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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Early College
Early College, Dual Enrollment

Collaboration with B.M.C. Durfee High School, Bridgewater State University and JFYNetWorks

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

In 2018-19, Bridgewater State University, BMC Durfee High School and JFY piloted a dual enrollment collaboration. The pilot offered much encouragement and many lessons. Here are some general observations, followed by specific recommendations.

All students, especially those who may be the first in their family to attend college, need support navigating the shifts in academic rigor, independent learning strategies, time management, different technologies, and other aspects of college.

Knowing where students stand in basic academic skills is important. GPA and course work are good indicators. Standardized exam scores are useful supplements. Accuplacer can help determine how much supplemental support a student will need.

A formal early college orientation should be developed. It could begin by going over a course syllabus in detail, an essential bridge for students to cross in navigating the shift between high school and college expectations. In high school classes, the teacher may have a course outline with expectations that she reviews with students and with parents on parents’ night. This is not the case in college. Students get a syllabus. The professor may or may not go over it in detail, noting texts, technology, assignments, deadlines, tests, the need to build a schedule and manage time and access to academic resources, etc.

Early College Orientation Components

  1. Initial assessment of reading and/or math skills using Accuplacer, not to exclude students but to determine needed support.
  2. Detailed examination of syllabus, highlighting and noting information that is essential for developing independent learning strategies.
      1. Highlight the grading policy. Understanding how you are graded allows students to continually self-track their progress.
      2. Highlight attendance policies. Review the importance of letting the teacher know when you will not be there. Contacting professors before the absence ensures that the professor knows you are aware of the course expectations, and that you respect her time. This is also an essential skill in the workplace.
      3. Highlight the professor’s office hours and make a point to stop in during those office hours at the beginning of a semester. This is a practice that helps students learn to advocate for themselves in college. It is also a useful practice on the job.
      4. Highlight all major assignments and test dates. Show students how to put dates into a calendar or planner that can be accessed via computer or iPhone. This helps students develop a schedule that they are responsible for with notifications.

  1. After syllabus review, work with students on contacting professors to introduce themselves via email.
  2. Practice class expectations.
      1. In college classes, professors often lecture or hold a seminar, but there are no ongoing formative assessments like homework checks or classwork to track learning. Students are expected to do classwork on their own time outside of class and be responsible for their own learning by independently pursuing inquiry before the next class session.
      2. In math, students practice problems and come to class with questions if they did not get the right answer. They need to learn to come to class with questions on topics they need help with, taking responsibility for their own progress.
      3. In humanities classes, there is a jump from high school classes where teachers guide students in formulating a thesis through classroom discussion, guided reading questions and close readings. In college, students are expected to formulate a thesis independently. They are expected to identify passages for close reading on their own and practice critical reading skills and methods outside of class. Demonstrating and practicing these skills before classes begin will make the transition easier.

  1. Practice note-taking methods and skills. These techniques are critical tools for success.
  2. Have students explore campus support resources such as the Academic Achievement Center at BSU or similar services at other campuses. Though our dual enrollment classes are in the high school, we may be able to access these support services online or through campus visits. Helping students practice getting support is an important part of college readiness. Click here to link to the BSU Academic Achievement Center. We should plan one or more campus visits with specific objectives such as student support services. Familiarity with the campus and its resources will encourage matriculation.
  3. Practice logging into the platform the college uses for classes. At BSU this is Blackboard. Other colleges use other platforms.
      1. Help students download and upload material for a course.
      2. Ensure that students have access to content.

  1. Practice using the technology they will need for the class. This would include using Google sheets to create documents with math and creating charts and graphs for projects.
  2. Practice using the word processing programs or transferring documents across different programs to learn to transition easily between programs.

Not Just Early College, Ongoing Support

Ongoing Support During the Semester

  1. Meet with students in weekly sessions.
  2. Share updates from college professors, such as changes to the syllabus.
  3. Target students who struggle through check-ins and academic support interventions.
  4. Provide opportunities for students to work on programs with access to computers and materials for both independent and study- group work.
  5. Develop protocols with professors to keep track of students’ standing in class and flag problems early. (This is backup for student self-management.)
  6. Work with students to track their own progress, so they can map their route to success.
  7. Show students how to access the MLA manual or APA manual, depending on course.
  8. Access online library sources from the college. Give students time to do necessary research.

