Posts Tagged ‘Mobility’

Chad Aldeman writes for InsideHigherEd that selective colleges and universities ought to scrap their admissions systems and replace it with a lottery:

Each year, thousands of qualified applicants bombarded the admissions office, and, even after setting a relatively high standard, the admissions office had far too many qualified applicants to choose from, and very little time to do so. During admissions season, each officer was expected to sort through 50 distinct applications per day, five days a week. At eight hours a day, not counting breaks, meetings, visitors, and phone calls, the admissions officer had roughly 10 minutes to devote to each applicant (eight hours a day times 60 minutes per hour divided by 50 applicants). Ten minutes, unless, as my friend points out, they were athletes or legacies.

At many institutions, in other words, it is a far more random process than colleges would like students to believe. The myth of a meritocracy, on which the selective admissions system is built, is substantially a lie.

Selective colleges did not mean for this to happen; rather, they are victims of their own success, along with the emergence of a truly national higher education market and the rise of a rankings-driven consumer culture. But, there is no going back now, so colleges should embrace the unavoidable randomness and go from a lottery-like system to a true lottery.

A lottery would destigmatize admissions rejections (and dramatically reduce pressures on high school students), eliminate favoritism for children of alumni and donors, stop preferences for students that don’t need financial aid, provide equal opportunities to less socially connected students, and allow universities to transfer their spending on admissions departments into more productive areas like scholarships.

But because the lottery would rely on minimum eligibility standards such as GPA and SAT scores, the system would reinforce the biases found in testing. Aldeman would probably argue that the current system already does this and that this system is simply more transparent about it. It would also, I think, encourage an even greater flood of applications, thus even further lowering the odds of a student being admitted to her preferred institution. After all, how many students meeting minimum SAT requirements would choose NOT to apply to Harvard if it were simply a lottery?

What are some of the likely implications of this sort of thing on the least advantaged students? Would the benefits to low-income and under-represented populations (such as equalizing the playing field) be worth giving up the ability to explain one’s unique circumstances and demonstrate a likelihood for success? Or does that really not matter anyway in today’s admissions world?


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The Annie E. Casey Foundation sponsored a webinar today called “Implications of Family Mobility for Place-based Work.” The event is part of a series titled Strengthening Families through Community Change, whose intent is to share lessons-learned from their Making Connections program. That program seeks to improve prospects for children by strengthening families and transforming communities through place-based strategies. Members include Denver, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Louisville, San Antonio, and Seattle.

We’ve been worried about mobility lately at CAP, because we think it mitigates some of the benefits of our early childhood program and makes it more difficult to build successful long-term relationships with our families. So I wanted to hear about how the Making Connections sites are responding to mobility in their communities. The fear, as expressed by a fellow listener, is that we are “wasting” our investments in a community when families remain highly mobile. (A moderator responded that that sentiment is a bit like saying we’re wasting our investments in elementary school because kids move into high school, as if the investments don’t benefit the people we serve.)


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Americans Moving Less

Warning: What follows is kind of a wonky post, especially for the holiday week.

Via the New York Times comes a report that Americans are moving less than at any other time since the Census Bureau began tracking the figure:

The monthly Current Population Survey found that fewer than 12 percent of Americans moved since 2007, a decline of nearly a full percentage point compared with the year before. In the 1950s and ’60s, the number of movers hovered near 20 percent.

The number has been declining steadily, and 12 percent is the lowest rate since the Census Bureau began counting people who move in 1940.

An analysis by the Pew Research Center attributes the decline to a number of factors, including the aging of the population (older people are less likely to change residences) and an increase in two-career couples.


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So I’m not going to have time for a post on the whole report (pdf) today, but I’ve gotten through the first section and thought I would share some thoughts. The report, from Economic Mobility Project, is authored by researchers at the Heritage Foundation, which tends to emphasize the social and family impacts on economic mobility and poverty. They identify three categories of indicators: social, human, and financial capital. All this is fine and good and pretty standard. I basically have four complaints: three of which have to do with over-emphasis and the fourth is, as far as I can tell, just sloppiness.


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I hope to have time today to comment on a new report out from the Economic Mobility Project (a consortium organized by Pew of thinkers from Brookings, the Urban Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute – strange bedfellows indeed!). The report is titled “Pathways to Economic Mobility: Key Indicators” and here’s a teaser in the form of a chart:

Considering that 39.9% is left unexplained, I guess we have some work on our hands.

Also, for the Diama’s of the world, CNBC is airing a series called “The Business of Innovation” that is all about making business innovation a reality.

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One of my projects here at CAP is to reduce tenant mobility for our project-based Section 8 community, Brightwaters. The community is in a depressed area on the west side of the river, at about 23rd St and Southwest Blvd. We want to get some sort of coalition going over there so that residents have a voice with other community partners, such as police (Uniform Division SW) and Eugene Field school. I’m not aware of any functioning coalitions out that way, but comment if you know of anything. We’re working on organizing a meeting of some of the community players. So who all should be invited?

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