Breaking Down Silos: Increased collaboration among secondary schools, colleges and government are key to student success

EEP Guide to Ohio’s New Graduation Requirements, PART 4. A guest post by Dr. Trista S. Linden-Warren.

Last week, a public radio initiative out of Boston, On Campus, reported on Ohio’s progress increasing access to college in high school, also known as early college or dual enrollment. About a quarter of Ohio high school students have indicated interest in the state’s program to support college in high school, College Credit Plus, putting Ohio on track to reap some of the benefits national research attributes to college in high school. Those include increased high school completion rates and improved rates of credential attainment, not to mention increased college completion. Still, as noted in the On Campus report, making the most of College Credit Plus requires unprecedented collaboration among high schools, colleges, government and community partners. That’s why Dr. Trista S. Linden-Warren’s account of new conversations among state leadership and local leadership in Mahoning County is so relevant, and presented here as Part 4 of our EEP Guide to Ohio’s New Graduation Requirements.

On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, I had the opportunity to join Mahoning Valley Early College Design Teams (Canfield and Austintown Fitch) and Youngstown State University in a Secondary School Roundtable discussion with Dr. Larisa Harper, State of Ohio Higher Education’s College Credit Plus Director. Lakeview Local High School was also present. The topics of consideration included best practices, innovative partnerships, cost-saving strategies, and creative course pathways. It was impressive to see Mahoning Valley schools sharing best and promising practices in college and career readiness.

YSU’s Assistant Director, Metro Credit/College Credit Plus, Sharon Schroeder, facilitated the conversation and all representatives were eager and energetic to provide collaborative feedback. As the vibrant discussion began, an overview of Mahoning Valley’s innovative college readiness practices was shared including pathway creation, communication with students and parents, establishment of Business Advisory Councils, and the deepening involvement of higher education in secondary schools to better prepare students for college and career. Participants also shared thoughts on the needs of school counselors at both the higher education and secondary levels.

I was genuinely impressed by the deep conversation and clear focus of the participants on the best ways to meet the needs of Ohio’s kids. Board policy, social and emotional needs of students, the cost of education, sharing of funds, abundance of resources vs. lack of resources, success rates of students, district report cards, longitudinal data, and a change in graduation requirements to include a College and Career ready course as a requirement mandated by the Ohio Department of Education (acknowledging the differences in district board policies) all emerged as passionate subject matter during the roundtable discussion. Dr. Harper earnestly took note of both the positives and challenges of Ohio’s current system and plans to share the information with her team.

College Credit Plus has positive impact on education and workplace

The roundtable ended with an examination of the positive impacts College Credit Plus has on educational and workplace environments. One of the most important aspects of the day was that we are now breaking silos by embracing cross-system communication focused on student success. In addition, leaders noticed:

  • an increase in ACT engagement at an earlier stage;
  • there appears to be more rigor in courses at the high school level;
  • students are asking more questions about college at an earlier stage; and
  • business and industry/chambers of commerce are partnering with educational entities to aid in preparing students for their future career successes.

Although it’s too early for meaningful measurement of the success of College Credit Plus, these observations by practitioners indicate that participating schools are on the right path. Close collaboration among all stakeholders, focused on students’ success, will help achieve the positive outcomes we know are possible so all youth thrive in school and beyond.

Dr. Trista Linden-Warren  is the project manager for the Mahoning Valley Prepared for Success initiative, an Ohio Straight A funded project. She is also an innovation specialist at EnvisionEdPlus.

Read more of the EnvisionEdPlus Guide to Ohio’s New Graduation Requirements:

Part 1: Ohio’s Graduation Requirements are Right for Kids

Part 2: How to Infuse Industry Credentials in Traditional High Schools

Part 3: ODE Analysis Shows Most of Class of 2018 on the Way to Graduation

 

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