Thursday, April 28, 2016

Gaming the system to increase outcomes?

I haven't seen much evidence of it around here. Lower state financial support for universities seems to have a bigger impact on behavior: we act more like private institutions with large state grants. By Robert Kelchen and Luke J. Stedrak, writing in The Conversation.

Performance funding, the idea of tying funding to outcomes instead of enrollment, was first adopted in Tennessee in 1979. It spread across the country in waves in the 1990s and 2000s, with some states dropping and adding programs as state budget conditions and political winds changed. In this decade, several states have implemented systems tying most or all of state funding to outcomes. 
By basing funding on outcomes such as course completions and the number of degrees awarded, PBF has become a politically popular strategy to improve student outcomes. It has received strong support from the Bill and Melinda Gates and Lumina Foundations - two big players in the higher education landscape. 
However, the best available evidence suggests that PBF systems generally do not move the needle on degree completions in any substantial way....
While there is no significant evidence of impact, there have been many unintended consequences of this policy. 
There is a growing body of evidence, for example, that shows that colleges may be trying to change both their student body and their academic standards in order to meet the state’s performance goals as well as their own priorities.
A research team at Teachers College who interviewed administrators in three states with “high-stakes” PBF systems (Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee) found that colleges facing PBF were both becoming more selective in accepting students and lowering academic standards among current students in an effort to have more students graduate.
A new study by Mark Umbricht and Frank Fernandez at Penn State and Justin Ortagus at University of Florida used data on incoming students to show that Indiana colleges increased selectivity in response to PBF. 
They estimated that Indiana colleges lowered admissions rates by nearly 10 percent and increased ACT scores by nearly a full point compared to similar colleges in other states. 
In our research, published recently in the Journal of Education Finance, we examined whether public two-year and four-year colleges nationwide changed how they either received or spent money in response to performance funding systems. 
We found that colleges generally did not change spending on instruction or research, but they did see significantly less revenue from federal Pell Grants that are primarily given to students with family incomes below US$60,000 per year, suggesting fewer low-income students enrolled. We estimated a statistically significant decline in Pell revenue of about 2 percent at both two-year and four-year colleges. 
We also found that four-year colleges offered more institutional grant aid, potentially in the form of merit-based scholarships to attract higher-income students with a greater likelihood of success.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Promises kept

This is good news on the retention front. I had heard rumors that the 15 hour enrollment requirement had hurt student success at community college. It would appear that was not the case, at least not initially. From The Tennessean.

More than 80 percent of Tennessee Promise students who went to college in the fall returned for their second semester, the clearest indication yet of the scholarship program's continued durability. 
Data released by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission showed an average retention rate of 80.6 percent for the 16,291 students who used the scholarship program to go to community or technical college tuition-free. 
Almost 95 percent of Tennessee Promise students who enrolled at technical colleges in the fall returned in the spring, according to the commission. Retention at community colleges and Austin Peay State University, which enrolled some Tennessee Promise associate degree students, stood at 78.5 percent.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Whatever happened to that diversity funding

At the University of Tennessee? An update from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

What Lawmakers in One State Talk About When They Talk About Diversity
When Republican leaders in the Tennessee legislature passed a resolution in December declaring that the University of Tennessee at Knoxville had become a "national embarrassment" for its online posts promoting gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive holiday parties, university officials knew they would face a demanding legislative session this spring. 
Conservative lawmakers saw the controversies as a sign that political correctness was running amok on the flagship campus. So Knoxville’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion has played a starring role in committee meetings and hearings since the session began, in January. Multiple Republican-backed bills, introduced over the past four months, have sought to strip the office of all or part of its funding. 
Both the House and the Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would divert roughly $437,000 of the office’s budget into a scholarship fund for minority engineering students during the 2016-17 fiscal year. It would also ban the use of state money to encourage gender-neutral pronouns or to "promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays." Gov. Bill Haslam has not said whether he will sign it, and a spokeswoman said he would review the bill in its final form before taking any action.

