Kids often hear — from parents, teachers and other stakeholders — about the importance of a college education to their future success. Since 34% of the 2012 U.S. high school graduates didn’t pursue a post-secondary education, many of them aren’t listening. But a fascinating new study — conducted by the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas — may have discovered one small factor that could have an outsized impact on whether students decide to attend college.
According to the study, the chances of a student with no college savings account enrolling in college are only 49%. But, for a student with a college savings account of even one dollar, the probability of enrollment rises to about 70%.
I was very surprised by this finding. Clearly, such a small amount of money won’t make a dent in the absurdly high cost of a college education. But, rather than the amount of money students are able to save, the study suggests that “. . . just opening an account and designating some of that money for higher education may turn college into an important goal rather than just a dream, with a strategy for how to overcome cost barriers.”
And the results don’t stop at college admission. The study also found that students with a college savings account between $1 and $499 are 20% more likely to graduate college than their peers with no savings account at all.
Although more research is necessary, it’s well worth your time to head down to the bank and put a few bucks into your kids’ college savings accounts. Based on the research, I can’t think of an easier or more direct way to make a solid investment in our future.
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K12 Insight’s standard survey calendar is based on the idea that there is an appropriate season for conducting each type of survey.
Some of the seasons are obvious, such as launching an Opening of the Schools Survey — you guessed it — right after the opening of schools. That’s the best time to ask principals about any beginning-of-the-year hitches which can then be avoided the following year.
Similarly, a Professional Development Needs Assessment is scheduled in the early spring, after all district and school level Professional Development courses have been completed for the year. Teachers can reflect on how the courses they took impacted their teaching, and that feedback can then be used when planning Professional Development opportunities for the following year.
Some seasonal pairings, however, are not as obvious. For instance, while K12 Insight recommends conducting a Climate Survey on School Site Issues in November — so that the data gathered can be used during the school year — many districts don’t get around to this survey until the end of the school year, and the data isn’t shared until the following school year.
Recognizing the seasonality of surveys requires that school districts take a systemic approach to planning and conducting them. The timing of surveys will vary from district to district, depending upon each district’s calendar, standardized testing and other specific initiatives.
However, spending some time planning your survey calendar at the beginning of the school year can give you a much different picture than if surveys happen “by accident” throughout the course of the year. Now is the best time for school districts to create a plan to determine the appropriate surveys for each season.
There is an exciting movement underway in American public education, called the Common Core State Standards Initiative. With this initiative, states are teaming up to create common standards so that all students nationwide are consistently well-prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. So far, 45 states have signed on to be part of the Common Core Initiative.
So what does this mean for parents, students, teachers and the rest of your community? How will it impact the way teachers teach, parents support and students learn? How will it change standardized tests and the expectations and outcomes that go along with those tests? Why should people care?
These are all questions that families around the country may (and should) be asking. And they are questions that school districts should be answering now, in anticipation of the changes that will soon be taking place. Rather than waiting until the Common Core Standards are in place, thereby risking people misunderstanding their goals and intentions, communities should be engaged in a dialogue about the new standards right now.
Ohio’s Cincinnati Public Schools recently conducted a parent survey that included questions designed to gauge the level of awareness around the Common Core Initiative, as well as to educate their community about the coming changes. Other school districts should follow Cincinnati’s lead and proactively engage their stakeholders around this exciting new initiative.
In two short months, your high school seniors will be walking out your doors for the last time. And while this will certainly be a time for celebration, it should also be a cause for concern. How are you going to keep in touch with your graduates once they are off into the world? How will you find out if they are successfully facing all of life’s challenges, and if your school system prepared them well for college and the workforce? Unfortunately, most districts do not have a system for tracking this information, so reaching out to graduates is an ad hoc, “shot in the dark” exercise that is costly and yields few responses.
What can you do right now that will neither break the district’s bank nor require a huge investment of time and resources? Collect their email addresses through a short online survey. Explain that the district will follow up in a year to hear about their post-graduation experiences, using their feedback to improve the quality of education for future students. Request that they keep their email accounts active or set them to auto-forward if they change their email address.
This brief time investment will be well worth it, yielding higher response rates and more valuable feedback from future alumni surveys.