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ON THE COVER: Edith Fernández (PhD ’06) at the U-M School of Education Commencement Exercises in 2006. Her colorful scarf was sewn by her mother who cut the material
from a serape. Fernández said, “I and other Chicanos wear the serape as symbol of our culture and it serves as a reminder of our humble roots. The stole in the picture has been
worn by my brother and my husband at their own graduations. I also wore the stole at my Harvard and University of Nevada-Las Vegas graduations.”

Photo by: Mike Gould


The United States has arguably one of the best systems of higher our teacher preparation program to foster these types of
education in the world. Because of our state-based system and competencies in future teachers.
the broad development of small colleges, the U.S. includes an
However, these efforts do not occur in a cultural vacuum.
enormous range of higher education institutions—from elite
Family and community ideals need to be aligned to lend
private universities to public land grant institutions, from
legitimacy and value to young people’s pursuit of higher
religious schools to community colleges. These institutions
education and to help students through the often daunting
represent a variety of academic, research, and cultural missions
and confusing process of choosing colleges, completing
and pursue them with relatively less federal intervention than
applications, and decoding funding packages and basic
that which is common in most other countries.
enrollment information. And once at college, students must
Many believe that higher education is one the most have effective academic, financial, and emotional support to
effective pathways to upward social mobility and increased %ourish in a new and often stressful environment.
opportunities. For example, according to the College Board,
Unfortunately, many of these components of success do not
a person who earns a bachelor’s degree may expect to earn
exist for far too many students in higher education. Major
nearly double that of a person who has not earned a bachelor’s
disparities persist based on race, ethnicity, and social class.
degree over a forty-year working period. Higher levels of
Within the Center for the Student of Higher and Postsecondary
education correspond to higher incomes, better quality
Education here at the School of Education, our faculty and
of health, lower incarceration rates, lower rates of poverty
students are deeply engaged in research and analysis of these
across all racial and ethnic groups and for men and women.
critical factors. Their work produces innovative designs,
Given these quality of life differences associated with earning
programs, and practices to address the structural and cultural
postsecondary degrees, most Americans view broad access
barriers that impede access and success in higher education.
to higher education as a necessary component of the nation’s
Their work is both theoretically and empirically rigorous and
democratic ideal as a “land of opportunity.”
broadly used.
But what does it take to align these ideals with the realities of
This issue of Innovator, with its theme, “Participating in the
delivering higher education?
Promise of Higher Education,” explores the academic and
Pre-college preparation clearly is one critical component cultural competencies, financial resources, and academic and
to success. Teachers in our K-12 system need to have the emotional supports needed to access and %ourish in today’s
professional preparation to develop in their students the higher education environment.
content knowledge, skills for learning, and intellectual
curiosity necessary for success in higher education. At the
University of Michigan School of Education, we understand
the importance of this endeavor and work throughout

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 1
Who should go to college? Everyone?
What about construction workers, artists, and video-game
designers? Do they need education beyond high school?

2 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
The available data would seem to suggest that it is generally investment for some people. He uses an example of a high
a good idea for an individual to attend college. “If the school graduate who wants to be a construction worker
question is ‘should you go to college?’ the data say ‘yes,’” but decides to give college a try. After one semester, that
says Michael Bastedo, assistant professor of education. student decides that college isn’t a good choice and decides
“The data say that you will gain in almost any way we can to turn to the construction trade. “Maybe we can give that
measure a person. You will gain academically, cognitively, person money—financial aid—or otherwise convince
you will gain in your health, you will gain in your political him to stay in college. And after four years he goes into
engagement. You will gain in many, many different ways construction anyway. Maybe he’ll be a better citizen, but
that relate to your happiness and success in life. Going to not only will he not be helped in terms of earnings, he will
college is a relatively unmitigated good.” have lost four years of potential earnings.”

And Bastedo doesn’t even mention the economic benefit. Ed St. John, Algo D. Henderson Collegiate Professor
According to 2005 data, four-year college graduates of Higher Education, voices similar thoughts: he notes
earn between 60 and 70 percent more than high school that the U.S. has designed the high school curriculum as
graduates. though the education needed for the workforce and the
education needed to prepare for college were similar. But,
But, despite the data, Bastedo points out that “Who should should everyone go to college? “I don’t know,” he says. “It
go to college?” is a question that’s really better at eliciting seems like we forgot the working class in this country. We
the values of the person answering than anything else. forgot to make things and we let our infrastructure slide.
We falsely thought we could specialize in thought but we
Brian McCall, professor of education and economics,
also have to manufacture cars and build houses.”
adds that college simply isn’t enjoyable or even a good

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 3
“The data say that you will gain in almost
any way we can measure a person. You
will gain academically, cognitively, ...in your
health, political engagement. ...different
ways that relate to your happiness and
success in life. Going to college is a
relatively unmitigated good.” – Michael Bastedo

Each of these University of Michigan School of Education that post-high school training is necessary to support a
faculty members, and others too, believes that despite the middle-class life.
numerous benefits to individuals and to society, forcing
people to attend college would be silly. By 2020, Mr. Obama would like America to have the
highest proportion of college graduates in the world. This
But there is widespread agreement that the answer to the would seem an attainable goal: among adults 35-64 years
question, “Who should go to college?” is “Everyone who old, we, with 39 percent, are second only to Canada in the
wants to.” percentage of high-school graduates holding an associate’s
degree or higher.
SHOULD GO TO COLLEGE But this goal actually presents a challenge greater than
moving from second place to first. If we consider younger
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, has
adults, those between 25 and 34 years of age, the U.S.
publicly proclaimed that more U.S. citizens should attend
holds steady at 39 percent holding as associate’s degree
college. He also asserted that every citizen should have at
or higher—but eight other countries have surpassed us,
least one year of higher education or career training. In a
leaving us in ninth place for this age range.
February 24, 2009, speech to congress and broadcast live
to the nation, Mr. Obama said, “Every American will need And the challenge is likely to only increase. Because, as
to get more than a high-school diploma.” He elaborated, Susan Dynarski, associate professor of education and
“In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you public policy, notes, “The demographics of our country are
can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer changing. The baby boom was the most educated cohort
just a pathway to opportunity, it is a prerequisite.” ever and they’re retiring. The growing populations in this
country are Black and Hispanic populations and they have
In this last statement, Mr. Obama took up a point that
lower education levels than the boomers. Thus, if we do
was included in the report from the National Center for
nothing to increase college graduation, our workforce
Public Policy and Higher Education, Measuring Up 2008,

