Below is a guest blog by Dr. Eric Wearne of Georgia Gwinnett College and formerly with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Dr. Wearne currently leads GCO’s College & Career Pathways working group.
By: Dr. Eric Wearne
What it means to be “college ready” has been a popular topic of conversation among educators in school systems, state agencies, and even at the national level for several years. Local schools certainly think about this, though they are not directly held accountable for their graduates’ outcomes (other than graduation itself). The Georgia Department of Education and the University System of Georgia have worked on college readiness definition and alignment issues for several years. SAT and ACT publish their opinions of what constitutes “college readiness” (based on their respective tests) every year. And the federal report that was meant as a “blueprint” for reform of no child left behind very clearly discusses USED’s desire to increase “college readiness.”
Over the past few months, GCO’s working group on college and career readiness has met and started defining its research agenda in the area of improving college readiness outcomes.
In its first few meetings, the group has looked specifically at college readiness. The group has chosen to focus its efforts in this area by looking at the particular issues of three sets of students:
a. Students in college but not prepared for it;
b. Students currently in high school and in danger of dropping out;
c. Students in high school (not in danger of dropping out), but not on track for college or careers.
Today, the group will meet at Georgia Gwinnett College, and will hear presentations about issues related to students in need of remediation and first-generation college students. SAT, ACT, and USED have suggested college readiness standards or goals, as noted above. More practically for Georgia schools, the University System of Georgia has defined what it means to be “college ready” through its Required High School Curriculum. The requirements are reasonable, and both public and private schools in Georgia know what these requirements are and help their students meet them. But the fact remains that large numbers of students who would like to attend college, and work toward (and often attain) these credentials are still not college ready. How might colleges support students who they have admitted, but who are not really college ready? What can K12 do to ensure that their graduates are able to do what they want to with their lives, or, as GCO often puts it, reach “middle class by middle age?” This ground is where GCO’s working group will conduct its research and find recommendations.
This is just the first stage in the group’s work. In the coming months, the group will look more specifically at career readiness, broadly-defined: career academies, vocational education, apprenticeships, etc. Other areas the group will explore as it works toward policy recommendations are: looking at the impact of teacher effectiveness, teacher training, and teacher career responsibilities on college- and career-readiness outcomes; exploring the possibilities that may come from online learning technologies and related strategies such as competency-based learning; and other areas the group finds necessary and worthwhile.