Pathway to success

Colleges, high school partner on college readiness initiative

Local colleges and school corporations teamed up to create new college readiness tools to provide clear expectations and promote collaboration and curriculum alignment.

Faculty and staff at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC) collaborated with colleagues at Ivy Tech Community College Columbus/Southeast, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., Decatur County Community Schools and Jac-Cen-Del Community School Corp. to create a comprehensive, detailed brochure on college readiness as part of the Southeast Indiana Postsecondary Regional Partnership.

The partnership seeks to ensure clarity on college expectations and to promote alignment with other education sectors, such as the K-12 sector, through collaboration.

The brochure “Are Indiana High School Graduates Ready for College?” was created to help students and parents, community stakeholders and school faculty and staff understand how proper planning will prepare high school students to succeed in college, according to Marsha VanNahmen, assistant director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at IUPUC.

“They can plan ahead and be better prepared for college courses and, hopefully, remove the need for remedial courses and be prepared for success right away,” Chris Schilling, director of marketing and recruitment at Ivy Tech Community College, said.

Education standards in the high school curriculum were examined by English, language arts and math teams to align better with college course objectives. To identify the specific knowledge and skills needed for success in college courses, detailed academic rubrics were developed for subjects such as English, college algebra and more. The brochure also includes a clear outline of courses and concepts students should master in order to meet future college degree requirements — without needing to complete remedial coursework, said Bill Jensen, director of secondary education for Bartholomew County School Corp.

The brochure should be used as a road map, Jensen said, so that students and their parents can better understand what coursework will be the most beneficial for each type of diploma.

The goal is for faculty and staff at area schools to utilize the tools to advance conversations about college readiness, according to VanNahmen.

“We hope these locally-developed tools will provide useful information to students and parents/guardians as they consider important decisions about high school diploma types and course selection,” VanNahmen said.

In the future, the college readiness initiative will guide the Gateway Community of Practice project, for which IUPUC and Ivy Tech campuses work together to improve post-secondary retention and graduation rates by incorporating more learning strategies and, hopefully, engaging more students, Schilling said.

The project will take Supplemental Instruction practices further by combining instructor-driven and student-delivered strategies to improve those rates at both institutions. Supplemental Instruction hires current students or recent graduates to retake a course and help first-time students by holding review sessions after class, Schilling said. Overall, it helps students gain confidence.

“We have seen that students enrolled in courses with Supplemental Instruction are more likely to complete the course and to enroll in the next semester,” Schilling said.

The purpose of the project, partnership and instruction is simple: to ensure more students are prepared for college and can succeed once they are there.

To learn more

All college readiness materials can be found on the IUPUC Center for Teaching and Learning website: iupuc.edu/ctl/collegereadiness.

For printed copies of these materials, contact Marsha VanNahmen at 812-375-7576 or mvannahm@iupuc.edu.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.