High schools

Eight private high schools in Washington area are dropping out of AP program

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Eight private schools in Washington area -- including St. Albans and Sidwell Friends -- announce they will stop offering Advanced Placement courses.

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A for-profit high school recruits students with guarantee on admission to top colleges

And scholarship offers are also a sure thing, this high school says, at "top 100" colleges.

Ball State University poised for historic takeover of school district in Muncie, Ind.

Ball State administrators and professors see huge upside for Indiana students in proposal, but they are also entering larger debates over public schools, union rights and local elections.

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Top private high schools start campaign to kill traditional transcripts and change college admissions

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More than 100 elite private high schools aim to replace traditional transcripts with competency-based, nonstandardized documents -- with no grades. They plan to expand to public high schools, with goal of completely changing how students are evaluated.

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New study explores qualities that help black and Latino males succeed in high school

New study documents that there are groups of black and Latino males in urban high schools who are poised for college success, and who generally don't know their college options.

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Franklin & Marshall targets charter schools like KIPP for new source of students

In pursuit of students who would be a good fit for its rigorous, supportive, small-community environment, Franklin & Marshall is tapping into urban charter schools.

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Bridging the moat between K-12 and higher education (letter)

To the Editor:

I was happy to see my dual credit course for high-school students, Poetry in America: The City from Whitman to Hip Hop, featured among other interventions to close equity and achievement gaps in Steven Mintz's recent blog post. As Mintz testifies, many of the 11th- and 12th- grade students from under-resourced schools whom I teach in that course have all the raw talent and drive they need to enable them to master high-level content, and many have life experiences that give them depth of understanding and drive to succeed beyond what one typically sees among their more privileged peers. 

It is also the case that few of these students have been afforded the preparation and crucial skillbuilding in independent critical thinking and writing they will need to succeed in the colleges that admit them. I agree that dual enrollment programs that provide co-requisite (as opposed to pre-requisite) skillbuilding in tandem with genuine intellectual stimulation and challenge can allow students to succeed at much higher levels than old models of remediation.

But for such interventions to succeed at scale will also require partnerships and infrastructures connecting Higher Ed and K-12 that are far more comprehensive than any we now have. Racial and class divides are part of the problem, but so, too, are the profound administrative and systemic disconnects between educational domains and cultures. In my field, English, I’ve found that professors have little knowledge (and often little interest) in what students actually study in high school, while high-school educators crave content-based professional development opportunities that would allow them to share in and support the intellectual journey their students are making toward college -- but such opportunities are rare or, quite often, prohibitively priced. 

Add to these challenges the filtering model we use in the U.S. for college admissions -- and the cumbersome and inflexible systems for the awarding of credit at most universities -- and the moat between K-12 and college widens: millions of students fall in.

Far too much emphasis is placed on admission to elite schools. These schools accept only the smallest fraction of those ready for college, and admitted students who lack the preparation afforded their more privileged peers are sometimes stranded, expected to know how to succeed academically and socially without much, if any, institutional support. Nor are most elite schools set up to educate students beyond their traditional (and small) undergraduate and graduate populations: supplying the teaching assistants and even the technology to get large numbers of non-traditional learners registered for courses presents a real challenge. 

I piloted Poetry in America: The City from Whitman to Hip Hop for high-school students at Harvard in 2019, developing its syllabus out of the same content I'd taught for 35 years at Penn and Harvard. But offering this course to high-schoolers at scale required the innovative infrastructure of a public institution, Arizona State University, which has made a pillar of its mission the bridging of that moat between college and high school. 

Those institutions and programs that prepare themselves to meet learners’ needs -- not the other way around -- and that invest in the technologies and personnel needed to serve the many -- not the few -- will be the ones to lead the way toward greater equity and access.

--Elisa New
Founder and Director, Poetry in America
Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, Harvard University

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Colleges must help K-12 students recover academically from school closures and other challenges (opinion)

It will take years for our country to fully understand the impact of widespread school closures on this generation of children. But the data are mounting, and the picture they paint is grim. Analysts at McKinsey estimate K-12 students will experience an average of nine months’ learning loss in math by the end of the school year.

