Award Goes to Researchers of Open Enrollment

by ekramer on December 4, 2008

Today, the University of Louisville is announcing the winner of the 2009 Grawemeyer Award for education. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Paul Attewell and David Lavin — both sociology professors at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center — receive the Grawemeyer Award for their work featured in the book “Passing the Torch.” It documents disadvantaged women who started college through open enrollment in the 1970s and finds more than 70 percent graduated.

David Lavin says many experts oppose adjusting admissions because it dilutes academic standards. He says that’s not what the study shows.

“The findings in our research kind of fly in the face of a great deal that is commonly believed about the state of higher education,” Lavin says.

The study showed that open access to college benefited the women as well as their children and society as a whole.

“Our data showed that these degrees were economically quite valuable,” Lavin says. “The students who earned these degrees did much better in the world in terms of earnings and similar economic outcomes.”

Lavin says education also shaped the women’s families.

“Going to college changes the way that parents bring up their kids and makes it more likely that their children will also go to college,” he says.

Each year, the Grawemeyer Foundation at U of L gives awards for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion.

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