North Carolina’s colleges and universities have launched a new web site designed to streamline the application process and attract more students to the state’s schools. The site, www.ncmentor.org, allows students to apply online to 110 universities and community colleges, director Robert Kanoy said.

A joint effort of the state’s public and private institutions, the site also helps students choose a college, find financial aid, and explore career options, said Kanoy, who demonstrated the site for a University of North Carolina Board of Governors committee in November.

About 63 percent of North Carolina’s high school graduates go on to some type of postsecondary education. That number needs to grow to provide a solid workforce in the modern economy, Kanoy said.

“We need fewer students going to work at McDonald’s and more of them getting the postsecondary education they need for professional positions,” he said.

Every middle and high school counselor in the state is being trained this year to use the web site, Kanoy said. Eventually, school media specialists and community librarians also will be trained.

By next year, with the help of the state Department of Public Instruction, the site could allow students who apply through the web site to send their high school transcripts electronically, rather than through the mail, as they do now. And students who are denied admission to their first choice would be able to put their names in a pool where other North Carolina schools can consider them for admission.

Web site helps Illinois schools compare themselves with others

An Illinois web site launched Nov. 15 allows parents to check on how well their child’s school is doing compared with others around the state.

The Illinois School Improvement site, located at http://ilsi.isbe.net, provides information on every school in the state and, along with comparison statistics, provides information on how to improve a school’s education, pointing to examples of good schooling and to resources for research.

Built with $140,000 from the federally funded North Central Regional Educational Laboratory in Oak Brook, which hosts it along with the Illinois Board of Education and the Illinois Business Roundtable, the site aims to help schools and teachers understand the Illinois learning standards that students must meet.

State board chairman Ronald Gidwitz said the site is part of an ongoing effort to “open up the information we have on schools to parents, to citizens, to communities, to understand just exactly how well schools are doing [and] make comparisons between schools.”

The site is loaded with Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores from 2000 and information on the poverty rates, mobility, and racial makeup of each of the state’s 4,000 schools. Users may click on one of several questions about the school to see charts comparing the school with others.

“We can talk, not in competitive terms, but in fact. How does a school do as well as they do; what are they doing differently? I would hope this would open up some doors so that we could share knowledge back and forth,” Bloomington District 87 Superintendent Robert Nielsen said at a state Capitol news conference.

The site also provides sections for administrators to plot improvement, find out what’s working in other schools, see classroom activities that will help students meet the standards, and view samples of student work that meet the goals.