Just a few weeks into the pandemic, experts were already predicting school closures would widen existing disparities. But the scope of the losses shows even our pessimism failed this year. As many as one-third of students are still receiving no in-person instruction, and the ones likeliest to remain virtual are in large, urban districts that disproportionately serve children of color. We expect those students to be a full year behind their white peers in math by this summer.

As a cognitive scientist who has devoted significant study to the intertwined issues of anxiety and performance, I fear the cascading effects of this crisis will be nothing short of monumental. We have long known that students with poor attendance and those who fall behind in school are likelier to drop out altogether. Failure to complete high school is associated with poor mental health, increased odds of substance abuse and greater chances of involvement with the justice system -- to say nothing of lower earnings throughout life. And the problem starts much earlier than high school. Research shows a direct correlation between income and school achievement -- and where the income gap has grown, so too has the school achievement gap.

Taken together, these factors translate into fewer college-educated people in the workforce, resulting in lower incomes for the nation’s workers for the next 70 years. To stem the effects of this looming disaster will take sustained, all-hands-on-deck intervention. Options on the table range from national summer school to a Marshall Plan for education to forgoing standardized tests. But from where I sit as a current college president, I see a clear role and responsibility for higher education.

The fact is, colleges and universities have a vested interest in the next generation’s academic success. Today’s K-12 students are tomorrow’s college goers -- at least they could be with the right support. And we cannot afford for the privileged alone to succeed. Not only would such a homogenous cohort diminish the quality of the thinking and knowledge production that happens on our campuses; it is unconscionable for us to turn our backs on those whom the system has already shortchanged.

So, to my colleagues in higher education, I challenge all of us to get creative about what we can do to be part of a much-needed solution for today’s younger learners. Some universities already host full-time schools for the benefit of their local neighbors such as Arizona State’s system of ASU preparatory academy schools. But colleges and universities can do much more beyond direct schooling.

At Barnard College, for example, we pivoted quickly this year to formalize a program in which our students tutored the children of our faculty and staff members. And our education department set up virtual enrichment clubs led by our education majors that offered projects ranging from digital storytelling to STEM. Looking forward, we are ramping up collegewide efforts and financial support for our students to get involved in tutoring elementary school students across New York City, where our campus is based.

Not only is it relatively inexpensive for colleges to support work-study or institutionalized volunteer initiatives, it's also a great way to connect campus life to the life of surrounding communities -- and vice versa. Every college should be more intently exploring how they can better distribute access to the student human capital they possess.

The fact is, we will not know just how serious and lasting the effects of COVID will be on the nation’s schoolchildren for quite some time. But we already know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These young learners will not get a second chance at these years when their brains are most flexible and adaptive to education -- and we all pay the price the longer they miss out. The sooner we come together, flex our innovation muscle and step up for students left behind during the pandemic, the better.

Sian L. Beilock is president of Barnard College at Columbia University.

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Report: California Ahead on Dual Enrollment

New research shows that California is ahead of the curve on dual-enrollment participation, but Latinx and black students still lag behind their peers.

The brief from Wheelhouse, the Center for Community College Leadership and Research, found that 12.6 percent of public high school students in California are part of a dual-enrollment program. Nationally, only 11 percent of high school students participate in dual enrollment.

These programs let high school students take college courses while still in secondary school, which gives them credits for a future college degree and exposure to college experiences. Research has shown that students who participate in dual enrollment are more likely to graduate from high school and persist in college.

Previous reports had underestimated the number of students in dual-enrollment programs, according to Wheelhouse. The new report matched high school and community college data sets to get more accurate numbers.

While the overall number of student participation is promising, the report also found that Latinx and black students were underrepresented in dual-enrollment classes. Only about 9 percent of black students and 11 percent of Latinx students were in dual-enrollment classes, compared to nearly 14 percent of white students and 18.5 percent of Asian students. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students were also less likely to take a dual-enrollment course than their peers.

The report also found that more than 80 percent of California's public high schools didn't have any students in dual-enrollment courses.

“Dual enrollment benefits students, as well as the schools and colleges they attend,” Susanna Cooper, managing director of Wheelhouse, said in a news release. “While the benefits are clear, and we celebrate that participation is higher than once thought, many schools do not yet facilitate access to dual enrollment, and too many students of color do not benefit from the opportunity to participate.”

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Dual enrollment helps student success but strains college resources

More high school students are getting a head start on college, but dual enrollment is costly for some colleges.

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