Supporting Education http://www.supportingeducation.org All about education, teachers, and those people who lift students up. Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 54013835 STOPit App Designed to Help Students Fight Bullying http://www.supportingeducation.org/2018/01/10/stopit-app-designed-help-students-fight-bullying/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2018/01/10/stopit-app-designed-help-students-fight-bullying/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:00:20 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4399 “I want to know if something isn’t right at Mt. Juliet High School,” said Principal Mel Brown, about the new app he’s using in his school to let students speak up anonymously about bullying. STOPit, an app developed by Todd Schnobel, calls itself a “catalyst for cultural transformation.” Inspired by the bullying-induced suicide of 15-year-old […]

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“I want to know if something isn’t right at Mt. Juliet High School,” said Principal Mel Brown, about the new app he’s using in his school to let students speak up anonymously about bullying.

STOPit, an app developed by Todd Schnobel, calls itself a “catalyst for cultural transformation.” Inspired by the bullying-induced suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd in 2012, it is a simple platform to allow communities to report problem members. In Tennessee, where Mt. Juliet High School stands, around 80 schools, mostly middle and high schools, are using the app.

STOPit gives their students a way to report incidents of bullying to teachers and school resource officers without having to risk retaliation. It isn’t restricted to office hours or school days, either.

“If used correctly it can be helpful,” or “a real time-killer,” when the app is misused, said Brown. There are few ways to prevent students from making spurious accusations or simply using the app to send nonsense. But good reviews outweigh the bad.

Donna Wright, Director of Schools in Wilson County, supported the introduction of the app to all four high schools in the district, including training for the teachers and designated respondents. It was she who arranged for its funding via Wilson County Schools’ insurance provider.

STOPit functions like an online chat, allowing text, videos, and pictures to be sent, and stores records of every report or interaction, which allows schools to keep comprehensive records.

“This is a really good way for people who are bystanders to bullying or who are being bullied themselves to have a place to report and say what is going on,” said Georgia Latta, a Mt. Juliet High senior.

“The anonymous part is really important,” said another classmate, junior Alaina Walsh. “It’s easier for teenagers because we’re always on our phones.” She also called the app “comforting to students.”

“What we’ve found is that it’s a food in the door whereas otherwise students might not say anything,” said Maury County Public Schools Supervisor of Counseling and Mental Health Dr. Robb Killen. It’s well documented that the effects of bullying last far beyond childhood, so anything schools can do to put a stop to it is a step in the right direction.

Would you use STOPit in your schools? Do you think it has the potential to be helpful or more of a time-waster? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

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6 Protips for Choosing a College http://www.supportingeducation.org/2018/01/03/6-protips-choosing-a-college/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2018/01/03/6-protips-choosing-a-college/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 15:00:26 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4390 Guess what? You’re in luck! You’ve been accepted by several colleges. But now you have to choose which one you’re going to attend. There are a lot of factors at work in figuring out which college or university will provide the best experience for you, both educationally and culturally. Here are my tips, based on […]

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Guess what? You’re in luck! You’ve been accepted by several colleges. But now you have to choose which one you’re going to attend. There are a lot of factors at work in figuring out which college or university will provide the best experience for you, both educationally and culturally. Here are my tips, based on experience, on choosing a college.

Think about geography

You definitely want to have a good academic program that will give you the credentials you need to succeed in your career field. But you also need to think about where the college is located. For example, do you want to live in a warm, sunny area, or would you prefer to live in the snowy skiing country?

Consider the culture

What are you looking for in terms of culture? When choosing a college, think about whether you’re more of a “country mouse” or a “city mouse” before you make your choice. If you don’t think you’d be comfortable in a large city, an urban college may not be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you’ve spent most of your life feeling stifled in the country, go for a small (or large) city for more cultural opportunities. Remember also that college is both an education and a journey, and going outside your comfort zone can be a learning experience in itself.

Get my six protips on how to choose a college in this post.