4 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
is going to become less educated as a whole. If we even Perhaps it would. But the troubling and complicated facts
want to hang on to the education level we currently have, are that despite their aspirations, only about 60 percent
let alone keep up with other countries, we need to do of high school graduates enroll in college. And, of those,
something to increase participation in higher education.” fewer than two-thirds will complete a bachelor’s degree
within six years. The percentages for Black students and
for Latino/a students are significantly lower. And coupled
with racial disparities are income disparities: Around 65
Surveys of high school students indicate that approximately percent of high school students whose families are in the
90 percent of students, across all racial and ethnic groups, wealthiest quartile will enroll in a four-year college, while
aspire to attend college. Even without the large number among those in the lowest quartile a mere 20 percent of
of children who drop out of high school, won’t having 90 students will enroll.
percent of high school graduates enroll in college provide
us with the educated citizenry that a prosperous future Socioeconomic status (SES) and race are both
demands? characteristics that are associated with greater challenges to


1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2008), The Condition of Education 2008.
2. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (2008), Measuring Up 2008.

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 5
“As educational researchers, we’re
concerned with structural inequalities about
who goes or does not go to which kind of
institution—are there people who cannot
go to college who would want to go?
Who, under different circumstances would
go, but by accident of their birth are not
going?” – Deborah Carter

higher education access and success. Some have suggested understand and reduce educational disparities in our
that SES is the in%uential characteristic, encompassing country. Research and scholarship about preparation
race. Deborah Carter, associate professor and director for, access to, and success in higher education is always
of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary conducted with racial and economic disparities as part
Education, says that even if you take SES into account, of the context. Reducing disparities is always part of the
there are still significant racial disparities in educational ideal.
“As educational researchers,” says Carter, “we’re concerned EDUCATION STORY BEGIN?
with structural inequalities about who goes or does not go
At the broadest level, the issues in%uencing college
to which kind of institution—are there people who cannot
attendance are those of preparation for and access to
go to college who would want to go? Who, under different
higher education. Students seeking higher education need
circumstances would go, but by accident of their birth are
to have made su&cient academic progress in high school
not going?”
and earlier to cope with the educational demands of higher

Dynarski adds: “If we look at income gaps and racial gaps education. They also need information so that they know

in college-going and completion, they’re troubling for all what higher education options are available to them, how

sorts of social reasons and such deep inequalities are simply they might finance their education, and what are the risks

bad for our society. But even if we want to be dispassionate and benefits of the various opportunities.

and look at it from an e&ciency standpoint, it’s a waste of

Although it is possible to discuss various factors and effects
human capital.”
individually, in reality they are all threads in the weave of

Thus, at the intersection of ideals of social justice and higher education and success. For example, researchers

pragmatism is found one of the largest and most powerful often examine the relationship between a parent’s level of

social engineering efforts of our time: the attempt to education and their children’s educational achievements.

6 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
Or they might investigate the relationship between a Academic remediation is one example of this. Currently, 40
family’s income and education of the children. Or they percent of students at four-year colleges and 63 percent of
assess the relationship between ethnicity and educational students at community colleges require remedial education
outcomes, or between neighborhood and schooling. And to increase their knowledge to identified minimum levels.
while it is useful to tease apart the factors, it’s clear that But remediation doesn’t have to wait until the student is 17
they are not distinct from each other—a parent’s income or 18 and entering a higher education institution—in fact,
is certainly related to their level of education, in turn there is evidence that the earlier remediation happens,
affecting their choice of neighborhood. And each of these the more effective it can be. Donald Freeman, associate
could certainly be affected by the ethnicity of the subjects. professor of education and director of teacher education,
talks about a school district’s summer remedial program
It is also di&cult for researchers to pinpoint exactly when in mathematics and language arts for third-grade students
factors begin to affect an individual’s opportunities for who were having di&culties. The district found that if they
higher education. Having parents who attended a higher identify students who are struggling academically even
education institution is a significant predictor of an earlier, the school system can forestall later di&culties. “In
individual’s educational path. Thus, a 17-year-old high- this program,” says Freeman, “they were working with kids
school student’s likelihood of continuing beyond high in grade three who were having di&culties in literacy and/
school is in%uenced by the actions and decisions of the or math. They’re pushing the intervention earlier, to kids
student’s parents when they were 17 years old. entering grade one, and they’re fi nding that if they can
make the intervention work at grade one, the same kids
Although researchers acknowledge that there is no real
won’t need to come back at grade three.
beginning to the process of preparing children for higher
education, some focus on K-12 education as a crucial “We all know there is an achievement gap in our educational
period for in%uencing higher education outcomes. Some system,” adds Freeman. “As we’re involved in teacher
of their findings are that interventions are more effective preparation, we are committed to graduating teachers who
the earlier they occur in a child’s educational experience. are well prepared and well situated to address that gap

“Many who fear college is unaffordable will

never even apply to college…many will
give up on their studies while they are still
in high school, making the inaccessibility of
college a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
– Susan Dynarski

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 7

The powerful in%uence of teachers is something that

Assistant Professor Larry Rowley notes in his research
on the higher education aspirations of male African
American students. “A teacher’s expectations can make
a big difference,” he says. “Teacher expectations for
students have a big in%uence on student aspirations and

