Step Into Spring (Indoors)

March 24, 2020

Happy spring! Winter was quite a season…but the trees are blossoming, the grass is greening, and the CDC says you are allowed to walk outside as long as you keep six feet from others and wash your hands when you get home. (Not sure how the Governor’s latest order impacts outside time, but hopefully the escalation in measures taken statewide ensures the measures can be shorter-lived). Whatever you’re doing, stay safe and healthy.

This week’s first piece is several months old, but I’m re-upping the last peer-reviewed piece I wrote/co-authored. It’s on technology use in remedial education. It came out last summer, but I think it’s relevant given campuses’ forced migration online. And I also think it’s relevance goes beyond dev ed. Here’s the link to the piece itself. And here’s a link to my brilliant co-author’s tweet thread summarizing the work. Also, a related blog post that originally appeared in 2017 (the academic publication timeline is quite a thing…from journal receipt, to online publication, to official publication can take two years!). The interviews we conducted were focused on remedial courses, but this is definitely still relevant to California’s community college landscape.

Not a research piece, but here is a really thoughtful post from a community college president in Massachusetts about some of the equity implications presented by this crisis. Closing Harvard for the remainder of the semester won’t derail students the same way that closing a community college campus will. Yet another way that crises like these will hit our most vulnerable populations in ways that go well beyond cancelled spring breaks and commencements.

If you’ve run through your Netflix list, here’s a show you might like. It’s called America ReFramed. The episode linked here is about three kids in Brooklyn who become peer counselors and try to help their friends and classmates think differently about college. Disclosure, I haven’t watched it yet, but it’s been recommended to me by people I tend to trust…and who will get an earful from me if it’s problematic or not entertaining…

On the more technical, less COVID-related front, I’m looking at an article by some folks at MDRC. It’s a very methods-focused piece discussing the interpretation of “regression discontinuity designs”. These studies are important in our space because they’re used in places where there are cut scores or hard cut-offs in eligibility, so we see them a fair amount in education. For folks looking for a fairly non-technical guide to interpreting regression discontinuity studies and other designs, this piece might be helpful.

– Stay healthy!

Vikash Reddy
Vikash Reddy, Senior Director of Policy Research

2020 Presidential Candidates on Higher Ed

Central to the mission of the Campaign for College Opportunity is ensuring the opportunity of all Californians to go to college and graduate. We remember that mission as Californians cast their ballots for the March 3rd Primary.

The President of the United States has a tremendous impact on articulating priorities for college access and affordability and making critical research investments to support technical, medical, and other innovations. Wonder where President Trump and the leading Democratic candidates stand on higher education? Do they support making college more affordable? What solutions do they propose to address student debt?

Below are links to key priorities of the presidential candidates on higher education. We hope you find this information useful as you prepare to cast your vote by March 3rd.

President Donald J. Trump

Overall Plan

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Overall Plan

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg

Overall Plan

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Overall Plan

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar

Overall Plan

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Free College and Debt Plan
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) Plan

Businessman Tom Steyer

Overall Plan
Student Debt

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

Overall Plan

Methodology: Not all presidential candidates on the California primary ballot are highlighted in this post. Featured presidential candidates must have met at least one of the following criterion (a) must have appeared in at least one nationally-televised democratic debate since February 1, 2020; (b) enjoy the support of a major political party’s voters, as evidenced by delegate counts, in primary contests since February 1, 2020; and (c) reached at least 10% polling in four national polls since February 1, 2020. The President of the United States is listed first then the Democratic candidates, that have been determined to meet that threshold, are listed alphabetically by last name.

***Note: This blog post is for information purposes only. The Campaign for College Opportunity is recognized as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and, as a result, does not endorse or oppose any candidate for elected public office. The information found in the links above are for information purposes and should not be construed as official positions of The Campaign.

