Talking seamless transitions

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On Oct. 16, Talent Dividend Netwok (TDN) and The Civic Commons moderated a conversation with Tom Lasley of Learn to Earn Dayton, The Dayton Foundation, and is a Professor and former Dean (1998-2010) at University of Dayton on the topic of seamless transition from high school to college.

This was a robust and fantastic discussion with education professionals nationwide. What follows is an excerpt from the transcript of the conversation. The discussion continues at The Civic Commons, so check in and share your thoughts!

Moderator: Tom Lasley, Learn to Earn Dayton, The Dayton Foundation
Facilitator: Emily Cole, Community Engagement Manager, Talent Dividend Network
Tom Lasley: Why don't we get to the issue ... [of] innovative ways of offering the dual enrollment courses in high school, and clearly the online courses represent one way of doing that. I'd be curious as to other ways that people are finding it economically possible to offer the dual enrollment courses within high school settings, and what they are doing to accomplish that? Again we know that KSU is relying, not totally but at least heavily, on the online offerings at a reduced tuition rate. What do others see happening in other parts of the country? If they are offered in others parts of the country, are they being taught by high school teachers or are they being co-taught in some way? Could someone from one of the other states share what they see is happening in their states? ... Gloria, at Kent State or at Youngstown State are there any other strategies besides the use of the online delivery that you're reliant upon? Do you have many faculty members going out into the high schools or are you reliant on high school teachers to teach those courses?
Gloria Dunnivan, Kent State University, Dual Enrollment Program: We have quite a few teachers (who are adjunct), but we also have graduate assistants in some of the disciplines that can co-teach with the teachers if they don't meet the qualifications and the schools don't prefer online. So we have a math class in Cleveland where that is occurring, and the teacher is not qualified, but a grad assistant goes twice a week and co-teaches. We've done that at several other high schools as well.
TL: Do you know for the high schools about what percentage of the students are taking advantage of this? For example, if you went into some of your high schools would it be 5% or 10%? Do you have any sense of the magnitude in terms of the number of students that are taking dual enrollment courses?
Gloria Dunnivan: It varies depending on the school district and the proximity to the university. So at one high school in Portage County (which is near us) they have almost every one of their juniors and seniors taking dual credit classes at their high school. Either they are taking courses online or their teachers are adjunct so that would be the majority of them. At other schools I have like two or three at a time. Some of the rural areas only have 50 students in their senior class and so I don't have a lot of students in those schools.
TL: Students who are participating?
GD: Yes.
Karla Krodel, Dual Enrollment Program & Faculty member, Youngstown State University: In Youngstown we have the same situation where some schools are really promoting the program and some schools that's not the case. Overall I think in our three county area (Mahoning, Columbiana, and Trumbull counties) we are serving about 4% of the senior class is taking at least one course.
TL: Again at Youngstown, I'm not sure I caught this. You're not using much of the online, but you're using face-to-face instruction either though the high school instructor or a college instructor that's going in? Is that correct?
KK: As of now it's all face-to-face.
TL: And, so we kind of see what's happening to Ohio, but let's give everyone on the call who is outside of Ohio a chance. Do you care to comment on what's happening in your section of the country? I'll give you a second to respond here.
Mark Bukowski, Director of Admissions, University of Florida Sarasota-Manatee: On our campus we're kind of in a unique situation because we're a regional campus of the USF system. We're just starting to admit freshman starting next fall in August of 2013. We're having more and more students just within FL in general who are completing their two-year AA degree while they're in high school. By AA, the Associate of Arts degree, which in the state of FL meets the first two years of a general education curriculum when they come into a university. I couldn't speak to what the percentage is because we're just now starting to work with high school students but we're seeing more students who are coming in as 18-year-olds and they have essentially their first two years of college finished already. It's unique because they still have to meet our freshman admissions criteria but as soon as they matriculate into the university they are basically automatically college juniors. We're seeing that, and in terms of cost, it's obviously a great cost saver for students and their parents and they are getting this done for free. They are basically graduating from high school and completing the associative arts degree at the college level all at the same time.

There are pros and cons to that I think. They are coming in with the great academic background already however as 18 year olds they are coming into junior level classes at the university so they are with a lot of students who have already been at the university and have had more experience. ...
