‘Blur the Lines’ between K-12 and Higher Education


For the third time in the past two years, superintendents from across the country gathered with heads of community colleges to raise awareness about one of the most critical issues in public education today: college readiness.

The leadership of AASA, The School Superintendents Association and members of the American Association of Community Colleges held a full-day meeting, Friday, June 10, in Alexandria, Va. in an effort to formulate action steps by each group to help more students advance into college and create successful career paths.

“We’re excited with the opportunities to blur the lines with K-12 education, community colleges and more,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “We’re seeing a lot of cooperation between community colleges and high schools to get kids ready for college. But why isn’t everybody doing it? That’s why we’re here—to keep the conversation going.”

Domenech’s counterpart, Walter Bumphus agreed. “These relationships are important,” said the AACC president. “There are some wonderful and sterling examples of the great things going on.”

One such example is High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Ill., led by David Schuler, the district’s superintendent.

“Our kids should be considered beyond a test score,” said Schuler who is about to conclude his one-year term as AASA president. “Public education in this country has never been better than it is today. “It’s time for all of us to turn outward and shout for the mountain tops and proclaim we know best in terms of what public education should look like.”

An illustration of dual enrollment, which was another theme throughout the meeting, students at Schuler’s district have the ability to earn college credits while attaining their high school degrees.

“Our kids can’t dream what they can’t see,” said Schuler. “We’ve got to help them see that they have a future. Let us collectively think about how can we demonstrate readiness in a more authentic appropriate way and once we have that defined then let’s work together readiness for all kids.”

(Read Dan Domenech’s May 31 blog post, “Student Engagement At Its Best.” Dan describes his recent visit to District 214 and the school system’s multiple indicators aimed to assess a student’s readiness for life beyond high school.)

Earlier this year at AASA’s National Conference on Education, Schuler and Domenech announced Redefining Ready!, a national campaign to redefine college and career readiness. “America’s high schools are filled with innovators—students who are driven by ideas and inspired by innovations,” Domenech said. “That’s why it’s critical for our high school graduates to demonstrate readiness for college and careers. We are looking forward to receiving stories and additional research from AASA members in support of this campaign.”

Redefining Ready! is being endorsed by educators and organizations across the country. The Board of Education of High School District 214, the second-largest high school district in Illinois, was the first local Board of Education to endorse the campaign. 

Domenech and Bumphus agreed to include college readiness as a key theme in their respective organizations upcoming conferences. AASA’s national conference will be held March 2-4, 2017, in New Orleans, La.

Friday's meeting was generously sponsored by Hobsons. “The future is not about two sides, it’s about one student and realizing that one student is progressing in education as well as a career,” said John Plunkett, Hobsons vice president, policy and advocacy.

“We want to keep the movement going,” said Domenech.

To join the conversation via Twitter, access #RedefiningReady.

To read AACC’s story, access Strengthening the K-12, College Link.

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