February 2018


Higher Ed for Higher Standards led a session at the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) National Legislative Summit last week, focusing on how community college presidents and trustees can build stronger partnerships with their K-12 feeder systems to close preparation gaps, build seamless pathways, and ensure more students complete a postsecondary credential.

Robert Zarate, a Trustee of Alamo College in Texas, highlighted the institution's efforts to build a stronger pipeline from K-12 by making early college and career opportunities for high school students a top policy priority of his institution. Alamo has significantly increased the number of students, including traditionally underserved students, earning postsecondary credits in high school by scaling dual enrollment and early college programs and establishing the Alamo Academies, a paid internship program to address the region's gap of high-skilled workforce in areas of aerospace, information technology, and several others.  

Mary Graham, President of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, current board chair of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and member of Higher Ed for Higher Standards Advisory Council, described her institution's efforts to partner with K-12 districts to scale career pathways and formalize apprenticeship-to-credit opportunities in well-paying industries with increased demand.  

Martha Kanter, Executive Director of the College Promise Campaign and current member of the Higher Ed for Higher Standards Advisory Council, emphasized the importance of a strong collaborative relationship between community colleges and K-12 schools to increase both enrollment and preparation. She highlighted College Promise programs as a prime opportunity area to ratchet up students' academic preparation in high school to ensure students use those Promise resources for credit-bearing coursework.
For more ways that collaboration with K-12 and community colleges can support student success, check out our joint report with AACC and ACCT, Seizing the Moment.

We're also looking forward to hosting a meeting with State Higher Executive Officers and K-12 Chief State School Officers from seven states to identify the highest impact strategies for collaborating across sectors to deliver on college and career readiness and postsecondary attainment goals. The meeting, which will take place in Nashville, is being organized by Education Strategy Group in collaboration with the Tennessee Departments of K-12 and Higher Education and TN Score.


Virginia recently released information about its progress toward meeting the state's goal of increasing the percentage of state residents with some form of workforce credential or degree after high school to 70%. The state's attainment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points since 2014.  In order to increase attainment, Virginia is focused on closing the gaps between underrepresented students using the 'success' rate, a broader measure than traditional graduation rates that includes transfers and continued enrollment. For four year institutions, the success rate for all students increased 2 percentage points from 76% to 78%, while the success rate for underrepresented students increased 4 percentage points from 67% to 71%. The state has identified regional K-12/higher education partnerships, such as Pathway to the Baccalaureate, as contributing to the success. pathway to the Baccalaureate is a consortium of 10 educational institutions in Northern Virginia, including K-12 public school systems, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), and George Mason, that have joined forces to provide a seamless web of postsecondary support for students from traditionally underrepresented groups.  The State Council for Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV) also plans to leverage newly formed College Completion teams to identify and share state and institution strategies that support increased success rates for students. For more information, check out the latest annual report from SCHEV here , and for more on how aligning with K-12 can help states meet their credential attainment goal, see our Leveraging ESSA Attainment Goal brief .

Georgia State University (GSU) is leveraging artificial intelligence to address 'summer melt' - the troubling phenomenon where students who intended to go to college in the spring, fail to matriculate in the fall. This system, named 'Pounce' for the university's mascot, integrates university data on students' progress in completing required pre-matriculation tasks to provide relevant, just-in-time text message reminders. Students who received Pounce outreach completed their required pre-matriculation tasks and enrolled on-time at significantly higher rates than those who received GSU's standard outreach-effectively reducing GSU's summer melt by 21% and reducing staff time spent on common, more straightforward questions that Pounce can answer instead. By reducing the time and effort required for successful matriculation, Pounce freed up counselors to focus on other critical supports for entering and currently enrolled students. For more information on Pounce, check out the article from Harvard Business Review or read the research paper. For more information on Georgia State's broad efforts to close attainment gaps, read this case study from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


A Closer Look at How "Speed Up" and "Catch Up" Supports Readiness & Completion in Community Colleges
Two new reports from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) demonstrate strong early support for both 'speed up' opportunities for students ready for college-level coursework, as well as 'catch up' intervention strategies to bring developmental education content into high schoo ls to support students  who need additional help to become college-ready before they graduate.   The number of states offering student transition courses statewide has doubled since 2012-2013, up to seventeen from eight according to a national scan from CCRC .


Twelve states allow students that complete these transition curricula to automatically matriculate into credit-bearing college-level courses - though five do not allow students to directly place into credit-bearing courses following the completion of transition curricula. Transition courses are an important way states can support students' progression from high school into postsecondary and maximize opportunities to achieve readiness - and failing to connect transition course completion to the opportunity to directly place into credit-bearing coursework is a missed opportunity. For more information on how states can leverage their ESSA plan to build transition courses to promote college readiness, see our brief .

In addition to the seventeen statewide courses, twenty-two states offer transition courses in particular localities. Our alignment policy brief on TN SAILS offers lessons learned in scaling a local initiative statewide. Last week, Delaware announced that any high school across the state can now offer Foundations of College English, a new transition course built by Delaware Technical Community College and piloted in fall 2016 to complement their original Foundations of College Math course, that will guarantee completing students the ability to directly enter credit -bearing English classes at Delaware colleges and universities.
Another new study from CCRC tracked more than 200,000 high school students who completed a dual enrollment course and found that 88 percent of these students matriculated in college. This rate of matriculation was significantly higher than the rate for students who did not complete any dual enrollment courses. Among former community college dual enrollment students who first enrolled in a community college after high school, 46 percent completed a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor's degree within five years - compared to other research that shows that only 39 percent of students overall earn a college degree or certificate within six years.
Why Higher Ed? Most People Cite Jobs
In their latest report, Strada and Gallup examine the top motives for individuals choosing their educational pathways. Work outcomes are the main reason (58 percent) individuals choose higher education, with more than double the percentage representing the next most prevalent motivation. Further, this holds relatively well across all higher education pathways, not just four-year colleges and universities (see graphic below). This report underscores the importance of helping students make the connection from school to work - not just to improve post-graduation outcomes, but also as a way to potentially boost persistence and completion. 

About Higher Ed for Higher Standards

Higher Ed for Higher Standards is a growing coalition of higher education leaders who believe aligned expectations and strong partnerships between K-12 and postsecondary leaders are critical to improving student success.  Join us!
Higher Ed for Higher Standards is an initiative of Education Strategy Group. For more information about our other work, please visit our  website .

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