A National College Completion Agenda. By Deborah Howard, EDWorks Chief Innovation Officer. EdWorksPartners.org

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1 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda A National College Completion Agenda By Deborah Howard, EDWorks Chief Innovation Officer 1

2 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 2 A growing body of evidence links economic, community and national prominence to college degree attainment. As a result, momentum is surging for a national college completion agenda, including a significant expansion of the numbers of low income, minority and underserved students who attain a postsecondary credential. The U.S. Department of Education, the National Governors Association, the Education Commission of the States and more than a dozen other national organizations are calling on institutions of higher education to voluntarily commit to the college completion agenda. The business, policy and legislative communities have long made the connection between United States economic competitiveness, workforce development and educational attainment. Publications such as the 1984 treatise A Nation at Risk, the 2007 call to action The Gathering Storm and even the case for the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act cite a wide range of data making the case for education as the key to U.S prosperity and leadership. As President Obama noted in a 2009 speech to the National Academy of Sciences, [O]ther countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this generation s great discoveries. I believe it is not in our American character to follow but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. 1 Currently less than 60 percent of students entering four-year institutions earn a bachelor s degree, and barely one-fourth of community college students complete any degree within six years. As a result, the United States now ranks 10th in college attainment for its 25- to 34-year-old population, down from third in 1991, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Regaining the lead in postsecondary attainment would mean, at a minimum, moving from the current 39 percent of Americans with postsecondary education, to 50 percent by A back-of-theenvelope calculation suggests an increase of more than 300,000 credentials conferred per year. Center for American Progress, 2009, /02/obama_ed_credential.html 1 From President Barack Obama s Remarks to the National Academy of Sciences, April 27, 2009

3 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 3 A 2012 report developed by The Bridgespan Group for EDWorks notes that in today s world, a high school diploma no longer provides access to the types of employment opportunities that are capable of providing the income levels and job stability required to support a family. This is a significant change from the job market four decades ago, when there were significantly more jobs available to those with only a high school diploma. 2 The field has recognized that the attainment of a postsecondary degree (four-year, two-year, certificates with high labor-market value) is required to earn living family wages and to be capable of breaking the intergenerational cycles of poverty that currently afflict so many families and regions across the country. 3 As result, there has been a rapidly growing focus within K-12 education on understanding the forms and degree of academic preparation required for students to succeed in postsecondary education with a particular focus on postsecondary completion, rather than access alone. Through this lens, the field has recognized that a high school diploma, alone, is not sufficient to ensure success in postsecondary education. Only 13% of low-income and minority students who enter 9th grade will go on to complete college. 4 Longitudinal data highlights the critical role of academic preparation well above the levels required to earn a high school diploma in postsecondary success. Students who are academically prepared 2 Harvard Graduate School of Education. Pathways to Prosperity. (February 2011) 3 Harvard Graduate School of Education. Pathways to Prosperity. (February 2011); *Note: Median earnings for Less than high school is a weighted average blend of income of adults with less than 9th grade and 9th-12th grade/non-hs grads 4 NCES, NAEP, EPERC (most recent CPI graduation rates), NELS Note: Data for minority students only include Black and Hispanic students and does not include other minority ethnicities Note: Data estimated by applying historical longitudinal rates to current estimates of the high school cohort. Low-income young adults defined as 26 year olds who had a family income of less than $25K when starting high school (i.e., qualified for free/reduced lunch)

4 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 4 for college, or college-ready, have significantly higher rates of college completion. 5 (Here, collegeready means a level of academic preparedness such that a student does not require remediation and is ready to succeed in a 2-year or 4-year college). Yet only ~20% of low-income students graduate high school with this level of college-ready academic preparation. 6 When academically unprepared students (i.e., those that are not college ready ) do enter postsecondary education (and many do despite being unprepared) they typically encounter very high rates of placement in non-credit-bearing remedial courses and infrequently complete a degree, despite often incurring large levels of student debt. 7 The challenge of developing college-ready proficiency levels begins before students even enter the 9th grade. Unfortunately, the vast majority of low-income / minority students enter high school multiple grade levels behind in core academic subjects, implying that very high rates of student achievement growth are required during the high school years (significantly higher than one year of learning per academic year) for those students currently entering high school. For future cohorts of K-12 students to achieve the college ready academic standard, substantially higher rates of student achievement growth per year in all years will be required than occur today, in all years. 5 NCES, NAEP, EPERC (most recent CPI graduation rates), NELS NCES, NAEP, EPERC (most recent CPI graduation rates), NELS J. Greene and M. Winters (2005). NCES Conditions of Education (2004), as cited in Conley (2007).

