Education

Efforts Ramp Up to Smooth Transition From High School to College

By Caralee J. Adams — February 24, 2014 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With the national cost of remedial education in college topping $7 billion a year, educators and policymakers are getting creative about how to better prepare high school students for the demands of college.

High schools are increasingly assessing students by their junior year to see if they are college-ready and offering courses specifically designed for those who need help getting up to speed before graduation. In a new Education Week story, I take a closer look at this development.

Researchers at the Community College Research Center at Teacher College, Columbia University have studied this trend and released a report last year that chronicled the increase in early assessment and transition curricula offered by states and local districts. This fall, the Southern Regional Education Board began piloting new English and math “readiness” courses to equip high school student who fail to meet college-readiness benchmarks with the skills they need to avoid remedial courses in college.

Aligning Courses in South Carolina

Throughout the country, states are trying various approaches be sure students can successfully transition to college and career.

In South Carolina, high school teachers and college professors are working together so that exit-level high school courses better feed into entry-level college courses as part of the South Carolina Course Alignment Project. With the “paired courses model,” educators from both sectors meet regularly to share instructional strategies and discuss ways to help improve the transition for students. As a result of their interaction, for example, high school teachers are ramping up their expectations and college professors are adding more assignments to give students feedback sooner.

Through the project, John Kinard, a physics teacher at Greenwood High School for 35 years in Greenwood, S.C., got to know his counterparts at the nearby college and invited them to speak to his class of seniors about the rigor of college.

“It sort of opens [the students’] eyes and makes them realize, ‘This is going to be different next year. I’m going to have be organized and work,’” he said.

David Conley, the director of the Center for Educational Policy Research at the University of Oregon, and who worked on the South Carolina project, said these conversations between the sectors is what’s needed to help students better prepare for college.

However, Conley cautions that it’s not enough to just align courses between high school and college if the courses aren’t good in the first place.

“Some sort of external quality control in the form of an audit or review is a necessary component to ensure that the aligned courses are appropriately challenging,"he said.

In other states, such as New Mexico, the issue has only recently surfaced on the radar of policymakers.

A study released last month found that 51 percent of that state’s high school graduates who went to the state’s colleges and universities needed remedial courses last year, costing the state $22 million. These findings spurred lawmakers to discuss moving more remedial instruction into the high schools and increasing funding for early-childhood programs.

California was one of the first to bridge the college readiness divide with its Early Assessment Program in 2004. Although voluntary, 88 percent of the state’s 11th graders take the English exam and 84 percent participate in the math test to see if they are college ready, said Nancy Brynelson, the co-director of the Center for the Advancement of Readiness at California State University that administers the program.

Participating in EAP reduced the average student’s probability of needing remediation at CSU by 6.1 percentage points in English and 4.1 percentage points in English, according at a 2010 study.

To help better prepare students who were identified as lagging, high school teachers and higher education faculty worked together to develop a transition English course that aligned to college expectations.

Of the nearly 56,000 students in the incoming CSU class in the fall of 2012, some 66 percent were identified as proficient in English, up from 55 percent in 2006 and nearly 70 percent were identified as proficient in math, an increase from 63 percent in the same period, according to Brynelson.

Many policymakers contend that early assessments, transitional courses, and joint professional development are all needed to move the needle on college completion.

“You have to make fundamental shifts to get students ready for college,” Brynelson said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP