Dr. Amy Morrison Goings will meet January 16 with other national leaders at the White House Skills Summit to develop ideas and actions that help students enroll and succeed in college. The Summit is part of the administration’s national agenda to increase the number of citizens who earn college credentials, enabling them to more fully participate in the current and emerging job market. The day will include remarks from the President, First Lady, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, panels, and a lunch-time breakout discussion.
Goings will join with other college leaders, the private sector, city and state leaders, non-profits and philanthropy to share best practices and come up with strategies for how to get people into college and help them succeed. A major Summit topic will be the pre-college level developmental classes that help students improve their academic skills. Participants will discuss how to structure and offer such classes in meaningful, efficient ways so that students can more quickly complete their college programs.
“This is an important national discussion about how to help people successfully complete college,” Goings explains. “Whether coming to college from high school, or coming back to college after years of working, many people need to brush up their academic skills.”
“At Lake Washington Institute of Technology, we serve primarily working adults who need to retool quickly, and in a manner that applies directly to their profession. We have been recognized for our accelerated English and math classes that apply directly to the students’ field of study and future career. Taking these focused, accelerated classes helps our adult students quickly gain the skills they need to complete college. We want to always keep sight of what adults need to fast track and update their skills and credentials for new jobs or promotions. We want to continually improve the ways we deliver what students need to be able to succeed,” says Goings.
Having college credentials is increasingly crucial for people to get good jobs and to qualify for new jobs or promotions. College graduates on average earn more than double that of workers with only a high school diploma, making higher education a clear path to the middle class. At the national level, the administration wants more people to earn college credentials. Locally, students are sometimes hampered in their ability to complete college in a timely manner that keeps down their college costs while fully preparing them for their new jobs. High school graduates are sometimes underprepared for college-level academics. Older students, away from college for a while, may need to brush up their skills. Many students often benefit by taking pre-college level courses to develop the academic rigor needed for college courses.
As part of the national agenda to get more students to earn college credentials, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce requested a national study by the Government Accounting Office (GAO). From August 2012 to August 2013, GAO members talked with leaders at 11 colleges Texas, Virginia, Washington and California, as well as people from the state’s educational offices.
In the GAO report* officials report that the longer students stay in developmental classes, the less likely they are to move into college-level classes.
All of the colleges interviewed for the report described successful strategies they have used to improve outcomes for students who take developmental classes. Strategies include:
· Preventing the need for developmental classes by working closely with high schools.
· Rethinking placement into developmental classes and providing such alternatives as online testing software and fast-track refresher courses especially for adults who have been out of college for some time.
· Applying coursework to the field of study. Washington State’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) system was noted as a strong national example. This program places students directly into college-level academic classes with two instructors: one to teach the subject matter and the other to teach developmental education in the context of the class.
· Providing fast-track courses that combine areas of study. Some colleges have developed classes that combine reading and writing skills, or reduced duplication in various math classes to help students get what they need faster.
Washington State higher education leaders interviewed for the report were from:
· The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
· Everett Community College
· Lake Washington Institute of Technology
· Lower Columbia College
· North Seattle Community College
· Tacoma Community College
*For the full report: GAO-13-656; www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-656