FSU’s Professor Hu embarks on new study of whether Bright Futures “works” (Hint: it would if the eligibility requirements included more math and science)
The Miami Herald published an article last week announcing that FSU Higher Ed Professor Shouping Hu has received a $780,000 grant to study whether Bright Futures scholarships “work.”
“It’s time to assess the program so people can talk from some evidence rather than just talking for the purpose of making political arguments,” Hu said.
He plans to use state data to track what happens to individual students who receive Bright Futures as well as those who don’t. For example, he wants to know whether a student with a 3.0 grade-point average and a Bright Futures scholarship will perform better in college than one who has a 2.9 GPA and is ineligible for the award. He also wants to see whether the scholarships benefit certain racial groups more than others.
“In higher education, studies almost always show that the same programs tend to have a very different effect for students of different characteristics,” he said.
Hu will look at factors such as college admission, retention and graduation for students. He said he would have access to individual student data, but not names, and he does not plan to interview students.
State Senator Evelyn Lynn, who has controlled the higher ed appropriations process in her chamber for several years, expressed skepticism that the study would provide any useful information:
State Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Committee, said she was not sure the study would shed any new light on the program. The state’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability reviewed the issue in 2003 and determined Bright Futures was effective, she said.
That study found the state’s high school graduates are better-prepared academically and that more are going to college, with the largest gains among minority students. A subsequent study found most Bright Futures recipients perform well and remain enrolled in college.
“It sounds to me like we’ve looked at a lot of this already,” Lynn said.
Of course, one has to decide what one wants to accomplish with Bright Futures, and with the state’s university system in general. If educating more strong scientists and engineers is a high priority, then here is what you do: Require precalculus and a complete science program (biology, chemistry and physics) for Bright Futures eligibility. If we did this, then Shouping would have something worthwhile to look at with all that money. And I’m pretty sure I know what he’d find – more students graduating with bachelors’ degrees in the physical sciences and engineering, which is what our state needs the most (and where the highest starting salaries for new graduates are).Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized