Agenda: College Readiness: What Does It Mean for Higher Ed?

February 26 & 27 • Los Angeles

Friday, February 26

12:45 – 1:00 p.m.

  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association

New Developments in College Admissions Testing
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. |

In March, students nationwide will take a new version of the SAT for the first time, one that ditches the dreaded vocabulary words and tries to better gauge how students can apply what they have learned in classes. ACT also has made changes to its exam, most notably in the essay-writing portion. Meanwhile, the number of colleges that are test-optional in their application process continues to grow. Experts update journalists on these changes.

  • David Coleman, College Board
    Tweet@CollegeBoard (Organization) |
  • Kenton Pauls, ACT
    Tweet@ACT (Organization)
  • Bob Schaeffer, FairTest
    Tweet@FairTestOffice (Organization)
  • Kevin Sweeney, College Board
    Tweet@CollegeBoard (Organization)
  • Liz Willen, The Hechinger Report (moderator)

Advanced Placement’s Role in Readiness
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.

Participation in AP courses has soared over the past decade. But some experts raise questions about how well the program prepares students for the challenges of higher education, and some institutions are becoming stricter about awarding college credit for passing scores on AP tests. Meanwhile, the push to increase course-taking among disadvantaged students has coincided in some cases with lower passing rates on AP exams. Experts take stock of the program and its role in college readiness.

  • James Montoya, College Board
  • Christopher Steinhauser, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Robert Tai, University of Virginia
  • Diane Rado, Chicago Tribune (moderator)

Ready, Set … Remediate
4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

Students who aren’t academically prepared for credit-bearing college courses have to start off in remedial classes. But research suggests that the tests used to make this determination might put too many students in developmental education. Several states have decided to use high school students’ scores on Common Core-aligned tests to see whether they’re really college-ready. What does this shift mean for students and colleges?

  • Pamela Burdman, independent policy analyst
  • Blake Johnson, Complete College America
    Tweet@R_BlakeJ |
  • William Moore, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association (moderator)

Saturday, February 27

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

‘Overmatching’ or Settling for Less?
8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

During oral arguments for the Supreme Court case on the use of race in college admissions, Justice Scalia questioned whether affirmative action might place students in schools where they would struggle. This “overmatching” argument has been the subject of much debate in higher education circles for years. Two experts present their views on the evidence and what it might mean for students and universities.

  • William Kidder, University of California, Riverside
  • Richard Sander, University of California, Los Angeles
    Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (moderator)

What Works for First-Generation College-Goers?
9:45 – 11:00 a.m.

Low-income students who are the first in their families to attend college often face extra difficulties in getting truly prepared for college and navigating higher education once they get there. What practices and programs are showing promise in helping such students succeed, whether in community college or four-year schools?

  • Estela Bensimon, University of Southern California
    Tweet@ebensimon |
  • William Franklin, California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • Reina Olivas, University of Texas at Austin
    Tweet@reinolivas |
  • Emmeline Zhao, RealClearEducation (moderator)

Why Do I Have to Take This Course?
11:15 – 12:15 p.m.

For many college students, most of the courses they take in the first semester will be general education requirements they need to fulfill to ultimately earn their degrees. These courses typically have little to do with their majors and often cause students to drop out before they even get to what they really wanted to learn. But several universities are experimenting with ways to make these gen-ed courses more relevant for all students.

  • Debra Humphreys, Association of American Colleges and Universities
  • Ken O’Donnell, California State University
  • Ellen Treanor, Southern Utah University
    Tweet@actorswebmaster |
  • Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed (moderator)

12:15 – 1:00 p.m.

Concurrent Workshops
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

Ideas and Angles: How to Cover College Readiness
Highly accomplished veteran higher-education journalists coach reporters on promising story ideas and reporting strategies to produce meaningful coverage of key topics on college readiness.

Daily Data: Easy-to-Use Tools for Higher Ed Reporters
Two top education data journalists teach reporters how to use three key sources of facts and figures on higher education: the College Scorecard, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and QuickStats.

Two Places at Once: The Growth of Dual Enrollment
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Momentum appears to be building for dual-enrollment programs that allow high school students to earn credit from community colleges. As the federal government experiments with making these courses eligible for Pell Grants, and the ACT launches a new initiative to get more students enrolled in such programs, what does dual enrollment mean for students’ college experiences and finances?

  • Adam Lowe, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships
    Tweet@NACEPtweets (Organization)
  • Scott Montgomery, ACT
  • Kenneth Terrell, Education Writers Association (moderator)