Six is the new four

Six should be the new four,” says IBM executive Stanley Litow. At six-year high schools in New York City and Chicago, graduate can finish with a high school diploma, an associate degree and a job offer from IBM.

Three years to a computer science degree

Instead of working in the fields like her mother, Leticia Sanchez hopes to earn a low-cost computer science degree in three years to make it from the Salinas Valley to Silicon Valley.

At Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, students study a curriculum designed with help from IBM, work with mentors supplied by IBM and get on the inside track for IBM jobs when they graduate — potentially with an associate degree. The employer-linked grade 9-14 model will be replicated at 16 sites across New York state.

Dual enrollment boosts college success

Texas students who completed even a single college class in high school were significantly more likely to attend college and eventually graduate, compared to similar students not in dual enrollment programs, reports a Jobs for the Future study.

New York City’s P-Tech is drawing students willing to spend six years in high school to earn a diploma and an associate degree in computer information systems or engineering technology. IBM worked with city colleges to develop the program.

Industry attacks open courseware

Community colleges that receive federal job-training grants are required to share any learning materials developed. But software publishers are lobbying for a new law banning “open educational resources” developed with federal funding.

Also on Community College Spotlight: IBM will help Chicago design new six-year high schools that will combine technical training and college classes leading to an associate degree and an IT job.

Job prep becomes job one

Certificates or degrees? After pushing for more college degrees, President Obama has endorsed industry-designed certificates in manufacturing skills that will enable community college students to qualify for a job with decent pay in a year. That’s if they don’t need remedial math, reading or writing.

Also on Community College Spotlight: New York City’s P-TECH will run from ninth through “14th grade.” Graduates, who will earn a high school diploma and an associate degree in applied science, will be prepared for IT jobs at IBM or transfer to a four-year university.

Detroit-area students interested in health careers can choose a five-year high school affiliated with a community college and a health center: They graduate with high school diploma, an associate degree in science and clinical experience.

Why do educators resist change?

In an Education Week blog (cross-posted at Dangerously Irrelevant), Scott McLeod offers ten reasons courtesy of IBM, and another two reasons of his own.

I offered a thirteenth: “the change is seriously flawed.”

I have seen many situations where teachers’ and administrators’ genuine concerns were dismissed as generic “resistance to change.” Supposedly, if you were “forward-looking” and a “team player,” you kept your skepticism muted.

Once I worked in a library that was converting from its file catalogs to an online catalog. A “change consultant” came to train us on preparing ourselves for change. She gave us a questionnaire to assess our readiness for change. It had questions like, “How often do you buy a new pair of shoes?” “When you go on vacation, do you go to the same place every time, or do you like to try new places?” All of this had very little to do with switching to an online catalog. Nor was there much “change resistance” among the staff in this case–it seemed the management had simply anticipated resistance and brought the change consultant in.

To deal with any change, and to understand people’s responses to it, one must look closely at what the change entails. Not all change is well considered.

Better tests graded by Watson?

Forget multiple-choice tests: The Watson computer technology could grade students’ writing quickly and cheaply, says Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation, in an interview with The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

. . . you could have long-answer questions, you could have the ability to grade lengthy paragraphs of information. If the testing system incorporates that, it will allow teachers to test to higher standards and children to learn at higher levels. And it will save lots of money in what is currently a very ineffective and inefficient testing and assessment system.

Computer grading of essays has been around for years, but critics doubt its accuracy.

The Educational Testing Service claims its E-Rater program accurately assessed the writing of freshmen at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, reports USA Today. ETS presented the “validity test” at a writing conference at George Mason University in February.  E-Rater’s scores matched human graders’ assessments and the students’ SAT writing scores.

But a writing scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented research questioning the ETS findings, and arguing that the testing service’s formula for automated essay grading favors verbosity over originality. Further, the critique suggested that ETS was able to get good results only because it tested short answer essays with limited time for students — and an ETS official admitted that the testing service has not conducted any validity studies on longer form, and longer timed, writing.

E-Rater has changed the behavior of NJIT students, said Andrew Klobucar, assistant professor of humanities. “First-year students are willing to revise essays multiple times when they are reviewed through the automated system, and in fact have come to embrace revision if it does not involve turning in papers to live instructors.”

Four-year college doesn’t fit all

Four-year college doesn’t fit all students, argues Beyond One-Size-Fits-All College Dreams: Alternative Pathways to Desirable Careers in American Educator. Low achievers should aim for vocational certificates rather than bachelor’s degrees, argue the authors.

For-profit higher education is a bargain for taxpayers, according to a new study that compares public costs of the for-profit, non-profit and public sectors.

IBM and City University of New York plan a six-year high school-college hybrid that will graduate students with an associate degree and the inside track to a job.

It’s all on Community College Spotlight.