Friday, October 11, 2019
Changing Nature of Higher Education Essay
Proprietary education first appeared in the 1600Ã¢â¬â¢s about the same time that institutions like Harvard were being created. For much of US History these schools provided popular mass education in contrast to traditional colleges that were often reserved for the elites (Thelin, 2011). Generally, the purpose of these schools, besides profitability was to provide practical and narrowly focused training, thus filling a need not addressed by traditional education (Beaver, 2009). In addition, for-profits also became known for providing training for minorities, women, and in general, students from the lower social strata, a trend that would continue well into the 20th century (Apling, 1993). From an historical perspective, for-profits have experienced periods of relative prosperity and decline. In terms of prosperity, the peak occurred following the civil war as proprietary institutions sought to provide training for an expanding industrial sector. By 1893, there were approximately 115,748 students enrolled at for-profit schools (Beaver, 2009). On the other hand during the Progressive Era, for-profit schools were deemed unnecessary and invaluable especially if traditional schools were developed and managed efficiently. By 1972, amendments to the Higher Education Act permitted students attending for-profit schools to receive federal student-aid such as grants and loans (Thelin, 2011). Congress believed that students attending these institutions should receive an equal opportunity regardless of their disadvantaged backgrounds. As a result, it is estimated that during that year, for-profits accounted for one-half the increase in higher educationÃ¢â¬â¢s total enrollment (Beaver, 2009). It is interesting to note that tuition levels at many for-profits are set in accordance with the typical amount of government sponsored aid available to the student, thus questions have been raised regarding the accountability of many proprietary institutions with regard to quality student learning. This paper will focus on how governmental accountability standards have transformed policies and procedures at Everest Institute a subsidiary of Corinthian Colleges. Changing Faces of Public Accountability Both public and private institutions are held accountable to the people that support them (Altbach, Berdahl, & Gumport, 2005). For public institutions their support is primarily from the public; however private institutions such as Everest are governed by their stockholders and a governing board of directors. The interests of these institutions are determined by both external and internal political policies that can create a complex system of compromises and the accommodation of several different conflicting objectives (2005). There was a point in time when the general public was not interested in how colleges and universities conducted business. However, times have since changed. Citizens now realize that their future economic, social, and cultural norms are directly influenced by higher education (Altbach, Berdahl, & Gumport, 2005). This increased awareness by citizens, politicians and law makers led to a demand for more accountability in higher education. The early accountability movement went beyond ensuring compliance with federal funding requirements. Research has shown that management fads in the world of business often time find their way into education, and perhaps some of the focus on accountability in higher education was the result of the Total Quality Management frenzy which firmly took hold in the for-profit business sector by the late 1980s and early 1990s (Castigili & Turi, 2011). Eventually, the quality process was being applied to academic settings. This process where the term quality was referred to giving the student customer a desired product at a reasonable cost (2011). Terms such as assessment, informed decision making, and continuous improvements became common terminology in academia just as they were in the business world. As a result, educational bodies of accreditation began require colleges and universities demonstrate accountability in their self-assessments. However, it was the famous 2006 Spellings Report that established higher education reform. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and the Commission on the Future of Higher Education attempted to incorporate the concept of Total Quality Management into higher education. The Commission also sought to reprogram U. S. colleges in to providing the highest possible quality of education at the lowest possible cost (Basken, 2007). One of the most important of the commissionÃ¢â¬â¢s recommendations was for colleges and universities to address the Ã¢â¬Å"inadequate transparency and accountability for measuring institutional performanceÃ¢â¬ (Spellings Commission, 2006, p. 13). For many faculty members and administrators in higher education, it was the principle that was deemed contentious and not the quest for high quality (Castigili & Turi, 2011). However, before the Spellings Commission began its deliberations, the majority colleges and universities had already began to adopt cultures of assessment, and were utilizing the results of their assessments in order to improve student learning. The Spellings commission also called for accountability measures that allowed comparisons of student performance. The American Council on Education and several other groups in higher education interpreted this recommendation as a mandate for standardized testing (Basken, 2007). American colleges and universities have always been resistant to standardized testing and accountability templates because many of them feel that they do not account for the plurality of institutional missions and seem to shift the purpose of assessment from self-improvement to reporting. Standardized accountability requirements