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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Tags Posts tagged with "college readiness"

college readiness

Making Use of Student Performance Data

Student ownership is the key

by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

Data is the key word in almost any discussion of student achievement. There is so much emphasis on data and test scores that teachers, students and parents can easily come to hate even hearing the word. But data itself is not the villain. It’s all about how you use it.

Data is not just about test performance: it’s about student skills. This is an obvious statement, but it’s frequently overlooked. If students improve their skills, they are going to improve their test scores. Research shows that students need to become active participants in data analysis1. They should analyze their data and use the information to take ownership of their own progress. Data can be a tool for setting personal goals that are measurable and relevant, and that encourage students to develop a sense of personal ownership. Robert Marzano in his article The Art and Science of Teaching / When Students Track Their Progress found a 32 percent gain in achievement when students consistently tracked their own progress.

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.

Summertime Studytime

Math and English Review

by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven


The weather is finally nice. You’re sick of school. Going to the beach and hanging out with friends seems like a great idea. After ten months of stuffy classrooms, the last thing you want to think about is next school year. I hear you! You can have fun! But, if you use just a little of your precious summer time to do some studying, you will hit the ground running in September (or August). A little preparation over the summer can really pay off when you head back to class in the fall.

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.

MCAS 2.0 - 10th Grade Math-Student Prep Pt2

Helping Students Prepare, Part 2

By Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

Last month I discussed preparing students for the new MCAS 2.0 ELA. In this post I want to offer some suggestions for the mathematics test, coming right up on May 21. As with ELA, the biggest difference is that the test will no longer be paper-based, it will be online. As a student, a teacher or a parent, your first job is to make sure that students get familiar with the mechanics of the online test.


Meet the new MCAS with confidence and success

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

I started teaching in 1998. My first year I filled in for a teacher in a Boston exurb. The school was my alma mater, so English department staff took me under their wings to help me do the best one could hope for a first-year teacher. They gave me lesson plans, coached me on practice and helped me develop some good curriculum. By all measures, I had a great year in my first year of teaching.

New twists and how not to get tangled up

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

There has been a lot of discussion about the new MCAS 2.0 test. Parents and teachers are wondering how they can help students build the skills they need to succeed. The biggest difference is that the test will no longer be on paper. It’s online. Although students use technology every day, that doesn’t mean they will automatically know how to navigate the test. The first step in preparation is to make sure that students understand how to navigate through the test and answer all questions.

Minding the Gap… GAP Year that is

Should you take a year off after high school?

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

If you’re a senior, you are probably thinking about college. The traditional pattern has been to attend college right after high school, but many students now are taking a year off before enrolling in college. The so-called “gap year” got a lot of attention when Malia Obama decided to wait a year before attending Harvard. Her decision attracted both praise and criticism. Was it a good decision? Let’s examine the gap year option.

Is access to literacy a constitutional right?

Of Literacy and Democracy

Is access to literacy a constitutional right?

by Eileen Wedegartner

On July 5, 2018, Thomas Birmingham and William Weld co-authored an opinion piece in the Boston Globe titled, “Mass. has to return to its high standards for education.” The former governor and senate president re-visited the 1993 Education Reform Act on its 25th anniversary, praising its successes and making an argument to raise the ante and not relax the push for high standards that has brought Massachusetts success in education.

From Ethiopia to Architecture: My Journey - Selamawit Balcha's Journey

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

One Student’s Brave Journey

As a Blended Learning Specialist with JFYNetWorks, I have met many students. It’s the best part of my job– meeting people and helping them succeed. I enjoy working with all students, but some naturally stand out. Selamawit Balcha is one of those stand-outs. She was in one of my classes at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in 2014 and I was immediately impressed by her determination and focus. I knew she would be successful. She is now working towards her architecture degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology. I asked her to share her story and she responded with the following account.