‘I saw college as a foreign country’

Karina Madrigal “thought college would be too challenging,” perhaps “impossible.” Her parents, Mexican immigrants, hadn’t made it past middle school. “I saw college as a foreign country.” But then, as a high school student, she took a community college class, earning dual enrollment credits — and a new perspective. It was her first step to a PhD.

What works in career-tech ed

In Updating Career and Technical Education For The 21st Century, the Lexington Institute looks at the most effective models.

Career Path High, a blended learning model in Kaysville, Utah offering personalized instruction with externships and onsite CTE training.

Providence, Rhode Island’s Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, through partnership with The Big Picture Company, is a national leader at tracking post-graduation outcomes and utilizing comprehensive data.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn offers a 9th-14th grade high school/associate’s degree program aiming students toward post-graduation job opportunities with starting salaries at $40,000.

The new career-tech models try to keep the door open to college, often giving students the chance to earn community college credits that can be applied to an associate degree or, eventually, to a bachelor’s.

Honors programs cut college costs

Dual enrollment, AP classes and community college honors programs can curb college costs and raise graduation rates, writes Chris Romer, co-founder of American Honors.

Sixty percent of students seeking a bachelor’s degree reach their goal in eight years; 38 percent seeking an associate degree graduate in four years.

Completion rates are higher for ‘dual’ students

College completion rates are higher for former “dual enrollment” students who took college-level courses in high school, according to a new report. But that could reflect selection bias.

Overall, six-year completion rates ranged from 40 percent for those who started at community colleges, 63 percent who started at public universities and 73 percent for students who started at four-year private nonprofit institutions. At two-year for-profit colleges, which focus on job training, 62 percent completed a credential.

Community college students are getting younger

Community colleges are attracting more “traditional-age” students. And, thanks to dual enrollment of high school students, more community college students are under the age of 18.

Remediation first, then college

Tennessee community colleges are running remedial math labs in local high schools to prepare students for college math.

In Colorado, “early remediation” starts in eighth grade. Students who pass remedial college courses in English and math can enroll in college-level courses as early as 10th grade.

Dual enrollment’s dark side

“Dual enrollment” students earn college credits in high school, but there’s no guarantee they’ve done college work, writes a university math professor. One of his students earned two years of college credit by the age of 18, but can’t solve math problems. Her “learning method” is guessing on multiple-choice tests. 

In Oregon, taking college courses boosts high school students’ confidence — and the odds they’ll enroll in college. But is their confidence justified?

MOOCs: A head start on college — but kids need help

High school students could use MOOCS (massive open online courses) to earn college credits, Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller tells Anya Kamenetz on Hechinger Digital.

“There are so many studies that demonstrate the benefit to students in high school in having access to college-level material. It encourages them to go to college and complete college. But that opportunity has largely been available to the most advanced students at highly endowed school districts that have teachers that can teach college-level subjects. It’s been a very inequitable offering.”

With the help of a MOOC, a high school teacher who is “passionate and motivated, but not necessarily expert” can teach a college course, Knoller says.

Ohio is looking at MOOCs to prepare students for college and prevent the need for remediation.

The San Jose State Plus pilot, a partnership with Udacity, offers three remedial and entry-level math courses to high school, community college or university students. The for-credit courses cost only $150.

At the Oakland Military Institute, a charter school with predominantly low-income students, some students didn’t have the computers or Internet access at home needed for the college statistics course, reports the San Jose Mercury News. And “many needed personal attention to make it through.”

To make it work, the institute had to issue laptops to students, set aside class time for them to focus on the online course, and assign teachers to make sure they stayed on task.

. . . With more than 700 students in grades 6 through 12, the school had to devote much of its computer lab space, equipment and staffing to online courses for the roughly 45 students taking the Udacity courses. A donation paid for the course fees.

Answering questions and keeping students on task consumed much of his time, said Omar Solache, a computer teacher with two other job titles. A second teacher was assigned to help ease his load.

“They’re so used to having teachers right there with them,” Solache said.

Students watched short videos, chatted with online tutors available around the clock and moved at their own pace, reviewing what they didn’t understand. An evaluation of the pilot will be available in the fall.

Here’s a research report on San Jose State’s partnership with edX on an introductory engineering MOOC.

Technology aids disabled students

Technology is helping high school students with learning disabilities take “middle college” courses.

The second-chance club

In the “second-chance club,” dropouts, immigrants and people trying to start over must learn to write a thesis sentence, make verbs agree with subjects and master the comma to pass remedial English and move on to college-level courses.

A Wisconsin high school now works with employers to offer 22 dual-credit career classes in business, marketing and information technology. When seniors filled out surveys, three-fourths said they planned to enroll in four-year colleges and universities. It turned out half were going straight to the workforce with minimal skills; only 20 percent enrolled in four-year institutions.