All of our experiences to date have shaped our core belief: 1) when high school is experienced by students as a launch pad for their college and career success; and 2) when high schools provide a college-ready academic program for all students, then low-income high schools achieve significant gains in their number of college-ready graduates who enroll in college. Moreover, these shifts will help our nation close the college access gap between rich and poor.
The new realities of global competitiveness demand action. The federal government should take targeted, high-impact steps to increase college-going rates. First and foremost, federal metrics drive action. School superintendents tell us that they’d like to focus on college transition, but because they do not know their college enrollment rates and often lack adequate resources, they can neither spot innovations nor drive improvements.
Focusing on a national campaign to build college-oriented culture in our hardest-hit high schools could quickly and inexpensively accelerate high school reforms to achieve the ultimate goal of dramatically increasing the number of students graduating from high school ready to enter the workforce or college.
We have talked a lot about measurement this week. Before signing off, I wanted to shine a spotlight on some people who have helped us think about actionable data in a school setting, and making our tools more helpful for schools. First and foremost, Deloitte consultants helped us take “it would be great if…” ideas from our partner high schools and turn them into tools that are helping us make sense of data, more quickly. Besides their technical expertise, they have also shown a real passion for our schools and students (Last summer, 40 Deloitte staff volunteered to work as writing coaches with our student influencers, and it looks like more than 100 will volunteer this summer—that’s walking the walk!).
I also want to acknowledge Bob Hughes at New Visions for Public Schools for pushing our thinking about the metrics schools need to see, and superintendents John Deasy (Prince George’s County Public Schools, MD) and Ron Duerring (Kanawha County Public Schools, WV) for piloting our measurement tools.
I should mention that the essays*, and indeed the summer workshops themselves, would not be possible without our many dedicated volunteers who help make going to college possible for thousands of low income students every year. If you have an interest in learning more about volunteering opportunities, check out our web site for more information.
Thanks for the floor, Andy. And we appreciate the continuing comments and conversations that have followed.
*Look for the last student essay later today.
–Guestblogger J.B Schramm