My company, Pathbrite, spends a lot of time talking to leaders in schools, colleges and universities around the country. While the vast majority of educators are clearly focused on their educational mission — bringing an inspirational passion to their work year after year — they also confront an array of challenges.
Most public institutions will tell you money is their biggest problem. But beyond that, over the last year we’ve learned that three main issues plague American education: Student completion rates; return on learning investment; and job placement rates.
On the issue of completion rates alone, Rebecca Strauss, associate director of publications at the Council on Foreign Relations, writing in a recent New York Times blog post, says we’re falling far behind other developed nations:
America’s relative fall in educational attainment is striking in several dimensions. American baby boomers ages 55 to 64 rank first in their age group in high school completion and third in college completion after Israel and Canada. But jump ahead 30 years to millennials ages 25 to 34, and the United States slips to 10th in high school completion and 13th in college completion. America is one of only a handful of countries whose work force today has no more years of schooling than those who are retiring do.
In other words, she says, the United States is relatively good at getting high school graduates into college, but it is horrible at getting them to graduate on time with a college degree. Strauss wrote “With more than half of those who start college failing to earn a degree, the United States has the highest college dropout rate in the developed world.
These issues should be concerning to Americans for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is economic, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, and gets at the heart of return on learning investment:
Historically, broad educational gains have been the biggest driver of American economic success; hence the economist’s rule of thumb that an increase of one year in a country’s average schooling level corresponds to an increase of 3 to 4 percent in long-term economic growth.
It also matters in terms of job placement rates (or, conversely, unemployment rates) and earnings potential:
Holding a college degree matters for landing a good job. In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thirty- to thirty-four-year-olds who had only a high school diploma earned $638 per week, and their peers with bachelor's degrees earned $1,053.
The bottom line? If we can address the issues related to student completion rates, we also go a long way to address return on learning investment and job placement rates. So how do we address the problem of completion rates?
The nation’s schools, colleges and universities are looking at solutions such as our cloud-based e-Portfolio platform because of research that indicates portfolio learning is the best way to get at learning-by-doing – or applied learning – which leads to much deeper student engagement. Systems like ours also enable educators to tailor learning to each individual student’s abilities and natural inclinations. Educators are also better able to monitor a student’s progress in real time and intervene when a student shows signs of falling behind or becoming disengaged.
When students are engaged; when their own particular learning style is taken into account; when faculty consistently demonstrate investment in a student’s success; when the contemporary technologies students already use every day are leveraged, students are more focused and more motivated. With increased focus and motivation come improvements in college completion rates. And with improvements in completion rates, we will see improvements in job placement rates.
While student loans will always be onerous for young people just starting out, they’re much less so when an individual is earning at the peak of their potential, making the repayment of student loans more achievable.
Completion rates are an alarming issue and only exacerbate the problems of return on learning investment and job placement rates. But we can address the completion rate problem leveraging new, low-cost education technologies. We just need the focus and the will.
Originally Posted On: Linked In By: Heather Hiles
Meet the Team
WorldBridge Partners earned the Best of Staffing®Award for providing remarkable service quality. Fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada earned the 2015 Best of Staffing Award for service excellence. With satisfaction ratings more than three times higher than the industry average, the Best of Staffing winners truly stand out for exceeding expectations. This award identifies the staffing industry's elite leaders in service quality.