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Why ‘Nudges’ to Help Students Succeed Are Catching On

It's no secret that choosing, applying, and enrolling in a college is a difficult set of tasks—especially for youth who are left to do the process largely on their own. One way to help youth get through this and promote college affordability methods is to offer encouragement from authority figures willing to help. This encouragement might be in the form of text message "nudges" or by just simplifying the FAFSA forms students complete to apply for aid.  

Robert M. Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who once served as deputy under secretary of education in the Obama administration, agrees. When people struggle to fill out a form, helping them through it is great. But, he says, "you want to ask the question, Do we need this form?" And if, in fact, the form is needed, perhaps it can be simplified.

Read the Chronicle article on student success featuring TCF fellow Robert Shireman

Tags: higher education, fafsa, college completion

Will Inequality Ever Stop Growing?

A compilation of mini articles published in The Atlantic features TCF education fellow Richard Kahlenberg who cites the ever growing inequality that persists in the education system. John King, U.S. education secretary has committed to amending this inequality. 

In states where racial affirmative action has been banned by voters, new and better programs that focus on economically disadvantaged students have jumpstarted social mobility. In The New York Times’ College Access Index of universities doing the most for low-income students, nine of 10 leading public institutions are in states that banned the use of race in admissions, which spurred colleges to seek racial diversity through programs for economically disadvantaged students of all races.

Read the full article from The Atlantic.

Tags: segregation, race-based affirmative action, education inequality, class-based affirmative action

The rich-poor divide on America’s college campuses is getting wider, fast

Following the 2008 economic crisis, the gap between the rich and poor who attend college has widened, with many more wealthy students attending elite, private universities and colleges. Students at community colleges also have less money invested in them, making them less likely to succeed or graduate, despite their academic proficiencies.

“There are just fewer ways to fail at more prestigious schools,” said Hamilton. “But when you go down the ladder, there’s a lot less of that kind of support. The amount of advising and the number of student advisors drop off.”

Separate, said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, “is rarely equal, and when you look at outcomes, that’s true.”

Read the article from Hechinger Report featuring Richard Kahlenberg.

Tags: socioeconomic affirmative action, community college

It’s Time for the Education Department to Act on Covert For-Profit Colleges

December 15, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: Robert Shireman TOPICS: Education, Ensuring Fairness in College Admissions

Is the person suspected of operating one of the largest covert for-profit colleges also a committee member on the panel organization that aims to combat them? TCF's Robert Shireman explains why the for-profit college sector begs for reform.


Using Class, Not Race, to Produce Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity

TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg pushes back on the idea that both class and race should be considered a factor in college admissions. He instead argues for using only class-based affirmative action for four reasons that he outlines in his latest for Education Reform Now. 

First, as an empirical matter, carefully constructed class-based programs can produce as much racial and ethnic diversity as current racial preference programs, rendering the use of race unnecessary to achieve the important goal of racial diversity. Preferences based purely on income won’t succeed, because economically disadvantaged black and Latino students, in the aggregate, face additional obstacles that disadvantaged whites don’t.

Read Kahlenberg's full article from Education Reform Now.

Check out Kahlenberg's full-length report Achieving Better Diversity.

Tags: race-based affirmative action, diversity in education, class-based affirmative action, admissions criteria

Right-wing judge for working-class kids

The Fisher v. University of Texas II case has posed a conflicting time for the Supreme Court, whose members are typically easy to predict in terms of their decisions. TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg writes in a New York Daily News op-ed and explains show the justices may be reversing their roles and that a conservative decision may end up reflecting a liberal outcome.   

Liberals on the court defended a policy to recruit upper-middle class minority students, while conservatives — Justice Samuel Alito in particular — took the side of working-class African-American and Hispanic pupils.
And so, the debate in Fisher vs. University of Texas put in stark relief the difference between two kinds of affirmative action: old-style racial preferences and new, creative approaches like the Texas Top Ten Percent plan, which provides automatic admissions to those in the top portion of every high-school class by grade point average.

Read Kahlenberg's op-ed about the future of affirmative action

Tags: supreme court, racial inequality, justice scalia, higher education, class-based affirmative action




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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