High school completion doesn’t equal college readiness. That painful fact is revealed by the increasing number of remediation classes at the college level. Education leaders are focusing on how to ensure that high school graduates really are prepared for college and/or the workplace. One California program has tackled the problem with some early signs of moderate success.
The Early Assessment Program (EAP) began in 2004 and brought together K-12 educators with higher educators to agree on skills necessary for college success. It uses a test that allows seniors to gauge their progress toward those goals. The number of students taking the voluntary tests has grown and the rate of college remediation has decreased among those students, although even some of the program’s proponents are frustrated by the lack of dat about its impact. “It’s been ballyhooed for its design, which is deserved,” said Michael W. Kirst, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, “but there is scant information about its implementation on the ground.”
Despite a dearth of evidence regarding the success of the EAP, most experts agree that the program was groundbreaking in getting pre-college and higher education to agree on what college-mastery level looks like. One part of that work is in defining new common academic standards that have been written to reflect college-level skills and have been adopted by all but seven states. Another part lies with two groups of states that are collaborating to design new tests addressing those standards.
Lessons learned from the EAP are being used around the nation as educators struggle with defining exactly what skills will be necessary for students as they transition from high school. David Spence was instrumental in the EAP’s early design when he served as executive vice-chancellor and chief academic officer of the California State University system. He stated, “I know the challenge of doing this, but somehow we have got to find a way to do it.”
For further reading, Success of College-Readiness Intervention Hard to Gauge.