College and Career Readiness gets top billing at ECS
If last week’s Education Commission for the States national forum had a running theme, it was the K-12 to higher education connection. Almost every panel included a conversation about either “college and career ready” students, or about how higher education can/should support the current round of K-12 education reforms.
From the K-12 perspective, some of the big questions that kept coming up were ones that have been on a lot of minds this past year since teacher training came under the Race to the Top spotlight. Should educator preparation programs be held accountable for the effectiveness of their graduates, and if so, how? It seems that most people can agree that K-12 schools have changed since the growth of pedagogy-focused education schools half a century ago, but how do you get those programs to be the nimble, content focused, technology driven, professional development schools we believe we need? Or do we need to change the inputs to these programs by raising entrance requirements and using recruitment incentives to lure top performing high schoolers?
And from higher education’s perspective, how do we make sure high school graduates are really able to meet the challenges of college? How do we combat the inflated grades and entrenched sense of entitlement college freshman bring with them to campus? As demand and cost go up for remedial courses, how do we balance the need to turn out top performers with the lofty expectation that all students need to go to college?
Of course, there are no easy answers here, but over and over we heard the call from both the K-12 and post-secondary folks – nationwide – that it is time to stop the blame game and start working together to address some of these concerns. The Race to the Top fervor that brought about more statewide education reform in the last year than in the previous decade may give us something to build off of. Do we need similar incentives to move the needle in post-secondary education?