Having a Successful First Year in College

Date: August 12, 2011 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Having a Successful First Year in College

Over the next few weeks thousands of students will begin a new school year.  Many of those students will be going off to college for the first time.  While this is an exciting time for both students and parents alike, this is also time of fear for many students.  While the excitement will make for an energetic first few weeks, many students will not return for the spring semester. 

We have done a great deal of research on the attitudinal barriers to student success and there are specific fears that students have.  Many of those fears center around family support, peer support, and academic ability.  By applying some basic principles parents can help ensure that their kids will be successful their freshman year in college. 

If you know someone going to college this fall take a look at our summary for a few key areas where you can help your student succeed.

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STATS-DC – session – Using Data to Drive Change

Date: July 27, 2011 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on STATS-DC – session – Using Data to Drive Change

Using Data to Drive Change: Research that Supports the Virginia College Readiness Initiative.

School systems from across the US are putting a full court press on college attainment.  The Virginia Department of Education is working to unearth the predictors of first-year college success.  This session was presented by Dr. Deborah Jonas.

To start, Virginia is not a Common Core Data state.  They developed their own set of college and career readiness standards.  Working to incentivize schools to educate kids to the level of college and career ready by the time they graduate HS.

The primary research question – What achievement outcomes in VA signal that students are likely to be academically prepared for entry-level, credit-bearing courses in VA?

VA has a goal of producing 100,000 more degree holders by 2020.  Wow!

Using the five different diploma types (yes- VA has 5 different diplomas a student can receive) they start their secondary analysis.  They also use SAT, and ACT data as well as other sources.  All of this is compared to enrollment and success in credit-bearing math and english courses in college.  For this analysis, success is considered to be a C or better in a credit-bearing course in a 2 or 4-year institution.

First lesson, the new gateway to college success now seems to be Algebra II which is proving to be more predictive than Algebra I.

They determined that to be ready for college, kids need to take Algebra II and a a lab science course in high school.  Therefore, if a student earns an “Advanced Diploma” (with AP courses) they most likely will go to a 4-year college.  If a student receives a regular diploma only about 10% will go on to a 4 year college.

If a student does not take the proper courses in high school that does not mean he/she won’t be successful, but it does mean they will need to make up that work in college.  They can catch up, but it is obviously more difficult.  Lesson learned – the HS coursework is really important.

Interesting VA statistic – 89% of students who took Algebra II in HS and scored “Advanced Proficient” later enrolled in a credit-bearing college math course and passed.  Conversely, of students who did not take algebra II in HS, only 24% accomplished the same.

Also developed STEM academies to target mid pack performers.  Kids that normally fall through the cracks because they are not high need and are not high performers get the attention and classes they need to be successful.

So many lessons learned here and so much to write…but we are out of time.  Hopefully more to come later.

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STATS-DC – session – Privacy Considerations in Educational Databases

Date: July 27, 2011 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on STATS-DC – session – Privacy Considerations in Educational Databases

Privacy Considerations in Educational Databases: What’s the Big Deal?

As states continue to build and develop State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) the issue of privacy continues to grow.  Managing the privacy and confidentiality of these data will be crucial to ensuring that we researchers can continue to perform our jobs effectively.

Kathleen Styles, Chief Privacy Office, Department of Education is giving the opening keynote session.

Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) governs the control of the identifiers for much of the data we researchers use when working with education data. In looking at the comments around the new changes coming to FERPA it surprises me how much is misunderstood about privacy by those who are not in the world of research.

Privacy is also different from confidentiality.  Privacy deals with what is known about a person and confidentiality deals with restricting that information once it is known.  Oddly enough, politically speaking, the far right and far left seem to have similarly conservative opinions about privacy.

Not surprisingly, the ability to identify people has evolved significantly over the years. Currently there is a system that will identify a person when they are on the web, based on their behavior (keystroking, tabbing, entering, etc).  This is said to be about 75% accurate.  However, the identification still lacks a key piece of information – the specific name of the person identified.

Interesting note, the American Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)  is a system that has the fingerprints of – get this – criminals and federal employees.  Okay…I’ll let you insert your own jokes as you see fit.

Some of the biggest issues around data privacy and confidentiality deal with “data repurposing”.  That is when data used for one purpose may be completely ethical but the same data used for another purpose is completely unethical.  Think about medical data that could be used to understand a particular illness (probably good) but the same data could also be repurposed to deny employment (not necessarily good).

Interesting comment from the speaker – most statistical agencies and organizations have a culture of confidentiality.  At the same time, every data breach has a human element.

Great work taking place at the National Center for Education Statistics to help ensure the confidentiality and privacy of data being collected on students.  As the technology continues to change the challenge will continue to grow.  Glad to know Ms. Styles is heading the charge to protect these data.

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