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Education Policy and Social Analysis
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Education Policy and Social Analysis

News from EPSA

Luis Huerta on Houston Public Radio: "Vouchers Don't Always Increase Access"

Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy, is quoted in a Houston Public Media radio story about school voucher proposals in Texas. Huerta, who has researched vouchers and charter schools, says that vouchers, which would make state allocations for public school portable to private institutions, don't always lead to greater access to private schools."Private organizations, specifically private schools, have the ability to choose whomever they want to enter into those schools," he said.Huerta debunked another claim about vouchers -'" that students perform better in private schools. In fact, he said research indicates that after students transfer to a private school, they often perform about the same as their peers back in public school -'" or even worse. And it's impossible to hold private schools accountable for students' education, even if they receive public dollars.He's planning to testify at a Texas Senate senate hearing Thursday. Published: 3/27/2015 12:26:00 PM

Basil Smikle's "Solving Minority Underrepresentation in STEM Careers." The Hill, March 6, 2015

Basil Smikle, a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics & Education Program and a contributor to The Hill, a US political website, gives an overview of the recent history and also the current representation of women and minorities in STEM careers. Published: 3/6/2015 11:57:00 AM

Research by Di Xu and Xin Gong

Research by Economics and Education PhD alumna Di Xu and PhD student Xin Gong has found that household income in China is directly correlated to preschool attendance. Published: 3/3/2015 10:47:00 AM

Pallas Letter to New York Times

Professor Pallas in NY Times on Annual Testing: Perhaps There's Another Way to Hold Schools Accountable Published: 2/26/2015 10:47:00 AM

Aaron Pallas Quoted in the New York Times

The New York Times quoted Professor Pallas in an article on Chancellor Farina's new course for NYC schools. Published: 2/19/2015 10:27:00 AM

Thomas Bailey Quoted in New York Times

Professor Bailey was quoted in the New York Times article, "The Promise and Failure of Community College,"on the need for the federal government to invest more money in the success of community college students. Published: 2/17/2015 9:28:00 PM

Inside Higher Ed: Report on Performance-based Funding Cites CCRC's Kevin Dougherty.

In an Inside Higher Education article about performance-based funding formulas, which link support for public colleges to student completion rates, degree production numbers or other metrics, David Tandberg, an assistant professor of higher education at Florida State University, praises a new report by HCM Strategies for its use of portions of studies by Kevin J. Dougherty, an associate professor of higher education at Columbia University's Teachers College, a senior research associate with TC's Community College Research Center. Published: 2/12/2015 9:23:00 AM

Jeffrey Henig quoted in articles in the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

On February 8th, Professor Jeffrey Henig was quoted in two articles: in the Los Angeles Times' piece, which discussed the Broad Foundation suspension of its $1-million prize for top-performing urban school districts, and in the Washington Post's piece, which discussed the ouster of Joshua Starr as superintendent in Montgomery County, MD. Published: 2/9/2015 11:41:00 AM

Scott-Clayton Proposes Changes to Pell Grant System

Judith Scott-Clayton

Judith Scott-Clayton

At an October forum hosted by the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, Assistant Professor Judith Scott-Clayton presented a proposal on changing the Pell Grant program to improve college outcomes. The proposal, described in detail in a paper released by the Brookings Institute, addresses the issue of low completion rates for Pell Grant recipients.

Professor Scott-Clayton and co-author Sandy Baum of the Institute for Higher Education Policy recommend three major Pell Grant reforms to strengthen student success and on-time completion. The Pell Grant was originally designed as a one-size-fits-all voucher intended to serve the needs of recent high school graduates from low-income families. Since the program’s inception in 1972, it has grown to serve a much larger and more diverse population—9.4 million students now receive $35 billion in Pell Grant funds—even as graduation rates for recipients remain stubbornly low. Only about 45 percent of Pell recipients obtain a degree or credential within six years.

Scott-Clayton and Baum propose three major structural reforms to improve outcomes for Pell recipients. First, the authors argue that financial assistance alone will not help high-need students complete college: “Handing students money and expecting them to steer their own courses through the maze of available options is an insufficient strategy for supporting their success.” Instead, they propose that the program’s financial assistance should be supplemented with guidance and support services that have been shown to improve academic outcomes.

Scott-Clayton and Baum suggest that the Pell Grant program provide services tailored to meet the needs of the different populations it serves: younger, dependent students would receive personalized, technology-assisted outreach and coaching services from initial application through the first year of college; adult, independent students—who often are returning to college to obtain specific career-related credentials—would receive third-party pre-enrollment counseling to help them choose appropriate institutions and programs, as well as one-on-one guidance provided by their institution at least once per year while enrolled.

The authors also recommend that the Pell Grant program simplify the application process by automatically calculating eligibility using information retrieved electronically from tax returns and by making eligibility fixed for several years. Furthermore they argue that eligibility should be based on a simple formula based on income and family size so that students and families can easily calculate in advance what college costs will be. Finally, Scott-Clayton and Baum suggest strengthening incentives for student effort and completion, including larger grants for students who take more credits than the current Pell maximum of 24 per year, and small monetary bonuses for on-time completion.

According to the authors, the proposal would require only a minimal increase in funding. For instance, providing each Pell recipient with technology-assisted guidance and counseling worth $500—which research evidence suggests would have meaningful impacts on student outcomes—would cost $1.3 billion, less than 4 percent of current Pell spending. If not additional funds are available, services could be financed by setting the per credit award size to maintain cost neutrality.

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Read coverage of the proposals by Inside Higher Ed

Read coverage of the proposals by The Chronicle of Higher Education

A link to the full study is here: Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century

Scott-Clayton spoke with the New York Times about a new higher education ranking system: Lists That Rank Colleges’ Value Are on the Rise


(10/31/2013)

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