Here are some new resources and news for the field of higher education.

OER Promotes Student Success  Open educational resources (OER) not only save students money, they produce significant benefits in instruction and student learning experiences, according to a new study from Achieving the Dream (ATD). As a result, OER could lead to higher persistence and completion rates for community college students, the study adds. (Community College Daily)

More Than 30 CO Schools Offering Free College Applications for Students on Oct. 30  Gov. John Hickenlooper dubbed the month of October as College Application Month and Oct. 30 as Colorado Free Application Day. “Colorado Free Application Day is about increasing access for any student who wants to pursue a degree in one of Colorado’s many higher education institutions,” Hickenlooper said. (Denver7)

Study: Bachelor’s Degree Not Sole Path to ‘Good-Paying’ Job  “Policymakers should promote transparency and accountability by ensuring that students and their families are provided information about the value they will get for their investment, particularly the employment and earning outcomes of different education and training programs,” the report recommended. (Diverse: Issues In Higher Education)

Degrees Outpace Job Requirements in Most Cities  “The next 10 to 20 years will bring many challenges for the U.S. economy and the American work force. In many ways, with greater access to education, workers are better positioned than ever to contribute to their communities,” the report concludes. “We just need to ensure that our policies, businesses and institutions at the national, state and metropolitan levels provide the opportunities needed for people to succeed.” (Inside Higher Ed)

CU Boulder Guarantees Admission for High School Students Who Study Education  CU officials said the program would help address statewide teacher shortages and create a pipeline for students to attend the university. (DailyCamera)

New Scholarship Rewards Completing Road-to-College Steps  The program, designed and run by the College Board, outlines six steps it considers key in the college process. Completion of each step enters students into a monthly lottery to win a scholarship tied to that step. (Education Week)

What High Schoolers and Their Parents Know About Public 4-Year Tuition and Fees in Their State   This brief explores student and parent perceptions of a main component of college costs, tuition, and fees. Overall, 11% of 9th-graders in 2009 reported estimates of annual tuition and fees at a public 4-year university in their state that were close to the actual average tuition and fees. Fifty-seven percent overestimated tuition and fees, and 32% underestimated them. When students were asked about their confidence in their tuition and fee estimates in 9th grade, 27% reported “not at all confident.” Two years later, when most students were in 11th grade, 51% reported that they did not know how much public 4-year colleges in their state charged for tuition and fees. Ninth-graders were not given the opportunity to report “I don’t know” in estimating tuition and fees but instead were asked about their level of confidence in their ability to estimate tuition and fees. One-quarter of 9th-graders disagreed or strongly disagreed that college was affordable. Two years later, one-third of these students reported the same. In addition, the percentage of 9th-graders who planned to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program declined from 51% when they were in 9th grade to 45% three years later, when most students had just completed high school.  (National Center for Education Statistics)

Three Educational Pathways to Good Jobs  This report argues that there are three distinct pathways to good jobs: high school, middle skills, and bachelor’s degree. The middle-skills pathway includes workers with more education than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree, including certificates, certifications, licenses, associate’s degrees, and some college coursework. The middle-skills pathway encompasses 24% of all good jobs. In 1991, there were 15 million good high school jobs, 12 million good middle-skills jobs, and 18 million good jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree. By 2016, the high school pathway decreased to 13 million good jobs, the middle-skills pathway grew to 16 million good jobs, and the bachelor’s degree pathway doubled to 36 million good jobs. Twenty percent of workers with good jobs have no more education than a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Between 1991 and 2016, good jobs for workers with bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees doubled from 18 million to 36 million. More than 20 million new good jobs were created in skilled-services industries while the net number of good jobs in blue-collar industries slightly declined. Skilled-services industries accounted for 77% of good job growth for workers with middle skills. Blue-collar industries added 800,000 good jobs on the middle-skills pathway and 500,000 good jobs for workers with bachelor’s degree or higher. (Georgetown University)

The Condition of College and Career Readiness  This report looks at the progress of the ACT-tested 2018 U.S. high school graduating class relative to college and career readiness. Slightly fewer ACT-tested graduates were ready for college coursework this year than last year. The percentage of students meeting at least three of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in the four core subject areas was 38% for the 2018 U.S. high school graduating class, down from 39% last year but the same as in 2016. A higher percentage of students this year than in recent years fell to the bottom of the preparedness scale, showing little or no readiness for college coursework. Thirty-five percent of 2018 graduates met none of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 31% in 2014 and from 33% last year. The national average ACT Composite score for the 2018 graduating class was 20.8, down from 21.0 last year but the same as in 2016. Average scores in English, mathematics, reading, and science all dropped between 0.1 and 0.3 point compared to last year. Just 26% of ACT-tested 2018 graduates likely have the foundational work readiness skills needed for more than 9 out of 10 jobs recently profiled in the ACT JobPro database. (ACT)

