Friday, August 28, 2009

How Should Students be Prepared for College?

*Originally posted at the National Journal here.

Right now, we don’t know.

Little data, and therefore no significant knowledge base, exists to address the lack of college ready students. If college readiness is a public priority, the government should quickly mobilize the national research and development initiative to find research-based, innovative solutions to this pressing problem. Other sectors do it. Why not education?

To date, the issue has not been a focus of the What Works Clearinghouse or research centers. Federal and state governments have not adequately invested in research to uncover present problems of practice. In fact, only one twentieth of one percent of the federal research and development budget goes to funding education research and development.

With an agenda to change those statistics, the White House aims to focus on and strengthen high schools through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by making “progress toward college and career-ready standards and rigorous assessments that will improve both teaching and learning.”

In addition to common college and career-ready standards, the Administration plans to help America “build a new foundation strong enough to withstand future economic storms and support lasting prosperity. That means having the best-educated, highest-skilled workers in the world …and investing in research and development,” Obama said.

Federal education policy has evolved in phases over the past 15 years in concert with the implementation of the elements of standards-based reform. The focus on standards and assessments in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s spawned major attention to the alignment of standards, curriculum, and assessments in the 1990’s which has led, in part, to the current emphasis on accountability in No Child Left Behind. The next logical step in the reauthorization of NCLB is to develop standards that raise academic expectations, combined with significant investments in R&D that gathers evidence of what works to prepare high school students for college and beyond. This will put us on the right path of ensuring that high school seniors are ready for college and our nation will remain competitive on the global stage.

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