How to Understand how to Improve Outcomes in Your School



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Edward Deming

From pre-school to higher education we have been both officially and unofficially held to expected outcomes by our communities who uphold the value of education. Throughout the ages of school improvement it has always been an inherent mission for schools is to educate students to be better than they were. When asking this question of being better than they were or can we truthfully measure our outcomes to measure our school attenders and employees that they are succeeding to achieve at their true potential. When we walk the halls and view classrooms or sit in on an online course what is the measure that the teacher is reaching their full potential or are the students being an realizing an opportunity to move closer to their potential? Schools have often accepted redundant teaching methods over the years and produced lesson plans that have been the same way for many years. When our student audience has changed over the years our teaching approaches now needed to adapt to the learning styles and values of our society.

It is a proven fact that giving grades for our students is without a doubt is a very subjective measure to predict and show competencies accomplished. Very little is measured from a skills perspective for skill in a competency at the conclusion of any term. We can extend this weakness to how we give opportunities for the educators to improve their potential by improving instruction. The measures of instruction fit into the same class as our student measures which is very subjective. As we look at these glaring facts our schools at all levels of for-profit, non-profit, private and sectarian are influenced by government regulations focusing on these old outdated forms of measurement. Our states are using standardized testing for measuring the success of their resident students. When we should be looking for improvement, we are looking at a standards established for only those that could meet the artificial targets. Improvement starts with a baseline and a build from there.

I am sure many of you remember the movie “Money Ball” with Brad Pitt as the general manager of a professional baseball team. This was a story of an actual team who relied on results to improve the team outcomes with success. The data were pointed at the key targets to make baseline improvement of the team. Measurement dictates a process for improving outcomes. The baseball team proceeded to an ultimate outcome of success. If we can use the premise of process by using data we too can have success in our schools.

Schools and colleges making these adjustments will offer to all their stakeholders visible growth by allowing for participants to move to higher potentials. By making these process changes outcomes are not subjective but measuring validated targets after the improvement of learning.

If you have any interest in making this change I have the process used now for eight years that makes the data work for you. Process is key to success in any organization. Process was the key to improving industry by a famous industrial consultant who rebuilt Japan after World War II. Dr. Edward Deming.

Process Steps

Surprisingly Schools have not did much to capitalize on this process. Research coming forth now may change this practice in our academic centers.


Edward Deming

Change for the future

It is certain that by establishing the correct target by using data and analytics with schools in any environment or culture can improve. GRCARLSON INC. are here to help you make the transition.


Process in action with coaching for faculty, teacher and instructor improvement.






Blue Collar, Middle Skills or Professional

two man holding white paper


Life Long Learning



pile of five books

Photo by Pixabay on

Life long learning ten or fifteen years ago may have had a different meaning than today. The baby boomers viewed the value of how life presented itself with the opportunity to continue to learn both experiential and formally. As they proceeded through life from their career experience and life long engagement they all learned the skills and values of the times. Today, not so! We live in a fast changing world with affect on all stages of life. Our higher education system may have been looked at in the past as a one stop activity in life. When viewing the economy, generations, society and new skill demands on our population has influenced the demand for updates. Education in itself is going to be required to change how they provide current and future plans for plans in our schools and colleges. Higher education will need to prepare for the returning students who will need to learn the new necessary skills for all aspects of education discovery and research adjustments. Both hard skills and soft skills will be affected with the changing world demands. Exciting times when we accept the idea there is a need for change. Please see the “Life Long Learning” article link.


Life Long Learning

For Profits Looking for Different Status

Non profit message

What venue is the best possible way of providing education for a population looking to learn. History has always granted the freedom to offer education as a free enterprise by public, private, secular  pk-12, career education, trade education, and higher education. This history has exemplified the freedom of choice for families and individual learners. This choice has been determined on many factors with the determination that appeals to the learner with their own assessment of value for them. As some individuals and politicians have chosen to select some of these sector providers as inappropriate the ability to meet the needs of the seeking learner has become difficult. Looking at the supply and demand perspective America is experiencing a gap in the depleting opportunities in the trade education with a high demand for trade skilled workers gap. In a recent article online with; 25 High Demand Jobs In 2018 ( article ).