Historically low ACT scores ‘a red flag for our country’  Ohio leaders say tests are not the only way to measure college readiness.  Class of 2018 math scores on the ACT college entrance exam were the lowest nationally in more than 20 years, according to ACT officials, continuing concerns over students’ performance.  College readiness levels in English have also been trending down the past several years, according to ACT, dropping from 64 percent nationally in 2015 to 60 percent this year, the lowest level since the benchmarks were introduced.

Approaches to State Workforce Development Systems  This Education Trends report draws on interviews in four states and identifies the trending components seen in 2018 workforce development legislation. The five common components noted in workforce development legislation are: data utilization, coordination and collaboration, leadership, outcomes alignment and funding.

Improving community college completion rates by addressing structural and motivational barriers  Many community college students in the U.S. do not complete a credential or degree, facing dramatically reduced earning potential. However, evidence suggests that helping students navigate the college environment and connect their coursework to their lives can help solve the community college completion puzzle. In this report, Elizabeth Mann Levesque discusses the structural and motivational barriers these students face, potential solutions, and offers policy recommendations to boost completion rates.

The Power Of A Promise: Implications And Importance Of Adult Promise Programs  Promise programs (also known as free college programs) have grown in popularity over the last few years. When targeted correctly, these programs have the potential to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates for underserved students. By focusing a promise program on adult students and including additional supports and services, states can connect with nontraditional students who previously believed college was not an option. However, the message of a promise program is strong and should not be misused. This paper helps to define the concept of a promise program for adults, discusses the value proposition of a promise, provides an overview of current and proposed promise programs, and outlines critical considerations for states considering an adult promise program.

Income Verification for Federal Aid Hinders Low-Income Students  Colleges worry the federal student aid verification process singles out more low-income students and may be stopping them from receiving grants.

‘Race on Campus’  Author discusses her new book about what she sees as widespread misconceptions about the state of race relations in higher education.

Coaxing Dropouts to Return and Earn Degrees  Colleges are hoping a new initiative will help them encourage former students who stopped out to return and complete their degrees.

Governor Rauner recently signed into law SB 351 SB 351 assures Illinois’ community college students enrolled in Perkins-approved CTE programs have access to food security through SNAP benefits. An estimated 40,000 low-income community college students across Illinois – both full-time and part-time students – are now eligible for these benefits.   The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is currently conducting outreach to ensure not only students are aware of this option but that community colleges, advocacy partners, and state agencies are also aware. Please peruse and widely share the Community College SNAP brochure that the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless developed as well as the Verification Form that must be filled out by the student and community college. The student must then bring the completed and signed verification form with them to their appointment with the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Approaches to State Workforce Development Systems  This Education Trends report draws on interviews in four states and identifies the trending components seen in 2018 workforce development legislation. The five common components noted in workforce development legislation are: data utilization, coordination and collaboration, leadership, outcomes alignment and funding.

New Data Show Some Colleges Are Definitively Unaffordable for Many  Data from a new tool show the net cost of college based on a family’s income and reveals a troubling trend: the price tag on higher education is far beyond what most families can afford. (The Hechinger Report)

Study of Enhanced College Advising in Upward Bound: Impacts on Steps Toward College  The U.S. Department of Education tested a set of low-cost advising strategies, called Find the Fit, designed to help low-income and “first generation” students enrolled in the department’s Upward Bound program choose the best college they can and stay until they complete a degree. About 200 Upward Bound projects with 4,500 seniors agreed to participate. The projects were randomly assigned to receive Find the Fit to supplement their regular college advising (treatment group) or to offer their regular advising (control group). This report looks at Find the Fit’s effects on students’ steps toward enrolling in a more selective college. Find the Fit increased the share of students who applied to at least four colleges, and to more selective colleges. For example, students in treatment group projects were about 10 percentage points more likely to apply to four or more colleges and to those with a selectivity level of at least “Very Competitive.” Find the Fit had no impact on the importance students place on academic quality in choosing a college. About 75% of students in both treatment group and control group projects rated this factor as “very important.” Overall, Find the Fit did not affect the share of students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 15, when not only federal but also state and individual colleges’ aid is usually still available. But the advising may have increased early FAFSA submission among some groups underrepresented in college. (National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance)

The Flow and Ebb of Public Support for Higher Education in America  America’s relationship with higher education has a complicated history, but understanding the past may help point to solutions for today’s lack of access and affordability. (Change Magazine)

CO – Turning Soldiers Into Scholars by Turning Military Experience Into College Credit  This year, Colorado legislators embraced Pikes Peak’s model by passing legislation to help all Colorado military and veteran students. Colorado’s new law says any state-funded institution has to be able to evaluate the knowledge or skills that a student might have picked up in the military. And if that student can earn credit for it, those credits have to be transferable to every state institution. (PBS)

Few Gains for Students in Tenn. Remedial Education Program A new study shows few student achievements from an innovative initiative in Tennessee that moved college math remediation back to high school.

Report Examines Community College Funding  A new report by the Century Foundation examines how state and federal policy makers should provide more funding and resources to community colleges. (Inside Higher Ed)

Why Many College Dropouts Are Returning to School in North Carolina  A new plan to lower tuition has led to a 60 percent jump in the number of students who have reenrolled at one university.

STEM Dual Enrollment: Model Policy Components  This Special Report by Jennifer Zinth outlines state-level policy components that help ensure dual enrollment programs in science, technology, engineering and math are broadly accessible, particularly to students traditionally underrepresented in STEM courses.

Focusing on Relevancy and Flexibility: Solidifying the Place of the Community College  Community colleges need to be vehicles for student success, according to Miami Dade College Executive Vice President and Provost Lenore Rodicio. Equipping faculty with teaching practices that promote student learning and prepare students for their careers is key to remaining relevant and meeting students where they are, she notes. (The Evolllution)

Amid College Success Push, the U.S. Overlooks the Fact that One in Four Students Are Parents  Increasingly, parents are enrolling in postsecondary education programs, write Allison Dulin Salisbury and Michael B. Horn, but support for them is often lacking. Salisbury and Horn suggest solutions such as offering career guidance, courses designed to better use mobile technology, and more support services. (Forbes)

The Either/Or Paradigm: Short-Term Training in Higher Education  Institutions need to create clear pathways for students to earn credentials as steps along the way to completing their degrees, according to Eric Heiser. Instead of seeing short-term training programs as an alternative to a degree, he writes, colleges can blend the programs to meet the immediate career needs of students while offering a bridge to the end goal of a degree. (The Evolllution)

New Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey Data Confirm Critical Role of Faculty as Main Source of Mentorship but Less Than Half of Graduates Report They Had a Mentor in College  2018 Survey explores sources of mentoring and career-related advice as well as the role of academic rigor in alumni attitudes about the value and relevance of their education. Strada Education NetworkSM and Gallup released findings from a national survey of more than 5,100 college graduates about their college experiences and life after graduation. Previously known as the Gallup-Purdue Index, the 2018 Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey, “Mentoring College Students to Success,” focuses on three critical aspects of the college experience, including: the source and nature of mentoring, whether graduates receive career-related advice from faculty and/or career services, and the role of academic rigor in graduates’ attitudes about the value and relevance of their education.  Prior research from Gallup shows that college graduates are two times more likely to be engaged at work if they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.

Less Accessible, Less Affordable  Two new reports find public universities less affordable for low-income students and less accessible for members of minority groups.

Tuition-Setting in Postsecondary Education  This Policy Snapshot gives a national perspective on tuition-setting authority in 2018, as well as a sampling of recently proposed legislation related to tuition setting. See the companion Policy Snapshot, Postsecondary Tuition Capping and Freezing.

The Talent Talks Podcast, With Host Rick Maher  In-depth discussions and expert insights into how to reinvent America’s Talent Development and Education Systems to drive global economic competitiveness for future generations.

A Promise Fulfilled:  A Framework for Equitable Free College Programs  Ed Trust released a new report that examines free college. The report states that “free usually doesn’t mean free, especially for those students who struggle the most financially to attend and complete college. A Promise Fulfilled: A Framework for Equitable Free College Programs reviews proposed and existing free college or “college promise” programs, as of 2017, and finds that free college is not inherently equitable.