Colleges Column

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A new report issued by the U.S. Education Department catalogues the actions taken by the states and the District of Columbia to boost student preparation for college.

The report, "Raising Standards: State Policies to Improve Academic Preparation for College,'' identifies three types of programs undertaken by states in recent years.

States have raised admissions requirements to publicly supported four-year colleges, provided regular feedback to high schools on student preparation, and established statewide merit-aid programs, the report explains.

The department study found that 27 states have minimum-entrance requirements for state institutions beyond a high school diploma or General Educational Development equivalency.

These encourage schools to establish tougher graduation standards and students to begin their college-preparation work early, according to the report.

Some states have mandated that certain coursework be completed, it notes. But 24 states have no statewide requirements.

Nineteen states have established systems for institutions to report to high schools on student preparation, and another eight are either developing such systems or have voluntary reporting systems in place, the report says.

The 24 other states have no formal reporting system, although in nine of the states, institutions engage in some form of informal feedback, the report points out.

Thirty states reward high-performing high school students through a total of 41 merit-aid programs, the study found. The awards range from less than $1,000 to full tuition and fees at a state-supported institution.

The report indicates that budget problems have made it difficult for many states to maintain their merit-aid programs or to fund them at the levels of previous years.

Twenty states are studying the implementation of one of the three methods, while two are looking at broader measures, the report notes.

The department also recently made available two reports on school-college collaborations. Volume I of "Reaching for College'' contains a directory and synopsis of such partnerships, while Volume II includes case studies of six collaborations.

Copies of the three reports are available from the Office of Policy and Planning, U.S. Education Department, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., Room 3127, Washington, D.C. 20202; (202) 401-0590.

In its final report, the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has praised the reforms enacted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in recent years and warned that more changes in college sports are needed to insure their integrity.

The report issued last month, "A New Beginning for a New Century: Intercollegiate Athletics in the United States,'' is the last of three reports on college sports offered by the commission, which folded after three years of monitoring college-athletics programs.

In 1991, the commission proposed that college presidents assume control of their athletics programs and insure academic integrity, financial integrity, and independent certification.

Since then, the report says, the N.C.A.A.'s Presidents Commission has propelled the members of the governing body to approve preliminary cost reductions, new academic standards, and an athletics-certification program.

While acknowledging that impressive progress has already been made, the report argues that "the struggle for reform is far from won.'' It notes such ongoing issues as recruiting abuses, the quest for television revenues and the influence of the entertainment industry, relationships between all levels of sport, and meeting the needs of minority, urban, and rural students.

The report also calls on colleges to "create comparable opportunities for participants, whether men or women, while controlling costs.''

Copies of the report and the previous reports--"Keeping Faith With the Student-Athlete'' and "A Solid Start''--are available from the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, P.O. Box 34769, Charlotte, N.C. 28234-34769; (704) 376-8124.

Men and women face different barriers to educational advancement once they have dropped out of high school, a new report says.

"The Gender Gap: Women and Men Who Take the G.E.D. Tests'' suggests that different recruitment and preparation methods for the General Educational Development test should be developed for men and women.

"Recognition of the significance of gender differences implies that a 'blanket approach' to G.E.D. programming may not be appropriate,'' the report says.

The study is part of a series on the G.E.D. conducted by the American Council on Education, which administers the test.

A 1989 national survey of participants found that women's educational advancement and participation in the G.E.D. program is affected more by household factors, while men's advancement and participation is affected more by employment factors.

Copies of the series, "G.E.D. Profiles: Adults in Transition,'' are available from the American Council on Education, Publications Department, 1 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036.--M.P.

Vol. 12, Issue 29

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