One earlier proposal would have spent the $437,000 on placing "In God We Trust" decals on state law-enforcement vehicles. Another measure would have limited the Tennessee system’s diversity spending to $2.5 million, down from about $5 million, and banned all university employees who do not serve primarily in diversity-related roles from participating in those kinds of programs during work hours. 
University of Tennessee officials have tried to frame the scrutiny in a positive light. Joseph A. DiPietro, the system’s president, and Jimmy G. Cheek, chancellor of the Knoxville campus, say the prolonged debate in the legislature has given them an opportunity to explain why diversity and inclusion are priorities. Still, the university and the legislature have clashed over a number of key questions surrounding the diversity office.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Misunderstanding the real problems in higher education

Two former college presidents try to set the record straight. Don't try to solve the wrong problems. From Money.

So, in brief: 
Public tuition has risen mainly because state governments, hard pressed for funds, have not been able or willing to free enough money to keep up with rapidly expanding enrollments. Tuition charges have risen to make up the difference. 
Meanwhile, there has been no increase over the last decade in the size of non-faculty staff, once you correct for those growing enrollments. 
What’s more, the average “earnings premium,” the gap between the earnings of high school and college graduates, has never been higher than in recent years, and as bad as unemployment was for all groups during the Great Recession, it has always been roughly twice as high for people with no higher education than for those with BAs. 
And, finally, most people who earn a BA borrow moderately. In fact, 40% of those earning degrees from public institutions don’t borrow for college at all. Especially with the federal government now providing a range of more flexible loan repayment options, the vast majority of four-year college graduates repay without excessive difficulty.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day!

When is Earth Day 2016? This observance always falls on April 22. On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, and companionship with nature! Walk through the woods in search of emerging wildflowers and green moss. Go outside, no matter what the weather!

In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22.
Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates.
The most common practice of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tennessee is ninth from the bottom

Of states where people have the worst credit scores. The states with the best credit scores are in the Midwest. From CBS MoneyWatch.

10 states with the best and worst credit scores
Like many other Southern states, Tennessee has lower incomes and lower credit scores to match. Tennessee's median household income of $43,716 is the sixth-lowest in the nation. With less money coming in, Tennessee earners will be on tighter budgets and will be able to afford less debt. 
If they do take on debt, there's a higher risk of delinquency; Tennessee has higher rates of delinquencies than the national average for personal loans, credit cards and auto loans, according to TransUnion data.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Glory days

Misremembering how things truly were back when. I remember when the interest rate on our first mortgage in the 70s was 9%...and we felt good about that. From the Washington Monthly.

Misplaced Nostalgia for the “Good Old Days”
Yet too often, perceptions of American decline and nostalgia for the “good old days” are grounded in myths, not reality. 
Certainly we are better off today than in the 1970s, which were actually quite tumultuous with growing rates of inflation and uneven economic growth. In fact, a new term had to be created - “stagflation” - to explain this phenomenon. 
And as for the 1950s and 1960s, the nostalgia evoked by the likes of Trump and Sanders is again based on a myth on how good the middle class had it. In 1959, the overall poverty rate was 22 percent while the elderly poverty rate was 35 percent; even in our weak economy, the comparable numbers today are 15 percent and 10 percent.  
Moreover, while many low-educated white males had good paying blue collar jobs in the 1950s and 1960s, this leaves out women, African Americans (who would eventually riot in over 100 cities from 1963 to 1968), and many rural whites. In terms of earnings, women in 1959 earned just 45 percent of men and Blacks earned 53 percent of Whites - the comparable ratios today are 75 percent and 73 percent. As for poverty rates in 1959, 56 percent of Blacks were in poverty as well as 18 percent of Whites and 33 percent of Americans in rural areas. Today, the comparable poverty rates today are 26 percent for Blacks, 10 percent for Whites, and 14 percent for rural Americans - still not great but a far cry from the 1950s. 
This brief tour of past conditions is not meant to imply that people don’t have a reason to be anxious today. Globalization has led to many disruptions, and the Great Recession that began in 2008 was very deep while the recovery has been very slow. An August 2015 poll by Pew reported that 30 percent of respondents had been deeply affected by the recession and still hadn’t recovered.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I assume at UM-Flint

They're tweeting about drinking alcohol because they can't drink the water. Ba-doom Pshh. I could only find one Tennessee institution. Perhaps the rest of us don't use twitter as much at the students in Chattanooga. From The Huffington Post. 