Size matters

Would you prefer the anonymity—and possibly an increased array of opportunities—offered by large institution? Or would you prefer the chance to have personalized attention and small class sizes? Speaking personally, I grew up in a small town where everyone knew me, but I felt a lot like an outsider there, and I craved the opportunity to meet more kindred spirits when I went to college. Because of that, I opted for a larger school when choosing a college.

Cost counts

Not all colleges and universities have the same tuition or financial aid opportunities. Don’t reject a school with high tuition, because those schools often have larger endowment funds and may be able to offer financial aid packages that will have you responsible for about the same amount as a less expensive school. State universities often offer reduced tuition for in-state students, which may make them more affordable. Just consider the whole financial aid package and what costs you’ll be responsible for when choosing a college.

Consider your housing options

Some colleges and universities offer ample on-campus housing for incoming freshman students, while others don’t. Think about whether you’re going to have to search for an apartment or roommates when you go to your school of choice, and find out what you can expect to pay for your housing.

Go with your gut

If you’ve visited colleges to which you’ve been accepted, you’ll have gotten a feeling about them based on your experiences there. If you’re torn between two—or several—institutions, allow your intuition to guide you.

Take these six things into account when choosing a college, and the odds are very good that you’ll end up making a choice that works for you in lots of ways.

Photo: Shutterstock

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Charter School Teacher Named National Teacher of the Year http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/27/teacher-of-the-year-charter-school/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/27/teacher-of-the-year-charter-school/#respond Wed, 27 Dec 2017 15:00:22 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4385 Every year in April, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) awards a very special title: National Teacher of the Year. For 65 years, the nonprofit agency has supported and scrutinized teachers in all U.S. territories. They have no official standing or powers, but they promote cooperation between school administrations and their teachers, from […]

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Every year in April, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) awards a very special title: National Teacher of the Year. For 65 years, the nonprofit agency has supported and scrutinized teachers in all U.S. territories. They have no official standing or powers, but they promote cooperation between school administrations and their teachers, from the state level down to the classroom.

This year, their winner is a first in two ways. Sydnee Chaffee, who teaches freshman humanities at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, is the first winner from Massachusetts in the history of the competition. And she’s also the first winner from a charter school.

“I thought it was too politically charged for it to be a charter school teacher,” said Chaffee to the Boston Globe. Charter schools are particularly controversial right now, with the current Secretary for Education promoting them at the budgeting expense of public schools. But a good teacher is a good teacher.

“Education must be authentic. There is no use in studying history if we believe it to be static and irrelevant to the future,” said Chaffee in her bio on the CCSSO’s website. “Authentic learning enables students to see and create connections in the world around them.”

Social justice and interpersonal communication are the cores of her educational gestalt. At Codman Academy, she coordinated Community Circle, a school-wide period held every week for students to come together and share their success and struggles, whether academic or external.

As Teacher of the Year, Chaffee will spend this school year traveling not just American schools but schools worldwide to share her perspectives on education with teachers, and more importantly, with those who organize schools and set policies. Hopefully her influence will see a fresh wave of communication between schools and their students. She also intends to speak up about teachers needing to take risks on behalf of their students.

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GOP Tax Plan Is Terrible for College Students http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/20/gop-tax-plan-terrible-college-students/ http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/20/gop-tax-plan-terrible-college-students/#respond Wed, 20 Dec 2017 15:00:56 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4374 Approximately seven out of every 10 2016 high school graduates enrolled in college, whether that meant private school, public university, community college, or Ivy League. And it looks like that trend is going to continue this year. In all, 20.4 million students are attending across all years of secondary education, a 25 percent increase since […]

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Approximately seven out of every 10 2016 high school graduates enrolled in college, whether that meant private school, public university, community college, or Ivy League. And it looks like that trend is going to continue this year. In all, 20.4 million students are attending across all years of secondary education, a 25 percent increase since 2000. Ever increasingly, a college education is a necessary key to even basic careers.

