Education Week - December 12, 2012 - (Page 11)

EDUCATION WEEK n DECEMBER 12, 2012 n 11 K-12, Higher Ed. Unite to Align Learning in Minnesota Early connections with students key By Caralee Adams The top education leaders in Minnesota are drafting a plan that aims to reinvent high school and align its mission with that of higher education. For nearly a year, they have been working on a major proposal to better connect K-12 and higher education, with the goal of working earlier with students to ensure they are equipped with the skills and career direction needed for a productive life after high school. The initiative, Redesigning the Transition from Secondary to PostSecondary Education, is expected to be introduced in the legislative session that begins in January. It incorporates four main elements, starting with college- and careerreadiness assessments in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. Once students are evaluated, interventions would be targeted to get those who are behind up to speed. Next, the proposal would expand opportunities for concurrent-enrollment programs. And finally, it would promote a better understanding of students’ career interests, training to achieve their goals, and sharing of information about workforce needs. Other states, such as Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia, have worked to promote concurrent enrollment and better align high school and college curricula. But as Stan Jones, the president of Complete College America, a Washington-based nonprofit, points out, Minnesota is effectively putting together several strategies in one holistic plan, which very few states have done. “There is an important need for what they are doing, and they are doing it in a thoughtful way,” he said. While it’s logical for state education leaders to work together, not many have made such a concerted effort to reach across the K-12 and higher education divide as have those in Minnesota, he added. and postsecondary standards and class (30th to 70th percentiles). assessments needed to be woven Rather than catering to the hightogether, sooner rather than later. est achievers, the idea is to help all What is needed, they believe, is a students find a direction—whatseamless, personalized system. ever that might be—as early as Mr. Pogemiller, a Democratic 9th grade, said Principal Scott state senator for 30 years who en- Gengler. Some students can earn tered the conversation later, says an associate degree along with the concept of better connecting their high school diploma; others high school and postsecondary ed- may get a few credits. ucation has been talked about be“We believe it’s our responsibilfore, but this proposal goes deeper. ity to partner with higher educa“I was impressed with the lay- tion to help make sure the kids are ered thinking and the hard-nosed graduating and going to college look at college and career readi- ready,” he said. ness,” he said. “Both leaders are Irondale was already offering 19 showing courage to break out Advanced Placement classes, but of their own institutions’ finan- it also wanted to bring in courses cial interests to focus on what’s that would help students with in the best interest of the stu- other aspirations. Now, the school dent, not focus on how has an agreement with much money to get for nearby Anoka-Ramsey my institution.” Community College and While many states pays $2,500 per secare having discussions tion, each semester for an Early College course. about pathways, Mr. Pogemiller says MinneCredentialed high school sota’s plan has details teachers conduct the and accountability meaclass at Irondale, in partsures that could result nership with a college faculty member assigned in big changes in the BRENDA as a mentor. education system. The CASSELIUS To help students who leaders are willing to questioned the have the academic potenbe the “heat shield to “craziness” of tial but aren’t quite ready create culture change the unaligned in their institutions,” he education for college-level classes, said. But even though systems. the high school has developed a foundation course there is widespread called “college seminar” theoretical support for the initiative, there may for underclassmen. About be some pushback when 30 percent of freshmen college faculty and and sophomores meet daily to boost their basic teachers realize their academic skills in math, jobs may change with the new plan, he said. reading, and writing. The Tom Dooher, the presiclass also gives informadent of Education Mintion about college requirenesota, said in an email STEVEN ments and options and that the union of 70,000 ROSENSTONE helps students develop educators agrees that emphasizes the habits linked with college improving alignment need to provide persistence. Through early testing between high school students with in her seminar class, Raand college is impor- feedback. tant, but it has concerns chel Torres, a freshman, about how the vision discovered exactly how would be turned into a much she needs to imfunctioning policy. He prove her math scores to questioned how alreadybe on track. As a supplestretched counselors, for ment, she is working with instance, could provide an online math-tutoring more intensive career program. “It’s not just counseling and what about getting to college. benefit there would be This class is helping us of more testing. LARRY get ready for what it’s “There’s a lot to like POGEMILLER going to be like in college,” she said. about the goals of the notes the state plan, and we’ve had pro- plan includes When she attended a ductive conversations accountability college fair with her semiwith some of the authors, measures. nar class, Ms. Torres said but we need to pin down she became more aware more details before Education Min- of college requirements and costs. nesota can actively push for it at “It’s motivating me to keep my the legislature,” Mr. Dooher wrote. grades up and ask questions,” said Ms. Torres, who is considering a career in dentistry or dermatology. State Models Last year at Irondale, 30 perThe education gurus in the state cent of sophomores enrolled in point to places like the 10,000-stu- college-credit-bearing courses; dent Mounds View district for evi- this year, the proportion doudence that an emphasis on college bled—to 62 percent. “School readiness at earlier grade levels means something different becan work. cause there is a target,” said At the district’s Irondale High Principal Gengler, who hears School, nine miles north of Min- many more students conversneapolis, an early-college program ing about college now. “They see launched this fall targets students what the line is from 9th grade who are in the middle of their to graduation.” Scott Takushi/Pioneer Press/AP-File David Joles/The Star Tribune/AP-File Jim Mone/AP-File At Long Prairie-Grey Eagle High School in central Minnesota, students can also take courses concurrently, and about half graduate with college credits. Here, students take many college-level courses on campus, online and through interactive television, said Jon Kringen, the superintendent of the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle district. “The idea of a more seamless preK-to-14 program would certainly be of interest to most schools,” he said. “When you look at what it does for students and parents, … the fact that you can walk out with 60 credits or more toward college, why would people not like that?” Gauging Support All the incentives for the new model run in the right direction for business, parents, students, and schools, said Chancellor Rosenstone. “There isn’t a school district we have talked to or business that hasn’t said, ‘Boy, this makes sense,’ ” he said. “It’s efficient for taxpayer money and it gets students through faster and for less money.” The new approach is more personalized, with students creating their own pathways and plans. The commissioner “is not afraid to say, ‘We are not getting the job done,’ ” and reinventing the model, Mr. Pogemiller said. Once the new common-core assessments roll out, Mr. Jones anticipates significant failure rates will reveal students aren’t ready for college and states will feel the pressure to act. “Minnesota is getting ahead of that wave,” he said. Potential costs and details of the plan are still being ironed out. Leaders anticipate many of the goals can be achieved by shifting existing dollars. Legislative approval would be needed for any start-up money or for some policies, such as establishing benchmarks for requiring a set proportion of students to be enrolled in college-prep classes by a certain date. “This is just something that, its time has come,” said Ms. Cassellius. “High schools will become a thing of the past if we don’t act quickly and make them more relevant.” No Clues The concept is the result of collaboration among state education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius; Steven Rosenstone, the chancellor of Minnesota’s 31 state colleges and universities, and Larry Pogemiller, the director of the Office of Higher Education, a state agency. “We sat down in our first meeting and realized it’s craziness that we aren’t aligned,” Ms. Cassellius said of talks with Mr. Rosenstone soon after they both took office last year. Mr. Rosenstone calls it “horribly inefficient” to have wide gaps between the high school curriculum and college expectations, as things now stand. “There was no feedback through high school giving [students] a clue if they were college-ready,” until they arrived on campus, he said. The pair agreed that high school Ramping Up Julie Sweitzer, the interim executive director of the College Readiness Consortium at the University of Minnesota, says her organization supports the plan and hopes to work with others to help high school students broaden their options after graduation. After years of research and piloting, her office this year began implementing Ramp-Up to Readiness, a collegeand career-preparation program for grades 6-12. Now in 44 schools, it has the potential of being used statewide, Ms. Sweitzer said. Its 28 lessons, which cover readiness for academics, admissions, careers, finances, and personal/ social issues, are often delivered during an advisory class one day a week. A broad range of topics are covered, and the class is offered schoolwide. At Frindley High School in Frindley, Minn., the Ramp-Up to Readiness curriculum is delivered by teachers to groups of 20 students who will stay together until graduation. “It’s adding another layer of a caring adult and really seeing [the same students] through four years,” said Principal Renee Van Gorp. The 900-student high school posts college-acceptance letters, and pennants hang above each classroom door. Students are working harder, and fewer are failing classes, Ms. Van Gorp said. “Our climate and culture at school is one that really has that college and career focus.” Principal Paula Huff of Westwood Middle School, in Blaine, Minn., says it’s apparent that students are not talking about college at home with their parents, so part of her school’s goal is to raise awareness of early planning. The Ramp-Up to Readiness program emphasizes the importance of not waiting until high school to figure out the college-application process and potential career options. Moving forward with more college-readiness programs, early assessments, and support for students exploring careers, state education leaders say they hope Minnesota will emerge as a leader in cooperative efforts between education sectors. “Our goal is to get this done in this [legislative] session,” said Chancellor Rosenstone. “Minnesota has been an innovator in education. … We aren’t afraid to think a little more boldly than other states.” Special coverage on the alignment between K-12 schools and postsecondary education is supported in part by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, at Education WEEk PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTORY > A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PD RESOURCES DIRECTORY TOPICS INCLUDE: • English/Reading • Instructional Technology • Foreign Languages • Mentoring/Coaching • Cooperative Learning

