Grading in a Pandemic (Still)

When classes resume at the University of Kentucky next week, the world will look very different for the university’s undergraduates. Some of them will be studying at home, virtually. Those who’ve chosen to live on campus will take a mix of in-person, hybrid and online courses, the former in physically distanced classrooms wearing masks under the shadow of COVID-19. Very little about the fall will be “normal”—except for how students are graded.

Don’t Derail! State Policy Solutions to Keep College Plans on Track

Earlier this summer, Ed Note published A State Policymaker’s Guide to Equitable Transitions in the COVID-19 Era, presenting a framework to help state leaders think through options to ease high school to college transitions during the pandemic. They worked with over 20 organizations to identify barriers and potential policy solutions in six thematic areas: admissions and enrollment, academic readiness, access to financial resources, experiential learning, new learning environments and non-academic supports. Additionally, Ed Note is releasing a series of Policy Briefs, authored by a subset of these organizations, to expand on specific topics within these themes and present promising practices and state examples.

Strong Start to Finish: How Course Pathway Maps Increase Student Success

As developmental education reforms gain momentum across the country, course pathway maps help policymakers improve the student experience by identifying roadblocks to math and English course completion and, ultimately, a college degree. Course pathway maps create a visual guide, connecting the dots between every class in a sequence ending with the first college-level math or English course applicable to a degree. Increasing the number and proportion of students completing college-level, aka gateway, courses in their first year is the explicit goal of Strong Start to Finish, an initiative of the Education Commission of the States.

Gordon taps CARES to fund higher education for un(der)employed adults

Adults who are unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19 are now eligible for a grant to pay for education at one of the state’s community colleges or the University of Wyoming. The funding source was identified by Governor Mark Gordon provided to the new program. Gordon allocated $7.5 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to the Adult Education Grant Program, which will provide scholarships to Wyoming adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who are unemployed or underemployed due to the impacts of COVID-19.

California’s higher education leaders see an opportunity in crisis

Colleges, students and faculty members may be unsure of what lies ahead as they brace for another mostly virtual academic term amid a pandemic, but the crisis could force California’s higher education systems to improve. The state’s colleges and universities could use the current crisis to build better partnerships across the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges and private institutions to increase access and improve graduation rates. That was the message from Lande Ajose, a senior policy advisor for higher education to Gov. Gavin Newsom, and ECMC Foundation President Peter Taylor during a webinar Wednesday hosted by California Competes, a nonprofit focused on improving graduation outcomes.

C-Lab: The Path to Policy Reform Is Paved in Partnership

While innovation, policy reform and infrastructure development historically happen alongside—but more often without—students, the current crisis created by COVID-19 is an opportunity to elevate and integrate student voices into collective efforts and decision-making. Pilot projects exploring student-owned/controlled digital wallets and learner-centric ecosystem designs can enable a more inclusive social structure that elevates all voices, not just those in positions of privilege or power. How can policymakers empower students to shape policy? What new infrastructure might be imagined if students owned and controlled their own data? How can policymakers create a truly equitable and socially responsible digital democracy?

North Carolina Community Colleges Begin Bias Training for Law Enforcement

With the goal of providing law enforcement training to all 100 counties in the state, the North Carolina Community College system has launched the Impartial Policing initiative. The content for the training is developed through the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission. The community colleges act as the delivery agents. “When a lot of the conversation began about concerns about policing, equity of policing and treatment of community members, particularly Black members in policing, we felt that certainly, we should be at the table of finding solutions for those problems,” said Dr. Kimberly Gold, senior vice president and chief academic officer of NC Community Colleges.

50-State Comparison: Post-secondary Education Funding

This 50-State Comparison answers this question by searching state statutes, state rules and regulations, enacted state budget bills and state post-secondary education agency policies that address post-secondary education budgeting and funding. First, this resource inventories where publicly available state policies exist and provides citations that underpin post-secondary education budgeting and funding in the state. Next, this comparison examines whether the budget request process is centralized across institutions or groups of institutions within the state. Finally, according to the content of the publicly available policies, this resource categorizes the funding models in place and identifies a selection of their underlying drivers, including student enrollment, faculty or facilities needs, completion metrics, and workforce development metrics.

Tuition payments at Texas A&M University come due in just 10 days. But rising junior Hayley Jarjoura—and more than 8,000 of her fellow Aggies—don’t think they should have to pay the full rate for online classes and reduced access to campus services. As campus reopening plans shift by the day and the number of Americans out-of-work remains at record levels, colleges are navigating loud demands from students across the nation to reduce the cost of attendance, particularly for online courses. To ease hardships caused by the pandemic, Texas A&M is eliminating its distance learning fee for online classes, which ranges from $40 to $550, but it doesn’t plan to reduce tuition or fees.