TL: Can I ask you for the students that are coming in: Are you finding that they really are college ready? You said they are coming in with a lot of college work, but I know one of the issues of concern for some of our four-year institutions in Ohio is the integrity of those dual enrollment courses offered at the high school level. So my question is are you finding that the students that are coming in have had a good reverse set of experiences in those dual enrollment courses and they really are ready to undertake the studies that you offer on campus or are there concerns about the quality of those courses?
Mark Bukowski: So far for USF it seems to be working fairly well and the students seem to be fairly prepared. I cannot speak for the other state universities in the state or what experiences they've had. I'm not sure since we're such a diverse state. Perhaps regionally there may be difference in terms of how those transitions are happening but in general for USF there pretty prepared when they come in. I think if anything academically they are doing well. It's just a little bit more attention to be paid, maybe, socially are they ready to jump right into that. In general it's working for us ...so it's seems to be pretty successful.
TL: And the critical mass of students involved in this is a larger group or sort of a beta test? How would you describe the number of students?
Mark Bukowski: I wouldn't say it's a large group. I don't know if I could put a percentage on it, but more and more are coming in with a dual enrollment and AP courses. The amount of students who really have the AA degree completed where they have a full two years already is probably a smaller percentage, and I would say it's really the test group still. It's been happening more over the last two to three years so I would say it's a huge critical mass. ... Especially with the cost of higher education, it's definitely gaining in popularity.
TL: Good. That's very helpful. Any other parts of the country want to share their perspective on this?
Emily Cole: I would also like to add that if we have some new folks on the call feel free to jump in. We did introductions early on. Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts just because you haven't introduced yourself.
TL: Again, the questions so far that we've been dealing with. The first was how are we trying to assure this sort of seamless transition from high school to postsecondary. Particularly trying to look at how we change the culture so that young people can see we're moving from high school completing cultures to post-secondary matriculating and completing cultures. The second was: Delivering dual enrollment courses within the context of the high school and the challenges associated with that especially as it relates to the kind of faculty competence and expertise that needs to be evident for offering the courses.
A third question that we had was: What are the reasons that we see students either taking advantage or not taking advantage of the offerings that are being provided? Why don't we do the reasons that we see young people not participating in dual enrollment courses in the high schools? With those courses we see the transition into college, but why do we see young people not doing it? Is it because of the issue of affordability or the readiness or what are some of the reasons that you see being evidenced in the high schools and the teachers and counselors at the high schools are sharing in terms of an explanation as to why they aren't doing it?
Mark Bukowski: This is Mark again from USF. I can say that in FL one of the keys that we see is just really the lack of knowledge. A lot of these students are first-generation or will be first-generation college, and the parents aren't always, I guess, the best advocates to get these students in these programs to where they all understand what this means to do these programs if the student is qualified to do it. I don't want to speak for the counselors and teachers as far as what's happening in the high schools, but I do know they are working hard to get the appropriate students in the courses. We see a lot of times there's a prospective freshman and they are not aware of these programs and what the benefits are ... and at times it's an opportunity missed, and like I said, I don't know what exactly is happening in the high schools, and maybe that student wouldn't have been pinpointed by a teacher or counselor into the program. We definitely do want to work on educating the parents also on what those opportunities are and to get more involvement from them.
TL: So the absence of parents' support is really one complicating factor. What are other issues are being evidenced?
Nahir Torres, The Boston Foundation and Success Boston: One of the things we've heard from both our community partners and our districts -- we work pretty intensively with this -- is that there's a history of guidance counselors who are under-resourced and really just don't have the capacity to serve their full caseloads of students. So they have tended to, as a necessity, be selective about whom they do their guidance support and college readiness work with really prioritizing the students bound for four-year colleges. That means that a significant share of our students that are the perhaps lie under the radar or perhaps aren't the strongest students academically or don't have parents who advocate for them, they can get lost in the shuffle, and so what we have been doing with the district and our community partners is really to encourage messaging with all students so that it's not just certain students who are perceived as college bound but that all students whether they are the strongest academically or maybe struggling that they want to start to explore college options and what it means to be ready early on. That way we're not having students that get lost in the shuffle.
TL: You raise an important issue or question around the preparedness of the guidance counselors to move from trying to get these kids through high school and graduated to a new vision where they are college ready. I'd be interested to hear if that issue has surfaced in other states that have signed onto the Common Core. Are they ready to gear up to this college and career-ready expectations or is this going to be a huge problem in terms of providing assistance to young people as they think about this transition?
