Category Archives: Higher Education

Study Shows School Cleanliness Affects Learning

Source: Alan S. Bigger and Jeff Campbell, APPA, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a direct corrrelation between cleanliness and the resulting academic grade(s) of students. In 1992, APPA published the first edition of Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities; the second edition was published in 1998. This seminal document set the precedent for correlating levels of productivity and cleaning of facilities and has been used as justification for appropriate staffing levels at institutions. In addition, ISSA has long established cleaning times and guidelines that also address productivity issues.

However, such data is now being brought into question as performance indicators are being used to address specific outcomes of maintenance programs. The principal investigators led a team of researchers representing APPA and ISSA to collect data, review and research relevant literature, and determine whether levels of staffing and cleaning have an affect on the academic achievement of students.
See also:
Press release

Community Colleges Under Stress

Source: Matthew Zeidenberg, Issues in Science and Technology, Vol. 24 no. 4, Summer 2008

There is a core mission shared by virtually all community colleges of enabling low-income students and those with relatively weak academic achievement to continue their education and acquire useful skills. Due to increased recognition of the benefits of higher education, and the rising costs of four-year degrees, disproportionate numbers of minority and immigrant students are applying to two-year community colleges. Many community colleges are finding it difficult to deal with this new enrollment onslaught. This article details three key challenges that community colleges face: unprepared students, financial stress, and high dropout rates.

The Grapevine Project

Source: Illinois State University, 2008

The Grapevine project entails an annual compilation of data on state tax support for higher education, including general fund appropriations for universities, colleges, community colleges, and state higher education agencies. Each year we ask states for tax appropriations data for the new fiscal year, and we also ask for revisions (if any) to data reported one year ago, two years ago, five years ago, and ten years ago. Updated state reports are entered on the Grapevine web site as they are received from May through December of the calendar year. After entering all 50 state reports on our web site, we construct the following tables:

• state rankings on one, two, five and ten-year percentage changes;
• annual average five-year percent changes in state tax appropriations;
• one- and two-year percent changes in state tax appropriations by region;
• state tax appropriations per capita and per $1,000 of personal income;
• state tax appropriations for community colleges; and
• state and local (aggregated) tax appropriations per capita and per $1,000 in personal income.

Facility Planning: School Renewals

Source: James E. Rydeen, American School and University, June 1, 2008

1950s-’60s schools: Obsolescence or longevity?

Forty-three percent of existing public schools were built in the 1950s-’60s era. This era seems to have gained the reputation of cheap, energy-inefficient buildings that were not intended to last more than 30 years.

A study at one school district estimated it would cost $2.1 billion to fix its aging buildings. Many buildings were well-kept and clean, but their mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were old and inefficient; the food-service equipment needed replacing; and the facilities did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of the buildings are only 30 to 50 years old and are showing signs of water damage, and wear and tear.

Experience has proven that public schools must be designed for long-term use — much longer than 30 years.

Many institutions keep up with most of their annual facility maintenance, but not with replacing major systems and equipment because annual budgets cannot cover the costs. Avoiding such dilemmas requires planning, scheduling and budgeting for the eventual upgrades.

Great Colleges to Work For

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2008

The results of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of Great Colleges to Work For are based on responses from more than 15,000 administrators, faculty members, and staff members at 89 colleges and universities.

Each was asked to submit a list of employees randomly selected across three categories: administration, faculty, and professional support staff. The sample size, either 400 or 600, was based on the number of employees in those categories. Of the more than 15,000 respondents, 4,003 identified themselves as administrators, 5,840 as faculty members, and 4,262 as professional support-staff members. All were asked to respond to 70 statements using a five-point scale. The questionnaire also asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with 15 different benefits; respond to two open-ended questions; and answer 14 demographic questions relating to gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, salary, tenure status, and other job issues. ModernThink’s survey is based on an assessment tool used in over 55 “Best Places to Work” programs with more than 4,000 organizations.

Why Should State Government Invest in College Education? An Equilibrium Approach for the US in 2000

Source: Michael P. Shields, IZA Discussion Paper No. 3569, June 2008

This paper is a preliminary look at the benefits to states in the US of subsidizing college education. The benefits studies are the external benefits of college education on the earnings of both college graduates and those who have not graduated from college. In completing a college education individuals earn more. In addition, if there are positive external benefits others will also earn more because the average level of college graduates in the state has risen. This study confirms the existence of these positive externalities for the US in 2000 in estimates using the Current Population Survey. Furthermore, these external benefits are large enough that if confirmed in more complete studies would suggest that states invest too little in college education.

Envisioning Opportunity: Three Options for a Community College in Washington, D.C.

Source: Brooke DeRenzis, Martha Ross, and Alice Rivlin, Brookings Institution, May 2008

From the summary:
In most cities around the country, community colleges play a critical role in providing training for “middle skill” jobs, those that require less than a four-year degree but more than a high school diploma; helping students transfer to four-year baccalaureate programs; and serving adults who want to upgrade their skills. Community colleges are accessible to residents through open admissions and affordable tuition rates. They serve a diverse student body from all social and economic backgrounds with flexible schedules and offerings. Community colleges offer a wide array of academic and occupationally-focused certificate and associate programs tied to the regional labor market. Associate degree programs have clear articulation agreements with four-year degree programs to facilitate transfers. Community colleges also provide strong developmental courses for students without the reading, writing, or math skills required for college-level coursework, as well as support and guidance services to help students succeed. They often forge strong links with public high schools and adult literacy programs. Additionally, community colleges serve regional employers by working closely with them to develop curricula and programs to prepare a pool of skilled and qualified workers.

This brief lays out three options for creating a community college in the District: (1) Create a community college within UDC; (2) create a freestanding community college from an incubator institution; or (3) create a community college network that strengthens and ties together sub-baccalaureate offerings at UDC and other institutions in the city and suburbs. None of these options are easy or cheap, and all would require substantial commitment from city leaders and major new investments in higher education. If the city is not willing to make a large and long-term investment, it cannot expect much in return. While each option has benefits and limitations, we believe that the most viable, effective, and sustainable option is the creation of a freestanding community college that starts within an incubator institution.
See also:
Why Washington Needs a Community College
Source: Alice M. Rivlin, Walter Smith, Brookings Institution, July 6, 2008

The Ripple Effect of Virginia Tech: Assessing the Nationwide Impact on Campus Safety and Security Policy and Practice

Source: Midwestern Higher Education Compact

The events of April 16, 2007, were followed by a flurry of activity on campuses across the nation as colleges and universities conducted internal reviews of emergency procedures, notification systems, and policies related to student behavior. Many campuses have implemented new or enhanced processes and technologies to improve communications and the mobilization of emergency resources and first responders. The shootings also spurred renewed discussion and debate about gun safety and weapons regulation, mental health counseling, and the often difficult balance between student privacy and the need to share certain information with parents, medical professionals, and law enforcement agencies.

Subsequent shootings at Delaware State University, Louisiana Technical College, and Northern Illinois University have raised further questions about how such crimes can be prevented and whether colleges and universities are sufficiently prepared to respond to incidents of violence and other emergency situations. This report provides a snapshot of how colleges and universities are addressing these issues and the changes that have resulted from safety and security audits conducted at institutions across the country.

Full report (PDF; 1.6 MB)

The States and Their Community Colleges

Source: Rockefeller Institute of Government

From press release (PDF; 32 KB):
A new Rockefeller Institute of Government study has found that the utilization of two-year community colleges varies widely among the states, from a high of 47 percent of higher education students attending community colleges in Wyoming to a low of less than 8 percent in Vermont.

According to the new analysis, the first of its kind comparing utilization rates in the 50 states, the national average of community college utilization is 27.7 percent of higher-education enrollees. The study examined data from 2000 to 2005.

Full report (PDF; 292 KB)

Governors and Public Education: A Trend Analysis Of Gubernatorial Messages 2004-2008

Source: Communities for Quality Education, 2008

From the press release:
A new report from Communities for Quality Education (CQE) analyzes State of the State gubernatorial addresses between 2004-2008 and highlights specific education policy trends. The report shows that between 2004 and 2007, every governor who delivered a State of the State address stressed the importance of education to economic growth. In fact, no issue surrounding education has been focused on as much by governors in their State of the State addresses as the link between education and economic prosperity.
See also:
Governors’ Statements