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Many things….

How many fit for college?
On March 18 Seattle Schools announced yet another take on the percentage of their students who are ready for college and careers when they graduate. 63% is the new number they have reported………click here to see the Seattle Times article by Linda Shaw

I appreciate that the Seattle district is trying hard to figure this out—but to get to the bottom of it we need a much better definition of college and career readiness and we need to put the information out for each high school, so the school officials and parents know where things stand and can work on improving the preparation of their students. The courses taken are only part of the story—the real test comes from looking at what actually happens to the students after high school.

Let’s start by asking our community colleges what their data shows. How are Seattle’s recent high school grads faring when they arrive on the college campus? Are they ready for college-level course work? Are they succeeding and advancing toward their desired degree or career credential? Or, are they needing extensive remedial courses before they can even begin college classes and then rapidly leaving the higher education system due to discouragement or lack of resources?

Lucky for us we can get a start on the answer because the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges tracks the rate of remedial course taking required by recent high school grads—see their report: Annual Reports on Pre-college Course Work . This report shows that about 54% of the state’s recent high school grads require remedial courses when they hit the college classroom. This may not sound like a big deal but it is because statistics show rates of remediation have a significant inverse relationship with gaining that sought-after college degree or credential.

For another perspective on this issue take a look at the BERC group website and see their tool called, “The College Tracker”. The specific school level data regarding rates of enrollment and persistence shows that “ % ready for college” numbers appear to vary wildly depending on what high school you are talking about—Roosevelt High School grads fare much better in college than do the students from Cleveland or Sealth, for example.

Overall we know that in the Road Map area, which includes south Seattle and south King County, only about 27% of the recent high school grads go on and actually earn a college degree or credential. That number drops down to about 11% for Black, Hispanic and Native American students. I think we know we have much work to do in Seattle and in South King County helping many more kids really be ready for success when they leave high school. That is why the Road Map project has set the following goal:

Our goal is to double the number of students in South King County and South Seattle who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020. We are committed to nothing less than closing the unacceptable achievement gaps for low-income students and children of color, and increasing achievement for all students from cradle to college and career.

Let’s take the time to get more meaningful numbers – let’s look at data by high school so we can better focus on improvement -where it is most needed. CCER will spearhead getting this data and we will be back to you soon.

Congrats to League of Education Voters on their 10-year anniversary!! Thank you to the LEV Board and the great staff for all their work all these years. The contributions have been enormous and the best is yet to come!!

Return on Investment – ROI
I think everyone knows that our education system needs ample funding along with good policy and practice to get great results for kids. It is also key that every dollar is invested wisely. I thought it was very interesting to see the recent report on how districts compare in terms of return on investment. Here is the link (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/01/educational_productivity/)—locally Federal Way is our region’s ROI superstar. I think you will see much more scrutiny of ROI in the coming years, as public school systems face horrible financial situations and scrub budgets for every possible way of boosting effectiveness and efficiency.