The new GOP tax plan threatens to gate up that avenue to success for many. Its effects on the average taxpayer are too many to enumerate or, honestly, easily understand, but the impact it will have on the college-bound comes primarily from three avenues, mostly in the draft of the bill that was passed in the House of Representatives.

The bill that passed the House would have eliminated all tax deductions on interest paid to student loans. The Senate bill preserves this deduction for interest under $2,500.

Graduate students commonly are able to study through tuition waivers granted by the universities who benefit from their research. The House version of the bill would make those waivers, often worth tens of thousands of dollars, into taxable income, even though the students who receive them are usually living on small academic stipends, which are already taxed.

Private college endowments could wind up being taxed. Endowments are the charitable waivers by which private colleges and universities allow students to attend who could never begin to afford their fees. Both the House and Senate passed this inclusion, though the Senate specified that it would only apply to endowments valued at $500,000 or more. This limits this taxation to 25 of the most prestigious universities in the country (including all eight members of the Ivy League) and puts them out of the reach of anyone who can’t simply pay for their education out of pocket.

It’s still not clear which version of the GOP tax plan will wind up being passed. Both versions have staunch advocates. The Senate’s bill is slightly more compassionate, but still stands to gut the safety net for those who need college but can’t simply write a check, making it once again a rich man’s privilege.

What do you think? Is the GOP tax plan going to affect your, your children’s, or your students’ college plans? Please sound off in the comments.

Photo: Shutterstock

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Why Children Should Be Exposed to Art Galleries at a Young Age http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/15/children-benefit-exposure-art-galleries/ Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:24:54 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4379 In 2014, British artist Jake Chapman famously decried taking children to art galleries, adding that it was a “total waste of time.” In an interview with The Independent, Chapman went as far as to call parents “arrogant” for thinking their children could comprehend the likes of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Unfortunately, Mr. Chapman missed […]

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In 2014, British artist Jake Chapman famously decried taking children to art galleries, adding that it was a “total waste of time.” In an interview with The Independent, Chapman went as far as to call parents “arrogant” for thinking their children could comprehend the likes of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chapman missed the point. Because while it’s certainly true that children will struggle to understand complex works, this is precisely what makes it such a prime teaching opportunity.

When children don’t understand something, they ask questions…lots of questions. And as any educator knows, this isn’t something to be frowned upon, but rather encouraged.

Better yet, parents don’t need to take their children to expensive museums in order to foster this type of curiosity. Exposing children to small, local galleries has the same effect. In fact, many highly acclaimed art institutions like PNCA host free exhibits that are welcoming to all ages.

Even if an exhibit is open to all ages, that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t still be prepared. Many of the works on display may contain nudity or other graphic depictions. However, as Zoe Williams of The Guardian points out, this isn’t necessarily something to shy away from.

In October 2014, Williams took her two young children and their friend Thomas to Tate Britain in open defiance of Jake Chapman’s advice. Thomas, she writes, took a “puckish delight in pointing out everything that either was a naked person or looked like one,” while her son Thurston was “keenly vigilant in case I saw any penises.”

But nudity is a part of life, and exposing children to that in an artistic setting can yield many benefits. For one, it opens up a discussion around nudity as it relates to creative expression rather than just being an object of sexual desire. Furthermore, it teaches children that nakedness is not something to be ashamed of, but rather celebrated. Art galleries can present a great learning opportunity when it comes to this subject.

Of course, these are still highbrow concepts that young minds may not be able to grasp just yet—but that’s okay. As Williams points out, part of the beauty of it is that children are free to take whatever meaning from it they want, even if that means not getting any meaning from it at all.

“They don’t have that adult need to interpret, or be seen to interpret,” writes Williams. “And that gives them more freedom to immerse themselves, or not, as the work takes them.”

Some children will take a liking to art—others won’t. But they won’t know until they’re given the opportunity to explore this realm, which is precisely why parents should take their kids to art galleries.

