What the White House Wants From Colleges

Roundup: Next year’s summit on higher ed will focus on strategies to improve graduation rates for more lower-income kids.

US President Barack Obama (R) makes remarks with Dr. Jill Biden during the first White House Summit on Community Colleges, an event to highlight the critical role that community colleges play in developing America's workforce and reaching educational goals on October 5, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Quinton
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Sophie Quinton
Dec. 9, 2013, midnight

Every week, The Next Amer­ica pro­duces a col­lec­tion of edu­ca­tion art­icles that catch our eye. These date from Dec. 2-9.

The Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Re­cruit­ment Wish List. The White House wants par­ti­cipants in a high­er-edu­ca­tion sum­mit to com­mit to a con­crete step that would help more low-in­come stu­dents gradu­ate. The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sug­ges­tions for in­sti­tu­tions in­clude set­ting spe­cif­ic tar­gets for low-in­come en­roll­ment, part­ner­ing with loc­al school dis­tricts and com­munity col­leges, and mak­ing re­medi­ation more rel­ev­ant. The event, ori­gin­ally sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, will likely be held in Janu­ary as the pres­id­ent and first lady will at­tend Nel­son Man­dela’s me­mori­al ser­vice in South Africa. Chron­icle of High­er Edu­ca­tion

Schools Step Away From Harsh Dis­cip­line Policies. Large urb­an dis­tricts are re­think­ing zero-tol­er­ance policies, which are linked to ar­rest re­cords, low aca­dem­ic achieve­ment, and high dro­pout rates that par­tic­u­larly af­fect minor­ity stu­dents. Dis­tricts like Broward County, Fla., are keep­ing stu­dents who com­mit minor, non­vi­ol­ent of­fenses in school and of­fer­ing them coun­sel­ing rather than call­ing the po­lice. New York Times

Takeaways from PISA. The most re­cent data from the Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tion­al Stu­dent As­sess­ment, a test taken by 15-year-olds around the world, show that U.S. stu­dents are pretty much in the middle of the pack when it comes to math, read­ing, and sci­ence test scores. In­ter­est­ingly, so­cioeco­nom­ic dif­fer­ences have a big­ger in­flu­ence on test scores here than in oth­er coun­tries, and few­er low-in­come stu­dents out­per­form ex­pect­a­tions. The At­lantic

How Much Stu­dent Debt Is Nor­mal? Stu­dent debt can range from less than $5,000 per year to al­most $50,000 per bor­row­er, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the In­sti­tute for Col­lege Ac­cess and Suc­cess. In 2011-12, 71 per­cent of those seek­ing a bach­el­or’s de­gree had stu­dent debt, com­pared with 68 per­cent of stu­dents four years earli­er. New York Times

The Amaz­ing Shrink­ing Lunch Hour. At many pub­lic schools today, stu­dents get just 15 minutes or less to sit down and eat lunch. Fed­er­ally sub­sid­ized school meals are of­ten the only thing stand­ing between low-in­come chil­dren and hun­ger, and fed­er­al stand­ards try to en­sure that stu­dents get nu­tri­tious meals. But what’s the point of provid­ing healthy fare if stu­dents don’t have time to eat it? NPR

First-Gen­er­a­tion Stu­dents Least Sure of Their Ma­jors. First-gen­er­a­tion col­lege stu­dents who se­lect a ma­jor when they take the ACT are less sure of their choices than their peers with bet­ter-edu­cated par­ents. Thirty per­cent of boys whose par­ents earned a gradu­ate de­gree or high­er were sure of their fu­ture ma­jors, com­pared with 45 per­cent of boys whose par­ents had nev­er gone to col­lege. Over­all, only 36 per­cent of test-takers in the class of 2013 se­lec­ted a planned ma­jor that’s a good fit for their in­terests. ACT

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