As a result of these gaps and vacancies our governance approach is to deter the suppliers for this type of education with the rationale that for profit is evil. Many false statements have been generalized to an entire sector in relationship to for-profit categories. It isn’t difficult to see where a free society is attacked on the pretense of ant-for-profit pursuits being bad. Trade schools were created over 200 years ago to supply society with employees with the skills. Employers recognized the need and the lack of supply so quickly started their own education programs. Throughout time in history the evolution of schools have continued to provide skilled workers through this process. Now there is an onslaught of affecting the ability to supply the necessary skilled workers in America. Employers of the skilled workers are experiencing the lack of available skilled workers.

Schools with the ability to provide these educational programs are attempting to comply to provide the necessary educational opportunities. As the delivery method is being attacked the schools are looking to continue by complying with other regulatory possible approvals.  It is evident some of the schools are looking to non-profit as the possible answer to provide the education to trade school learners. Attached is the link to one school which is making this attempt.

Grand Canyon

The question is how can we put an end to not providing the opportunity for learners interested in the trades. America is in a serious lack of trade skilled workers. The answer cannot be to eliminate the opportunity. It is obvious the answer is accessibility for interested learners to obtain the necessary education. The political focus is not the solution but only the demise of accessibility.

You the reader can be the answer to these issues. A basis of integrity and truth is the road to serving our communities with the need to provide the supply of employees needed. Your legislative representatives need to move away from looking for the smoking gun but look to a creative outlook to increase opportunity for the trade school learners.





Dual Enrollment for Higher Education

Dual Enrollment


Post Secondary schools are in need of adjusting to the needs of workforce supply and demand. Quickly approaching is the demand for a workforce where 65% of the jobs will require some sort of post of secondary education. Post secondary schools have been cognizant of the supply and demand needs but the current alternative delivery methods has not satisfied the accessibility for low-income high school students. This phenomenon will require post secondary schools to approach low income students earlier while still enrolled in high school. Dual enrollment could be the partnership that is necessary to increase access to students to meet the workforce needs of 2020.

Defining the needs of the workforce at the post secondary schools continues to be a challenge. Our schools define the career job opportunities but there is a lack of actually assessing the specific skills needed for success in a career choice.

Post secondary schools are challenged to recognize career area skills and provide instruction to meet these needs. Required skills will need pre-assessment of students to provide a full scope and sequence of career job skill requirements.

The assessment community has responded with tools where instructors will be better informed of the individual student necessary skill levels and teach to the building of better skills. I have had the privilege to participate in some webcast as a reviewer for a student assessment to meet career workforce skill level needs. This assessment provides for entry, education and program completion employer transparency of each students attainment levels of the skills needed.


Inside Higher Education August 6, 2018

Essay on how dual enrollment readiness courses can help students in college and their careers

A monumental shift is steadily occurring in America’s workforce, as an ever-increasing percentage of jobs require some form of postsecondary education and training. In the Recovery 2020 report, Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce projects that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education. However, this may be a conservative estimate, according to the center, considering that of the 11.6 million jobs created in the 2010 to 2016 recovery, 11.5 million of them, or 99 percent, were filled by workers with postsecondary training.

While higher education has seen a plethora of initiatives designed to increase educational attainment and alternative delivery methods intended to expand educational opportunities, large numbers of students still do not have access to higher education while still in high school. In particular, offering academically advanced high school students the chance to take college courses (dual enrollment) is widely seen as a way to help them make better use of their senior year. And even less advanced students can participate in dual enrollment courses with support, through approaches such as the Early College model.

On the flip side, considerable numbers of underprepared students still lag behind, representing a critical challenge to the nation’s economic and social well-being. Given that the majority of the nation’s high school graduates still lack the basic literacy and mathematical skills needed for postsecondary success, it is essential to do a better job of preparing students before they leave high school. “Readiness courses,” developed by partnerships of high schools and colleges, can help ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills required for success in college.

