Choosing college

Which Indiana colleges have well-paid grads? A new tool for applicants has answers

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
A student walks through the hallway of University Prep, a Denver charter school.

High school students making crucial decisions about where to go to college might find traditional college rankings helpful, but some Indiana leaders say Hoosier students need better tools.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently rolled out a new college information system called the Indiana College Value Index that gives students and their parents a host of information about Indiana colleges and universities, including important feedback from alumni and details such as the percent of majors that earn salaries higher than the state median.

The new tool paints a fuller picture of the cost, atmosphere and support provided by the state’s public two- and four-year colleges and universities and deliberately avoids giving colleges a ranking because the best school for each student could vary with each student’s grades, interests and priorities.

“We have all this great data, but we’ve known for a long time what we’re missing is the qualitative measure of the value of a college degree that you can’t just capture in numbers,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson.

The new index includes information from the commission’s existing reports about how much colleges cost, how long it takes a typical student who enrolls to graduate and how much remediation they might need later on. It also factors in results from a survey earlier this year of 14 public colleges and universities that asked alumni to answer questions about a range of topics, including internships, extracurricular activities, college debt, and job satisfaction and income post-graduation.

Some of the state’s larger institutions, such as Indiana University, did not participate in the survey, but other information about the state’s largest university is recorded in the index.

The largest source of new information in the index is feedback gathered from alumni.

“The voice of the student is a pretty important one that we should, to the extent possible, try to factor in to provide a more representative picture of what’s going on and where there’s room for improvement,” said Jason Bearce, the associate commissioner.

Using the new tool, students and families can see information about whether colleges offer services to support job searches and how Indiana stacks up nationally when it comes to relationships with faculty, among other sortable data points.

The index is still in its early stages, said Commissioner Teresa Lubbers, but it’s another part of a conversation that is happening in various stages among Indiana educators and policymakers about how to make sure students are prepared and able to eventually contribute to Indiana’s workforce and economy after they leave high school.

The tool could serve as a way to not just help students and families navigate the college admissions process, it could also be a useful way for state colleges and universities to see how they compare to their peers. Years ago, Bearce said, colleges mostly relied on enrollment numbers as the main indicator of success. Later, graduation rate became the popular metric.

By offering more information, Bearce said the goal is to encourage participation from colleges that might have had reservations about college rankings that look at just one or two factors.

Supporters of the index recognize that it’s not as simple to use as rankings like the controversial annual college list from U.S. News and World Report, but Lubbers said the Commission is working to make its new tool as accessible as possible to families that might be overwhelmed by college choices, particularly students who will be the first in their families to go to college.

As they work to add more colleges to the index and tweak how the data is presented, the Commission is also looking for feedback from people who use the tool this year. They’re working with the Indiana Youth Institute as well as local school districts and the principals and superintendents associations to figure out what information is still needed and how the index could work better.

“If we waited to have it just right … we’d never do anything,” Bearce said. “There are some gaps, but we didn’t want that to prevent us from putting something out there.”

moving forward

New York City officials: Large-scale school desegregation plan likely coming by June

PHOTO: BRIC TV
Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack, third from left, discussing the city's integration efforts.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised a “bigger vision” to address segregation in New York City schools, but officials have thus far kept details under wraps.

But they’ve been dribbling out some details, most notably a timeline for when a large-scale plan could be released. Officials at a town hall discussion in Brooklyn Thursday night reiterated that a plan would likely be released by June.

We’re “going to propose some new thinking that we have, both about some of the systems that we run and about ways that we can work together locally to make change,” said Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack, who is heading the department’s diversity efforts. “We expect it to come out by the end of the school year.”

BRIC TV host Brian Vines, who moderated the panel co-produced with WNYC, pushed for details. “Is there any one thing that you can at least give us a hint at that’s a concrete measure?” he asked.

But Wallack didn’t take the bait. “What I will say is that we are actually still engaged in conversations like this one, trying to get good ideas about how to move forward,” he said, adding that the education department is talking with educators, parents and schools interested in the issue.

New York City officials have been under pressure to address school segregation after a 2014 report called its schools some of the most racially divided in the country. More recently, debates over how best to change zone lines around schools on the Upper West Side and in Brooklyn have grown heated.

“We have a lot of hard work to do,” Wallack said. “But the mayor and chancellor are deeply committed to that work and to working with all of you to make that happen.”

Correction (Dec. 2, 2016): This story has been corrected to reflect that the town hall event was not the first time officials had described a timeline for releasing a plan.

data points

Six stats that show how black and Latino students in New York City are subjected to disproportionate policing

PHOTO: Monica Disare
Advocates protest school suspension policy.

Arrests, summonses, and serious crimes are all trending downward in city schools, but a new analysis shows black and Latino students continue to be disproportionately subjected to police interventions and handcuffing, even during incidents that aren’t considered criminal.

Those findings come from a New York Civil Liberties Union review of new NYPD statistics on student interactions with regular precinct officers, in addition to their contact with school safety agents posted in schools. Thanks to a city law passed in 2015, this year is the first time those numbers have been publicly released (in previous years, the NYPD only released data on incidents involving school safety agents).

The new statistics add second-quarter data to first-quarter numbers released in July, revealing the persistence of troubling racial disparities over the first half of 2016. Here are six key data points from the NYCLU analysis:

  • In the first six months of the yearabout 91 percent of school-based arrests, and nearly 93 percent of summonses, were issued to black or Latino students (a population that represents nearly 70 percent of the school population).
  • More than 60 percent of all arrests and summonses during the same period were carried out by precinct officers, not school safety agents. “That means precinct-based officers with no specialized training enter schools and arrest children without regard for the impact on school climate,” according to the NYCLU.
  • There have been 1,210 school-related incidents where children were handcuffed in the first half of 2016. Nearly 93 percent involved students who were black or Latino.
  • Between April and July there were 94 incidents where a student showed “signs of emotional distress” and was handcuffed and taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Ninety-seven percent involved students who were black or Hispanic.
  • Over the same period, the city issued 255 “juvenile reports” — which are taken for students who are under 16 and involved in incidents that, if the students were adults, could count as crimes. Ninety-two percent of the reports were issued to black and Latino students. And though only 20 percent of students issued juvenile reports were handcuffed, 100 percent of those restrained were black or Latino.
  • There were 44 “mitigation” incidents, in which a student committed an offense and was handcuffed, but then released by the NYPD to school officials for discipline. All of those students were black or Latino.

You can find the NYCLU’s annual roundup of suspension data here.