Study links voucher use to college success

A privately funded New York City voucher program improved the lives of the low-income, minority students who attended a private elementary school, according to a new study by Matthew M. Chingos of the Brookings Institution and Paul E. Peterson of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Voucher users were more likely to go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree, concluded the study, which is set for publication in the Journal of Public Economics. 

Students who received vouchers in 1997 were compared to a randomly selected group who applied for vouchers but lost the lottery.

Immigrant students did no better with a voucher, compared to the control group. However, U.S.-born students who used a voucher were 18 percent more likely to enroll in college and 61 percent more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Small high schools help in NYC

New York City’s small high schools, once derided as a Gates-funded flop, increase students’ odds of graduating and going to college and cost less per graduate, concludes a new MRDC study that compared small school students with applicants who applied but lost a lottery.

Some 200 small schools were created between 2002 and 2008, usually serving disadvantaged students in buildings that had housed large, low-performing high schools.

Black males showed the strongest gains, writes Patricia Willens on NPR.

Because more students earned a diploma in four years, rather than five, costs were 14 to 16 percent lower per graduate, MDRC estimated.

While critics have labeled the Gates effort a failure, other researchers have been monitoring small schools for decades and have found generally positive impacts.

review of studies published between 1990 and 2009 found “the weight of evidence … clearly favors smaller schools.” An MIT study of New York City public small high schools also found positive effects: higher graduation rates, better test scores and an increase in college enrollment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been critical of closing large high schools to create smaller specialized schools, notes the New York Times editorial board.  He pledges to help improve schools before closing them. “Given the clear benefits that have accrued to the city’s most vulnerable students, Mr. de Blasio should not shy away from the option of shutting down big schools and remaking them from scratch, particularly in cases where the school has been failing for a long time and its culture is beyond repair.”

Enrollment dips as jobs rebound

Community college enrollment, which boomed during the height of the recession, is down across the country.

Higher education productivity is declining: We’re spending a lot more and sending a lot more high school graduates to college, but not getting as much brains (well, degrees) for the bucks.

Study: Harlem charter boosts ‘human capital’

The Harlem Children Zone‘s Promise Academy, a charter middle school, raises test scores, concluded Harvard EdLabs researchers Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer. Sixth-grade lottery winners close the black-white achievement gap by the end of eighth grade.

A new study finds that students are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college, less likely to experience teen pregnancy or incarceration.

That’s a huge human-capital boost, notes Education Gadfly.

Six years after winning the admissions lottery, Promise Academy students not only score higher on the nationally normed Woodcock-Johnson math achievement tests than lottery losers, but they are more likely to enroll in college, by 24 percentage points. Additionally, female lottery winners are 12 percentage points less likely to become pregnant in their teens, while males are 4 percentage points less likely to be incarcerated. The Harlem Children’s Zone social and community-building services are well documented, but Dobbie and Fryer attribute Promise Academy’s success to the markers that make it a high-performing school (extended school time, high-quality teachers, data-driven decision making, and heightened expectations).

Winning the charter lottery had little effect on students’ health or likelihood of using drugs and alcohol.

Hispanic grads pass whites in college enrollment

Hispanic high school graduates are now more likely than whites to enroll in college: In the class of 2012, 69 percent of Hispanic graduates and 67 percent of whites enrolled in college that fall. Hispanics are less likely than whites to complete high school, but the gap is closing. However, there’s a large college graduation gap.

Federal programs to help disadvantaged students earn college degrees “show no major effects on college enrollment or completion,” concludes a Brookings study. The U.S. Education Department’s college-prep programs cost more than $1 billion a year.

College rush is slowing

“The recession convinced many young American high-school graduates to take refuge in college instead of try their luck in a lousy job market,” reports the Wall Street Journal. But, now fewer high school graduates are going on to college, according to the Labor Department.

On 2012, 66.2 percent of recent graduates enrolled in college:  The share of female graduates enrolling in college declined from 72.3 percent the year before to 71.3 percent. Men, who are lagging in college attendance, declined from 64.6 percent to 61.3 percent.

Some graduates think they can find jobs, though unemployment rates remain high — 34.4 percent for high school graduates who aren’t in school.

I suspect young people are more wary of borrowing for college, especially if they’re not strong students.

College reverses ban on ‘sex’ newspaper

Central New Mexico Community College backed down this week from its decision to suspend the student newspaper for publishing a “sex issue.” Confiscated copies of the newspaper were returned to the news racks.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Early-college high school students are more likely to earn a diploma and enroll in college, starting with an average of 36 college credits, reports Jobs for the Future.

Where are the college men?

There’s no gender gap for community college students who are recent high school graduates, but women outnumber men by as much as three to one among students 25 or older. Where are the college men?

Georgia raised black male college enrollment by 80 percent and degrees awarded by 60 percent from 2002 to 2011 through a variety of initiatives targeting black males.

Colleges hit tuition pushback

Nearly half of colleges and universities expect enrollment declines, according to a Moody’s survey. Tuition growth is slowing too. With years of depressed family income and “uncertain job prospects for many recent graduates,” fewer students are willing to pay high tuition at non-elite colleges.

College enrollments fall by 1.8%

College enrollments declined by 1.8 percent in fall 2012 with for-profits and community colleges showing the biggest drops. That could show that more people are finding jobs, but it undercuts President Obama’s goal of making the U.S. first in the world in college-educated workers.