Ideally, dual enrollment and readiness courses are part of an integrated approach. Students who are tested in eleventh grade (or sooner) can take dual enrollment courses if they score at college-ready levels. Those who are not prepared can enroll in readiness courses that will help them be ready for college-level coursework when they graduate.

Emergence of Readiness Courses

Readiness or transition courses are designed to help high school students graduate with the core knowledge and skills needed for college, allowing them to bypass the remedial math and English courses that slow down many students. These courses are designed to reflect the expectations that colleges have for college-ready students and are typically offered during the high school senior year.

According to a 2017 national scan of these courses conducted by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, 39 states are offering readiness/transition courses — statewide or in varied locales — up from 29 in 2012 to 2013. All 39 states offer them in math, while 35 offer them in English. In a number of cases, the development of these courses is impelled by legislation inspired by concerns about the high numbers of students who are not college ready upon graduation from high school. In other cases, the courses have resulted from teamwork between K-12 and higher education that has been brought to scale.

Many different approaches are used to teach these courses, including a mix of direct teaching and computer-mediated instruction. Courses are sometimes patterned on developmental education courses taught at local colleges (e.g. in New Hampshire and Texas) or they may be developed to use new and engaging teaching approaches (e.g. California and Illinois). Students who take these courses may be deemed college ready upon successful completion of the program, as done in 22 states; however, this is not always the case. Ideally, as recommended in the Southern Regional Education Board’s senior year redesign, students who complete readiness courses can enter dual enrollment courses in the same year!

While these initiatives are in varying stages of implementation, they have tremendous potential. First, there is little argument with the notion that high school graduates should be ready for either college or careers, which are widely seen to require similar levels of math, reading and writing. Second, evidence is gradually emerging that readiness courses can improve outcomes for students. Tennessee has seen a 16 percent decrease since 2012 in the need for math remediation, a trend largely attributed to the implementation of the SAILS math course. Evaluations of California’s Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC), and New York’s At Home in College (AHC) program (now called Lessons in Navigating College Transitions [LINCT]) have also shown small, positive gains for participating students.

Expansion of Dual Enrollment

A growing body of research notes a positive correlation between dual enrollment participation and students’ subsequent postsecondary matriculation and success — with even greater positive outcomes for students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. States are increasingly retooling dual enrollment policies to open access to college coursework to a broader array of students, including low-income and first-generation students, and students of color.

The Education Commission of the States has identified 13 model state policy components that can greatly reduce — if not eliminate — dual enrollment participation barriers while ensuring coursework is high-quality and transferable statewide. Colorado, which has implemented nearly all 13 model policy components, notes in its April 2018 dual enrollment report that nearly one in three public high school eleventh and twelfth graders participated in a dual enrollment program in 2016 to 2017, and that student representation by race/ethnicity in dual enrollment closely mirrors the composition of public high school students in the state.

While progress is being made toward widespread adoption of these policy components, data still suggest that students of color and low-income students in most states lag behind their peers in dual enrollment participation. One state, for example, reports that in 2015 to 2016, black students made up 36 percent of the state’s high school enrollment, but 24 percent of the dual enrollment population. This disparity is not uncommon; many states report substantial underrepresentation of students of color and free-/reduced lunch-eligible students.

Dual enrollment opportunities are key to making full use of the senior year and starting students on the path to college. Readiness programs can play an integral role in expanding dual enrollment opportunities and leveling the playing field in terms of access to higher education. Students who are not ready for college coursework should be placed into transition courses. If successful, they then become eligible for dual enrollment courses. Given that underprepared students are disproportionately from minority populations and lower socioeconomic status, readiness programs should be used as a valuable instrument to close opportunity gaps for dual enrollment programs.

While much work has been done, even more remains. Higher education benefits from students who are better prepared and should partner with K-12 institutions to increase the number of students who graduate college- and career-ready. The range of options for underprepared students should be expanded to better equip high school graduates for college and careers. If higher education becomes a more active participant in readiness programs and dual enrollment, working with K-12 to meet the needs of underprepared students, the nation will benefit and become better equipped to meet its educational and work-force training challenges.

