Where college dreams come true

College dreams are coming true for minority students in Orlando, reports Saundra Amrhein on Politico.

Orlando’s University of Central Florida is working with four nearby state (formerly community) colleges to ensure two-year graduates transfer seamlessly with all their credits intact.

University of Central Florida graduates celebrated in May.

University of Central Florida graduates celebrated in May.

Thanks to DirectConnect to UCF, Latino bachelor degree graduates increased by 134 percent from 2010 to 2014; the number of black graduates nearly doubled.

Graduation rates at DirectConnect’s two-year colleges have climbed. Once at UCF, 71 percent of the program’s students go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.“

Forty-one percent of people who earn associate degrees go on to complete a bachelor’s degree in six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. The median completion time is 2.8 years.

One in four certificates are the first step to a four-year degree.

Open access, but not open exit

Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida has won this year’s Aspen Prize for community college excellence for a 62 percent graduation and transfer rate, far higher than the 40 percent national average.

Sixty-three percent of transfers complete a bachelor’s degree within six years, the Aspen committee noted. That’s higher than the completion average — 59 percent — for students who start at four-year colleges and universities.

“We’re an open-access college, not open-exit,” the college’s president, Jackson N. Sasser, told the Chronicle of Higher Education.

SFC works closely with the nearby University of Florida to help students transfer and earn a UF degree. In addition, the college offers some four-year degrees in vocational fields, such as information technology.

Students are encouraged to choose a program of study as early as possible.

An online program similar to the travel-booking site Expedia helps them map out classes that meet their degree requirements and are available during the times they can attend class. Instead of a travel itinerary, the program spits out a list of suggested class schedules. A student clicks on one, and a hold is placed for a spot in all of those classes. If he picks a class outside his degree plan, it shows up in red, meaning it’s OK to sign up, but it may not count toward the degree.

Florida high school graduates aren’t required to take remedial courses. SFC offers support to help less-prepared students pass college-level courses.

40% of transfers lose all credits

More than a third of college students transfer, losing an average of 13 college credits, according to a new federal study. Nearly 40 percent of transfer students get no credit at all, losing nearly a full year of credits, on average. That costs them time and money.

California builds transfer bridges

The University of California hopes to restrain college costs and expand diversity by streamlining community college transfers.

Illinois sets lower standards for blacks, Latinos

Under a No Child Left Behind waiver, Illinois schools will set lower standards for blacks, Latinos, low-income students and other groups, reports the Chicago Tribune.

For example, while 85 percent of white third- through eighth-grade students will be expected to pass state tests by 2019, the goal is 73 percent for Latinos and 70 percent for black students.

NCLB calls for 100 percent of students to pass reading and math exams this school year. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. “By 2013, almost 85 percent of Illinois schools had received failing labels, including many of the state’s premier high schools,” reports the Tribune.

Since Congress has failed to update the law, the Education Department has given most state waivers. Illinois isn’t the first to set different standards for different student groups.

The lowest 15 percent of struggling schools in Illinois will be targeted for state attention. The six-year goal is to halve the percentage of students and groups who fail reading and math exams.

 Each year, groups will have goals for improving that push them toward their 2019 target. Because groups start at different places, their final targets will be different too. For example, state data provided to the federal government shows the percent of students passing exams in 2019 would range from about 52 to 92 percent, depending on test, grade and student group.

For all students combined, the passing rate would be about 76 to 79 percent in 2019 — lower than the now-infamous 100 percent requirement.

Illinois also will use “supergroups,” lumping together black, Latino and Native American students in the same group rather than looking at their achievement separately.  The Campaign for High School Equity, a coalition of civil rights and education advocacy groups, said supergroups undercut accountability. “This eliminates one of the most important civil rights victories in education law, and returns us to a time where states may not be responsive to the needs of underserved students.”

Under the state’s new policy, districts won’t have to offer tutoring — or transfers — to students in repeatedly failing schools.

Each school will have different achievement goals, so it will be harder for parents to compare schools’ achievement results.

Early transfers risk debt but no degree

Most community college students who transfer to a four-year college or university haven’t completed a two-year degree. That lowers their chances of completing a bachelor’s degree, a new study finds. Early transfers often find many of their credits won’t count — or won’t help them complete a major. Often they end up with debt but no degree.

UC plans to streamline transfers

Making it easier for community college students to transfer will expand opportunity and improve diversity at the University of California, argues a task force report.

Making the transfer dream a reality

Eighty percent of community college students say they plan to transfer and earn a four-year degree, but only 15 percent will earn a bachelor’s degree in six years. Now colleges and universities are working harder to make the transfer dream a reality.

High-achieving, low-income community college transfers can succeed at very selective four-year colleges and universities, according to a study for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Lost credits hurt transfer students

Lost credits make it difficult for community college transfers to earn a bachelor’s degree, concludes a new study. Fifty-eight percent of students transfer with at least 90 percent of their credits; 14 percent lose 90 percent or more of their credits.

The average full-time student completes 136.5 credits for a 120-degree bachelor’s degree, estimates Complete College America.

California’s associate degree for transfer is smoothing the path for community college graduates seeking bachelor’s degrees, but not all state universities are “saying yes” to transfer students.

How to earn a low-debt bachelor’s degree

Starting at a community college will cut the cost of a bachelor’s degree, but students have to be savvy about transferring credits to make it work.