The Colleges Where People Tweet The Most About Drinking
The top 10 “Midsized Schools,” where enrollments ranges from 10,000 to 15,000, that have the most per capita drinking tweets:
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Savannah College of Art and Design
  3. College of Charleston
  4. Johnson & Wales University
  5. Tufts University
  6. Strayer University
  7. University of Southern Maine
  8. Yale University
  9. University of Michigan - Flint
  10. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More parents on campus

But like other nontraditional students, they lack the services needed to complete. From The Atlantic.

Student parents are no longer a small subset of so-called non-traditional students. The number of college students who are raising children reached 4.8 million in 2011, making up more than a quarter of the entire undergraduate population. But they face heavy odds, as nearly 70 percent have low incomes, and, by and large, are less likely to complete their degree or certification within six years.    
A failure to provide resources for student parents—like childcare and transportation—could impede a disproportionate number of women of color, who are the most likely undergrads to have children, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Colleges that hope to see equity in the race and gender of their successful students require a firm understanding of the demographics and obligations of enrolled parents, according to Barbara Gault, the vice president and executive director of IWPR. 
“The data show that students with children are less likely to persist and complete than other students,” Gault said. “Those childcare expenses can become a real burden and a challenge to their ability to succeed in school.”

Monday, April 11, 2016

The struggles of small private colleges

In Appalachia (and elsewhere). I expect we'll see a rash of closings in the next decade. This article has a little more impact since Virginia Intermont is just up the highway from here. This time it's personal From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Truth-Teller: Once a Small-College Champion, Now a Tough Critic
"It’s a mess out there for these little schools," says Ms. Brown, a former president of the Appalachian College Association who spent much of her career raising millions for small mountain institutions that she says were doing "wonderful things." 
But she suggested meeting here at Virginia Intermont to make a point that a number of people undoubtedly would prefer not to hear from someone with a résumé like hers: "A lot of struggling colleges should give up the fight to stay alive." 
Many small liberal-arts institutions, she says, are "hanging on by a thread" and have been reluctant to risk making changes even as enrollment and revenue decline. For some, she says, it’s already too late.
"Somebody will say, If you don’t do X, Y, and Z, in five years you’re going to be closing. The problem is, they needed to do that 25 years ago." 
She’s the first to argue that many students — particularly students from isolated regions in Appalachia — do better if they attend colleges that aren’t too far from home and that can give them a lot of personal attention. But, she says, "we don’t need three colleges with 600 students apiece within a 30-mile radius, where the only difference is their denomination." 
Virginia Intermont, she notes, is two miles across town from King University, another small institution, and within an hour of three other liberal-arts colleges — Emory & Henry, Milligan, and Tusculum. East Tennessee State University is 45 minutes away. 
"I watched this college die a long and slow and agonizing death for years," Ms. Brown says of Virginia Intermont, which closed after an extended struggle to keep its accreditation and a last-minute attempt to merge with a small Florida college. Arthur J. Rebrovick Jr., whom Virginia Intermont’s trustees hired to close down the college and sell the campus, says Virginia Intermont owes creditors and former employees between $10 million and $20 million, and has "lawsuits stacked up to here." The campus has two possible buyers, and he’s keeping his fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

College educated Americans

And especially white, college educated women, remain married at rates common in the 1950s. The less educated, the less likely to be married. From The Washington Monthly.

