Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Agents of Change in the Secondary & Higher Ed World

Collaborative relationships between school districts and universities are significant in both the university role for teacher training and the goal of high school students' matriculation.  And, the education system has long advocated itself as a K-16 model.  Yet, the sad reality is that far too many students do not transition well to higher education, and colleges have long lamented how poorly prepared students are for the rigors of university.  In fact, the role of AP classes in providing access to college level work for qualified students has been complicated by the moves of many colleges to limit the AP credit given to students.  Dartmouth recently decided to no longer give any AP credit, and the College Board added synthesis and research-style DBQs in response to university complaints that students weren't being adequately prepared for college-level research papers.  Critics argue that universities are implementing these restrictions simply to increase revenue because they were losing money on general education requirements - which are often a school's cash cow.

The problem is the students who are caught in the middle - though innovative thinking about curriculum and scheduling can contribute to a more efficient and effective education system.  The rise of concurrent enrollment (CE) and dual credit classes is contributing to a closer relationship between the two entities, especially in terms of curriculum.  As it becomes clear that many students can complete both K-12 and higher ed in less than than traditional time, the blurring of lines between high school and college will benefit students both financially and academically.  Relationships that exist now between schools like Golden High School and Red Rocks Community College have created opportunities for students to literally walk across the stage at graduation and accept a high school diploma and an associates degree at the same time.  Additionally, plans in the works in places like New Hampshire may someday allow high school "graduation" as early as sixteen if the student is qualified and gains admission to a associate degree or career training program.

The system - though traditionally rigid - is in flux with the rise of edu-punks and edu-preneurs (to use Anya Kamenetz's term).  And with the rise of new systems such as CE and dual-credit, as well as MOOcs like Coursera and edX, the lines will continue to blur in ways that benefit all stakeholders and create more efficient, accessible, and effective education.  For those entering school administration, then, it's of primary importance to be "a leader [who] promotes the success of every student by understanding, responding to, and influencing the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context."

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