HIGHER EDUCATION
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965
Public Hearing on Reauthorization - March 7, 2003
Archived Information



Panel 6
Question and Answer Session

MR. ANDRADE: I have a question for you, Ron, on the 50 percent rule. Some of the critics who are opposed to eliminating the 50 percent rule and have even compromised with a piece of legislation pushed forth the default rate that you talked about in your testimony have said that we have to have something in place to address the fly-by-night institutions or these correspondence groups not providing the education.

How would you address those concerns? What kind of other safeguards that haven't been discussed do you think are out there for people who are concerned about elimination of the 50 percent rule?

MR. BLUMENTHAL: I don't think that I'm actually saying that we should completely eliminate the 50 percent rule. I think the difficulty with the proposal that's before Congress today is I think it's an unrealistic 10 percent default rate requirement that triggers after one year where other conventional traditional schools are held to a default rate standard of 25 percent over the period of three years.

So I think that additional schools that are judged to be appropriate for providing distance education beyond the 50 percent limit by the Secretary is similar to what's going on in the demonstration would be the entire program.

I think it would be appropriate if there were standards set for accreditation agencies that those agencies that met that standard were in a position to judge distance education programs that the Secretary viewed them and were able to judge them more appropriate needs.

I think the real problem we have is with the very limited sort of trigger that occurs with the 10 percent.

MR. BRYANT: Mr. Blumenthal, you talked about the 44 plus students that you have in 14 states with regards to distance learning. This college you talked about 141,000 at University of Phoenix.

Assessment of those programs, their performance of your distance learning student as compared to the traditional students, have you done a study to see how they stack up, how the two compare to each other, and, if so, very quickly share that with us.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: I would say we're not in the position yet to answer that question. Our distance programs began essentially in January of 2001 and so we are now in our third year.

I don't think we have the longitudinal ability to provide that data although we are doing assessment in both residential schools and on-line in very similar fashions.

MR. BRYANT: Thank you.

MR. COLLINS: Yes. We have in terms of data that is substantial that can show because all of our programs we offer on ground we also offer on-line.

So we take precognitive assessment and postcognitive assessment so we understand what the student knows when they come into our organization. We know when they leave.

So we have comparative data to show the cognitive gains, and quite frankly, in the distance education model and our delivery model, as a matter of fact our gains are higher for distance learning. I think partially because there is no passive learning in the on-line technology media. So it's almost a better model.

MR. BRYANT: Thank you all very much.

MS. WOLF: I would like to speak on behalf of our college. We are a community college. We are getting into distance learning.

We're finding that our classes on-line have to have the same competencies as our classroom programs. And what we're finding is that the students that are on-line are probably more motivated than our in-class students and that they challenge the instructors more because they are asking more one-on-one questions and they are talking about how they are spending much more time on-line than with discussions with their classroom students.

So they are saying comparatively that the on-line students are probably hitting competencies much better than the classroom students. So it is also making the faculty reassess how they teaching in the classroom.

MR. BRYANT: Thank you. Thank you all.
(Applause.)

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Last Modified: 02/20/2009