Life Begins at 55+


There is enough evidence that our past has proven there is no specific age for lack of expectations, imagination or creativity. The above chart gives perspective of how many instances where a myth was broken when these people began an institution that made a difference in all our lives. Looking at our new age with millennial and Gen Z’s there is much to be said and considered in our education circles. If we were to look at the baby boomers and the onset of great health care today people are living longer. Many of these people have possessed jobs and positions with accountability and responsibility they loved. Some have moved on by considering a new occupation with some training. These people are not looking for a rocking chair but are looking to know more avenues of challenge. Institutions who are considering short-term programs for improvement of skills and updating to new technology could be the perfect fit for people age 55 and older. Looking at health and comparisons by decades the new age 50 would could be 40. Just how long can these people work and be productive? Our new era is full of people with great wisdom and experience. This is why it is good for the age 50 and older to consider going to school.

Back to School at Age 50+

CHEA Recognition Call

CHE is making a call for nominations for its Committee on Recognition. I encourage you to consider professionals who would represent recognition with a non-partisan viewpoint. This is your opportunity to recommend someone in any one of the categories.

You can make a difference!

Call for Nominations: Committee on Recognition | Council for Higher Education Accreditation

One Chapter Closes


It has been a constant reminder of the heartache for ITT employees and students. By being associated with all the schools and teachers I know how difficult of time it has been for you. Your contributions to students both through your empathy and professional expertise will never be forgotten. The time I was working with you from 1997 until 2010 I was always thankful to have your acquaintance and friendship. I know you are all proud of your graduates. Over the past eight years there has been a great decrease in the needed career school skilled graduates. America needs to look at how we establish more electricians, plumbers, HVAC, allied health, information technology, solar technicians, construction graduates. There are too many to mention but we are facing huge gaps of available schools to meet this need. As members of this profession I hope you are still speaking out for the need for your community. Take part in your civic groups and stay in contact with your governmental officials. Let them know your experience in helping career school students.

Another chapter this week closed. Please read the article:

SEC Comes to Agreement





It has been an interesting past six years for colleges to focus on their role for serving students. There has been an ongoing audit and search into services colleges provide. The pathway to questioning the outcomes of colleges and schools took a turn towards the accreditation agencies and their efficiencies. As some of this investigation seemed to quiet down there is now a new report regarding four accrediting agencies mission and actions. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General released a new report. As you will see in the report there exist criticism but no outline with accreditors to achieve a positive forward-looking solution. For six years school have been looking to government oversight to provide synergism with what will be the solution for serving students.

Our schools have been the rock of our society and civilization as our forefathers had intended. The damage to our schools continues to have a long-term effect on our communities, values, and economy. Most of the issues have culminated into the inequity of requirements between schools and colleges. Equity varies by accreditation organizations. Higher regulations exist for some schools by what  accreditor they have been encouraged to join. Other accreditation organizations are exclusive and are being pardoned from other requirements spelled out for others. Equity, fairness and oversight is lacking in the foundation of what an accreditor should be on how to provide a pathway of success for schools and colleges. This would be acceptable if the accreditors were independent and private but they are not. Accreditors are responsible to the U.S. Department of Education. It would be great to see progress with positive and equitable direction for all accreditors.

Education Department Watchdog Criticizes Oversight of Accreditors


The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General last week released the results of an audit on the department’s recognition processes for accrediting agencies, which serve as the gatekeepers for federal financial aid. The audit found several weaknesses, with concerns that revolved around inadequate supporting documents accreditors present to the department — a process the inspector general said is subject to “cherry-picking” by the agencies.

“We found that the Office of Postsecondary Education’s post-recognition oversight is not adequate to insure agencies consistently and effectively carry out their responsibilities,” the audit report said. “OPE does not have an adequate plan for the post-recognition oversight of agencies and does not regularly perform reviews of high-risk agencies during the recognition period.”