In general, a three-credit college class runs approximately 38 hours of class time during a semester. A high school class for course credit runs about 50 minutes a day for 180 days (or 100 minutes for 90 days), a total of 150 hours. This means that structured class time is four times higher for the high school student. To support these students as they transition from one realm to the other requires reinforcing skills that will help them succeed when structured learning time is reduced. Our job is to ensure that they develop the skills they need to work effectively in this new structure, beginning with managing their time but including becoming aware of their own gaps and working to fill them through self-advocacy.

Picture credits: B.M.C. Durfee High School twitter and Facebook pages, as well as

Related post about this dual enrollment pilot program found here.

Learn more about JFY’s Early College program here.

Early College Reduces Inequity

A Promising Pathway to College and Careers

Bridgewater State University, B.M.C. Durfee High School and JFY’s New Partnership

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

The college admissions scandal that broke in March kept unfolding through the weeks and months like an origami of shame, exposing story after sordid story of gross inequity in the college admissions process.

As the national networks uncoiled twisted tales of bribery and deception that famous parents of means had braided to get their kids into elite colleges, local news stations were swarmed by flocks of ordinary people calling in anonymously to admit that they had written their children’s essays for them.

What is College Readiness? Are You Ready?

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It goes beyond quantitative data points

Measuring “college readiness” is quite the conundrum. Some say it is about test scores, class rank, SAT and GPA. But I think it goes beyond those quantitative data points. While they are all important indicators of skill, there are other measures that cannot be captured in scores but are inherent in “readiness.” These qualities or capacities include executive function, time management in general, prioritizing work and planning for due dates.

Boston Urban Science Academy students in the Summer Bridge program at Quincy College 8-16-2017

Twenty-nine students from Boston’s Urban Science Academy completed a summer course at Quincy College August 10 thanks to a unique partnership between the high school, the college, and JFYNetWorks.

Urban Science Academy is located in the old West Roxbury High building at the end of VFW Parkway, the southernmost delta of the city. Its students come from a broad swath of neighborhoods extending from Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Roxbury and Dorchester to Mattapan, West Roxbury and Hyde Park. The daily trip to school via T can be an ordeal.

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

The need for a higher-skilled workforce is real.

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

The March state employment report (released in late April) focuses on two concerns: weak job growth and a shortage of skilled workers. Job growth waxes and wanes from month to month, but the skilled worker shortage has been a constant refrain for years. The Federal Reserve regional summary (the Beige Book) for April seconds the call for more workers at every skill level.

Early College initiative

‘Equitable Access’ a Priority

Earlier this month a Boston Globe editorial gave a good overview of the state’s new early college initiative.

As the editorial points out, the great challenge will be to include low-income students, whose rates of college completion lag far behind more affluent students. The resolution that created the program prioritizes “students underrepresented in higher education enrollment and completion.” This language includes the overlapping categories of minority and special needs students as well as low-income. It will be necessary to include all these groups if the goal of 16,000 early college students per year is to be met. To put that goal into perspective, the total number of public high school graduates entering the state public higher education system each year is about 20,000.

The “design principle” that spells out these priorities is headed “Equitable Access.” It recommends “student supports to prepare students for entry into the program” and “student supports to promote success.” These student supports will be necessary to broaden and deepen the early college pool; and they are exactly what JFYNet College and Career Readiness provides. Early College will require that students meet the goal of “college readiness” one, two or more years earlier than at present– a significant boost in high school performance standards. Raising the skills of “underrepresented” students to college level is not a trivial task. Remediation rates at community colleges, the best available gauge of the skills of this group, have hovered over 60% since the 1990s.

The success of this initiative will depend on a strong program of skill-focused academic supports to bring these students to college readiness. JFYNet is extending its instructional sequence, currently MCAS Prep and College Readiness (Accuplacer), to encompass early college supports. This move links our mission, expertise and experience in raising the skills of “underrepresented” students to the next stage of education reform. As a tested and proven method of achieving college readiness in high school, JFYNet can provide the academic support component that early college needs. College readiness is still the necessary pre-condition of college success—especially when college starts early.

Gary Kaplan
Executive Director

44 School Street, Suite 1010
Boston MA 02108
Phone 617-338-0815 x 224

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.