Raising the Bar on Admissions for Californians is Bad for Our Students and Our State

Concerned advocates protesting outside of a CSU Board of Trustees meeting


By Michele Siqueiros, President

The California State University (CSU) plays a critical role in ensuring California has the educated citizenry we need to meet workforce demand. By 2030, California needs 60% of adults to have a college degree. That means drastic improvements in degree attainment for Black and Latinx students.

We at the Campaign for College Opportunity have fought alongside the CSU every year during the state budget season to increase the number of spots available for California students, to increase funding of efforts like the Graduation Initiative 2025, and to eliminate remedial education courses. At the local level, we have supported campuses that have worked hard to serve more of the growing eligible students, even as they have financial limits to the number of seats they can offer. But CSU’s recent proposal to add an additional math, science, or other quantitative reasoning course to their eligibility requirements for incoming freshmen threatens college opportunity by making the CSU more selective than ever before, and that threatens to disproportionately affect low income, Latinx, Black, and Native American students who already face unequal preparation and access to college prep courses in high school.

There are several harmful implications of the proposal:

  1. The CSU proposal is an unfunded mandate on K-12 school districts, which already lack the capacity to offer the current A-G curriculum equitably. In fact, this proposal will increase the disparity that already exists in college preparation for our growing diverse student body. The CSU will lose 600 Black students and 5,000 Latinx students yearly. 
  2. This proposal by CSU has been pushed for without significant input from public stakeholders, K-12 partners, and the legislature. It also threatens to misalign college readiness requirements from the University of California (UC), meaning that some students could be eligible for the UC and NOT for the CSU.
  3. There is no independent and transparent research that proves this change is necessary, or that is is the only solution to the CSU’s stated problem – to improve college graduation rates. It also puts the onus on K-12 to improve college completion, instead of pushing CSU to expand solutions to support their students.

Read More

Closing California’s Degree Gaps Requires Keeping College Affordable

California annually fails to serve more than 300,000 students seeking financial aid, despite meeting academic standards and demonstrating financial need

For far too long, California has been staring down an impending economic reality: our economy will have more vacant positions than workers with the educational qualifications needed to take them on. Due to employers’ increasing demand for educated talent and the retirements of highly-educated baby boomers, the most recent analysis by the Campaign for College Opportunity found that California will fall short by 1.65 million college degrees or credentials to meet its workforce demands in 2030.

The troubling reality is that while business and the economy continue to evolve, often near breakneck speeds in California, our educational systems and policies struggle to keep pace. California’s approach to investing in its human capital, our students, is in especially dire need of an update.

Smarter targeting of public resources is necessary to close the college degree gap, not just a minor contributing factor to student success or “feel good” use of public dollars. For many California families, covering all the costs of their children’s college dreams would be virtually impossible without the investments made available for talented students with financial need. Consider this: More than half of Latinx families of four, and nearly as high a share of American Indian and Black families earn less than $49,000 annually. It is difficult enough to care for a family with such limited financial resources, but saving for college and the growing costs that go beyond the sticker price of tuition becomes untenable.

Those non-tuition costs are growing quickly. The total ­everything students must afford to be successful in college, not only tuition but also books, living expenses, and transportation. In just the past 15 years, the total cost of attendance has increased by more than 200 percent at each of the public higher education systems in California. Read More

To All the Students Who Earned Their Spot in College

For all of us who were first in our families to go to college.

Who worked fast food or retail to make as much extra cash as possible.

Who had to convince our worried immigrant parents to turn over their taxes so we could fill out FAFSA and then shock them with the news that there was free money for college.

For all of us who got that SAT fee waiver and didn’t even know you could prep and be tutored for a test that had questions about yachts.

For those of us who scrambled to get more fee waivers for our college applications because otherwise you were definitely NOT applying to that school.

To those of us who wrote our own essays and didn’t even know anyone that might be able to review it, much less help us rewrite it.

And to those of us who had to convince our parents that it was okay and important to move into the college dorm.

To those of us who knew we couldn’t demand our parents do more than sacrifice everything they already had.

To those of us who figured out how to pass our classes and graduate from college after feeling lost and often like an impostor who won the lottery. Read More