5 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 5 These insights led many organizations working within K-12 education to align their definition of success to college- and career-readiness, which involves both a goal based on student academic achievement (unlike goals based on high school graduation, for example) and establishes a high threshold for student achievement by the end of the K-12 years (unlike much more modest academic goals, such as making adequate yearly progress, a goal that even when met leaves most low-income students well short of the college- and career-readiness threshold). The goal of college- and careerreadiness is much more ambitious than prior K-12 goals and achieving this goal will require significantly higher rates of student achievement growth, particularly for low-income and minority students. Dramatically Improving the Educational Attainment of Traditionally Underserved Students According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, by the year 2043, people of Hispanic, Asian and African American descent will, as a group, form the majority of this nation's population 8. Given these demographic trends, it is clear that the U.S. can only reach its goals for college completion and workforce development by dramatically improving the educational attainment of its low income and minority students. There are a number of low-cost structural and state policy improvements that can markedly increase college completion levels. While these strategies do not require large financial investments, they do require new ways of doing business and leadership that inspires new levels of collaboration among various stakeholders (U.S. Department of Education College Completion Toolkit, 2011). Fast Track: A Key Strategy for Increasing the Graduation Rate The EDWorks Fast Track early college design provides a blueprint for local corporations, economic development organizations, institutions of higher education and their communities to help low income, minority and first generation college going students earn an associate degree or up to two years of college credit during their four-year high school career all for approximately the same amount of money our communities currently spend on a student s education. What s in it for States? Each four-year college graduate generates, on average, $5,900 more per year in state, federal, and local tax revenue than each high school graduate. Over a lifetime, each generates, on average, $177,000 more in tax revenue than those with only a high school degree. For a state like Mississippi, increasing its bachelor s degree attainment level by 10 percent would mean over $200 million dollars in additional tax revenue each year. In short, there is an economic imperative for states to increase the number of high school and college graduates over the next 10 years US Department of Education College Completion Toolkit, (March 2011)

6 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 6 College courses targeted for Fast Track participation across the four years are carefully scaffolded to ensure student success with initial courses in grades 9 and 10, continuing to increase the difficulty of college courses across four years. Care is taken to choose courses that will be honored for credit at a majority of higher education institutions. The four-year framework of high school and college courses forms a planned, purposeful learning experience and eliminates duplication in secondary and post-secondary systems. Eliminating duplication reduces costs for the state and individual families. What s in it for Institutions of Higher Education? the race to achieve the goals of the College Completion Agenda, Fast Track early college high schools are one of the strongest tools for decreasing or even eliminating the need for remediation, dramatically expanding the number of low income, minority and firstgeneration college-going students to persist and graduate from two- and four-year institutions of higher education. Research shows momentum is key to college completion. Fast Track early college high schools focus on ensuring every student earns a minimum of hours of college credit because research shows that when a student successfully accumulates 25 to 30 college credits; the likelihood of completing an AA or BA degree grows to more than 50 percent. Even if every student does not earn an AA degree upon graduation, they are more likely to earn an AA or a BA degree more efficiently because of the number of college credits earned. 10 Based on this research, ensuring Fast Track students earn a minimum of 30 hours of college credit during high school will greatly increase the number of low income, The Power of Place Institutions of higher education are important partners in the role of successful Fast Track early college high schools. EDWorks believes in using power of the place, which is full integration with a two- or four-year institution, to motivate students to model successful college behavior and grasp higher education. There is no substitute for students being in the college environment. It is invaluable for students to learn firsthand the expectations of the college course, to encounter the professor who doesn t change deadlines and who doesn t spoon feed, Being on the college campus every day, fully integrated into that environment, realizing that they are building a college transcript that will follow them for the rest of their lives, starts students really reflecting on, What is of major importance in my life? Roslyn Valentine, Former Fast Track Principal The soft skills that students only learn when they re on the college campus are the most important part of the experience mixing with the population that is in college. It is impossible to simulate that environment in the traditional high school setting. When Fast Track students look around them in the cafeteria, in the student union they see groups of three or four students studying, working in groups, engaged in deep discussion about their classes. That doesn t happen in the traditional high school. Tom Forbes, Former Fast Track Principal 10 A cost/benefit analysis of early college high schools in Ohio, Palaich, R., Brodsky, A. Brown, A., & Kramer-Wine, J. (2008).

