Improving College Readiness and Success for All Students

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					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
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

                  *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
 • Overall, federal statistics suggest that 40% of
   college students take at least one remedial
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

 High         10%             49%              36%                4%
 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
• 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
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
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
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
• 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
• 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
College Readiness Standards

• Texas College Readiness Standards
   – Contain statements of key content knowledge
     along with cross-discipline skills and key cognitive
   – 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?

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