do not take into account the complexity of the education that takes place in colleges and universities and could have an impact on the overall process of higher education (Castigili & Turi, 2011). Recent efforts of U. S. olicy makers with regards to accountability in higher education have been negatively compared to the No Child Left Behind Act, which, which may educators feel led to the practice of Ã¢â¬Å"teaching to the testÃ¢â¬ (Cohen, 2009). If the requirement of standardized testing in higher education created the same or similar results, the impact on higher learning would be devastating. However, long before standardized testing became an issue that threatened colleges and universities, Banta (1996) as referenced in (Castigili & Turi, 2011), claimed the requirements of accountability Ã¢â¬Å"seem to chafe at the very soul of the academic enterprise (p. 7). Ã¢â¬Å" The foundation of that which Kuh (2007) referred to as Ã¢â¬Å"higher educationÃ¢â¬â¢s aversion to transparency and accountability (p. 32)Ã¢â¬ could possibly be the concern that the need to report outcomes might weaken the primary purpose of assessment, which is ultimately, improving student learning. Evolution of Accountability for Corinthian Colleges According to the Corinthian Colleges website, Corinthian Colleges Inc. (CCI) provides a friendly, small campus atmosphere where dedicated staff and faculty take a personal interest in the progress of each student. The company operates 105 schools in 25 states in addition to 17 schools in Canada. CCI serves a large and growing segment of individuals seeking to acquire careers in the Health Care, Business, Criminal Justice, Transportation Technology, Maintenance, Construction Trades and Information Technology fields. With more than 17,000 employees in North America, Corinthian Colleges is committed to continue to provide quality instruction and fulfill the mission of changing studentÃ¢â¬â¢s lives. It is the belief of CCI that consistent application of core values such as integrity, teamwork and accountability depends upon each employee making ethical decisions everyday concerning every student every time. Because of recent headlines, the image of for-profit colleges has become considerably questionable. The media and Senate hearings have reported aggressive and unethical behaviors consistent with unethical business practices. In 2011 The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its findings after conducting undercover testing of 15 for-profit colleges in the United States. The GAO found that 4 colleges promoted and encouraged its admission representatives to engage in fraudulent practices (De Vise, 2011). The GAO reported that all of the 15 colleges made false or misleading statements to undercover applicants. The misleading statements were directly related to potential, earnings, financial aid, and student loan repayments. Undercover investigators stated that many of them engaged in substandard academic performance that would have almost certainly resulted in censure at any other institution (De Vise, 2011). There were also reports of students cutting classes, plagiarism, missed assignments, and incorrect assignments being submitted for full credit. Everest was one of 15 for-profit colleges cited by the GAO for deceptive or questionable statements that were made to undercover investigators posing as applicants. Two unnamed campuses were cited in this report (Lewin, 2011). Additionally, the U. S. Department of Education statistics indicated that Everest College graduates had the highest default rate of any school in California for students entering repayment in 2010 (U. S. Department of Education, 2010). It is unclear if Everest North Miami was one of the campuses cited in the GAO report, however, the results of the report led to swift and immediate change in the way the campus operated. Three primary areas received the most attention. First, admissions officers and career services representatives were required to participate in a mandatory training that dealt with how to properly converse with students when speaking about enrollment and placement. Program Directors and a representative from Financial Aid, Admissions, and Career Services were required to attend daily at-risk meetings in order to decrease student absences and also provide administrators with an overall picture of those student who were at risk so that budgetary forecasting could be more accurate and less inflated. Lastly, Career Services Representatives were required to spend more time in the field recruiting new business that would be willing to hire students following graduation. They were also required to take additional training regarding placement rate reporting. Managing Gainful Employment and Placement at Everest Current law requires that private sector institutions prepare students for Ã¢â¬Å"gainful employment in a recognized occupation. Ã¢â¬ In other words, graduates from these institutions must be able to get jobs in their respective fields of study, or the school may risk losing their accreditation. Newly introduced standards would require that student borrowing and loan repayment be regulated to ensure that students are not loaded up with federal and high cost private loans and debt that many students are unlikely to ever repay. Students at for-profit colleges make up 12 percent of those in higher education, but almost half of those who default on student loans (Lewin, 2011). The alarming number of students that have defaulted on their student loans was the catalyst the led to this sweeping legislation. According to Stratford (2012), the cohort default rate is the percentage of borrowers who default on their student loans due to their inability to make payments. Nelson (2012) pointed out that over 9 percent of all students that borrow money to pay for their education, default on their loans in the first two years after they begin to make repayment. The research also noted that 13. 