Fiona Deller – Need to Read: Access, flexibility and a little disruption

Sharing the best in postsecondary news and commentary

Education Week has done a nice series called College Access for All, where education experts/ innovators talk about how their programs encourage and effect access in American colleges. Among the articles I particularly liked: College prep is career prep is an interesting piece by a secondary school superintendent. His view: the skills that drive achievement in k-12 are the same that drive achievement in postsecondary education – and subsequently in the labour market. So why do we persist in treating them like silos? In Colleges Must Reach out to Younger Students, an education professor from George Washington University argues that college access is more than just academic prep and that the attitudinal shift for under-represented students starts earlier than the last year of high school.

And as long as we are on the topic of access, Piecing Together the College Affordability Puzzle from Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) was published last February but is still worth a read today. While the literature on unmet need, affordability and student success will be familiar to some of you, the gem in this paper is the summary of the MDRC Performance Based Scholarship Demonstration Project. If you are interested in the relationship between student financial aid and academic achievement, you might want to give this a read.

On the subject of affordability, this opinion piece from Al-Fanar Media explores some of the private and public good arguments, and points to different international interpretations of that question.

Just out from the Higher Education Academy in the UK, Conditions of Flexibility: Insuring a More Responsive Higher Education System is the culminating report in a series on flexible pedagogies and flexible systems. This one, however, focuses on the outcome expected: the flexible graduate and what that means. The report puts forward 15 conditions of flexibility. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, read the summary from a roundtable event by The Guardian.

And now for a little disruption: Clay Christensen has written a piece for the Boston Globe on MOOCs, disruption and getting it wrong.

EducationNext looks at the connection between competency-based education and disruption, and sums up a recent report that explores how it’s done in New Hampshire – “the first state to abolish the Carnegie unit and grant high school credit on the basis of mastery rather than hours of instruction.”

Happy reading.

-Fiona Deller, Executive Director, Policy & Partnerships

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