Emily Elliott, Barry Community Foundation (MI): I just wanted to tell you about our local college access network that we just started in the past year called Navigate, and it's just what you're talking about. The counselors, well, there's less of them and there's more students to try to get ready for college, and what we're trying to do is to get -- it's grant-funded -- an in-school specialist in the high school to help the counselor to get kids in high school ready for college and holding their hands through the process of what they need to do, and the counselors just don't have time to do that.
TL: Ohio is going to have something, and this would be accessible to everyone -- it's going to be called Ohio Means Success, which will be a web portal used to guide a student, and they can come in as a freshman, sophomore, or junior, or senior in high school and they could track themselves through in terms of understanding their college and career readiness. It will go live on or about November 15, and I've already looked at the site and navigated it to a certain extent. I think it's going to be a nice asset especially for younger people who are in higher poverty school situations where they might not have the same guidance counselor support that you get in some of the more affluent schools. Even if you were not in OH I would look at the content on there. Ninety percent of it would be applicable even if you were not in Ohio.
Karla Krodel: I just wanted to talk quickly about the issues of under-resourced high school and college students that don't have a vision for themselves for college is an area that I've been working on for the last 10 years. What we've started to do at YSU, actually last year, we piloted the junior year students at one of our urban high schools very successfully. What we do is use a learning community approach with a specific course that's called "Investigations Into Economic Class in America" and it tackles head on the issues of poverty for them (meaning students coming from generational poverty or longer term situational poverty). We know the students that are first-generation and low-income are twice as likely to not get any degree or certificate in six years, but we never explicitly talk about this with our students. What does it mean, and this course does this ... not in a "I sit up in front of my students and tell them all about poverty"... but rather I sit down with my students and ask them what they know about poverty. That's the first time that's ever happened and no one's ever honored the knowledge and skills that they bring to the table, much less help them translate how to use that knowledge and skills to their benefit in these middle class institutions.
The curriculum goes on from there to talk about two story lines to talk about the impact of poverty on the family and the the impact of poverty on wealth creation in communities. ... It's clear that it's not just the bad choices of the student or their family that has created the situation. It also explicitly talks about the differences of social knowledge between poverty and middle class and the people from legacy wealth and why are there those differences, and why do people in poverty value certain things and do certain things that people from middle class don't value and do. and why do people from middle class value and do things that people in wealth don't do. What differences does that difference make, and now that you know this can you use this information to your own advantage? Not telling the student "you're from poverty and you're really jacked up and you're not going to be successful in college so you better learn to do it my way," but instead really inviting them to the table as a problem solver and knowledge creator to help us understand how come our system fails them so often? If we take a minute and we have an obligation to figure out how to educate them successfully and I think we've failed to do that one a really grand scale. So that's what we've been working on, and last year we piloted this at East High School in Youngstown with 25 fabulous students.
TL: That was very useful. What was the name of the publication that you referenced at the beginning again?
Karla Krodel: I better let you know that I'm the co-author on the book.
TL: That's OK. If it's good there's nothing wrong. What was the name of it again please?
Karla Krodel: It's called Investigations Into Economic Class in America."
TL: Oh good. Great. Other comments on this please? We're coming up on almost an hour, and I know how valuable everyone's time is, and we've really tried to kind of look at briefly three different questions today. Emily has agreed to transcribe and share this with everyone and so we have a paper trail about what we've discussed. I want to thank absolutely everyone for participating on the call. I know I've got several notes on things I would like to follow up on, and I hope it's been useful in terms of the time you committed to it as well. Any final thoughts?
Emily Cole: I just wanted to second the thank you as well to all of you that either participated or listened into the call. Much of the work of the Talent Dividend Network so far has been out in the community from folks like Noel and the rest has been online. So I do encourage you to explore the website: www.talentdividendnetwork.com, and you will find the latest monthly e-magazine. If you have any resources, videos, or things you would like to share about the great work that you're doing please email or call me. I know it's a bit of a shameless plug, but we're trying to house as much good, helpful and thoughtful information as we can across this network nationwide and so I appreciate again all of you taking the time and especially Tom for leading such a thoughtful discussion. I hope to keep things rolling online, and so again please feel free to follow up with me and I can pass anything along to Tom that you would like. Thanks again and have a wonderful evening!
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