Arts Education Matters Pages 2-3,6,7
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Are our students ready for college?
Why do U.S. students still lag behind students from other nations with their rates of college graduation? How can we better prepare K-12 students for the rigor, challenges, and expectations our institutions of higher learning have? Shouldn't it all begin today?
January 2013 | Volume 55 | Number 1
Arts Education Matters Pages 2-3,6,7
Arts Education Matters Pages 2-3,6,7
Resources and Tools to Inspire and Inform
College and career readiness have been the focus of education policies and discussions for several years, yet U.S. students lag behind other nations in college completion. The infographic in the next article highlights the crisis at hand. Although many U.S. students may aspire to go to college, they sometimes find that they do not possess the necessary academic background to be successful in college-level courses, nor do they have the financial resources required or the emotional and social support needed to help them persevere.
Although college may not be the end goal for every student, K–12 schools can create environments that foster interest in college matriculation and offer students the appropriate information to assist them in planning their academic schedules and extracurricular activities so they will have necessary course credits and qualifications to be competitive college applicants. Creating a college-going culture means explaining the benefits of higher education to students and instilling in them the skills they will need to overcome challenges.
The following resources from nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and K–12 programs are designed to inspire, inform, and motivate students and put them on the path to college completion.
"A college-going culture builds the expectation of postsecondary education for all students—not just the best students," says the College Board website. "It inspires the best in every student, and it supports students in achieving their goals."
College Board provides the guide College Ed®: Creating a College-Going Culture, which covers the basics of how to establish an environment that values college aspirations and offers administrators several strategies for designing and implementing a large-scale program to support these aims, as well as tips for conducting community outreach and talking with parents. CollegeEd® is the College Board's college-planning and career-exploration program for middle and high school students.
College Board also offers the interactive website for students You Can Go to College, where young people can watch testimonials from college students who discuss how they navigated the labyrinth of the college admissions process. The website also provides a directory to help students locate nearby colleges and a step-by-step tool that walks students through planning for college.
The recent study Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness from Jobs for the Future looks at the effects that dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to take college-level courses, have on student achievement. Researchers analyzed data from tens of thousands of Texas students who completed college courses in high school, and found that these students attended and completed college within the state at much higher rates than students with similar backgrounds who did not take college courses in high school.
According to the report, "A growing body of research suggests that allowing students in high school to complete even a single college class could significantly increase their chances of attending college and eventually graduating." The report offers strategies for states and school districts looking to implement such initiatives.
Jobs for the Future also offers a state-by-state analysis of dual enrollment programs and strategies aimed at preparing low-income students for college completion. Find out how your state is doing.
Also check out the comprehensive Early College High School Initiative website at to learn more about how to create programs that blend high school education with college coursework to compress the time it takes students to earn a high school diploma and complete the first two years of college.
The Pathways to College Network is, according to its website, "an alliance of national organizations that advances college opportunity for underserved students by raising public awareness, supporting innovative research, and promoting evidence-based policies and practices across the K–12 and higher education sectors." The network promotes the use of research-based policies and practices, develops new research, and attempts to align efforts across middle and high schools and higher education to promote college access and success for underserved students.
The Pathways to College Network is directed by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, which is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access and success in postsecondary education around the world. Pathways offers research on topics that include college access outreach programs, college readiness, and state and federal policies regarding college preparation.
Administrators looking to assess their guidance counselors' efforts to move students on to the path for college will benefit from the Public Agenda report Can I Get a Little Advice Here?: How an Overstretched High School Guidance System Is Undermining Students' College Aspirations.
Public Agenda also offers an infographic on the college completion crisis. According to a Public Agenda survey, only 4 out of 10 young people earn a college degree by the time they are 35. Of the "non-completers," 7 out of 10 respondents said they did not know what a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is. The infographic also includes policy recommendations from completers and non-completers, such as allowing part-time students to qualify for financial aid.
The Sallie Mae Fund's Kids2College program offers guides and tools for middle and high schools that hope to instill an interest in college in low-income and minority students.
The School/University Partnership (SUP) program is designed to foster a college- and university-going culture in schools and communities in California's Bay Area. Through outreach efforts, innovative initiatives, and teaching and learning tools designed for kindergarten through community college classrooms, the program works with schools to inform students of the steps they must take to be ready to attend college in the California higher education system. The program works with school districts and elementary, middle, and high schools to increase access to the University of California and other California colleges and universities for students who have not traditionally been eligible to attend.
The Believing The College Dream curriculum created by SUP provides a plan for helping students understand why they should aspire to go to college and how to plan for admission and matriculation. The curriculum is designed to show students that college is attainable, and it aims to help students believe in their ability to succeed in school. For families, the curriculum provides information about how to set a college-bound attitude and support their children. The free curriculum and resource guide are available athttp://outreach.berkeley.edu/believing_college_dream.
Although the SUP-created College Tools for Schools web-based tool kit is designed for California high schools that are eager to expand college attendance rates, these resources are relevant for schools in any district. The kit includes an explanation of the financial aid process, a four-year academic planning guide to help students map out the prerequisites and course requirements needed to be eligible for college, and career exploration guides.
The U.S. Department of Education's College Completion Toolkit was released in response to President Obama's American Graduation Initiative, which established the goal that by 2020 the United States will regain its position as the nation with the highest percentage of its population holding postsecondary degrees and credentials. Geared toward governors and state leaders, the tool kit highlights strategies for increasing college completion rates.
The tool kit suggests that policymakers set college completion goals, develop an action plan, use data to drive decision making, embrace performance-based funding, align high school standards with college-entrance and placement standards, and make it easier for students to transfer between colleges.
Developing a College-Going Culture in a Middle School: A Toolkit, from the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School Initiative, was created with WestEd to aid middle schools in this making culture shift. The tool kit includes materials such as student and parent survey forms; protocols for interviewing teachers, principals, and guidance counselors about schools' college-going culture; a case study that looks at a middle school's efforts to instill this initiative; and a directory of college-going culture resources.