Thursday, January 29, 2009

College readiness, system set to testify three times

Yesterday at the Capitol

College readiness hearings continue at the Capitol
Both the House and Senate K-12 education committees have been discussing college readiness of high school students this week. The Senate E-12 Education Budget and Policy Division met yesterday and heard from Dr. Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, Inc.. Similar to his presentation in the House, Cohen said that between 2002 and 2005 the American Diploma Project (ADP) found that 30 percent of first-year college students are required to take remedial courses because they are unequipped for postsecondary education. Cohen said faculty estimated that 42 percent of first-year students are academically unprepared. To better prepare high school students for postsecondary education and careers, ADP recommends that states align their standards with the knowledge and skills needed for success in postsecondary education and work. Cohen also said that high schools need to have a set of accountability indicators to show that students are college and work-ready.

Alice Seagren, commissioner of education, said the department, along with other consultants and legislators, has been working on the issue of assessment and post high school readiness. She said it seems to make sense to have end of course tests for geometry and algebra II in order to meet the mathematics requirements for graduation. She said another option is to lower the grade level at which students take the mathematics assessment test. Seagren said that both short and long-term solutions are needed, but that the solutions must be linked. She encouraged members make a decision regarding the status of the Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma (GRAD) by the end of February. Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL-St. Paul, announced a working group will be meeting Friday to discuss short and long-term solutions regarding the GRAD standards.
Governor's Workforce Development Council policy recommendations discussed

Members of the House Bioscience and Workforce Development Policy and Oversight Division discussed yesterday whether high school students should be required to develop a plan for their future careers as early as the ninth grade.

The idea was part of a set of policy recommendations developed by the Governor's Workforce Development Council. Executive Director Brenda Norman presented the recommendation that every Minnesota student, from ninth grade on, should have an annually reviewed plan to guide them down an educational and occupational path of their own choosing.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, compared the recommendation to a European-style system in which students are forced from a very young age to pursue a predetermined career path. "I get awfully concerned when we're talking about mandating things on ninth-graders and graduates in high school," Gottwalt said. "The fact that we might require them to start building a career path too early or too arbitrarily is a bit of a concern."

Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, a college counselor, disagreed, arguing that students need to start preparing themselves for careers as early as possible. "Ninth grade, to me, is almost too late to be thinking about where they want to be going," she said.

Today at the Capitol
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will be testifying in three separate committees today. The first committee is the House K-12 Education Policy committee at 8:30 a.m. where Cyndy Crist, System Director for P-16 Collaboration and Linda Lade, System Director for College Transitions will testify on college readiness.

At 12:30 p.m., Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, Whitney Harris, executive director for multiculturalism and President Donovan Schwichtenberg, Saint Paul College will speak to the issue of access and opportunity in the Senate Higher Education Budget and Policy Division.

In the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division hearing at 1:00 p.m., Chancellor Jim McCormick, Trustee Tom Renier, Vice Chancellor and CFO, Laura King and Presidents Ann Wynia and Richard Davenport will testify on the system's fiscal profile including the 2003 budget cuts, the current $20 million unallotment and the 2010-11 budget in light of a $4.8 billion budget cut.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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