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College Readiness | News

Technology, Accelerated Learning Keys to Fostering K-12 Students' Interest in Higher Ed

A report published by the Blackboard Institute has identified several ways in which educators can best encourage high school students, especially those from underrepresented groups, to pursue higher education. The report, entitled "Closing the Gap between High School and College," is based upon one-on-one interviews with 24 recognized experts in education theory and practice.

Among the interviewees for the report, the top strategy identified for motivating students to invest themselves in planning for higher education was exposing them to the college learning experience, specifically by offering and strongly encouraging enrollment in accelerated learning, advanced placement (AP), and international baccalaureate (IB) classes and programs.

Some of the existing strategies have also proved ineffective, most notably high school exit exams, said Garen Singer, program director for The Blackboard Institute. "Given the pressure high schools face to ensure student success on standardized tests, they often target efforts on students passing the test without enough focus on 21st-century skills or sufficient core content knowledge."

Linda Michalowski, vice chancellor of student services for California Community Colleges, identified the specific problem in her state. "In California, the high school exit exams are based on a [7th to 10th grade] level--obviously much lower than what we require for entry into college-level course work. In the gap is the need to understand and support the community college system. This poses a huge issue for us in that the students just aren't prepared."

As such, many of the recommended strategies in the report relate to shifting the focus of K-12 education. Top strategies the interview subjects emphasized include:

  • Incorporating technology into the learning process;
  • Prioritizing training for teachers so they can help prepare students for college success;
  • Reevaluating how teachers can provide a more organic experience for students;
  • Assessing the college-readiness of students early, while there is still time to intervene; and
  • Adopting national standards that are aligned with entry requirements for higher education.

The Blackboard Institute, an independent education research organization launched by education technology firm Blackboard, conducts research and disseminates information pertaining to effective practices in improving education at both the K-12 and collegiate levels. To read the higher education report in its entirety, click here.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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