Keep the transfer promise

Only 23 percent of California community college students seeking a bachelor’s degree transfer within six years. It’s time to keep the transfer promise — a clear pathway from community college to the California State University system — writes Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

New measure gives broader view of progress

Federal data on college success tracks only full-time students who study at one institution. The new Student Achievement Measure (SAM) includes students who transfer, those who are still working on a degree after six years and part-time community college students.

Classes are cheap, but you can’t get in

Charging more for community college extension courses during summer and winter breaks is a necessary stopgap, editorializes the Los Angeles Times. While California is starting to restore funding to higher education, it will be years before the state’s community colleges can offer enough courses to meet demand.

Students are having trouble transferring in to the California State University system. San Jose State’s popular animation program accepts only 12 percent of transfers: Students need a 3.85 grade-point average to get in.

Credit creep raises community college costs

Credit creep is making it harder for community college students to complete an associate degree. Instead of 60 credits, many degrees require 70 credits or more. That  costs students time and money and lowers the odds they’ll earn a degree.

After two years at community college, transfers to four-year institutions are just as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree as similar students who started at the four-year college or university, an Illinois study finds.

Many choices, little guidance

Community college students have many choices and little guidance in setting academic or career goals, concludes a new study. Many are overwhelmed.

At an Oakland community college where only 20 percent of students transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree, a professor’s transfer club is raising the odds. The club’s mascot is an animated Spanglish-speaking Chihuahua that says, “Yo quiero transfer.”

Success rates dip on California scorecard

Only 49.2 percent of degree-seeking community college students reach their goal or transfer in six years, according to California’s new Student Success Scorecard. Graduation-and-transfer rates fell as more students face wait lists for entry-level classes and difficulty transferring to state universities.

Uncounted credits cost time, money

College credits that don’t count cost transfer students time, money — and often the opportunity to complete a degree.

A third of students transfer at least once, almost always losing credits along the way. The average associate degree graduate has earned 80 credits for a degree that requires 60. Full-time students average 3.8 years to complete a two-year degree. Bachelor’s degree graduates average 136.5 credits and 4.7 years for the 120-credit, four-year degree.

Colleges take transfers, deny credits

Some colleges demand transfers pay a non-refundable deposit before learning how many of their credits will be counted. It’s common for transfers to learn half their credits are useless.

Project Win-Win helped colleges boost their graduation rates by analyzing data bases to find students who’d completed degree requirements — or come close — but hadn’t received the degree.

What do transfer students want?

What do transfer students want? They want to get credits for their credits. Many universities reject credits earned elsewhere, even though students were told the classes would count. That raises costs and  lowers the odds students will complete a degree.

Khan: Free learning, cheap credentials

Khan Academy founder Salman Khan talks about his new book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined, in an interview with MIT Technology Review. Instead of the Prussian model — students march in lockstep through the curriculum — Khan believes technology will make “mastery learning” practical.

Everyone advances at his or her own pace. Don’t try algebra until you know your arithmetic. Spend less time in lectures and more in hands-on problem solving.

Most students can be motivated to learn, if they can go at their own pace, Khan says. “The core reason for students disengaging is that they are frustrated. They’re in algebra class but don’t have a good foundation in pre-algebra or arithmetic.”

Khan Academy is “investing heavily” in analytics, says Khan. “What does a student know? What does a student not know? How effective is the tutorial?” In elementary and middle schools using Khan in the classroom, teachers are very enthusiastic about the real-time learning assessments — more so than the videos.

Online learning will revolutionize higher education and liberate students from ever-rising college costs, Khan says.

Here’s what I think it could look like in five years: the learning side will be free, but if and when you want to prove what you know, and get a credential, you would go to a proctoring center [for an exam]. And that would cost something. Let’s say it costs $100 to administer that exam. I could see charging $150 for it. And then you have a $50 margin that you can reinvest on the free-learning side.

If students can earn credible credits by taking free online classes, the college cartel will be broken, writes Jeff Selingto at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Now universities often reject transfer credits, claiming the quality of instruction doesn’t match their own, he writes.

. . . what happens when students arrive at the registrars’ office with credit-bearing courses from professors at Stanford, Penn, and Princeton? What will the excuse be then to reject the credits—that the courses were free? Such an excuse might finally expose the true reason many colleges refuse to accept transfer credits: They want students to pay them tuition for a class . . .

It all depends on assessment. If there’s a credible, cost-effective way to measure learning, then everything changes.