May 1, 2017


Work remains in every state to meet future workforce projections based on postsecondary attainment rates.
Higher Ed for Higher Standards released the latest in our series of  Leveraging ESSA policy briefs  in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), National Association of System Heads (NASH) and State Higher Education Executive Officers association (SHEEO) in mid-April. This piece makes the case for vertically aligning K-12 education goals with postsecondary credential attainment goals in states, and identifies clear strategies for accomplishing this.

According to Lumina Foundation, over 30 states have set postsecondary attainment goals with a clear eye toward meeting their economic development needs. This new brief argues that these attainment goals can't be reached through the actions of postsecondary systems and institutions alone. Meeting ambitious attainment goals will require K-12 and higher education rowing in the same direction so that more of our students arrive at our institutions prepared for success. 

Aligning attainment goals will require K-12 systems to expand their focus beyond high school graduation rates and put greater stock in postsecondary readiness, transitions and success, as Ryan Reyna argues in a recent op-ed " High School Isn't Enough," published in U.S. News.
Goals are only a starting point ꟷ states will also need to take the next step to identify appropriate supports and acceleration strategies to prepare more students for postsecondary success. Read Shannon Gilkey's commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education " Postsecondary Success Starts in High School" for more ideas on how states and institutions can help students realize postsecondary success. 


A new report suggests that collaboration between the Hawai'i State Department of Education and University of Hawai'i around college access and success is making an impact. Remediation rates in English and mathematics are down following a new placement policy in fall 2016, and dual credit and AP course participation are up. "More high school graduates entering into college-level courses immediately after high school demonstrates that the changes we've initiated and [...] the collaboration with the University of Hawai'i are paying off for our students and community," said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "These results are a clear testament to the commitment of our school leaders and teachers who stayed the course in raising the rigor and setting high expectations for our students." For more examples of how K-12 and higher ed collaboration can reduce remediation, check out our alignment brief around assessment and placement policies.

Policymakers and practitioners in Minnesota have long used acceleration programs in high school as a strategy to improve college readiness and college success, but little data previously existed to show the impact on students' postsecondary pathways. A new study from AIR and the Midwest College and Career Success Research Alliance reveals new insights:
  • Participation in high school acceleration programs was positively associated with college enrollment after high school, college readiness, and persistence to the second year of college
  • Students who participated in an acceleration program were 9-15 percentage points more likely to enroll in only nonremedial coursework, relative to students who did not participate in an acceleration program
Research shows that college-level coursework taken during high school can help identify weaknesses early on, which can reduce the need for remedial coursework after high school graduation.
The latest Delaware College Success Report offers 4 key recommendations to eliminate remediation, focused on supporting students to graduate ready for college-level math and English, providing targeted interventions for 11th grade students not ready for college-level coursework and designing a more accessible and equitable K-12 system. The report also highlights district- and state-level data, and offers critical questions geared to help educators and policymakers ensure all students are prepared to take credit-bearing courses in college math and English. Read more from Delaware Online, or check out our alignment policy brief for more on how precollege interventions like TN SAILS can reduce remediation at scale.


The State of American High School Graduates: What States Know (and don't) about Student Performance
State leaders need timely, actionable data in order to measure if supports to improve readiness are working. Achieve collected states' publicly reported student performance against college- and career-ready indicators in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in this year's report on The State of American High School Graduates: What States Know (and Don't) About Student Performance. As more K-12 and postsecondary systems are working together on issues of college readiness, persistence and completion, better data - including postsecondary enrollment, remediation, and persistence - is necessary to support student success. For more information on the importance of good data in measuring student progress and success, see our recent report, Destination Known: Valuing College and Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems.

More Than Half of the Racial College Completion Gap Explained by Pre-College Factors
Higher ed leaders know that some student populations are less likely than others to complete college, with a significant gap in completion rates between Black and Hispanic students and their White counterparts. Less information is available on what part of the educational pipeline, however, is most likely to contribute to the gaps between these student groups.

New findings demonstrate that more than 60 percent of this completion gap can be traced back to pre-college factors; the two largest factors driving the achievement gap were poverty and attending a high-minority high school.
The next key group of factors, however, was related to academic preparation, like access to rigorous coursework that included high-level math courses and AP courses. This suggests significant implications for the importance of cross-sector investments in K-12 and higher ed partnerships, like college readiness programs in high schools, in the closing achievement gap.

The infographic above from Leveraging ESSA outlines the "leaks" in the student success pipeline related to student preparation.

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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