The audit was based on reviews of five accrediting agencies — four institutional and one specialized — which the inspector general did not name in the report. It used data from “dashboards” the department created during the Obama administration in an attempt to better keep track of the performance of accreditors.

When an accrediting agency makes the case for continued recognition to the department, the audit found, it can use compliance information for as few as two colleges.

“OPE takes a reactive approach to post-recognition oversight and performs oversight activities for an agency only if it is alerted that compliance or other issues may exist at that agency,” the inspector general said. “This could result in no oversight for some agencies, including newly recognized or higher risk agencies, for up to five years. In addition, OPE’s oversight approach may not identify significant agency issues soon enough to mitigate or prevent potential harm to accredited schools, students or taxpayers.”

The department under Obama made the rare move to yank recognition for a national accreditor, the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools, which oversaw many for-profit colleges, including two large chains that collapsed. However, the Trump administration restored ACICS’s recognition, despite findingnumerous failures by the accreditor to improve, according to an internal staff report the department later released.

First Time College Attenders


After many years of working with first time college attenders I find this recent study as no surprise. The schools where these first generation college attenders chose to attend had special characteristics. My experience with 127 colleges provided a welcome for these students who matched the characteristics reported with the study. Our average age was 26 with many attenders having families. These students recognized the need for further education and persevered with the support these colleges were willing to provide. During the thirteen years I was an academic participant in the lives of these students my fondest memories was the graduations. We experienced that with forty graduates we would see  as many as a hundred family and friends show up for the event. Our hearts were filled with the excitement, gratitude and hope for their future. The schools these students were appreciated by each student. When student surveys were administered students expressed  what was special about the school they had just attended. All schools can benefit from the posture taken with great student service. Student centered academics recognizing the diverse learning styles of students where teachers provided the motivation by believing in  the student. Schools with students who were first timers recognized they usually had not been in a class from six to ten years and they had other obligations with work and family. Education had to be offered by understanding the flexibility in schedules for a quality education so they could attend both on campus and online courses. Knowing all the aspects of school with financial aid, academics, recruitment and career services presented a team which shared the same goals and objectives for the student to achieve and finish. Many of these graduates are thankful for their empathetic and committed teachers. I have included the research for your information:

First-Generation College Students More Engaged Than Peers

Popular perceptions of first-generation college students as being unsure about college and academically unprepared to succeed may not be true.

New research from Campus Labs, a higher education data collection and software company, examined the noncognitive skills of first-generation students and compared them to their multigenerational peers, finding that first-generation students are more engaged and committed to their education.

“Based on the literature, one would have negative assumptions and expect first-generation students to be lower in academic engagement, because the literature says first-generation students are academically unprepared,” said Shannon LaCount, an assistant vice president of campus adoption at Campus Labs. “But they’re right there with multigenerational students or they’re scoring higher. It says to me that first-generation students are coming in with an attitude that they are academically prepared and they can handle the work.”

Campus Labs measured responses to roughly 40 questions from students at more than 1,400 colleges and universities that work with the company. The colleges’ demographics, locations and sizes varied, but most are four-year American institutions.

About 750,000 students responded during the initial weeks of their first academic terms on campus. The company reported that 14 percent of respondents said neither of their parents nor a guardian held a four-year degree. Campus Labs then scored responses from this group of first-generation students on six noncognitive factors — educational commitment, academic self-efficacy, academic engagement, campus engagement, social comfort and resiliency.

The first-generation students outscored their peers in educational commitment, self-efficacy, academic and campus engagement. But they lagged behind multigenerational students in resiliency — or the ability for students to overcome challenging situations and stressful events — and social comfort.

“It’s true that first-generation students may not know the structure of the language or follow the higher education culture because [they] haven’t been exposed,” LaCount said. “[They] may be naïve walking in, but it doesn’t mean [they’re] not capable.”

Tiffany Jones, the director of higher education policy at Education Trust and herself a former first-generation student, said she is not surprised that first-generation students have a lower sense of comfort on college campuses.

“First-generation students feel it is such a privilege to go to college,” she said. “It’s why they’re more engaged. They want to chart and clear a path for those coming behind them.”

A Growing Population

Campus Labs studied responses from students on five additional statements. For this survey, the company chose a sample of 53,000 students, of which 32,000 self-reported first- or multigenerational status, with 29 percent identifying as first generation. This sample of students may or may not include the same students who responded about the noncognitive factors, LaCount said.

Fully 91 percent of first-generation students disagreed with the statement “I sometimes wonder if attending college was the right decision,” while only 84 percent of non-first-generation students disagreed. Both groups of students gave similar responses to the four other statements.

LaCount said the responses from first-generation students show that colleges need to be more careful about the language they use about the group, especially if it’s creating negative assumptions that don’t help these students complete.

“The negative language leads to a narrative that students are unsupported, and that’s not necessarily true,” she said. “It also assumes [first-generation] students are coming from poverty or have a lack of education, and that’s not always the case, either. There are a lot of successful people out there who didn’t get college degrees, and yet their [children] would be first generation and it’s not a deficit.”

There’s also a perception that first-generation students are navigating college alone. LaCount said they could be supported by their families, it’s just that they and their families often don’t have experience with the financial aid or college registration processes.

“First-generation students feel significant pressure,” said Wil Del Pilar, vice president of higher education policy and practice for Education Trust, who was also a first-generation student. “When I graduated I had 18 people there, because I was the first to do it. Everyone wanted to celebrate, but with that came an incredible amount of pressure. I went to college with my mom, my dad, four other siblings … and a bazillion cousins. It opened doors for other folks in my family.”

John Gardner, chief executive officer of the Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, a nonprofit organization that partners with colleges to help them improve outcomes, said much of the research on first-generation students tends to come from graduate research centers, where those students are not well represented.

“They’re columns that have to be solved and plugged into a system that wasn’t designed for them,” he said, adding that the demographics in colleges are changing, with more students identifying as first generation. Many first-generation students come from low-income backgrounds and aren’t white men, Gardner said.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, the percentage of first-time community college students who identify as Hispanic increased from 13 percent in 2001 to 26 percent in 2016. The population of black first-time students during that same time period has remained flat, while the percentage of white first-time students declined from 61 percent to about 44 percent.

First-generation students enter college with confidence in themselves and eagerness to participate in student activities on campus, LaCount said, but their low responses in the resiliency factor show where colleges can step in and be more helpful.

On the resiliency questions, students were asked to respond to whether they believe they can navigate stressful situations in college. LaCount said first-generation students scored low in that area because they’re being asked to navigate an environment that often feels unfamiliar.

“The first thing is to recognize if a student is struggling in the class, it might not be because they are not valuing higher education or they’re not committed to being in the class,” she said. “We don’t immediately have to jump to the idea that a student can’t handle the content. It may be they don’t know the resources available to help, or they may have a different way of thinking and need more time. To immediately assume first-generation students will struggle academically is a bit unfair.”

Gardner said colleges have an opportunity to create an environment where first-generation students, especially those who are racial and ethnic minorities, see more leaders who come from similar backgrounds. And faculty members shouldn’t lower their expectations of these students, he said. Arizona Western College, for instance, launched a campaign last year called “I Am First Gen,” for students to celebrate being the first in their families to attend college and to connect with faculty and staff members who also self-identified as being first-generation students.

“You take students into a college setting and you have to teach them how to meet those expectations,” Gardner said. “You don’t just give them a syllabus and say, ‘Here, do it,’ as if it’s magic.”

Showing first-generation students the resources that are available to them will require more flexibility from colleges.

“Think of two-day orientations,” Del Pilar said. “If I’m low income or a first-generation [student’s] parent, I may not be able to take time off from work to go … those are created for upper-middle-class parents who can take time off work to support students.”

Del Pilar also said he doesn’t buy the notion that multigenerational students are more resilient.

“They have the networks and the people they can draw on to get this information,” he said. “The social capital piece can’t be underplayed … they have more access to information and resources.”