National High School-College Initiatives

By Lynn Olson — May 09, 2001 3 min read

—Lynn Olson

The following national projects are geared toward strengthening the connections between K-12 and higher education:

The Bridge Project: Strengthening K-16 Transition Policies—Sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, this research project examines admissions policies, freshman-placement or advising policies, and K-12 academic standards and tests in six states: California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Texas. Contact: Andrea Venezia, the project director, Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research, Stanford University school of education, (650) 725-4372; or visit the project’s Web site at

Building Statewide K-16 Systems for Student Success—This initiative of the State Higher Education Executive Officers will conduct case studies of innovative systems spanning precollegiate and higher education; hold state roundtables and regional forums to encourage K-16 efforts; and develop strategy briefs and a Web site on national, state, and regional K-16 initiatives. The project is sponsored by SHEEO with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Contact: Esther M. Rodriguez, associate executive director of SHEEO, (303) 299-3657.

Defining Basic Skills for the 21st Century—Organizers of this proposed two-year project aim to help states align their high school exit exams with college-admissions and hiring practices by identifying the reading, writing, and mathematics skills needed to succeed in higher education and in high- performance workplaces. The project is being planned by Achieve Inc., the Education Trust, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, and the National Alliance of Business. Contact: Achieve Inc., (202) 624-1460.

Pathways to College Network—Through an alliance of seven national foundations, 14 other nonprofit, national organizations, educational institutions, and the U.S. Department of Education, the network is trying to improve college access and success for low-income students. The project plans to identify the most effective means of preparing underserved students for college; determine barriers to college access and formulate a research agenda; forge links between college-access programs and K-12 reform efforts; and support national and state campaigns aimed at building students’ college aspirations. Contact: Ann S. Coles, senior vice president, Education Information Services, Education Resources Institute, (617) 426-0681, ext. 4235; or by e-mail at

Standards for Success—This national project, sponsored by the Association of American Universities and the Pew Charitable Trusts, is trying to identify the knowledge and skills needed for university success and analyze their relationship to K-12 standards and tests. To achieve that goal, Standards for Success is organizing a series of meetings at participating AAU universities, where faculty members are identifying the knowledge and skills they believe are most important for incoming students to master. The faculty members will also provide examples of representative freshmen-level work that exhibit those skills. In addition, the project will establish a national “clearinghouse” that will analyze state standards and tests and provide admissions officers with tools for using those scores when making decisions on admissions, placement, and merit-based aid. Contact: David T. Conley, director, Standards for Success, Center for Applied Policy Studies, University of Oregon, (541) 346-6153; or go to on the Web.

State K-16 Councils—The National Association of System Heads and the Education Trust have put together a network of state university-system heads and state precollegiate leaders who are implementing statewide K-16 improvement strategies in their states. Some two dozen states are now participating in the effort, each represented by teams including leaders from higher education, elementary and secondary education, and business and community-based groups. Teams from those states have identified two major policy areas for their work: aligning college-admissions and -placement requirements with K-12 graduation standards and improving teacher quality. Contact: Jan Somerville, National Association of System Heads, (202) 887-0614; or go to p.

A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2001 edition of Education Week as National High School-College Initiatives