Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bill Crawford: Move remediation to community colleges and hybrid universities.

Across the nation ever rising higher education costs are in conflict with tight state budgets. At the same time ever rising tuition costs are in conflict with stagnant family incomes. Many states are looking to restructure higher education to reduce costs, both for the state and for students.

"The pressure on higher ed budgets is going to continue," said Andrew Kelly who works education reform for the American Enterprise Institute. "So the question is, how do states navigate that?" The Pew Charitable Trusts, in an article entitled "The High Cost of Higher Education," suggests that "the most difficult way," but perhaps the most effective way, is through "systemic change."

Systemic change is what Mississippi needs.

Every year Mississippi high schools graduate thousands of students under-prepared for college level work. And every year our colleges and universities admit thousands of these graduates, then channel them into developmental (remedial) classes – 41.1% of entering freshmen at 2-year institutions, 27% at 4-year non-flagship institutions, and 14.4% at 4-year flagship/very high research institutions (source: Complete College America).

Success rates for these students are dismal. The Biloxi Sun-Herald cited a U.S. Department of Ed­ucation study that found only 17% of students who enroll in re­medial reading and 27% of students who enroll in remedial math go on to earn a bachelor's degree. Other studies show worse results.

However, as long as Mississippi high schools graduate under-prepared students, Mississippi institutions will need to provide remedial education. The question is which institutions?

Universities should raise admission standards and, for the most part, exit the remediation business. Community colleges are best suited for this role with lower costs for both state and student, plus they provide more pathways to completion for academically challenged and disinterested students.

Two things – sports and historically black universities – would seem to make this politically impossible. Many talented athletes require remediation and our historically black universities enroll high proportions of under-prepared students.

Well, maybe it's not quite so impossible.

Universities with high general admission standards have found ways to accommodate athletes.

As for historically black universities, the Legislature and IHL should restructure universities not willing to raise admission standards into hybrid universities. For the freshman and sophomore years, hybrid universities would function the same as community colleges – the same admission standards, educational offerings, staffing, funding formula, and tuition levels. From junior year on, they would function as they do now.

Tulane University's innovative School of Continuing Studies, Gov. John Kasich's Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in Higher Education, Central Washington University, and other sources can inform different aspects of this more transformative systemic change.

The Legislature should also figure out how to properly fund, incentivize, and evaluate community colleges (and hybrid universities) for providing remediation. Traditional funding and performance metrics don't work.

Done right, the systemic changes of raising university admission standards, moving remediation to community colleges and hybrid universities, and eliminating discounted out-of-state tuition would reduce costs for the state and for students … and improve Mississippi student outcomes.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...

Best idea that Crawford has had in a while. I wouldn't be opposed to the idea floated by one of the legislators that the cost of remediation be picked-up by a student's graduating school district.

Anonymous said...

Force people to get associates at CC and then move to university for bachelor

Anonymous said...

Wow - awesome.

Anonymous said...

Universities are bloated and are hiding the fact that they live off student debt and federal grants. They are no longer really educating the masses, but hosting 4 years of "living away from home" by college kids before they have to get a job. The top students use this time to do well, but if you look at graduation rates, drug usage, dropout rates, and then the rate at which people actually get a job in their degree field, even the so-call flagship universities across the country are not full-filling their stated purpose. The system is broken, and when student loan money dries up, there is going to be a day or reckoning for most universities across the country. JMHO

Anonymous said...

11:54 is spot on. Universities are part of the problem. They are all competing for funds and students so they keep preaching how important it is to have a college degree. In reality many students leave college with a ton of debt and a degree that is close to worthless. Many kids would be better served by going to work and saving money without accumulating debt. Should they become inspired to work in a particular field that requires a degree then they should work with employers to get the required education. Right now the thinking is that a degree in anything is better than nothing. Wrong.

You won't see college research departments doing any studies on the actual cost of education. When you include time value of money, student debt interest and the number of kids leaving universities underprepared for the real world the results are not very good.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for a free thinker to even care about college sports?

Been There Twice.. said...

Not only that, 11:54, but as soon as your son or daughter hits his/her final semester, the professors start trying to talk them into staying for a masters. Then the push is for them to stay for an even higher degree. "You'd be a perfect candidate for our advanced degree program. Talk to your mom about it. We need people of your caliber in our programs."

"Oh Mom! You won't believe this. They want me stay for a masters or doctorate. Talk to dad!"

Anonymous said...

The system is flawed.....but those that do get a degree from a good or great university will have higher lifetime earnings. That is still true. But too many under prepared kids are borrowing money to go to subpar colleges and this will make the bursting bubble more painful for all.

Remember the day when kids actually "applied" to go to university in hopes of getting in?

Anonymous said...

Too many kids "go to college" because it's the thing to do. And lots and lots of them have no business even applying.

Sad. And the column is spot on.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT Crawford's idea or plan. It's old as dirt.

Anonymous said...

Nothing changes until we return to an orientation and posture of savings and frugality versus our current terminal addiction to debt. Happy Hard Landings!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, the answer might be in directing remedial level students into learning a trade while spending two years in community college to also handle the remedial issues at the same time. That way, at the end of two years, the student is able to go to work and contribute to society.

Anonymous said...

Let's make our universities great again! It will be a fabulous education! The most perfect education ever!

Anonymous said...

The problem is lack of money for teacher salaries since they are doing so well now just think what they could do with more funding

Anonymous said...

Beats another yawner from Rick Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

College education is a process that begins long before college. It begins in the home, then in elementary and secondary schools where the expectation of higher learning is either nurtured or ignored. For the most part, it is ignored in Mississippi public schools and among the parents who rely on public education. Parents who have no background or understanding relating to higher education are just happy if their kid can "finish school" and parents with the high expectations and higher educational background have placed their kids outside that failing environment so they won't be tainted by the negative karma. Mississippi must address it's collegiate shortfall where it begins, not where it ends. If Mississippi continues to bitch and moan about it's colleges and universities so that the only solution is to downsize universities and shift the huge numbers of "underprepared" students to trade schools and community colleges, Mississippi will only solidify it's position as a 3rd world backwater home to an overpopulation of manual labor and governmental dependents. Raising admission standards at universities sounds great,especially to those who want to shut down certain institutions, but raising standards at elementary and secondary schools will produce real college students and a better future for Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

I don't think its a bad idea, but why not fix the problems with the public schools. If the kids are under prepared why not focus on making them more prepared?

Anonymous said...

I have never understood why colleges have courses for people who are not ready to do college work. The tax payers have that covered - junior college. You slept thru high school? Fine, go to jr college until you are ready to do college work. It's real simple.

Rumple Stiltskin.. said...

"You slept thru high school".

Har. Winner Winner!

Anonymous said...

We need more VoTechs. No one is training for the workforce which some jobs pay more than one requiring a degree.

Anonymous said...

Raising the standards for acceptance in college and improving preparation for college are not mutually exclusive ideas.
The entrance standards for college and universities used to be much higher. And, even today, I'm sure the statistics that predict whether a student has a reasonable chance to graduate are still compiled. We just don't want to know what that is and we don't want to believe that IQ , grades and testing are high probability predictors of graduation. We make decisions to spend tax dollars based on anecdotal stories and low probabilities.
But this is really about money. Colleges and junior colleges are now profit centers run on business models.
You can accept a student with no chance of success and help them get loans or Pell grants. You get their tuition and fees for the semesters they can hang in there. It's not just the sports revenue they hope to get from a talented athlete.
Only 14% of MS students go on to higher education. With a population of 2.9 million. We are smaller than many large US cities, we have more colleges and universities than major cities.
Does it make sense to you that New York City, with a population of over 8 million, has only 2 state supported universities and 7 community college campuses? We have at least four junior college campuses within 8 miles of Jackson!( note: some of our junior colleges have more than one campus).
FYI, the annual budget for NYC is over $84 billion. Our State budget is $20 billion and change.

Surely, all of you can see having so many IHLs and junior and community campuses ( with dorm and sports teams) makes NO sense whatsoever! And, worse, we duplicate graduate programs! Consolidation is long overdue with each university having designated courses of study!

Anonymous said...

8:46 I agree with you wholeheartedly that raising college acceptance standards and preparation for college are not mutually exclusive. However, clearly one is dependent on the other. If you are not concerned about the benefits and competitive advantage resulting from a populace with a larger percentage of college educated citizens, then you can save lots of tax dollars by simply allowing elementary and secondary standards to remain where they are, or even lower them! If the emphasis and resources were put into a concerted effort to make Mississippi first class in elementary and secondary education, post secondary education albeit IHL or community college will take care of itself. The trouble is, Mississippi, less that any state in the union, has never made such an effort because of the makeup of it's population and the politics that rule. If you listen to the politicians in charge you would think Mississippi has moved heaven and earth for the public education of it's children, to no avail. Bull! Just save the money, close the universities.

-W said...

SAT with writing component and ACT should be used for admission for 4 year universities. Raise the score to 21 on the ACT.

If you really care about the average student learn about leveraging and discounting. How much does it cost a student who does not receive a scholarship to pay for a student who does get a scholarship?

Anonymous said...

Great ideas. Could also make an existing University a "remedial school" only. No way we need 8 Universities. Sometimes legislators have to consider what is best for the state and not worry about the political consequences.

Anonymous said...

Born and raised here. High IQ. Was in my school district's first gifted program close to 40 years ago. Educated at a terribly staffed public high school. The quality of primary and secondary education matters. Period.

I am lucky. I was driven to succeed. I've achieved more than I could have ever dreamed of as a child. It's not been easy. It is hard work. Poverty, lack of economic opportunities and poor access to decent schools are REAL hurdles that are HARD to overcome.

I used to be proud to say I was from Mississippi. I used to have hope that it could and would get better. However, time and the current bunch of yahoos we've elected to run this state have stripped away what little hope I have left. It really is an embarrassment that we care so little about educating our youth. It's an absolute reflection of our failure as a society. No excuses really.

Raising the "standards" at the college/university level is nothing more than a bandaid. They are bloated and too expensive for the ROI. No question. But you can't fix them without fixing the root of the problem.........

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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