Photo by Vincent Tantardini on Unsplash

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Education Robot Gives Sick Boy a Chance to Go to School http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/13/education-robot/ Wed, 13 Dec 2017 15:00:48 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4368 Tiernan Kriner is eight years old, attends, Maine Memorial Elementary, and likes technology and robots. He’s also sick. Tiernan has Fanconi anemia, an inherited disease that makes him seven-hundred times more prone to cancer than the average person, as well as prone to bone marrow failure. This December, he’ll have a surgery to transplant marrow […]

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Tiernan Kriner is eight years old, attends, Maine Memorial Elementary, and likes technology and robots. He’s also sick. Tiernan has Fanconi anemia, an inherited disease that makes him seven-hundred times more prone to cancer than the average person, as well as prone to bone marrow failure. This December, he’ll have a surgery to transplant marrow cells donated by his brother, a year older.

Recovery from bone marrow transplants is a long and precarious process. It’ll be impossible for the friendly third grader to attend school for most of the rest of this school year, or even to have his friends visit. A common cold could set his recovery back, or put him in serious danger.

In October, while this surgery was being planned, Maine Memorial approached Tiernan’s mother, Libby Kriner, about a new technology that would allow Tiernan to keep up with both his studies and his friends from his hospital bed. With the assistance of robotics company Broome-Tioga BOCES, they sourced the tall, thin, remotely controlled education robot for him. With two iPads and a special speaker, Tiernan can attend all of his classes via remote link. He has control over the boy-sized ‘bot, allowing him to navigate it around his school and replicate the feeling of being present. His friends greet it as if it were him, keeping him company.

Instead of just a simple video feed, it’s now you’re controlling it,” said Rick Bray, who is an instructional technology specialist at BTB. “You’re able to control those environments.”

The education robot is agile enough to wheel around a crowded classroom, can adjust its own height to put Tiernan’s feed face to face with people, and is versatile enough that he can even virtually go outside with his classmates at recess. But the most important feature is the social aspect. Tiernan, who won’t even be able to be in a room with his own brother for weeks after his surgery, will be able to be face to face with his school friends every day.

Photo: Shutterstock

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How to Bring Educational Technology Into Your Classroom http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/12/06/bring-educational-technology-classroom/ Wed, 06 Dec 2017 15:00:04 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4308 Technology has never moved as quickly as it does today. Technology invented today is expected to be obsolete in three years, five tops. Even early adopters aren’t easily keeping up, let alone those who have limited time and resources. In a survey from edtech company SAM Labs, seventy percent of teachers reported that they don’t […]

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Technology has never moved as quickly as it does today. Technology invented today is expected to be obsolete in three years, five tops. Even early adopters aren’t easily keeping up, let alone those who have limited time and resources.

In a survey from edtech company SAM Labs, seventy percent of teachers reported that they don’t feel capable of teaching with the new technology being brought into their classrooms. Eight-two percent of those same teachers believe that students who use that technology will be better prepared for their future careers. They see the value of educational technology, but they don’t know how to help those students make the most of it.

The White House recently committed $200 million to supporting coding and computer science in schools. Most of that, however, is being applied to simply putting the tech in place. It’s important not to overlook the training of teachers, and not only in those specific educational technologies, but in how to have a self-directed learning relationship with technology.

So, what can you do to make sure you’ve got your finger on the pulse of educational technology? Here are some tips from Emerging EdTech:

Think about having a professional presence on social media

Like many public figures, consider creating a social media page with your name, followed by “teacher,” or something of that sort. Use that page for posting professional information. Post newspaper stories and articles about your subject area, share inspiring quotes, talk about your lesson plans, and so on.

Consider starting a blog

If you have a lot to say or a lot of great ideas and activities that you want to share with other educators, starting a blog could be a great way to get your voice out into the public sphere. WordPress and Blogger offer free blogs on their platform, and that’s a good place to start. If you find you have an audience or you need more creative freedom than the free platform offers, consider hosting your blog on one of the many hosting services available.

