Redefining student success in American academia: Annotated Bibliography

Daniel R. Jones-White, Peter M. Radcliffe, Ronald L. Huesman Jr., John P. Kellogg, Redefining Student Success: Applying Different Multinomial Regression Techniques for the Study of Student Graduation Across Institutions of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, March 2010, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp.154-157.

The article tackles a perceived flaw in standard evaluations of student success. Moving away from binary all-or-nothing classifications of ‘graduate’ or ‘drop-out’, Jones-White et al device a more sophisticated method. Through the analysis of data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), the method takes into account retention and graduation numbers at both entry and transfer institutions. Hence, what they accomplish is to construct a polychotomous definition of success. The challenge facing them include identifying new methods to model limited dependent variables. They are sceptical that the multinomial logit method is apt for the purpose. They believe incorporating multinomial regression techniques into the model is a better way of evaluating student success across institutions. The intended audience for this research paper are educators and fellow scholars. The paper uses esoteric language and complex statistical analysis. To this extent novices and teachers under training may find its content inaccessible. However, the necessity and relevance of the angle of scholarly investigation cannot be overstated. At a time when general standards of literacy, numeracy and employability of students are falling across educational institutions, reworking the model for ascertaining student success might help educators and recruiters to refine their search criteria. Likewise, with federal government putting pressure on institutions of higher to improve accountability, all stakeholders are reviewing the utility of arcane laws such as the Student Right to Know (SRK) Act of 1990. In the same vein, the reporting requirements through Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and Graduation Rate Survey (GRS) are also being reviewed. The project undertaken by Jones-White et al is relevant for all these areas of review.

Kip Tellez, A case study of a career in education that began with ‘Teach for America’, Teaching Education, Vol 22, No.1, March 2011, p.15-18.

The article talks about a longitudinal case study of an experienced educator (Steven). Starting with Steven’s early days as an untrained teacher, the author brings his first hand experiences to bear on the analysis. It is recounted how, through the Teach for America initiative, the subject taught mathematics at an urban middle school, before moving on to teaching social studies to English language learners. Steven eventually rose to the position of a school principal. What his experience has shown is that professional teacher education is not as inevitable as it is made out by some. This is an ongoing debate among American academics and there is no consensus as yet. There is a political dimension to this debate as neo-liberals think teacher education is overestimated while neo-conservatives find it non-negotiable. Written in an easy style without too many technical terms, this article is of relevance to education administrators as well as aspiring teachers. It lays out the pros and cons of the issue and is not biased toward any one position. However toward the conclusion of the case study author Tellez infers through the successful career of Steven that teacher education is perhaps an overstated qualification. Tellez endorses customized teacher training programs and also underscores the incorporation of multiculturalism subjects into these programs.