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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Report Highlights Tips for Education Reform


In a report by the Center for American Progress the participants outline a number of higher education changes that may be beneficial to consider. The report entitled A Path Forward: Game-Changing Reforms in Higher Education and the Implications for Business and Financing Models proposes adjusting higher education to ensure that it is keeping up with market demands. Their release indicates that education is caught in traditionalism and should be broadened into a more effective dynamic. 

Some of the recommendations they provide are as follows:

Meeting Students at Their Skill Level;
Competency Based Learning;
Stackable Credentials;
Allowing for Educational Innovation;
Stakeholder Influence;

There are some strong recommendations within this report but how they will work on a national or grand scale is somewhat elusive. We do know that students do not often come prepared from high school and will need classes that can raise their basic abilities. There is considerable remedial coursework that adds to cost and debt. Colleges must try and justify their existence but through a population that has more challenges than those who attend elite schools.  

Competency based learning has some merit in terms of encouraging students to master ever increasing skill sets and ensure that those skills can function in the work environment. When someone moves into higher reaches of academia those skills become more difficult to measure as they are complex thinking and analysis abilities. Not impossible but certainly a challenge. 

Stackable credentials are interesting as each degree adds to the next degree through competency-based learning. This appears to make some logical sense in a world where people continue to move through the education system but at different times of their lives. When the market changes people may lose their job and return to school to raise their marketability. Stackability may help in knowing what new skills they should learn.

Innovation has an impact on effective education. Older models are expensive, do not always cater to students closely, and are geared toward those who are under the age of 24. Innovation may allow for better assessment, catered services, higher quality returns, convenient learning, and possibly cheaper costs in the future. Business has taught us that as technology advances it often becomes more functional and cost effective. 

Stakeholders are important aspects of associate and bachelor degree earners. Education at this level should encourage workable skills that help to obtain positions. Effective education should also have enough liberal arts to round out the perspective and personality of the person. Skills and adaptability are two considerations. Graduate students are often viewed differently as their ability to incorporate information and put it to practical use becomes a primary consideration. 

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