Online Blogucation

Let’s Make a Difference in 2011

In an age of constant student mobility, the students have changed and the paths they follow are diverse. Increasingly, those paths include transfers to and from many types of colleges and universities creating barriers to degree completion. In a 2005 issue of “Policy Matters,” the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) emphasized the need for collaboration and change among transfer students’ institutions with these remarks:

The process of bringing together so many different kinds of institutions and programs into common agreement will never be easy, but will remain an essential goal as student   mobility increases and options multiply. (…) States, systems, sectors, and institutions must continue to work together to eliminate their differences and create smooth working models that encourage student success. (Conclusion section, para. 2)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Economics Situation Summary, Friday, December 3, 2010 and the November 2010 numbers reflect we may not have made much progress in finding ways to increase student success.  The unemployment rate is 9.8% and the difference among those with college degrees and those without is striking (see Summary Table A)!


Table A indicates “High school graduates, no college” have twice the unemployment rate of “Bachelor’s degree and higher”.

Our country has made significant gains in “access” to higher education but despite the efforts of the institutions to have policies in place some students still encounter difficulties obtaining degrees. It seems that one of the problems may be positioned in the fact we are often concerned with “student retention” which has an institutional focus and not “persistence” which has a student focus. Determining clear connections supporting learning and student success could lead to a significant narrowing of the economic inequity in our society through empowering learners.

The first step is to increase high school graduation rates across America. The students who don’t acquire their high school diploma have the highest unemployment rate, currently reaching a level of 15.7%.  Upon attaining this milestone, high school alumnae see unemployment rates drop to 10%.  These learners need to not only graduate but  graduate with college ready skills and have a community of people willing to provide them financial, emotional and motivational support to enter higher education. Taking the initial step to enroll in post-secondary education and secure some college experience shows unemployment numbers of individuals begin to fall, if even ever so slightly. In the most recent unemployment numbers for this group rates fell from 10% to 8.7% when some college credit was achieved.

One resource with implications for academic practice deals directly with innovations in testing and measurement. Pearson’s Test, Measurement, and Research Services Newsletter (TMRS) provides an easy to reference list of current publications and conference presentations that deal directly with promoting student success in K-12 and Higher Education.  Pearson's research publications are for educators, parents, students, researchers and policy makers. Visit the Publications section of Pearson’s Assessment & Information website to search by topic, tile, author and date. All documents are available to view in PDF format.

A  Sampling of Recent Publications:

Almond, P., Winter, P., Cameto, R., Russell, M., Sato, E., Clarke, J., et al. (2010). Technology-enabled and universally designed assessment: Considering access in measuring the achievement of students with disabilities—A foundation for research. Dover, NH: Measured Progress and Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

Bodenhorn, N., Wolfe, E. W., & Airens, O. (2010). School counselor program choice and self-efficacy: Relationship to achievement gap and equity. Professional School Counseling, 13, 165–174.

Conference Participation

Phan, H., Sentovich, C., Kromrey, J., Ferron, J., & Dedrick, R. (2010, May). Correlates of mathematics achievement in developed and developing countries: An analysis of TIMSS 2003. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.

Van Moere, A., Suzuki, M., & Klungtvedt, M. (2010, October). Time is money: Assessing efficient use of written English skills for work purposes. Paper presented at the ninth annual conference of the East Coast Organization of Language Testers, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

As educators we all need to take accountability for fostering student success. As United States citizens we need to foster the state of our economy through two of our most valuable resources…..labor and entrepreneurship. Today’s students evolve into leaders of tomorrow. The paths chosen by students have become quite complex. The traditional vertical progression through higher education has become a pathway of the past. It does not suffice to simply understand the various pathways; we must understand why these pathways are chosen and have policies in place to support these pathways. This understanding comes through exploring the perceptions, ambitions and reasons for persistence of all students in their pursuit of degree attainment at all levels of education. The ultimate goal is to empower our struggling labor force to reach personal academic goals and become productive citizens in our workforce!

Let’s make a difference in 2011!


American Association of State Colleges and Universities (ASSCU). (2005, July). Policy Matters: Developing transfer and articulation policies that make a difference. Retrieved December 10, 2010 from http:/

Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS),  United States Department of Labor. (2010, December). Economics Situation Summary. Retrieved December  13, 2010 from

Pearson’s Assessment and Information: Research and Resources Website. Retrieved December  13, 2010 from

Pearson’s Test, Measurement, & Research Services(TMRS). (2010). Quarterly Newsletter v3 n3. Retrieved December  13, 2010 from

Karen R. Owens, Ph.D. / Academic Assessment Consultant / Pearson eCollege