Donate to a Student Today

College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Gary Kaplan

Lowell Sun
November 5, 2014

College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning | JFYNetWorks

By David Driscoll and Gary Kaplan

We often pride ourselves on the fact that our public schools lead the country in student achievement. We point to ever-increasing MCAS scores, favorable international performance, and historic high school graduation rates. Those achievements are laudable and a tribute to the efforts of many — primarily teachers, principals and the students themselves.

But the banner headlines overshadow a troubling subhead, one that state and federal education leaders all have underscored. Each year, according to state Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland, 11,000 Massachusetts high school graduates cannot pass the entrance exams to community colleges and end up in noncredit remedial courses. Worse yet, 90 percent of those young people drop out without a degree, often after using up their financial aid and even taking out loans.

by Gary Kaplan April 22, 2014

JFYNetWorks directs towards College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Reports of the redesign of the SAT resonate with many parents and their school-age children who have had personal experience with the controversial college gatekeeper. But another test in the College Board portfolio, though not in the news, is arguably even more important to the future—or lack of a future—of high-school age students. It’s the Accuplacer. Accuplacer is, like the SAT, a suite of tests. It assesses concrete English and math skills—things like decimals, percents, equations, reading comprehension and basic writing skills.

Accuplacer tests are used by community colleges, state colleges and public universities in all New England states to place incoming students in the right courses. “Right courses” doesn’t refer to the choice of academic subjects they will be studying. Crucially, Accuplacer tests determine whether they will take regular, for-credit courses—or instead take non-credit “developmental” courses. That is, remedial courses. Astonishingly, and sadly, in Massachusetts, 65% of incoming community college students score too low on the Accuplacer tests, and as a result they find themselves assigned to as many as three or four remedial courses. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in Boston recently, called our remediation rate “a staggering number.” That is a scandal that you should be reading about on the front pages. And it gets worse. Students pay the same tuition and fees for these courses as for regular, for-credit courses, and the courses take up the same 16 weeks of study—but the developmental courses don’t count toward a degree.

Lynn English

Published  April 10 2014 in CommonWealth Magazine

Another approach to college readiness gap
Assessment and instruction are key
by Gary Kaplan

ON A VISIT to Massachusetts last month, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan cautioned against resting on our laurels. Despite the Bay State’s nation-leading test scores, he chided, “Four in ten of your high school graduates aren’t ready for college. Forty percent are taking remedial classes. That’s a staggering number.”

The secretary didn’t quite have his facts right. Four of every ten students entering public colleges and universities in Massachusetts aren’t ready for the course work and require remedial classes. The number for community colleges alone is even higher: 65 percent of students entering the two-year colleges need to take remedial math.

But Duncan needn’t have worried about complacency in the Commonwealth. Even as he scolded, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland was wrapping up his critique of remedial education for the spring issue of CommonWealth magazine. In his article, the commissioner gives a thorough review of the importance of public higher education as the workforce pipeline of our skill-based economy; and he zeroes in on developmental education—especially the 65 percent rate at the community college level – as the bottleneck at the mouth of that pipeline.

Achievement Gap? Which One?

College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

And what about our older youth? It’s not just inner-city schools that need to raise their game. Even our best suburban schools fall short in the international student achievement sweepstakes, says Arthur Levine, former president of Columbia Teachers College (“The Suburban Education Gap,” WSJ 11/15/12).

“30 years after ‘A Nation at Risk’ not one major urban district has been turned around and many of our suburban districts are losing ground,” writes Levine. “We have settled on a path of global mediocrity for our most affluent schools and national marginality for failing inner-city schools.”

College Readiness for a Competitive Workforce

JFYNetWorks Helping to Bridge the GAP to College and Career

DESE Commissioner’s weekly update:

JFYNetWorks receives $1 mm grant for statewide college readiness program

JFYNetWorks (formerly Jobs for Youth) has received a $1 million grant to establish collaborative partnerships between high schools and community colleges.  JFYNetWorks will set up and manage Accuplacer preparation programs in high schools to accelerate and encourage enrollment into credit-bearing courses at community colleges and other colleges and universities. Interested high schools and community colleges should contact JFYNetWorks Executive Director Gary Kaplan at (617) 338-0815, ext. 224 or go to http://www.JFYBoston.org.