Grounded in Data: New Reports on College Completion, Digital Instructional Tools

Entrepreneurs and those interested in bankrolling the brightest new ideas abound at the annual Arizona State University –GSV Advisors Innovation Summit. It was great to see that research studies were part of the conversation at this year’s event. I want to share with you what I took away from two reports that were released at this year’s Summit – one an in-depth look at the current state of the completion agenda across the US, the other a survey of teachers’ thinking on the availability of useful digital materials.

College Completion: Getting to 60

Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation president and CEO, introduced this year’s edition of “A Stronger Nation through Higher Education,” a detailed report card on our nation’s progress toward increasing the percentage of college degree holders. Lumina’s “Goal 2025” calls for 60% of Americans holding either associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees by 2025. This graphic from the report indicates where the U.S. is now, illustrates the level we will reach at current rates of increase, and includes another trend line showing the necessary degree of improvement it would take to reach the 60% target.

Indeed, we have some ground to make up.

The report also includes state-by-state graphs similar to the one above, so look up your own state: you might find some surprises! You can also look at the trend lines by racial group within each state, as well as by county, for every county in the nation.

To reach 60% degree attainment, Lumina recommends “a much-needed redesign — a comprehensive effort to reshape American higher education so that it better serves the needs of students and the complex, global society in which they must live and work.” That redesign, they say, should include these elements:

  • basing postsecondary credentials on learning,
  • creating smarter pathways for all students, and
  • making higher education accessible and affordable to all who need it.

Download the report here.

Digital Tools: Getting What You Need

At the Summit, Stacy Childress, deputy director of education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, introduced “Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools.” This research study commissioned by the Foundation investigated the kinds of tools and instructional technologies teachers would like to have in order to tailor their instruction to fit individual students. The report is based on interviews with more than 3,000 teachers and more than 1,000 students in 16 districts around the country, selected to be representative of the nation as a whole.

The results:

  • Teachers seek resources that can help their students meet rigorous new standards, including the Common Core.
  • Teachers are optimistic about the potential of digital tools.
  • Even with the vast and ever-increasing array of products now available, teachers have difficulty in locating and acquiring what they need and want.

Download the report here.


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