For several years, The School Superintendents Association (AASA) and American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) have facilitated dialogue between school superintendents and community college presidents to identify ways to foster student success. By bridging the gap that currently exists between K-12 and higher education institutions, the organizations are collaborating to prepare students to be college- and career-ready.
With the support of Hobsons, superintendents and community college presidents have established working relationships and programs to benefit students. Common to the programs are dual credit courses that allow students to earn college credits while in high school and, in some cases, graduate with an associate degree. In a survey conducted by AASA, 75 percent of superintendents indicate they offer dual credit courses in their high schools, a remarkable statistic as AASA continues to strive to achieve its goal of implementing dual credit courses in 100 percent of high schools.
The collaboration extends to provide high school students with multiple pathways to careers. Community colleges are able to offer training which leads to certification in skill areas that may not require a university degree. At the high school level, a great deal of emphasis is placed on preparing students for four-year institutions, yet the reality is that only 40 percent of graduates attend a four-year college. In partnership with community colleges, many high schools now make students aware of possible career options and establish career tracks in academic programs. Through partnership with local industry, students gain experiences and opportunities that allow them to better plan for their future.
Local business communities support students to become career-ready by providing apprenticeships, internships, and part-time jobs in coordination with educational institutions and expose students to multiple career pathways.
The collaboration between AASA and AACC has identified obstacles to overcome to expand dual credit courses to more students. Issues to address include determining if the student, high school, or college will finance the dual credit course; deciding if a dual credit course is taught by high school or higher education instructors; and selecting if the dual credit course will be taught at a high school or college campus. To overcome these barriers, universal implementation of dual credit courses can be organized and expedited through state and federal regulation and financial assistance.
In collaboration with my good friend, Walter Bumphus, president and chief executive officer of AACC, we intend to continue these joint sessions to that will better serve the needs of students.
To learn more about AASA and AACC efforts to provide a seamless system for students to transition from high school to higher education, read the white paper.