7 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 7 minority and first-generation college-going students who earn two- and four-year credentials. Through Fast Track, institutions of higher education can expect: A seamless pipeline for increasing or building a diverse student population of college ready students who are capable of doing rigorous work. Small learning environments in the high school to use as a research and development learning labs for departments of education. Students who remain at the college or university to complete their degrees after high school graduation. Firsthand impact on secondary education in a way that aligns and informs curricula. Opportunities to increase grant funding for research in diverse populations and innovative teaching strategies. By reducing the need for remediation, increasing the number of non-traditional students who persist in higher education and successfully moving students to degree completion, institutions of higher education literally change lives and transform communities. What s in it for Students and Families? The cost of higher education is a deterrent to many low income, minority and first generation students. Because students can early up to 60 hours of college credit or an associate degree during their four-year high school career at no cost to the student Fast Track early college high schools make college affordable and put the dream of college completion within reach of students and families. Personalization and flexibility are keys to success for Fast Track students. The Fast Track model accelerates learning for under-prepared students. Every student has a personalized education plan and a system of supports designed to ensure each student receives the assistance needed for college success. Highly qualified and effective high school teachers ensure students are prepared to start and complete college courses as early as ninth grade. College advisors team up with high school teachers and students to provide a seamless transition from secondary to postsecondary school. Internships, externships, service learning and community involvement expose Fast Track students to a wide range of careers and local employers, thus increasing opportunities for employment following degree completion. Fast Track early college high schools are a proven strategy for moving low income, minority and first generation students to completion of associate degrees during their high school career or within a single year after high school graduation and four-year degrees in two-to-three years following high school graduation well ahead of the national target of associate degree completion in three years and Bachelor s degree completion in six years.

8 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 8 What s in it for communities? The Fast Track ECHS course of study is focused specifically on degree plans that will boost the number of graduates who emerge from high school and college prepared to move into areas of greatest need in the local workforce. Planned, purposeful integration of service learning, community service and/or opportunities for field study and action research developed with the higher education, community and business partners, mean Fast Track ECHS students exit high school with a firsthand knowledge of real world working demands and a career plan. Expanding the number of students involved in Fast Track ECHS through next generation blended learning environments means a betterprepared, 21st century workforce in a shorter period of time. The bottom line for communities? Fast Track early college high schools are shortening the time for students to earn post-secondary credit and launch careers, particularly in critical STEM disciplines. Effective and Sustainable: The EDWorks Fast Track Early College Design The EDWorks Fast Track early college design provides a blueprint for institutions of higher education and their communities to help low income, minority and first generation college going students earn an associate degree or up to two years of college credit during their four-year high school career all for about the same amount of money our communities current spend on a student s high school education. K-12 EDUCATION National Average Annual Per-Pupil Expenditure $10,591 Careful planning for Fast Track staffing, academic and support programming, not only supports necessary high school courses, it allows two-year and four-year public institutions to realize all, or a large percentage, of their annual tuition and fees for college courses taken by Fast Track students. Higher Education Annual Average Tuition and Fees 2-year Public $2,285 4-year Public $6,695 2-year Private Not for Profit $12,656 4-year Private, Not for Profit $25,552 For the national K-12 average annual per-pupil expenditure of $10,591 (the national K-12 average) a Fast Track early college will become self-sustaining by the end of its second year of operation, with some 350 students.

9 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 9 Assumptions: The Fast Track early college high school is located on the campus of a two-year or four-year institution of higher education. Each incoming class has 125 students, with a 90% average annual retention rate. The Fast Track early college uses existing space on the college campus and students fill open seats in existing sections of core academic courses The Fast Track early college meets federal threshold requirements for free and reduced price meals Fast Track students are engaged in regular support services provided for all students (i.e., advising, writing labs) and services the campus already provides for low income, minority and first generation college-going students (i.e., tutoring, counseling, social services). Based on a decade of experience in early college design and implementation, every Fast Track Student will earn a minimum of 30 hours of college credit; 20% earn 40 hours of college credit; 30% earn 60 hours college credit at no cost the Fast Track student. College coursework is carefully chosen and scaffolded to ensure success. Personalized learning plans map a strategy for students to earn 6 credits in the 9th grade; 12 credits in the 10th grade; 18 credits in the 11th grade and up to 24 credits in the 12th grade. Aligning the Fast Track early college with federal career pathways and programs such as TRIO and GEAR UP increases levels of recurring revenues. A Summer Bridge program is provided for students during their first three years at the Fast Track early college high school. Start-up schools begin with a principal, planning teachers and administrative support and ask the cohorts of students increase so do the numbers of faculty and staff. This approach to Fast Track design ensures the financial sustainability and long-term viability of the schools.

10 EDWorks FAST TRACK A National College Completion Agenda 10 CONTACT For more information about launching your own Fast Track early college high school contact: Harold D. Brown President EDWorks (513) Andrea Mulkey National Director, Fast Track EDWorks (614) twitter.com/edworkspartners facebook.com/edworkspartners plus.google.com/b/ / youtube.com/edworkspartners linkedin.com/company/edworks pinterest.com/edworkspartners

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