Spring 2007 Journal: Trends & Indicators 2007

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BOSTON—New England’s total college enrollment topped 875,000 in 2005, according to the Spring 2007 issue of Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education.

But nearly a quarter of New England public school students who begin ninth-grade will not graduate with their peers four years later, and 40 percent of those who do earn diplomas will not enroll in college the next fall, according to data published in the journal.

“If you live in New England,” notes NEBHE President and CEO Evan S. Dobelle, “chances are, you are just a few minutes’ drive from sixth-graders who believe they have two choices in life: find a paycheck job (as opposed to a career) or join the military. College is not even part of the cultural equation for them or their parents.”

Connection is the journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education—and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.

The Spring 2007 Connection features more than 60 tables and charts exploring New England’s changing demography, college enrollment, graduation rates, degrees granted, higher education finance and university research, as well as expert commentaries.

A new data feature titled “Indicators of College Readiness: A State-by-State Comparison” looks at readiness benchmarks, including social indicators such as children living in poverty, preschool funding and attendance, K-12 course-taking, NAEP and SAT performance, AP scores and high school graduation rates.

Among the data featured in the Spring 2007 Connection:

  • Since 1990, New England’s population has grown by just 8 percent, compared with 20 percent for the nation as a whole.
  • And all six New England states are among the bottom 10 nationally in the growth of 18- to 24-year-olds since 1990.
  • Fewer than half of New England students who do finish high school have completed the necessary courses and mastered the skills to be considered “college ready.”
  • New England college and university enrollment topped 875,000 in 2005, but the region’s once-disproportionate share of total U.S. enrollment continued to drop to 5 percent.
  • At least 16 industrialized nations increased college enrollment at higher rates than the United States between 1995 and 2003, including 10 countries that did so despite overall declines in their traditional college-age populations.
  • Nearly half of New England college students attend private institutions compared with about one quarter of college students nationally.
  • Americans pay an average of $242 each in annual state taxes to support public higher education and student aid in their states. New Englanders, however, pay just $177.
  • More than 43,000 foreign students are enrolled on New England campuses—nearly half of them at just 10 of New England’s 270 colleges and universities.
  • Total yearly charges for resident students, including room and board, average nearly $40,000 at New England’s private four-year institutions and $18,000 at the region’s public institutions—far above national rates.
  • Only 22 percent of students graduate from New England community colleges within three years of enrolling—and substantial gaps exist among racial and ethnic groups. Just 45 percent graduate from New England four-year state colleges (excluding land grants) within six years.
  • Three in 10 doctorates awarded by New England universities go to foreign students, while just one in 10 go to U.S. minority students.
  • New England universities performed $3.3 billion worth of research and development in 2004, and the region’s share of all U.S. university R&D inched up to 7.7 percent—still a far cry from its 10 percent share in the mid-1980s.

Among featured articles in the Spring 2007 Connection:

Trend: Shrinking Opportunity • Education Trust President Kati Haycock and colleague Danette Gerald explain how lagging academic preparation and misdirected student aid policies hamstring college access and success. Haycock and Gerald also reveal sharp differences in graduation rates at institutions that serve the same kinds of students. For example, though Penn State, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Minnesota are all selective public flagship institutions that serve students with similar characteristics, their graduation rates were 84 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent, respectively. The finding, the authors say, shows that institutions’ strategies have a real effect on whether students succeed.

Foundation Course Connection features an exclusive interview with Nicholas Donohue, the new president of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, New England’s largest education philanthropy. “Since none of us have figured out the absolutely correct way to educate everybody,” says the former New Hampshire education commissioner, “the foundation has a chance to push the edges and challenge people’s thinking about what education needs to look like tomorrow even as it nurtures things that organizations are doing well today.”

What’s in Your Valise? • Noted higher ed analyst Cliff Adelman, who recently left the U.S. Department of Education after 27 years and joined the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington, D.C., explores ways to determine what students learn in college and how well colleges teach them. Adelman offers two markers that “respect the central role of the academic disciplines and academic faculty in setting standards for the real stuff of degrees [and] tell employers what they can expect of the knowledge and skills of all graduates.”