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - December 12, 2012

Education Week - December 12, 2012
Test Designers Tap Students for Feedback
Race to Top Draws Out New Suitors
Common Core Taught Through the Arts
Federal Attention on ELL Needs Seen to Wane
News in Brief
Report Roundup
NAEP Seeks to Test New Measure Of Student Poverty
In Rural Areas, After-School Efforts Must Stretch to Provide Services
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: McGraw-Hill Education Sale Highlights Publishing Trends
K-12, Higher Ed. Unite to Align Learning In Minnesota
States Pledge to Expand School Hours, Days
Absenteeism Linked to Low Achievement In NAEP Time Study
Union Pushes Higher Standards For New Teachers
Brand-New NAEP Report on Vocabulary Shows Same Old Gaps
Psychiatrists Revising Manual On Mental Disorders
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: N.C. Law Protects Educators From Online Harassment
Blogs of the Week
Education May Not Benefit From Brighter Financial Outlook
K-12 Education Advocates Lobby To Avert Fiscal Cliff
Policy Brief
Louisiana’s Ambitious Voucher Effort Unclear Following Judge’s Ruling
BARNETT BERRY & FREDERICK M. HESS: Expanded Learning Time: An Avenue to Greater Change
DAVE POWELL: Confusing Achievement With Aptitude
ANITA N. VOELKER: Smokeless Santa? Sanitizing a Child’s World
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JAMES S. LIEBMAN: Ending the Great School Wars

Education Week - December 12, 2012