Working with students in a midwestern urban high

school, Rowley examines the ways that African American
males’ context, experiences, and attitudes in%uence their
educational aspirations. Among the high school students
Donald Freeman
that Rowley is working with, approximately 45 percent
wish to earn a four-year college degree.

and make sure that all kids have a chance to succeed.” He Using some of the tools of social psychologists, Rowley
notes that there are numerous factors throughout the K-12 focuses on the context in which the students live and go to
trajectory that in%uence later success, “so, well-prepared school. He looks at such things as how family background,
teachers aren’t the only element, but it’s pretty clear that neighborhood context, and school climate affect academic
teachers are the principal variable in how well kids fare achievement and higher education aspirations. His study
academically. And this is not just about learning content; also examines other factors such as how racial identity,
it also about opening up the horizon of possibilities and racial stereotypes, and experiences with racism may
connecting kids to their hopes.” in%uence academic outcomes.

Part of what guides Rowley’s research are his own

experiences growing up in a low-income rural community
where very few of his peers went to college. Being a first-
generation college graduate himself, Rowley understands
the importance of having information, role models, and
mentors available to help underrepresented students
understand that, with the proper preparation and planning,
college is an attainable goal.

In his current study, Rowley has already begun to see

gaps between the educational aspirations of Black male
students and how far they think they will be able to go
educationally. He has also found that a good portion of the
young men in his study do not believe they are encouraged
as much as they should be by their principals and teachers.
Larry Rowley

8 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
He is working with the principal at the high school to Just as there are numerous ways in which the right
find strategies for addressing this discrepancy and will information found at the right time can benefit students
provide further insights to the staff for working with who want to go on to post-high school education, there
these students as he conducts further analyses of the data. are a number of ways that a lack of information can reduce
Rowley believes that research of the sort he is conducting the likelihood of a student continuing past high school.
needs to be combined with an action agenda to get more Traditionally, information about how to successfully apply
students prepared for and excited about pursuing higher for schools and locate financial aid has largely been passed
education. on by those who have already done these things to another
group about to do so. This information cannot be shared
INFORMATION GAP in circles where it is not commonly held. This dichotomy
sustains disparities—on the one hand, you have young
University of Michigan School of Education faculty
people who go to college, become more educated, earn
members are concerned with the information gap that
more money, and help their friends and children follow a
particularly affects students who are the first in their family
similar path. On the other hand, you have groups that don’t
to attend higher education institutions. These students are
go to college, who thus never learn what higher education
often also students of color or coming from families with
entails in terms of process, requirements, and benefits, and
relatively low incomes.
they are largely unable to help their family and friends
pursue higher education.

Save the date!

50th Reunion – September 24-27, 2009
Class of 1959
Celebrate this milestone with Maize and Blue events on
Homecoming weekend
Emeritus Weekend – September 24-27, 2009
Classes of 1958 and prior
Revisit Ann Arbor and partake in special events during
Homecoming weekend
Recent Grad Reunion – October 23-25, 2009
Undergraduate Alumni of 2004-2009
Return to campus to enjoy the Michigan vs. Penn State game
and other events

www.reunions.umich.edu 866.998.6150

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 9
“My research has very much focused on
utility, trying to solve practical problems
within institutions. – Stephen DesJardins

Research conducted by School of Education faculty DesJardins and McCall are continuing this line of inquiry
contributes to a body of knowledge that shows that with SOE doctoral student Jiyun Kim by examining how
financial aid is extremely important to college-going. the expectation of different types of aid (grants, loans,
And it’s not just getting financial aid that makes a difference, work-study) affects the college choice process. In addition
it’s also knowing what options exist (scholarships, loans, they are assessing the groups in terms of race and income.
work-study, etc.) and understanding what resources are Their preliminary results indicate that African American
likely to be available (how much money). and Latino/a students are more sensitive than white and
Asian students to unmet expectations for fi nancial aid,
Stephen DesJardins, associate professor of higher education, suggesting that appropriate fi nancial aid packages are
collaborates with McCall (and Dennis Ahlburg from the particularly important to schools that desire to increase
University of Colorado) on investigations into how students’ the numbers of under-represented students.
expectations of financial aid as they begin the application
process are mediated by learning what fi nancial aid is Another facet of student expectations about financial aid
offered and how this relates to application and enrollment is its relationship with academic preparation. Accurate and
outcomes. The initial results are as predicted—if a student timely information is critical—if a middle school student
expected an aid amount of $3,000, but they were offered believes that college is unaffordable and therefore a higher
$5,000, then the student was highly likely to apply and education degree is unattainable, then that student may
enroll. In contrast, students whose aid expectations were make decisions with long-term consequences. If an eighth-
not met (e.g., expected $3,000, but were offered only $1,000) grade student believes there is no way he will be able to
had much lower chances of enrolling and were less likely afford to go to college, he may care less about grades, be less
to apply to the study institution. “Although the enrollment inclined to pay attention in class, and be less likely to take
effects of aid are well documented,” says DesJardins, “this college preparation courses. If, when he becomes a high
research is novel in that it examines how aid expectations school senior, he discovers that fi nancial aid is available
may affect pre-enrollment decisions.” and college is an option, he then finds himself hampered by
his earlier decisions—he may not score as well as he could

