January 15, 2010
3 p.m. Closing Address by Jerry Lucido, Executive Director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice
"I am left with this impression that our time has come as educators - and now the question is what will we do with it," he said. "I'm feeling extremely optimistic. Have we ever seen time when there was more political willingness in place, despite the conditions we face, to push forward."
Lucido concluded with a wrap-up of upcoming research from the Center. One is an assessment of the college-going environment at schools in Long Beach and Fresno. It will include data from surveys of students. The Center is also working with Indiana University to study how the internal structures of colleges and universities encourage college completion. The Center is also studying the role of enrollment professionals.
1:15 p.m. Session 4 – Making it Work: Our Commitment to Systemic Progress and Productivity
Charles Reed, Chancellor, The California State University System , spoke about some of the work being done by CSU to improve higher education opportunities.
He said that CSU started a program six years ago called "Super Sundays" that involves doing outreach at African American churches to encourage students to take the right classes to succeed in college. During the summers, he said, CSU offers to pay for Algebra 1 workshops for African American students. Reed said the ministers provide the laptops and CSU provides the faculty. Over the past three years, he said, the system has seen a 12 percent increases "year over year of African Americans applying to go to CSU."
Another program is aimed at middle school students' mothers who meet nine times a semester to talk about how to support their children's education. The women are honored during a graduation ceremony and their children receive an ID card that allows them to use college facilities. The outreach is also meant to remind the children that if they take certain courses they can attend a CSU of their choice.
"Those of us in higher education need to get out of the ivory tower and off the campus to the real world, to where the real people and the students who are coming to America's higher education live," he said. "It's about going out to the communities."
Jack Scott, Chancellor of the California Community College System, said that community colleges and universities need to think more about productivity and operating more efficiently. This means prioritizing what they offer and avoiding "mission creep," he said. Some of his ideas:
- Prioritize the curriculum
- Allow for an easier transfer between community colleges and four-year institutions. "There is a great deal of waste going on when community college students take courses that don't transfer on to the four-year institutions," he said.
- Better assessments for basic skills so that high school students can spend their senior years "catching up" to be college-ready. "Right now 70-80 percent of students who come to community colleges are deficient in either English or math or both so we have tremendous basic skills issues," he said.
- Consider ways to use technology to become more efficient.
Christopher Steinhauser, Superintendent of Schools, Long Beach Unified School District, talked about the partnerships that are taking place in Long Beach to ensure that K-12 students continue their education in college.
He said higher education partnerships include coordination with LBCC and CSULB. He said the district has an agreement with CSULB that makes it possible for students in the district who meet certain course requirements to pursue their higher education at the university.
"The data is showing that they are great students and doing very well," he said.
The district also plans on providing students a tuition-free semester at LBCC starting in 2011.
Another program started by the district involves paying high school students who are proficient or advanced in Algebra 2 to teach students in Algebra 1 who need assistance. The program has also served to provide struggling students with positive role models, Steinhauser said.
Karen Symms Gallagher, Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education, spoke about the development of the MAT@USC program, an online master's program to meet a nationwide demand for new quality teachers.
Gallagher said that large numbers of teachers above the age of 50 are expected to retire in upcoming years. However, the number of new teaching credentials in the state has dropped every year for the last five years and enrollees in teacher preparation programs has declined by 33 percent.
The Master of Arts in Teaching degree uses interactive technologies such as streaming video, animation and other Web 2.0 tools, she said. The program combines online learning with carefully selected field-based experiences, and provides ongoing support for new teachers, including job placement assistance and significant tuition reimbursement opportunities. The program can be completed in as little as one year on a full-time basis, or can be spread over two to three years part-time. Students may complete the online program from anywhere in the country. For more information: http://mat.usc.edu/
Noon: Keynote Address by Jack O'Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jack O'Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, talked about the state's opportunity to earn about $700 million in "Race to the Top" federal funds.
"We really are at a crossroads," he said. "With 'Race to the Top' we have been afforded an opportunity to really move from the past or spring in a new direction."
O'Connell said that the state is already making progress. He said that over the past seven year test scores are up in almost every grade level and more students are proficient or above-proficient in reading. Greater numbers of students are taking the SAT, he said, and the state recently saw a slight 1 percent dip in the high school dropout rate.
"We can accelerate our progress in these key areas and it's an unprecedented opportunity for future system reform," he said.
He said that California's diverse needs and population creates special challenges, while at the same time serves as a model for driving educational policy for the rest of the country.
