Improving College Readiness and Success for All Students David T. Conley, Ph.D. Professor, University of Oregon Director, Center for Educational Policy Research CEO, Educational Policy Improvement Center Presentation to Governing Board Conference Houston, Texas October 30, 2007 Elements of the Presentation 1. How well prepared for college success are students currently? 2. A new definition of college readiness 3. General characteristics of a college-ready student 4. What you can do to help more students enter college prepared to succeed 1. How well prepared for college success are students currently? • More students are attending college within two years of high school graduation – More first generation college attenders – More academically marginal applicants • Even students taking a “core academic program” are not necessarily well prepared • High school teachers and college faculty have differing perceptions of student preparedness How Many High School Graduates Go to College?* • Within two years of high school graduation, 70% of students have enrolled in postsecondary education – 27% in public 4-year institutions – 13% in private 4-year institutions – 27% in 2-year institutions • 34 percent of spring 2002 HS sophomores expected to receive graduate degrees *Bozick, R., & Lauff, E. (2007). Education longitudinal study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A first look at the initial postsecondary experiences of the sophomore class of 2002 (No. NCES 2008-308). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. How College Ready are Students Who Take a “Core Curriculum”?* • ACT defines the “Recommended Core Curriculum” as follows: – At least 4 years of English – At least 3 years of mathematics – At least 3 years of social studies – At least 3 years of natural sciences • This is a reasonably high standard, consistent with what is required for admission to many US universities *Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum How College Ready are Students Who Take a “Core Curriculum”?* • Of students taking the Recommended Core Curriculum, three out of four are not prepared to succeed in entry-level college courses, based on the ACT national college readiness indicators • About 1 in 5 needs substantial help in all four subject areas to be college ready *Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum, ACT How College Ready are Students Who Take a “Core Curriculum”?* • Of students who take Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry in high school, 25% end up taking remedial math in college • Of students who take a math course beyond these three, 17% still need remediation *Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum, ACT How Many Students Who Are Admitted Still Need Remediation? • While remedial rates are subject to debate, it appears that over 1/4 of incoming students at four-year colleges must take one or more remedial course • At some community colleges, the figure reaches 60% • Overall, federal statistics suggest that 40% of college students take at least one remedial course Differing Perceptions on How Well Incoming College Students Can Write Six times as many high school teachers think students are very well prepared for college writing than do college faculty Not well Somewhat Very well Don’t know prepared well prepared prepared High 10% 49% 36% 4% school College 44% 47% 6% 3% Chronicle of Higher Education, v. 52, no. 27, B9, March 6, 2006 2. A New Definition of College Ready* • The level of preparation a student needs in order to enroll and succeed—without remediation—in credit-bearing general education courses that meet requirements for a baccalaureate degree. • “Succeed” is defined as completing entry-level courses at a level of understanding and proficiency sufficient for the student to: – succeed in a sequent course in the subject area – apply course knowledge to another subject area * Conley, D. (2007). Toward a More Comprehensive Conception of College Readiness. The Four Key Dimensions of College Readiness Four Key Dimensions of College Readiness • Key Cognitive Strategies – Analytic reasoning, problem solving, inquisitiveness, precision, interpretation, evaluating claims • Key Content Knowledge – Writing skills, algebraic concepts, key foundational content and “big ideas” from core subjects • Academic Behaviors (self-management) – Persistence, time management, study group use, awareness of performance • Contextual Skills and Awareness (“college knowledge”) – Admissions requirements, cost of college, purpose and opportunities of college, types of colleges, college culture, relations with professors 3. General Characteristics of College-Ready Students 1. Consistent intellectual growth and development over four years of high school as a result of studying increasingly challenging academic content 2. Deep understanding of key foundational ideas and concepts from the core academic subjects 3. A strong grounding in the knowledge base that underlies the key concepts of the core academic disciplines as evidenced by the ability to solve novel problems and think like experts in the subject area General Characteristics of College-Ready Students 4. Facility with a range of key intellectual and cognitive skills and capabilities that can be broadly generalized as the ability to think 5. Reading and writing skills and strategies sufficient to process the full range of textual materials commonly encountered in entry-level college courses and to respond successfully to the written assignments commonly required in such courses 6. Mastery of key concepts and ways of thinking found in one or more scientific discipline sufficient to succeed in an introductory-level science course that could lead to a major in an area requiring scientific knowledge General Characteristics of College-Ready Students 7. Comfort with a range of numeric concepts and principles sufficient to take at least one introductory-level math course that could lead to a major that requires additional mathematics 8. Ability to accept critical feedback including critiques of written work submitted or an argument presented in class 9. Ability to assess objectively one’s level of competence in a subject and to devise plans to improve work quality General Characteristics of College-Ready Students 10. Ability to study independently and with a study group on a complex assignment requiring extensive out-of-class preparation that extends over a reasonably long period of time 11. Ability to interact successfully with a wide range of faculty, staff, and students, including among them many who come from different backgrounds and hold points of view different from the student’s 12. Understanding of the values and norms of colleges and within them disciplinary subjects as the organizing structures for intellectual communities that pursue common understandings and fundamental explanations of natural phenomena and key aspects of the human condition Example Performances • Write a 3-5 page research paper that is structured around a cogent, coherent line of reasoning • Read with understanding a range of non-fiction publications and technical materials • Employ fundamentals of algebra to solve multi-step problems • Conduct basic scientific experiments or analyses • Interpret two conflicting explanations of the same event or phenomenon • Conduct research on a topic • Communicate in a second language Example Performances • Punctually attend a study group outside of class • Create and maintain a personal schedule that includes a to-do list with prioritized tasks and appointments • Complete successfully a problem or assignment that requires about two weeks of independent work and extensive research • Utilize key technological tools including appropriate computer software • Locate websites that contain information on colleges, the admissions process, and financial aid • Present an accurate self-assessment of readiness for college 4. Responding to the Challenge • How can postsecondary education send clearer messages to high schools about what it takes to be college ready? • How can state education policy support better alignment between high school and college? • What can be done at the campus level to promote a new conception of college ready? Things That Colleges and Universities Can Do • Utilize college readiness standards to communicate expectations to high school students and teachers • Use the four-part model to develop more comprehensive college readiness programs institutionally College Readiness Standards • Texas College Readiness Standards – Contain statements of key content knowledge along with cross-discipline skills and key cognitive strategies – Will be validated against existing college courses – Will be the basis for constructing better aligned courses and materials for 12th grade instruction • The standards are in draft form until late January 2008 – Familiarize yourself with them if possible Four-Part Model • The four-part model of college readiness can be used to help first generation college attenders, for example: – to form and use study groups, time management, self- awareness of performance – to learn about the culture of higher education, how to establish relations with faculty, how to use campus resources – to become more aware of the key cognitive strategies they should be developing • This leads to a more coherent program of support for these students and, by extension, all students What Can You Do? • How can your institution promote better alignment between high school and college? • What institutional policies or practices are not sending the right messages to high schools about college readiness? • How can your institution build better connections with local high schools?