Getting from School Choice to Educational Quality

Getting from School Choice to Educational Quality

In recent years, with increased collaboration among schools, industry and local communities, we have experienced more success in preparing students for college and jobs in industry. Much progress has been made but more is needed.  Too many students still are not prepared for the academic rigors of college. With the demand for STEM jobs, especially in engineering, technology and computing, the jobs of the future will require some post-secondary education, minimally at a community college.

It is in this environment, that school choice and public charter schools have been given a voice.  Parents demand more choices for their children’s education, including STEM programs,  to assure a good education.

This blog discusses the need for improving Michigan’s charter schools and the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a strong advocate and influencer for charter schools in Michigan, as secretary of education.

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Michigan Colleges Graduation/Success Rates

Michigan Colleges Graduation/Success Rates

This Mlive article summarizes the improvement in graduation and success rates at Michigan public universities in 2015.  It includes a lookup table for your favorite Michigan college. As previous research has shown, many students take more than 4 years to graduate but persist to graduate in 6 years.  There are various reasons for taking longer to graduate. One is due to the cost of college, many students work part-time.

The article is based on the Center for Educational Performance and Information report “State of Michigan PostSecondary Success 2015 Report” released on July 12, 2016. The report shows that the graduation/success rate increased from 39% for graduation in 4 years to 65% in 6 years for all Michigan public universities.  

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Improving the Quality of Michigan's K-12 Education: Consider Baldrige

Improving the Quality of Michigan's K-12 Education: Consider Baldrige

The Detroit Free Press editorial board published an editorial on June 22, 2016 "In Michigan, it's not just Detroit schools that are in trouble", indicating that there is mounting evidence of a significant decline in the quality of K12 education in the state of Michigan.  It is not just Detroit schools that needs our attention.  Michigan is now ranked 40th among all states. 

This blog discusses the editorial and suggests that it may be the right time to revisit the Baldrige Performance Excellence program for its systems thinking in improving K-12 education.  Many schools have benefited with improved student learning outcomes, higher graduation rates and better preparation of their students for college and the workplace.   Links to introductory articles about the success of Baldrige systems thinking for schools are included. 

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Thoughts on Variability in Graduation Rates at Engineering Colleges

Thoughts on Variability in Graduation Rates at Engineering Colleges

As universities are celebrating commencement exercises with their graduates this month, it is an appropriate time to talk about graduation rates and congratulate engineering colleges with high graduation rates. 

One might ask: What is the range on graduation rates at U.S. engineering colleges. The answer may surprise you.  Some colleges graduate almost 100% of their students in 5 years; however, for some colleges, the graduation rate is less than 20%.  Read on to find out more about the variation in the 5-year graduation rates at U.S. engineering college and its relationship to first year retention. 

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Future Reading: Systems Thinking in K-12 Education

My colleague Franklin Schargel has written a blog that highlights Dr. Lee Jenkins' book, Optimizing Your School: It's All About the Strategy.   I have been planning on writing a recommendation of this book in this blog so I was delighted to see Franklin's blog.  I want to take this opportunity to say I agree with Franklin and recommend Dr. Jenkins' book.   

Please read Franklin Schargel's blog here

As Franklin indicates in his blog, Optimizing Your School suggests a systems approach for successful student learning. This approach encompasses a student-focused culture and inclusiveness.  As an advocate for continuous improvement in education, I especially like the discussions on continuous strategic improvement leadership.  The discussions of related processes, teamwork and use of simple visual displays in the classroom are icing on the cake.  

Definitely, recommended reading!  

Joyful reading!

Cindy Veenstra, PhD, ASQ Fellow

State Baldrige Programs

Baldrige is an approach to systems thinking and continuous improvement for organizational performance excellence.  Most states have a state wide networking organization to mentor organizations for exploring Baldrige thinking and to apply for state-wide awards for performance excellence.  In the education sector, the effort in exploring Baldrige can lead to significant improvement in alignment of processes and improved student achievement and retention.  The organization known as the Alliance for Performance Excellence guides the state Baldrige programs. Check out their website for the Baldrige program in your state .

http://www.baldrigepe.org/alliance/

 

Cindy Veenstra 

STEM Index Identifies Progress in Advancing the STEM Agenda

STEM Index Identifies Progress in Advancing the STEM Agenda

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, I chaired the ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda Conferences.  This was an effort to bring more awareness to the need for more STEM professionals and to network among educators and employers to improve our STEM education processes and collaboration with industry.

Since then, US News and Raytheon have teamed up to develop a composite STEM Index that includes education indices, AP test results, and employment statistics such as the number of STEM jobs in each of the STEM categories.  The components of the STEM Index are displayed so one can see which areas are growing the most and which areas are not advancing. 

The link for the 2015 STEM Index is:

http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-index/articles/2015/06/29/the-2015-us-news-raytheon-stem-index?int=a77009

Some significant facts:

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The College Scorecard: How it was created

This U.S. Department of Education blog describes how the College Scorecard was generated, the data that was included and the benefits of the Scorecard.

http://blog.ed.gov/2015/09/under-the-hood-building-a-new-college-scorecard-with-students/

With a focus on being customer and student-focused, the developers of the College Scorecard talked with groups of high school students to ask them what would help them in their college searches.  To be agile, prototypes of examples for smart phones were quickly developed.  The article provides more information on how the Scorecard was developed and its usefulness to students and their families on their college choices and decisions.  

The College Scorecard is at    https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/

Cindy Veenstra, PhD

 

Women in Engineering: Thoughts on Progress

Women in Engineering: Thoughts on Progress

The May 2015 issue of the ASEE Connections reports that “The percentage of full-time undergraduate female engineering students graduating with a degree in engineering has declined in most disciplines during the past decade“ ("DataBytes").   Of 22 engineering disciplines, only general engineering, civil/environmental engineering and environmental engineering show that the percentage of women graduates increased in the past decade, from 2005 to 2014.  The overall percentage of full-time undergraduate women engineering students graduating in any engineering discipline in 2014 is the same as it was in 2005, recovering from a decrease after 2005. ("Engineering By the Numbers", ASEE, 2013) This post discusses the published statistics and then highlights a new research report by AAUW on strategies for increasing the number of women in engineering .   

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