All posts by Goldie Blumenstyk

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Education Dept. Will Reconsider Grant Applications Rejected for Formatting Problems

Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, said on Wednesday that her department would reconsider 77 Upward Bound grant applications that the agency had previously rejected because of minor formatting problems.

Ms. DeVos, testifying before a committee at the U.S. House of Representatives, said that the decision to reject the applications had been made “under the purview of the previous administration.” Under the existing rules, she said, the department had no legal remedy to reconsider the applica…

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Purdue’s Faculty Senate Seeks to Rescind Kaplan Deal

Saying Purdue University’s purchase of Kaplan University violated “both common-sense educational practice and respect for the Purdue faculty,” the university’s Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to ask Purdue’s leaders to reconsider the deal.

Following a two-hour meeting, the Senate voted, 46 to 8 with one abstention, on a resolution calling on the president and Board of Trustees “to rescind any decisions, to the degree possible, made without faculty input.” The vote came just one …

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Education Dept. Clarifies Rule Governing Online Courses

The Education Department on Thursday clarified a key piece of a new distance-education regulation, making it clearer that the reciprocity agreement known as SARA, under which more than 1,300 colleges have already been approved to offer online courses across state lines, would satisfy the new regulation.

The clarification removes the question mark over the legality of those colleges’ programs.

In a blog post about the department’s action, Russell Poulin, director of policy and analysis at the WI…

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USA Funds Moves to Further Focus on Education Philanthropy and Investing

USA Funds, which has played a growing role in education philanthropy and investing in the last few years, announced on Wednesday that it would shed its loan-guarantee affiliates.

Officials at the $1-billion organization said the move would allow it to further focus on its new mission of ensuring that college leads to meaningful results for students, which it does by making grants and investments in for-profit and nonprofit companies and organizations.

Over the last three years, the nonprofit USA…

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38 Community Colleges to Begin Replacing Textbooks With Free Educational Resources

Thirty-eight community colleges will take part in a new effort that involves replacing commercial textbooks with free educational materials. The open-educational-resources project, which is being coordinated by Achieving the Dream, a network for community-college reform, is expected to bring the free materials to at least 76,000 students in the next three years.

Proponents of open resources say that the use of the materials could save students as much as $1,300 in textbook costs per year, or abo…

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Better Advising Beats Free Tuition for Improving Degree Completion, Say Experts

In getting more students to complete their degrees, the use of highly structured curricula and proactive advising systems holds more promise than performance pay, free tuition for the first two years of college, or expanding credit for off-campus coursework, according to a survey of higher-education experts.

And for improving the quality of teaching, they see more promise in instructional software that adapts to students’ varying paces of learning than in options like technology-focused training…

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Rohit Chopra, a Former Student-Loan Watchdog, Joins Education Dept.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Wednesday that it had hired a former top official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra, to help it beef up services for student-loan borrowers, including those in the military.

During Mr. Chopra’s tenure at the bureau, where he was an assistant director, it sued two big for-profit-college companies — ITT Educational Services Inc. and Corinthian Colleges Inc. — over allegations of abusive lending practices. It also issued numero…

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Hobsons Acquires Collaborative That Promotes Use of Predictive Analytics

The Predictive Analytics Reporting Framework, a collaborative of colleges working with data tools to improve student retention, has been acquired by Hobsons, which owns services like Starfish Retention Solutions, the website College Confidential, and the enrollment tool Naviance. As a result of the deal, the nonprofit organization that had formerly overseen PAR will become the Foundation for Student Success, and will use the resources from the purchase to continue supporting research on predicti…

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President Obama to Announce a New ‘College Promise’ Campaign

The movements for free community college and other tuition- and debt-free college programs will get a renewed push on Wednesday when President Obama returns to Macomb Community College, in Michigan — along with Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a longtime community-college professor — to announce a wide-ranging new effort called the College Promise campaign.

Notably, with many observers now questioning whether Mr. Obama has the political support to get his own free-c…

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California Opens Inquiry Into U. of Phoenix’s Marketing to Military Members

The California Office of the Attorney General is investigating the University of Phoenix in a broad inquiry that covers its marketing, billing, and recruiting of members of the military since 2010.

In a financial filing on Friday the university’s parent company disclosed that it had received an investigative subpoena from the California agency on Monday and “intends to cooperate fully.”

The inquiry comes just days after the parent company, the Apollo Education Group, revealed that the university…