An Independent Path to College Success Less than 5 percent of the high school Class of 2003 in Hartford, Conn., is expected to graduate from a four-year college by 2008. Steppingstone Foundation co-founder and President Michael Danziger describes a novel effort underway in Connecticut’s capital, in which private schools are working to expand college access and success for urban students. Following the model used by Steppingstone in other cities, a group of Hartford eighth-graders will spend 14 months preparing for placement into one of more than 20 Connecticut private schools en route to college.

Educational Malpractice? • Higher education attorneys Robert B. Smith and Dana L. Fleming look at campus legal trends and see a new phenomenon on the horizon: educational malpractice! “To date, courts have refused to hear educational malpractice claims on the grounds that judges and juries are not qualified to decide what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ standard of care in higher education,” write the attorneys. “But if the government were to establish—and state schools were to follow—some ‘reasonable standard of care’ for colleges and universities, courts could enforce that standard without the problems associated with crafting one of their own.” Smith and Fleming also explain why excessive executive compensation isn’t just for corporations anymore.

Next Stop for the Grassroots Movement: Education Policymaking • In the days following the November 2006 elections, Massachusetts Gov.-elect Deval Patrick convened dozens of transition working groups to solicit citizen input on an array of topics, including education. Gov. Patrick’s special education advisor and Bridgewater State College President Dana Mohler-Faria explains why continued public engagement is needed as the new administration delves into the details of education policymaking. “Building a coordinated pre-K-16 education pipeline means that the words of a district superintendent are as relevant as a university faculty member; that the suggestions of a hard-working community college student are on par with an early childhood special education teacher; and the proposals of a high school senior get the same consideration as those of a college president,” writes Mohler-Faria.

The Economic Impact of Education in New England • The economic impact of New England’s colleges and universities through their purchasing and employment is increasingly well-documented. But the impact of the region’s public and private elementary and secondary schools has been noticeably absent from the discussion. Now, a study by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) indicates that New England’s accredited colleges and universities and schools together represent the region’s leading economic stimulus, with an annual direct economic impact exceeding $93 billion. NEASC executive director Jacob Ludes III and colleagues Nadia Alam and Eva Kampits note that New England not only has the highest concentration of independent higher education institutions in the nation, but also the highest density of independent primary and secondary schools. And the six states spend 23 percent more per public school pupil than the U.S. average.

Foundations and Higher Education: Whose Agenda? • Former Tufts corporate and foundation relations chief John C. Schneider explores trends in relations between foundations and higher education. Paraphrasing Ray Bacchetti, the former education program director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who has co-edited a new book on the subject with Thomas Ehrlich at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Schneider notes: “Universities are too set in their ways and inward-looking, while foundations are insular and shortsighted. In the mating dance that often passes for substantive engagement, Bacchetti warns, foundations over-expect, universities over-promise and both over-claim.”

Warning Lights • Lawrence Butler of Maguire Associates explains how higher education institutions are using data to develop dashboard reports of their performance and offers some useful models. “Like an automobile dashboard, these reports often display the equivalent of warning lights that flash on only when there is an impending problem or when certain variables stray outside of predetermined limits,” writes Butler. “In this way, the dashboard can serve as an early warning device alerting the board and senior administration when it might be important to dig deeper for greater insight.”

The Empty Pipeline • For every 100 public high school ninth-graders nationally, only 69 will graduate from high school four years later, only 39 will enter college the fall after they graduate, only 27 will return to their college for sophomore year and only 18 of those original 100 will earn associate degrees within three years of enrolling in college or bachelor’s degrees within six years of enrolling. New England does a little better but not well enough to meet the challenges of the new global economy. NEBHE President and CEO Evan S. Dobelle offers policymakers, employers and colleges ways to stop making it easy for children to fail.

A Trend Toward Excellence • NEBHE Chair and former four-term Maine state Sen. Mary R. Cathcart offers a glimpse of some of the people and programs behind the positive trends in New England higher education.

Editor’s Memo • Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney tracks trends in notions of achievement.


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