10 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
have on the ACT or SAT, therefore he won’t get admitted poor in this society, concern about cost can lead to a set
to as good a school as he might have if he had prepared for of behaviors that don’t include college. For some people,
college, and his degree may not serve him as well as the concerns about the cost of college preclude them from
degree he could have had if he had known all along that taking the steps to prepare for college.”
higher education was an option that was available to him.
The program was successful and continues to be offered in
McCall is also researching this topic: “we’re looking at the Indiana. When analyzing some of the early data, St. John
importance of communicating financial aid opportunities found that parent engagement factors were the strongest
to middle school students. People have looked at college predictors of whether young people finished a preparatory
preparedness and how that affects college outcomes—if curriculum and whether they went to a four-year college.
you go to college and you’re unprepared, you’re more likely
to drop out. We’re backing up to see what leads kids to FAFSA—THE FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID HURDLE
choose courses and choose to become prepared back in
Students who desire to go to college and who are
high school; to see what interventions or policy levers
academically prepared for college still have to find a way
could cause kids to alter their course early on,” explains
to finance their educations. Because the U.S. values higher
education, we have empowered our government to help
fund it—however the funding system is neither simple nor
The support of family and community is also in%uential on
higher education outcomes. McCall points to the advising Citizens of the U.S. who are interested in federal financial
system in place in high schools: “There are many schools aid must complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for
in the system that are poor in counseling and their kids Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the government’s form
don’t know what their options are. They need to know that is used to determine a university student’s eligibility
what options are available to them and what the costs and for student fi nancial aid, including Pell grants, Stafford
benefits of those options mean. If they don’t know what the loans, PLUS loans, and work-study programs. In addition,
costs and benefits of going to college are, then they make most states and schools use information from the FAFSA
ill-informed decisions.” to award non-federal aid.

St. John uncovered the vital role of families when assessing Significant problems exist with the federal fi nancial aid
the effectiveness of the Twenty-First Century Scholars process, including use of the FAFSA. One problem is the
Program, which was designed in Indiana in the late 1980s. timing. Currently, college-bound high school students
In that program, relatively low-income children signed a apply to schools by the spring of their senior year. Also
pledge in eighth grade. They committed to staying in school in the spring, the student submits the FAFSA. However,
and earning a GPA of at least 2.0 and to remaining drug completing the FAFSA requires the student’s and his/her
and crime free. In return, they were provided full tuition at parent’s federal tax forms, so the FAFSA can’t be completed
any of the participating state colleges and universities. before the family’s income taxes have been completed.
The problem this schedule presents is that students must
St. John found that this intervention helped families choose to which schools they apply before they know what
develop a new stance toward college-going. “This program kinds and amounts of financial aid they will be eligible to
was about easing the concern of costs, because if you’re receive.

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 11
Dynarski likens this to a car buyer who has struck a deal Although adequate academic preparation is clearly
with a car dealer. After the buyer has negotiated a price, important, research indicates that social factors are also
the dealer informs the buyer that there is a rebate. The significant. DesJardins, himself a fi rst-generation college
customer who was willing to buy the car at the pre-rebate student, tells of feeling like an outsider during his initial
price is pleasantly surprised. But what about the customers foray into college. He ended up leaving after one semester.
who were scared off by the sticker prices and walked out He entered and left college several times before earning his
of the dealership, never knowing that the car they wanted first degree. He says: “If I were to plug my characteristics
was affordable? and college experiences into one of our statistical models,
it would show that the probability of my getting a bachelor
In this system, Dynarski wrote, “Many who fear college degree is near zero. This only shows that a) individuals can
is unaffordable will never even apply to college…many overcome odds that are stacked against them, and b) our
will give up on their studies while they are still in high models are useful for predicting group behavior but we
school, making the inaccessibility of college a self-fulfilling can’t really predict an individual’s behavior.”
St. John has worked on several projects related to success
Further problems with the FAFSA include its complexity: in higher education. He helped design an orientation
It has 127 questions and Dynarski estimates that it requires program in one state system in which a high proportion
10 hours to be completed. Of those 127 questions, she found of students who enrolled later dropped out. He and his
that just six questions are used to calculate eligibility for colleagues connected related courses and created learning
a PELL grant. In fact, everything the federal government groups—cohorts of students who would attend courses
needs to know to calculate fi nancial aid eligibility has together. Th is formation and nurturing of community
been submitted separately and prior to the FAFSA, on the significantly increased retention.
student’s and his/her parent’s tax returns.
He also found that although social integration is crucial
Dynarski has proposed a checkbox on the federal income in the first years of college, in later years the factors shift:
tax forms to indicate that a member of the household “The longer term integration story is about how well you
intends to go to college and wishes to know about his/her do in your early courses, whether you can afford to stay,
eligibility for fi nancial aid. Th is idea was adopted by the and whether you can find an educational pathway through
Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns in the school that meets your own learning needs and your
2008 and is currently being considered by Congress. own personal trajectory.” Along these lines, he found that
an effective process to help students choose majors made a
SUCCESS IN NUMBERS difference in retaining those students.

Once students are enrolled in higher education, the

goal becomes completion of a degree program. With MAKING IT MATTER
approximately 40 percent of college students leaving school School of Education faculty members aren’t just interested
without a degree (the percentage is even higher for Black in understanding the factors and processes of student
and Latino/a students), researchers study factors that affect access to and success in higher education, they are pledged
college completion. to scholarship that makes a difference in the real world. As
Carter says, “We do like to speak with fellow colleagues

12 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
and talk about theory and that kind of thing—the “ivory Rowley, at an individual level, has consistently given of
tower” kind of thing—but we’re committed to broadening himself as a mentor to U-M students while simultaneously
our conversations and the impact of our research. We have trying to fi nd ways to encourage the higher education
a commitment to giving back.” aspirations of high school students and in%uence policy.

The methods by which this is done are numerous. They DesJardins says “My research has very much focused on
publish their work in scholarly journals, subjecting their utility, trying to solve practical problems within institutions.
ideas and analyses to the scrutiny of other researchers. I’ve always tried to have my research do three things: 1)
This process helps them to further improve and develop push the boundaries on how we conceptualize solving
their work. In addition, faculty members make a difference particular problems, 2) use new analytic techniques to
in other ways: apply to policy problems, and 3) present results to policy
makers in order to solve practical problems.”
Carter is examining factors relating to students’ decisions
to continue for a graduate degree. In this project, she Bastedo sums it up: “We in%uence real life by talking in both
works with an administrator of an undergraduate research scholarly and policy communities. We talk to each other
program. She communicates her fi ndings on an ongoing and make our research high quality, so that we’re speaking
basis, enabling the administrator to put the research into truth to power. When we talk with people, we give them
practice immediately. the best information that we have in our communities.”

St. John is another who believes in partnerships. He has “My primary impact,” he says, “is through the education of
a long history of relationships with colleges in Indiana, my students. They are the people who are going to be, in the
Florida, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. He explains, future, the policy analysts and researchers and institutional
“It’s not about experimentation, but rather it’s the blue leaders that our system is going to depend upon. And now
collar work of deeply embedding researchers within is when they’re getting their education.”
organizations, to do research that allows and enables
Story by Robert Brustman
people to make good decisions.”
Photos by Mike Gould

Brian McCall Ed St. John

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 13

Statistics tell the tale: About 69 percent of African

American children graduate from high school on time.
Compare this to the national average of 77.5 percent.

Of all students who graduate, regardless of race, nearly 90

percent aspire to attend college. The numbers of those who
actually attain this aspiration present another disparity: 73
percent of whites enroll in college the fall following high
school graduation but just 56 percent of Blacks enroll.

Completion statistics continue the story: 59 percent

of white students complete a bachelor’s degree within
six years of enrolling in college; 41 percent of African
Americans earn a degree within the same period.

Jarring as these statistics are, they are familiar to many

people involved in education. They tell a disturbing
tale. But is it the only story? Is it an accurate story?

A new interdisciplinary center based at the University

of Michigan School of Education has been founded to
challenge the fundamental %aw lurking behind statistics
of educational disparities—the assumption that groups
are homogeneous. As its title indicates, the Center for

14 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
“We’re developing a model for collaboration and partnership
with these communities. We’re not parachuting in, getting our
data, and leaving.” – Tabbye Chavous, associate professor of education and psychology

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 15
Tabbye Chavous Robert Sellers Robert Jagers Carla O’Connor Stephanie Rowley

the Study of Black Youth in Context is particularly families, communities, and cultural identities, and that
interested in groups of young African Americans. these help buffer the negative impacts of experiencing
The center was founded by five U-M faculty members: personal and group risks. Unfortunately, these
Tabbye Chavous, associate professor of education and resources are understudied and less well understood.
psychology, Robert Jagers, associate professor of education, Coming together in the new center, the researchers
Carla O’Connor, associate professor of education, will examine risk and resilience in a richer way, from
Stephanie Rowley, associate professor of psychology, and multiple disciplines and methodological perspectives.
Robert Sellers, professor of psychology. O’Connor and
Sellers are serving as co-directors of the center this year. It’s too early in the center’s existence for new data to have
been gathered and analyzed, yet the researchers’ previous
They note the tendency for research to focus on comparisons research suggests that resilience is complex, as it can involve
of Black youth to other youth, or for studies of Black youth success in some areas and challenge in others. Chavous gave
to only focus on low-income urban youth. Thus, a main an example of a Black youth whose response to a school
goal of the center is to provide a better understanding of the with a non-inclusive climate was to try harder in school and
substantial variation in experiences and life trajectories of succeed academically. Yet this benefit, which psychologists
Black youth across and within different social class groups. might categorize as resilience, may be balanced by
negative consequences: the environment may cause the
One of the areas Chavous and her colleagues are interested student to suffer in terms of stress, isolation, and anxiety.
in has to do with resilience factors—why, when youth face
similar risk factors, some fare well and some do poorly. To look at variation among African American youth, the
“In most studies of Black youth, there has been a focus center has begun working with three suburban-Detroit
on risk factors and negative outcomes,” said Chavous. school districts that represent very different contexts for
“We acknowledge that those risk factors exist…but Black adolescents. “We selected these settings because
there has been a dearth of work that focuses on positive they have diversity both racially and with regard to
outcomes. As many youth thrive despite experiencing socioeconomic status,” said Chavous. “In doing so, we’ll be
challenges, it is important to understand and acknowledge able to consider how both race and social class dynamics
the strengths and assets that allow them to do so.” in%uence the development of youth in the context of
family, school, and community.”
The researchers’ individual research programs provide
evidence that many youth draw on resources from their “In addition, there has been substantial movement of
families and youth across the metro area due to economic

16 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
factors and school closings. Thus, youth are moving into problems, challenges, and strengths. We’re partnering
different school contexts—academically and socially—and with schools to incorporate into our research design
schools are experiencing unexpected changes in diversity specific questions and issues that they’re concerned with.”
around race and class, some of which they struggle to
address effectively. We’re interested in understanding The center also has a training focus for students and early
the implications of such movement for youth, families, career scholars. It will sponsor a seminar series on campus

schools, and communities,” said Chavous. She stressed and provide training around research methods and
that the center’s vision includes a commitment to professional practices for working with ethnically diverse
collaboration and engagement, noting, “We’re developing populations. In addition, they plan to hire local high
a model for authentic partnerships with our study school students for summer work—opportunities that
communities.” To this end, she and her colleagues have will allow the students to connect with academic research.
been spending a lot of time forming relationships with
personnel from schools and school districts, parents, and
Story by Robert Brustman
other community stakeholders. “We are getting a sense
Photos by Mike Gould
of how the individuals in these settings define the issues,

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 17
ALUMNI Antonio Flores (wearing a yellow tie) with Judy Montero, a City of Denver Councilwoman, and José Jaime Rivera, past chair of
the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University’s Governing Board and president of the University of the Sacred Heart in 2008.

Antonio Flores’s father was a farmer. Antonio Flores’s grandfather was a farmer. Antonio
Flores’s great-grandfather was a farmer. Not surprisingly, when Antonio Flores grew to be
a boy in the small farming village of San José in Mexico, he felt his future was predictable:
“I grew up in a farming community and there was nothing else but farming back then. I
thought that was going to be my destiny, to be a small farmer.”