"I think that 'Race to the Top' will help us with that," he said. "We will all be on the same page, looking at the same evaluations of standards."
9:45 a.m. Session 3 – Standardizing Excellence: The Path Toward a Common Set of State Academic Standards
Chris Minnich, Strategic Initiative Director, The Council of Chief State School Officers, provided an introduction to the national Common Core State Standards Initiative, which will begin with English and math.
Minnich emphasized that these standards are voluntary and so far 48 of 50 states have joined the movement. The two states that are not a part of this process are Texas and Alaska, he said.
The standards have been undergoing a public review process and a final draft is expected to be released the first week of February, he said. In late February, a validation committee of 30 standards experts will take a look at the proposed standards.
"We are asking for a quick turn-around. The 'Race-to-the-Top' program has put the adoption of these standards for states as one of the criteria to (achieve) points on the application," he said.
More information on the standards is available on: www.corestandards.org
Roy Romer, Senior Advisor with The College Board and former Governor of Colorado, emphasized that the end-results of the standards initiative should not lead to a "test-driven-system." Instead, it should be heading towards a "curriculum-driven-system."
"If you let the tests dictate the quality of instruction then it won't let you get to where you want to go," he said.
Instead, he said, standards should provide the framework for curriculum and professional development that can lead to the desired educational results: "I want to underscore the critical issue of how you move from standards to assessment and how we have to really get the curriculum and professional development leading the way."
Romer also noted that the national educational standards movement is remarkable in the context of U.S. history and coordination. "We have 15,000 separate school districts, 50 states and a history of state rights that says there shall be no congressional or presidential action that dictates to us how we teach our kids," he observed.
Cyndie Schmeiser, President and COO of the Ed. Division, ACT, Inc. explained how rigorous research went into determining what should be included in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
"Application of knowledge has guided the common core efforts," she said. "The research we brought to bear in the process...we hope will contribute in some small way to develop core standards that are based on what matters and on what is experienced in working day in and out with our students."
Schmeiser explained how decisions on what to include in the standards included performance data and feedback from instructors to determine whether specific items were essential. She said it will regularly be improved on to ensure the standards align with college success.
"This is an evolving process and this is just the first edition," she said. "There will be second, and a third...but it needs to be impacted with a common agenda between post-secondary and K-12 that examines the evolving relation between college readiness and college success."
Christine Tell, Director of State Services, Achieve, Inc., talked about how the state standards initiative has its roots in a growing national trend to toughen graduation requirements. She shared data that demonstrated how the number of states adopting more rigorous math graduation requirements has increased from 2005 to 2009.
According to the 2005 data, 30 states didn't have specific math standards. Ten required Algebra I and nine states required Geometry. Two states required Algebra II.
Four years later, 18 states didn't yet have specific math standards. Six required Algebra I, seven required Geometry, and a total of twenty required Algebra II.
"That is a significant movement," she said, and it underscores how "local control of what (skills) a high school graduate should have is changing."
8:30 a.m. Morning Keynote Address by James Montoya, Vice President of Higher Education Relationship Development at The College Board
James Montoya spoke about the need to cross language, cultural and educational borders to eliminate barriers of access to higher education opportunities.
"It is very important that we implement policy that supports the notion of more low-income families understanding that college is accessible," he said, while praising the work done by USC's Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice. "Any student, whether inner city or rural or two-year or four-year, should have the opportunity to see him or herself as a global citizen."
Montoya said that research, policy and practice must reflect the increasing number of under-represented students who educators would like to see enter the college pipeline. This means, he said, understanding the differences and unique backgrounds that constitute the "under-represented" communities in higher education such as African-Americans and Latinos.
"We have come to understand that they must be viewed not just as one monolithic community, but the experiences of each sub-group must be appreciated and the communication with these sub-communities be meaningful," he said.
Monotoya said this is part of the reason why the College Board and trustees have come out in support of the DREAM Act, which would provide more equal access to higher education for undocumented students.
Monoya said that community colleges have a critical role to play in addressing educational inequalities.
"They are a great innovation of American higher education and they will play an even more important role as we move forward," he said.
He pointed out that tuition and fees for community colleges are about 36.2 percent less than that for the average four-year college. Even though this may be viewed as a bargain, students in community colleges often struggle to transfer and stay in school. Only 25 percent of community college students who indicate they wish to get a four-year degree actually do so, he said.
"Many four-year year institutions will only let them enroll as full-time students," he said, noting that universities ought to consider new ways to serve this segment of the population.