Take advantage of online conferences

Internet communications technology has enabled people to attend webinars and see speakers at conferences without leaving the comfort of their home or office. This will save your school district (or you) a lot of money when compared with the cost of taking a trip to a live conference venue.

Use a learning management system

A learning management system is a forum-like environment where participants can ask and answer questions, individually or collectively. It offers a variety of assessment tools, and offers a way to locate and organize resources for completing assignments. LMSs are widely used in colleges, and many K-12 schools are also using them, too.

Get the rest of Emerging Ed Tech’s tips here, and learn about three tech trends that can help you and your students.

What about you? How do you use technology in your classroom? What are the advantages? What struggles have you or your students had with educational technology? Please share your experiences in the comments.

Photo: Shutterstock

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4 Things to Do Before Sending Out Your College Applications http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/11/29/4-tips-college-applications/ Wed, 29 Nov 2017 15:00:43 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4303 One of the most stressful things for most high school seniors is putting together and sending out college applications. Between writing essays, doing your homework, participating in sports, and all of the other things you’re doing during your senior year, it probably seems like the college application is just one more thing to make you […]

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One of the most stressful things for most high school seniors is putting together and sending out college applications. Between writing essays, doing your homework, participating in sports, and all of the other things you’re doing during your senior year, it probably seems like the college application is just one more thing to make you anxious and take up hours of your time. But fear not: I’ve got some tips for you on what you need to do before sending out your college applications.

1. Clean up your social media profiles

Earlier this year, Harvard rescinded admission offers to at least 10 students because of their participation in a private Facebook group where offensive and hateful memes were posted. Even if your social media isn’t that bad, you should still update your privacy settings, clean out your friends list (do you really know thousands of people with whom you’d be comfortable sharing your closest secrets?), and delete anything that reeks of middle-school drama. Admissions officials will search for your name on the internet and on social media, so take care of your online presence before you send out your college applications.

2. Ask for letters of recommendation

Don’t wait until the day before you need to mail out your application to ask your favorite teachers, coaches, or other adults for letters of recommendation. If you want your recommenders to be able to make a thoughtful case for why you’re so awesome, you need to give them time to write their letters. As a bonus, planning ahead for letters of recommendation will leave a favorable impression, and their good feelings will show through in the letters they write for you.

3. Take (and retake) the SAT

If you’re not happy with your SAT scores, set up a time to retake the test. SATs are offered several times each school year, so you should have at least one more chance to get a better score. Make sure you know when and where the exams will be held. Before you go, read up on how you can ace the SAT.

4. Get started on your essays early

You may be accustomed to writing your essays the night before they’re due, but if you’re really honest with yourself, you know you’re not doing your best work when you’re stressed and not well-prepared. The essays that go with college applications are the one place where you can make a strong case to the admissions office that you belong at their school, so you’ll stand a much better chance if you take the time to write, rewrite, and share your work. Get my tips on creating a killer college application essay.

What tips do you have for helping students prepare for sending out their college applications? Please share them in the comments!

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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Holiday Activities: More Science Activities for Kids http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/11/22/holiday-activities-science-activities-for-kids/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:00:43 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4295 As the holiday season goes into high gear, you might be struggling with STEM activities that reflect that theme. After all, the best way to get kids engaged in STEM is to provide them with fun activities that inspire their curiosity and problem-solving skills. The good news is that you don’t have to leave holiday […]

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As the holiday season goes into high gear, you might be struggling with STEM activities that reflect that theme. After all, the best way to get kids engaged in STEM is to provide them with fun activities that inspire their curiosity and problem-solving skills. The good news is that you don’t have to leave holiday activities for your art or language arts unit. Here are some great holiday science activities for kids.

Dissolving candy canes

The goal of this experiment is to see which of four liquids makes candy canes dissolve the fastest. For this experiment, you’ll need mason jars, candy canes, oil, and vinegar. Fill one mason jar with cold water, one with hot water, one with oil, and one with vinegar.