In 2010, according to the Pew Research Center, only about half of all Americans over age eighteen were married, compared to nearly three out of four in 1960. Americans today are marrying later, if at all, and the share of Americans who’ve never married has climbed to record highs. As one result, the share of children growing up with single moms is also skyrocketing; in 2013, 41 percent of all births were to unmarried women. 
But the seeming decline of marriage includes one major caveat: educated elites. When it comes to marriage, divorce, and single motherhood, the 1950s never ended for college-educated Americans, and for college-educated women in particular. According to the researchers Shelly Lundberg, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Robert Pollak, of Washington University in St. Louis, the share of young college-graduate white women who were married in 2010 was a little over 70 percent—almost exactly the same as it was in 1950. College-educated white women are, moreover, half as likely as other women to be divorced, according to Steven Martin of the University of Maryland, and they are also refusing single motherhood. Fewer than 9 percent of women with a bachelor’s degree or more had an unwed birth in 2011—a level barely higher than what it was for all women in 1950. 
It’s also seemingly only Americans with four-year degrees or better who appear immune to the broader cultural and social forces eroding marriage. In 1950, white women with “some college,” such as an associate’s degree, were actually more likely to be married than their better-educated sisters. Today, it’s the opposite. Though women with a high school diploma or less have seen the sharpest drop in marriage rates, the decline has been almost as severe—and ongoing—for women just one short rung down the education ladder, regardless of race. 
The endurance of marriage among elites—and, it seems, elites alone—is important not just as a cultural anomaly. As the class divide in marriage grows, elites are compounding the advantages of their status, especially for their kids. Since the release of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s now-famed report on the breakdown of black families in 1965, researchers have amassed a growing mountain of evidence that family structure and marriage matter. Compared to children living with single parents, or even with parents who are cohabiting, kids raised in married-parent households are much less likely to grow up in poverty, more likely to do better in school, and more likely to move up the economic ladder even if they start out poor. “There’s no argument about what’s best for kids,” says the economic and social policy expert Ron Haskins, of the Brookings Institution. “It’s to be reared in a stable household by married parents.”

Monday, April 4, 2016

2016 Renaissance Child
Teen Camp
For students ages 12 and up
Computer Camp for Teens June 6-10 Ages 13 and up $185
ETSU professor James Livingston, and instructor Greg Marlow will guide campers as they learn about digital media and game development techniques by creating the elements necessary to make their own video game. Students will use Construct 2, Unreal Engine 4, and Photoshop to assemble all their work into a fully playable game that they can share with their family and friends.

Teen Digital Media Camp   June 13-17 Rising high school sophomores and up $250
Campers will learn about 2d and 3d animation and game development techniques by creating the art and scripting for their own video game. Students will use Construct 2, Unreal Engine 4, Photoshop, and Flash to assemble all their work into a fully playable game that they can share with their family and friends. Ages 13 and 14 are able to attend if they have participated in the Computer Camp for Teens the previous week, or have a recommendation letter from an art or computer teacher. 

Science and Engineering camp, June 20-24 Ages 13 and up $185
Let's do some science! This year we are focusing on transportation and technology. We will be discussing physics and the laws of energy, with hands-on activities.  That's not all, we will also build hydro rockets, design rollercoasters, study robotics and even fly drones. A field trip to Oak Ridge Museum of Science and Energy is planned. 

Graphic Art/Design, June 27-July 1 
Ages 13 and up
Join us for a week of Graphic Design! Over the course of 5 days, students will be learning about collage, mixed media, typography and pattern making. We will be designing posters/magnets/buttons and printing T-shirts designed by the group!
This camp is for those who are interested in art and graphic design and would like to learn more about techniques and careers in the design field. Participants ages 13 and 14 will need a letter of recommendation from an art or computer teacher, sent to ETSU Office of Professional Development, PO Box 70559, Johnson City, TN 37614. 

Art, Music and Drama Camp: Makeup Mayhem July 11-22 (Two Week Camp)
Ages 12 and up $250
Campers collaborate to write, stage, and perform an original play.  They practice acting techniques, design the sets and costumes, and choreography dance routines for their play; they present their play to their family and friends at the end of camp.  This year there will be an emphasis on theatrical make-up.  Have you ever wanted to learn how to change your entire look? Become an old woman? A cat? A monster? Campers visit Barter Theater in Abingdon, VA to see a professional performance.  Their original play performance is scheduled for Thursday, July 16.  The final Friday of camp is spent striking set, and having a cast party!!!

Outdoor survival, July 25-29 Ages 13 and up $185
You're lost in the woods alone and you have no clue where you are. How will you start a fire, find your way out, discover food or build a shelter? Come explore with us the ways to survive on your own in the wilderness and have fun doing it too! Also, we will be taking some exciting field trips that include rafting and defying the odds on high ropes courses, this week is not for the faint of heart.

For more information or to register:
Call -  423-439-8084 or 
Email - or

East Tennessee State University's
Office of Professional Development
Box 70559
Johnson City, TN  37614-1707
423-439-8084 (local)
Website - Click Here