Jill Biden, Obama host summit on community colleges
Jill Biden, a longtime community college instructor who happens to be married to the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, deserves kudos for helping to focus the Obama administration, at least today, on community colleges.
This afternoon she hosts the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges, being convened to highlight the role community colleges play in developing the U.S. workforce and reaching national educational goals. Biden teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College.
President Obama is addressing the summit, and anybody can join the conversation online. The White House Web site has details here.
At a time when the administration is concentrating on a dubious mix of K-12 reform initiatives, Biden has worked hard to train public attention on these institutions, which educate some 40 percent of the undergraduates in the country.
The country’s 1,200 community colleges are the largest and fastest growing segment of America’s higher education system. And they face a range of problems, including state funding cuts at a time of record enrollment and high dropout rates.
The Obama administration has proposed spending $12 billion into community colleges over a number of years to boost the graduation rate. The president recently signed legislation that will provide $2 billion to over the next four years.
A new review of 25 years of research on community colleges highlights the completion problem at community colleges.
After three years, it says, only 16% of first-time community college students who began college in 2003 attained a credential of any kind (certificate, associate’s degree, and/or bachelor’s degree), and another 40% were still enrolled.
When students are given six years to complete instead of three, completion rates improve somewhat—for example, 36% of students entering community colleges in 1995 attained a credential by 2001. Another 17.5% were still enrolled.
The review of social science, education and policy research was conducted by Sara Goldrick-Rab, assistant professor of educational policy studies and of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Called “Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Success,” it includes a discussion of 14 of the most popular and well-evaluated practices currently in use at community colleges, including learning communities, dual enrollment and incentive programs, and financial aid reforms.
I’ll write more soon about this review and its conclusions about how community colleges can move forward.
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| October 5, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
Categories: Community Colleges | Tags: community college summit, community colleges, dropout rates, graduation rates, jill biden, obama, president obama, white house summit
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