Virtually all universities now allow some form of “academic forgiveness,” allowing students to tinker with their grade point averages. While nearly everyone is familiar with
grade inflation, fewer know about grade-point-average distortion. This happens when institutions allow students to selectively omit poor grades from their GPAs, thus offering a new, manipulative path to greater retention and graduation rates, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. “We recently investigated academic policies in eight public institutions across a Southern state, and used this sample to explore how institutional rules play a role in inflating students’ GPAs by creating incentives that undermine students’ work ethic, weaken the comparative value of the GPA, and waste human capital.
“Common academic practices give students opportunities to withdraw from classes without grades, use simple pass/fail grades that don’t count in their GPAs, or repeat courses to replace old grades. What’s new is transferring control over these strategies to students, without much oversight. By selectively employing these registration policies, students are now empowered to overuse academic forgiveness and “manage” their recorded grade-point averages.
“Five percent of the seniors in the study used academic forgiveness policies for 25 to 50 percent of their entire college coursework. Predictably, as GPAs go down, more and more students use these strategies. Over two-thirds of seniors who were in that 5 percent had C-range grades. But overusing second chances is not limited to struggling students. We found that even a few graduating seniors with A-range GPAs used forgiveness policies to keep 20 to 35 percent of their coursework out of their GPAs. Continue reading “Academic forgiveness”
Earlier this year Capella University and the new College for America began enrolling hundreds of students in academic programs without courses, teaching professors, grades, deadlines or credit hour requirements, but with a path to genuine college credit.
The two institutions are among a growing number that are giving competency-based education a try, including 25 or so nonprofit institutions, reports Inside Higher Education. Notable examples include Western Governors University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
“These programs are typically online, and allow students to progress at their own pace without formal course material. They can earn credit by successfully completing assessments that prove their mastery in predetermined competencies or tasks — maybe writing in a business setting or using a spreadsheet to perform calculations. Continue reading “And now, credit without teaching”
Legislation will be introduced in the California Senate on Wednesday that could reshape higher education by requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes on campus, reports today’s New York Times.
“If it passes, as seems likely, it would be the first time that state legislators have instructed public universities to grant credit for courses that were not their own — including those taught by a private vendor, not by a college or university.
“We want to be the first state in the nation to make this promise: No college student in California will be denied the right to move through their education because they couldn’t get a seat in the course they needed,” said Darrell Steinberg, the president pro tem of the Senate, who will introduce the bill. “That’s the motivation for this.” Continue reading “Those online courses really do count”
We like to crack a joke about this, but the reality is just too sobering. Consumer credit-card debt in the US has hit an all time high. The poor economy, a consumption-driven culture, and predatory banks offering credit to those who can’t pay. These facts from the current Huffington Post contradict a recent article in Time Magazine celebrating an apparent decline in overall household debt. But if you read the fine pint in the Time article, you see that the gross number drop is cause by massive loan defaults across the country. As Martin Crutsinger writes in Huff Post,
Americans swiped their credit cards more often in October and borrowed more to attend school and buy cars. The increases drove U.S. consumer debt to an all-time high.
The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion in October from September. Total borrowing rose to a record $2.75 trillion. Continue reading “American maxing out their credit cards”
“In the 2012 edition of Occupy Money released this month, Professor Margrit Kennedy writes that a stunning 35% to 40% of everything we buy goes to interest. This interest goes to bankers, financiers, and bondholders, who take a 35% to 40% cut of our gross domestic product.” So says an article in today’s Asia Times by Ellen Brown, entitled “Why Bankers Rule the World.”
As Brown continues, “That helps explain how wealth is systematically transferred from Main Street to Wall Street. The rich get progressively richer at the expense of the poor, not just because of “Wall Street greed” but because of the inexorable mathematics of our private banking system.
“This hidden tribute to the banks will come as a surprise to most people, who think that if they pay their credit card bills on time and don’t take out loans, they aren’t paying interest. This, says Kennedy, is not true. Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills. They must pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell and before the end buyer pays for the product 90 days later. Each supplier in the chain adds interest to its production costs, which are passed on to the ultimate consumer.
“By 2010, 1% of the population owned 42% of financial wealth, while 80% of the population owned only 5% of financial wealth. Dr Kennedy observes that the bottom 80% pay the hidden interest charges that the top 10% collect, making interest a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich.
“People generally assume that if they pay their bills on time, they aren’t paying compound interest; but again, this isn’t true. Compound interest is baked into the formula for most mortgages, which compose 80% of US loans. And if credit cards aren’t paid within the one-month grace period, interest charges are compounded daily.
For more, see “Why Bankers Rule the World.”