College Column

June 24, 1987 4 min read

Beginning this fall, the American College Testing Program will administer a new assessment for 10th graders, to help them begin planning for college by identifying their academic skills, study habits, and post-high-school goals.

Students participating in the program, known as P-ACT+, will take a three-hour examination, which will include tests in four academic areas--writing, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning--a study-skills test, and a “needs assessment,’' in which students will indicate their academic and counseling needs.

The A.C.T. will provide students, parents, and school counselors with detailed analyses of the results, to enable students to tailor their final two years of high school to their postsecondary goals, according to Milt Hillery, vice president of the A.C.T.

As of last week, more than 3,000 high schools, with an estimated 230,000 students, had indicated that they will participate in the program this fall, Mr. Hillery said. About 1.1- million students take the regular A.C.T. assessment.

In a similar effort aimed at parents of younger students, the National Association of College Admission Counselors has produced a guide outlining the need for academic preparation for college and postsecondary careers and the availability of financial aid.

“Planning must begin in the 9th grade,’' the brochure states. “If you wait until the junior or senior year of high school, you’ve waited too long.’'

The guide urges parents to help children develop skills in the 7th and 8th grades, take an interest in their children’s courses, and consult with school counselors.

Copies of the brochure, “Guide for Parents,’' are available, free of charge, from the National Association of College Admission Counselors, 1800 Diagonal Rd., Suite 340, Alexandria, Va. 22314.

Spurred by a huge increase in gifts from individual donors, private contributions to colleges and universities rose by 17.1 percent between 1984-85 and 1985-86, to an estimated $7.4 billion, according to an annual report by the Council for Financial Aid to Education.

Individual gifts rose by 25 percent during that period, while corporate donations rose by 8 percent, a smaller increase than in the year before, the council reported.

The largest single contribution was a $100-million grant from the Danforth Foundation to Washington University in St. Louis.

Doctoral institutions received 61.3 percent of all contributions, the council’s survey found. Stanford University, in the first year of a capital campaign, passed Harvard University as the leading fund raiser, receiving more than $179 million in total support.

Two large public-university systems, the University of California system and the University of Texas system, received totals of $205 million and $148 million, respectively. The leading individual public-university fund raiser was the University of Minnesota, which received nearly $94 million.

Meanwhile, state appropriations for higher education rose by $2 billion, to $32.4 billion, between 1985-86 and 1986-87, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges has found.

The 14 percent increase was smaller than last year’s increase, the study found, in part because five states--Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas--decreased funding for higher education.

Copies of the study, conducted by Edward R. Hines, director of the center for higher education at Illinois State University, are available, free of charge, for association members, and for $3.50 each for non-members, from the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 710, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Most colleges and universities are responding to calls to measure student learning, a survey by the American Council on Education has found.

The survey, part of the council’s annual report on campus trends, found that half the nation’s college administrators are developing methods for assessing student learning, and 8 of 10 administrators say they expect such assessments to be implemented within the next few years.

A recent survey by the Education Commission of the States found that most state governing boards allow individual institutions to devise their own assessments, rather than implement a standard, statewide instrument.

The A.C.E. survey indicates that most colleges and universities are taking the initiative to implement assessments, even without state mandates, according to Elaine El-Khawas, vice president for policy analysis and research for the A.C.E.

The survey report, “Campus Trends 1987,’' will be available in August for $5 each for members, and for $8 each for non-members, from the American Council on Education, Division of Policy Analysis and Research, 1 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Ernest L. Boyer’s provocative 1986 study, College: The Undergraduate Experience in America, has stirred much debate on college campuses.

One such debate, held at Harvard University last fall and featuring nearly 150 college presidents, deans, professors, and students, is now available to the public on videotape.

The 70-minute videotape includes remarks by Mr. Boyer; Derek Bok, president of Harvard; Timothy Healy, president of Georgetown University; Shirley Strum Kenny, president of Queens College; Frank Rhodes, president of Cornell University; and Sheldon Rothblatt, chairman of the history department at the University of California at Berkeley.

The videotape is available in all formats for $95 each, including shipping, from Videotapes, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, N.J. 08540.--R.R.

A version of this article appeared in the August 04, 1987 edition of Education Week as College Column