But destiny sometimes defies prediction.

The school in San José only went as high as fifth grade. At that time, that was the extent
of most of the villagers’ educations and it seemed likely to be the limit of Flores’s formal
learning as well. But ten-year-old Flores loved learning and that boy was given an
opportunity to %out fate when friends of his family offered to take Flores with them as they
moved to a larger city. Flores would have to leave his family but would be able to continue
his education. Flores’s parents, wanting greater opportunities for their son than seemed
available at home, let him go.

This combination of a love for education coupled with a drive to seize opportunity is a
hallmark of Flores’s life, one that brought the boy from the small farming village through
numerous jobs, locations, and experiences. At key points in Flores’s life, others would
recognize his keen insight, intelligence, and abilities, and would suggest a new course in
his life. Flores has had a knack for identifying which of these suggestions held the most
promise and the ability and determination to capitalize on opportunity.

18 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
After leaving his family (physically—he remained close in I wasn’t able to think about graduate studies until I got to
every other way) as a child, he fi nished his schooling and Hope College and then it became a complement to my work,”
enrolled in college, where he studied elementary education. he said.
After graduating, he moved to northern Mexico where
he taught on a Yaqui Indian reservation. Desiring more After earning his master’s degree, Flores began an 18-year
education and with a burgeoning interest in organizational stint at the Michigan Department of Education, first working
behavior, Flores returned to school and earned his second with bilingual education and later with policy analysis and
undergraduate degree in business administration. management. During this time, Flores decided to follow
up his master’s degree with a doctorate: “My work and my
After earning this degree, Flores left the dependable warmth personal inclinations led me to study higher-education,”
of Mexico for the variable seasons of Wisconsin, where he said. “I looked at the facts and found that U-M had the
relatives of his lived and where he planned to pursue graduate highest-ranked higher ed program in the country. I thought,
‘If you want to get the best education in your field, you really
“I looked at the facts and found that U-M need to go to the best place,’ so that’s what I set myself out to
had the highest-ranked higher ed program
Flores enjoyed his time at the School of Education. “The
in the country. I thought, ‘If you want to get professors that I came across were all outstanding—not
just as academics, but as people. They seemed to truly care
the best education in your field, you really
about the students and didn’t mind spending time before and
need to go to the best place,’ so that’s what after class and that struck me because I didn’t expect them
to be so willing and accessible,” he said. “There was a sense
I set myself out to do.” – Antonio Flores of community, of family, even among the support staff and
education. After arriving in Milwaukee, he attended a Sunday
church service and got into a discussion with a visiting priest. In 1996, Flores was appointed president of the Hispanic
The priest was head of a private high school in southwestern Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which
Wisconsin and he asked Flores to work with him on a summer represents more than 450 colleges and universities that are
Spanish program for high school students. Flores agreed. committed to Latino/a higher education success. HACU
advocates on behalf of Hispanic-serving institutions for
Through the course of the program, Flores met many of the federal funding and works on leaks in the educational pipeline
students’ parents. One of these was a high school principal that keep young people from getting to college.
in Milwaukee; he was impressed with Flores and offered
him a job as a bilingual student advisor. Flores accepted. In Drawing from his own experience, as well as his observations
this job he worked frequently with people at the University and understanding of data, Flores described in%uences on a
of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who soon offered him a job with child’s life that would affect his or her likelihood to attend and
their Upward Bound program—Upward Bound is a federally graduate from a higher education institution: “First of all, you
funded program to help students prepare for and succeed in need a nurturing family setting, even if the family is not well
college. He accepted their offer. In this capacity, he attended educated, if they are committed to furthering a child’s success,
a professional conference where he met the dean of Hope it is a good beginning. You also need inspiring and demanding
College who tried to recruit Flores for a job at Hope. Flores teachers who will get performance from students.
initially declined the offer, but the dean was persistent and
“And once you get to the college setting, you need institutions
the next year persuaded Flores to visit the college and again
that are willing to take a chance on a student even if they
offered Flores a position directing their Upward Bound
don’t have the pedigree features commonly found. The
program. This time Flores agreed to take the job.
institutions that will take a risk and support students like that
While at Hope College, Flores decided to enter a master’s are institutions that excel.”
degree program in counseling and personnel at Western
Michigan University, which he earned while simultaneously Story by Robert Brustman
working at Hope College and raising a family. “I moved to Photo by Chris Kokias Photography
the United States to go to school, but my work opportunities
became so quickly available, like one thing after another, that

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 19


The fall meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Council took place on November 13, 2008. The council members discussed the school’s outreach
activities, broadly defined, and considered ways to focus the outreach agenda and strategy, including how to use the Internet and the Web
more effectively and how to create the business model needed to support SOE priorities in outreach. The council is comprised of experts in
education, business, the media, government, and others with strong interests in education and its improvement.

Students from kindergarten through high school came to the university to attend the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. program on January 19,
2009. The program, sponsored by SOE and the School of Social Work, had the theme, “A dreamer, and not the only one.” The daylong program
featured storytelling, skits, guided discussions, rap poetry, and musical performances.

20 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
Frank Womer, who served SOE as a professor of educational mea- Sixth-grade students working with SOE Professor Nancy Songer’s
surement for 30 years, endowed a Lecture in Testing, Measurement, BioKIDS program presented science projects in January 2009. The
and Evaluation. Robert Mislevy, professor of measurement, statis- innovative curriculum has significantly increased science knowledge
tics, and evaluation at the Univ. of Maryland, pictured above, deliv- among young students. Students learn by exploring and gathering
ered the inaugural lecture in November 2008. data before formulating a supportable hypothesis.


The Bologna Process is a European reform attempt to create international consistencies for education. In March 2009, CSHPE and the European
Union Center of Excellence hosted a number of European participants who related the initiative to broader processes of globalization,
internationalization, and diversification. The workshop was convened by Jan Lawrence and Mike Bastedo from CSHPE (both pictured above),
along with Peter Maassen, professor and director, Higher Education Development Association, University of Oslo, Norway.

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 21


The eight-year Michigan Difference fundraising campaign concluded with 2008. The school raised more than $39 million, 30 percent over the
goal. Above left, Associate Professor Elizabeth Davis and her daughter Lucy Scott helped decorate a celebratory cake. On right, from left to
right: Verne Istock (AB ’62, MBA ’63,) and Judy Istock (CERTT ’62, ABED ’62), Eugene Hartwig (AB ’55, JD ’58), Donna Hartwig (CERTT
’56) and Professor of Education and former SOE Dean Karen Wixson at a brunch held to honor generous and committed SOE supporters.


Above left, sixth graders from Southfield, Michigan express their delight at visiting the University of Michigan campus during November
2008. These Birney Middle School students had book buddies from SOE’s Elementary Master of Arts and Certification Program and they
taught them about their school’s literacy program, ate pizza, and participated in a scavenger hunt at the U-M Museum of Natural History
(above right).

22 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
Associate Professor Barry Fishman developed a new Videogames and Secondary Master of Arts with Certification students attended the
Learning course, which quickly filled up with enthusiastic students. Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning Conference
Fishman said goals include understanding why well-designed games in March 2009. They liveblogged an array of sessions and six students,
are compelling and then translating those design principles into (including Stephanie Mann, pictured here with Lewis Ezekiel) gave a
school-based learning environments. presentation on web conferencing.

Eric Fretz, doctoral student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology and Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, returned
from a year-long mobilization to Iraq. While in Iraq, Fretz developed a scout troop for Iraqi kids on and around his base. Fretz is in the picture
above on the extreme right, in desert camou%age with “U.S. Navy” on his pocket. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his tour.

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 23

Hyman Bass, Samuel Eilenberg Distinguished University Professor of Each year, SOE cosponsors the Michigan School Testing Conference.
Mathematics and Mathematics Education, and the Roger C. Lyndon The 49th annual conference was held in February 2009 and featured
Collegiate Professor of Mathematics, was awarded a Distinguished keynote speakers W. James Popham, professor emeritus at UCLA,
University Professorship (DUP) last year. In March 2009, he gave his Joseph Martineau from the Michigan Department of Education,
DUP lecture: “How Do You Know That You Know: Making Believe and Dean Deborah Ball.
in Mathematics.” In his presentation, he talked about the import of
proof in math from primary school through research mathematics.


We’d love to hear from you.

Send us news about your
achievements and experiences.
Send us your comments and advice.

Our address is:

Office of Development & Alumni Relations
U-M School of Education
610 East University, Suite 1001
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259
email: mdubin@umich.edu
24 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
and Education and Education

Laura Aull received the Susan Lipshutz award for Bethany Davila was a recipient of a Harold and Vivian
outstanding work in socially responsible research Shapiro/John Malik Award. She also received a Rackham
for her dissertation research. In this work, she is Humanities Research Fellowship.
analyzing the editorial overviews in American literature
anthologies and assessing the ways in which they present HANNAH DICKINSON
underrepresented authors and communities. She also Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
received a Rackham Research Grant. and Education

JAMES BEITLER Hannah Dickinson was awarded a Rackham One-Term

Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English Dissertation Fellowship.
and Education
James Beitler received the Rackham Graduate School Doctoral Student in the Center for the Study of Higher
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award for and Postsecondary Education
2008-09. This award recognizes exceptional ability and
Karen Downing received the 2009 Equality Award from
creativity as a teacher, service as an outstanding mentor,
the American Library Association. She was selected for
and continuous growth as a teacher and scholar
her accomplishments in promoting diversity and equality
MICHAEL BUNN in the library profession.
Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
and Education
Associate Professor of Education, Associate Professor
Michael Bunn received the David and Linda Moscow of Public Policy
Prize for Excellence in Teaching Composition. This award
Susan Dynarski has been selected as an editor for the
is given to instructors remarkable for the energy, passion,
Journal of Labor Economics. The JOLE, published by
insight, pedagogical skill and creativity, and commitment
the University of Chicago Press, is the top economics
they bring to the teaching of writing. He also received a
journal that publishes research related to the economics
Rackham Research Grant.
of education and employment. Dynarski has been an
AMY CARPENTER-FORD associate editor for JOLE since 2008.
Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
and Education
Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
Amy Carpenter-Ford was awarded a Community of and Education
Scholars fellowship at the Institute for Research on
Moises Perales Escudero has been awarded a Rackham
Women and Gender.
International Student Fellowship.

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 25
Dean, William H. Payne Collegiate Professor of Assistant Professor of Education
Education and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
Vilma Mesa received an Undergraduate Research
Deborah Loewenberg Ball received the nineteenth annual Opportunity Program Recognition Award for
Louise Hay Award from the Association for Women in Outstanding Research Mentorship. The award recognizes
Mathematics in January 2009. She was chosen for her contributions to mentorship and the development of
deep and wide contributions to mathematics education future scientists and researchers
and her leadership in advancing mathematics teacher
education in the United States. BARBARA MIREL
Associate Research Scientist
Lecturer, Center for the Study of Higher and Barbara Mirel was the first author of a paper,
Postsecondary Education “Researching Telemedicine: Capturing Complex Clinical
Interactions with a Simple Interface Design,” which was
Malinda Matney was named to the national board selected as the recipient of the Nell Ann Pickett Award
of directors of HazingPrevention.Org, a non-profit for the best piece in Technical Communication Quarterly
organization that encourages healthy and productive for 2008. The award was presented at the Association of
experiences for new members of teams, student Teachers of Technical Writing conference in March.
organizations, and fraternities and sororities. She was also
selected as a member of the editorial board for the Journal MELINDA MCBEE ORZULAK
of Student Affairs Research and Practice, sponsored Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
by the National Association of Student Personnel and Education
Melinda McBee Orzulak was awarded a Rackham
Humanities Research Fellowship.

Assistant to the Dean Assistant Director of Teacher Education Programs


Graphic Artist, Office of Communications Facilities Manager


Computer Consultant, Photographer, Administrative Assistant, Educational
Interim Webmaster, Technical Services Studies Program
and Office of Communications

26 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
William A. Brownell Collegiate Professor of Education

Edward Silver was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished

Service to Mathematics Education by the National Council of Teachers and
Mathematics (NCTM). The award is given to recognize NCTM members who
have demonstrated a lifetime of achievement in mathematics education at the
national level. Silver received the award at the NCTM 2009 Annual Meeting
and Exposition in April 2009.

Among the areas of Silver’s expertise are mathematical problem solving and
problem posing, developing intellectually engaging and equitable mathematics
instruction, developing methods of assessing and reporting mathematics
achievement, and enhancing the knowledge of teachers of mathematics.

RANDALL PINDER with colleagues at the University of Cincinnati on their

Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English “Place out of Time” simulation. This is a web-based
and Education historical simulation in which U-M students mentor
middle school and high school students who, in character,
Randall Pinder was awarded a Rackham One-Term discuss a range of ethical and philosophical issues.
Dissertation Fellowship.

STACI SHULTZ Doctoral Student in the Literacy, Language,
Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English and Culture Program
and Education
Darin Stockdill was awarded the National Academy of
Staci Shultz received the Rackham Graduate School Education Postdoctoral Adolescent Literacy Fellowship.
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award for He intends to use the award to develop his work in
2008-09. This award recognizes exceptional ability and adolescent literacy, focusing on the development of
creativity as a teacher, service as an outstanding mentor, secondary disciplinary literacy in the social studies
and continuous growth as a teacher and scholar. She
was also selected to be a Humanities, Arts, Science, and
Technology Advanced Collaboratory Scholar for 2008-09. EBONY THOMAS
Doctoral Student in the Joint Program in English
and Education
Lecturer, Educational Studies Ebony Thomas was selected for a Cultivating New Voices
Among Scholars of Color Fellowship by the National
Jeff Stanzler received a Lecturer’s Professional Council of Teachers of English.
Development Grant from the U-M Center for Research
on Learning and Teaching to support his collaboration

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I C H I G A N S C H O O L O F E D U C AT I O N 27
Late spring is always a special time at the University of Our national economic climate presents significant
Michigan and this year is no exception. It can be bittersweet, challenges for many of us, including for our students. At
as many undergraduate and graduate students complete a time when we truly need bright intellectual lights and
their programs and revel at commencement before bidding talented individuals to devote themselves to education at
goodbye to the life they’ve led at the university. It’s also a SOE, finances are becoming an increasingly high hurdle.
time of great celebration with a profound sense of progress
as our newly minted graduates go forth to apply their Thus, while it was just last year that we concluded the
educations to the challenges of the world. successful Michigan Difference campaign, we now fi nd
ourselves in a critical time in which fi nding funding for
This year, on May 2, around 300 students graduated from students has never been more important. Nor more
the University of Michigan School of Education. Each one appreciated.
of these graduates has the education and the potential to
be a force for improvement in education within the United Through your gifts, large and small, we can continue to
States and throughout the world. graduate men and women who will improve education in
the country and the world.
This year’s graduates go on to join the nearly 60,000 alumni
of our school. This is a number representing an in%uential I encourage you, our alumni, to send us notes or emails
wealth of intellect and training that gives substance to the and keep us informed of events in your lives. And if you’re
phrase we’ve been speaking of in recent years: The Michigan in the area, please know that you’re welcome to come back
Difference. With this many SOE-educated professionals in and visit the school. You might see some old friends—and
education, the difference that SOE has and continues to you might see the future of education.
make is profound.
Thank you for all of your support.
Yet the challenges facing education in our country are
as large and complex as ever. The average educational
attainments of our citizens are losing ground to those of
other countries, at a time when critical jobs require ever-
higher levels of education. In response, U.S. President
Barack Obama has called for a rededication to education.
Michael S. Dubin
The scholarship and skills of the faculty and graduates of
Director of Development and Alumni Relations
SOE have never been more important to our country’s

28 W W W. S O E . U M I C H . E D U SPRING 2009
To Our
School of Education
University of Michigan School of Education
610 East University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259

INNOVATOR is published by the THE REGENTS

University of Michigan School of Education OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Office of Communications Julia Donovan Darlow, Ann Arbor
Laurence B. Deitch, Bingham Farms
LEADERSHIP TEAM Denise Ilitch, Bingham Farms
OF THE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION Olivia P. Maynard, Goodrich
Andrea Fischer Newman, Ann Arbor
Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Dean
Andrew C. Richner, Grosse Pointe Park
Joseph Krajcik, Associate Dean, Research
S. Martin Taylor, Grosse Pointe Farms
Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar, Associate Dean,
Katherine E. White, Ann Arbor
Academic Affairs
Mary Sue Coleman, ex officio
Henry Meares, Assistant Dean

Nondiscrimination Policy Statement

OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS The University of Michigan, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies
with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action,
Kathryn Bieda, Secretary including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilita-
Robert Brustman, Director of Communications tion Act of 1973. The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination
and equal opportunity for all persons regardless of race, sex, color, religion, creed, national
Martha Dalley, Special Events Coordinator origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression,
Elena Godina, Designer disability, or Vietnam-era veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities,
and admissions. Inquiries or complaints may be addressed to the Senior Director for
Mike Gould, Photographer
Institutional Equity and Title IX/Section 504 Coordinator, Office of Institutional Equity, 2072
Yvonne Pappas, Designer/Art Director Administrative Services Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1432, 734-763-0235, TTY
734-647-1388. For other University of Michigan information call 734-764-1817.