4 percent of student default within the first three years of repayment (2012). Examining gainful employment at any institution is important because it has a direct connection to the cohort default rate. If students are unable to secure meaningful career opportunities following graduation, then they are unable to afford student loan repayments. This is of a major concern not only to legislators, but also to the general public since student loans are funded by the taxpayer. Thus, there has been an increase for accountability for all schools who receive federal financial aid dollars. There is also a concern for the school because default rates are a factor in the institutions eligibility to receive federal student-aid (Stratford, 2012). This is increasingly important for small proprietary schools such as Everest since over 90 percent of proprietary schools revenues are generated through federal student-aid programs such as Stafford loans (Ausik, 2011). Under the new regulations, aimed to reign in for-profit education programs that saddle students with more loan debt than they can pay, programs that receive studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ federal grants and loans because they Ã¢â¬Å"prepare students for gainful employmentÃ¢â¬ will have to pass at least one of three tests: 1) a student loan repayment of at least 35 percent; 2) a ratio of no more than 30 percent between debt that must be repaid each year and annual discretionary income; 3) a ratio of no more than 12 percent between debt and overall income (De Vise, 2011). The new rules take a Ã¢â¬Å"three strikes and youÃ¢â¬â¢re outÃ¢â¬ approach. The first time a program fails to meet all three criteria, it would have to develop and report how much it missed the benchmarks and what it will do to improve. The second time, it would have to warn student that they may not be able to repay their debt and that the program could lose its eligibility. However, a third strike within the four year period would result in the loss of the ability to offer federal student aid (Lewin, 2011). In order to improve placement rates, Everest Institute required that a Career Service Advisor be present at each daily at-risk meeting in order to discuss student placement rates and also to identify with the Program Director those students that were close to graduation. Additionally, each advisor was required to make initial contact with the prospective graduate at the start of their last semester or module in order to develop a relationship with the student and begin developing a job placement plan. The Career Services Department was required to interact more with the Program Directors and gain contact information of students that recently graduated, however, had not been placed. The advisor was responsible for developing a post-graduate placement plan for the student and reviewing the plan with the student on a weekly basis and tracking their individual progress. By assisting student to secure gainful employment, it provides them with a solid financial source of income to repay their student loans. Everest understands the importance of successfully placing student in careers that related to the major course of study. As more students are employed and able to repay their debt to the federal government, the cohort default rate for the institution will begin to decrease. Additionally, the success of the institution will help to increase student enrollments through the appropriate reporting mechanisms. These new initiatives help to create a positive environment where transparency and integrity are valued not only by the staff but also by the students that are being served. Mission and Future Implications Corinthian Colleges is currently undergoing changes within the organization in order to comply with new regulations from several external and government bodies. These and other mandates come as no surprise to the industry as several for-profit private institutions have allegedly been involved in unethical behaviors and practices. The leaders of these organizations are now forced to not only monitor performance and outcomes but to ensure that business is being conducted the right way. It is imperative that the leaders of the organization have a clear understanding of the dynamics of the organization in order to meet the immediate demands of the government. It is evident that Corinthian Colleges understands the urgency of the issue and measures are daily implemented in order to be in compliance. The process by which the organization chooses to disseminate the new policies will determine the success of change implementation. Change is difficult but necessary to achieve success. The Government is not suggesting but mandating that certain practices be overhauled, revised, and improved. Conclusion Despite the newly introduced demands from the Federal Government, Corinthian Colleges is committed to deliver their promise. With strict adherence to the companyÃ¢â¬â¢s core values of Integrity, Customer Responsiveness, Respect, Innovation, Excellence, Teamwork, Innovation, Positive Energy, and Accountability, enables the execution of the overall strategic approach to become the best career education company in the world. Corinthians Colleges understands that the goal of transparency and accountability is to enable stakeholders to obtain clear and relevant information about college and university performance. McPherson and Shellenburger (2006) warned, however, about the misuse of assessment data. They urged that Ã¢â¬Å"accountability data be used only to compare specific universities with their own past performances and with the performance of comparable universitiesÃ¢â¬ (p. 3). To compare vastly different institutions would do far more harm than good, and potentially punish less-elite colleges and universities.