Start by having the students make predictions about which liquid will dissolve the candy cane fastest. Once you’ve finished discussing, drop one candy cane in each liquid and have the kids observe what’s going on. This activity is suitable for elementary and young middle school students. Learn more about this experiment here.

Erupting ornaments

For this experiment, you’ll need plastic globe ornaments, baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, and glitter and sequins (optional). You’ll also want a container to catch fizz, a turkey baster, a funnel for putting the dry ingredients in the ornaments, and plastic drop cloths or newspaper for controlling messes.

Mix up a container of vinegar and food coloring. Put about a tablespoon of baking soda, and glitter or sequins if you wish, into the ornaments. Use the turkey baster to put the vinegar mixture into the ornaments and watch the fizz explode! This activity is suitable for preschoolers and young elementary students. Learn more about this experiment here.

Frosted crystal wreaths

The goal of this experiment is to help students understand how crystals form. You’ll need green garland pieces, ribbon, Borax, hot water, a large bowl, a chopstick or dowel, and decorative pieces like ribbons and bells. Students should make their garlands into a circle and tie it securely with a ribbon. Tie the ribbon around the stick and make sure the container is big enough so that the garland doesn’t touch the sides.

Next, make the Borax and hot water mixture. Use 3 tablespoons of Borax for each cup of hot water—a great way to introduce math into the experiment (how many tablespoons of Borax will you need in order to get the right amount in multiple cups of water). Dunk the garlands into the Borax water and let them sit completely undisturbed for at least 12 hours, and voilà! Crystals. This activity is suitable for older elementary school and younger middle school students. Learn more about this experiment here.

Here’s a variant of this activity in which you make crystal snowflakes rather than wreaths.

These science activities for kids can help you get through the holiday season and incorporate STEM fun into your curriculum.

Bonus activity: kitchen chemistry

Use “kitchen chemistry” to make holiday candies like rock candy, toffee, nut brittle, and caramels. Obviously, this activity is suitable for older middle school or high school-age students and must be done under adult supervision in order to avoid burns from hot sugar.

What other science activities for kids can be customized for holiday projects? Please share your ideas in the comments.

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Higher Education May Not Lead to Upward Mobility http://www.supportingeducation.org/2017/11/15/higher-education-upward-mobility-questions/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 15:00:11 +0000 http://www.supportingeducation.org/?p=4286 The going theory today is that for our current economy to be at its healthiest, about three in five adults need to hold a postsecondary credential; which is to say, a degree or a vocational certification. Whether or not that’s a good thing or a blight of modern hiring practices is hotly debated, but good […]

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The going theory today is that for our current economy to be at its healthiest, about three in five adults need to hold a postsecondary credential; which is to say, a degree or a vocational certification. Whether or not that’s a good thing or a blight of modern hiring practices is hotly debated, but good or bad, that’s the way our current structures work.

Colleges are enrolling and graduating more students than ever before, even pursuing the disadvantaged populations they’d previously underserved. But even in this environment, students from families at the top 20 percent of incomes will graduate at five times the rate of students from families in the lowest 20 percent. Something in many colleges and universities continues to stifle the upward mobility they should be providing.

It is this topic at the center of CLIMB, the Collegiate Leaders of Increasing Mobility research initiative, which held a conference in the University of Texas’s flagship campus. The conference was attended by economists from Stanford, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many other heads of educational research.

The focus of the conference was research by economist Raj Chetty, presenting the research he co-authored earlier this year, which measured each college in the country on measures of what he called “intergenerational mobility,” in other words, how many of their students climbed income brackets.

Boiled down to their simplest, the results indicated that the more selective a college or university is in its application bracket, the smaller the upward mobility of its students. Colleges with nonselective (admit everyone) or minimally selective (admit everyone who achieves a few base criteria) practices had the best results with improving the earning potential of their students. Universities with highly selective practices (admit 3 percent or fewer of applicants based on competitive criteria) showed little upward mobility of income, even among their top graduates.

The topic bears more investigation, even though the results so far seem clear-cut. The Gates Foundation has pledged funding to continue that research.

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