrusts test time limits into the spotlight

The college admissions scandal has brought renewed attention to one of the strategies reported to have been exploited by its alleged perpetrators: abusing extended-time accommodations on standardized tests. Giving students more time on tests is standard practice under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The amount of time provided in an extension varies based on the student, but the SAT generally allows for extensions of up to 100% of the allotted time. Those who oppose standardized tests strongly believe that a time-limited test is a poor measurement of the knowledge and abilities colleges want to assess in applicants.

Source: The Atlantic

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