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Programs of Study Could Address Rise in Postsecondary Remedial Needs

The increased number of students entering postsecondary institutions might appear as a win to those who have been advocating for greater college-going rates. But a recent New York Times article that examines the rising enrollment at community colleges highlights the importance of a strong pipeline between secondary and postsecondary institutions. Without the connection, students are entering postsecondary institutions to spend significant time and money on remedial courses, and are less likely to graduate.

The increased enrollment matched with the swell of remedial needs are straining resources at community colleges and sparking national discussions about how to address the issue. Do community colleges restructure to provide more remedial support? Do high schools take on the entire responsibility of preparing students for college?

Perhaps the conversation to be had is about how programs of study (POS), which link secondary and postsecondary learning, are designed to target this issue. POS is a structured sequence of academic and CTE courses aligned from secondary to postsecondary that leads a student to college and career readiness, and specifically to earn a postsecondary-level credential. The National Career Clusters framework serves as the overarching tool that organizes POS according to the industry in which students are studying, which supports career readiness goals.

Alignment of secondary and postsecondary institutions is critical if the nation wants to do more than simply send students to college.

In New York, at the high-serving City University of New York (CUNY), work has begun. According to the New York Times, the New York City Department of Education is now tracking high school’s students’ performance in college, and starting in 2012, will measure student’s college readiness in its annual school progress reports. Further, the city education department and CUNY are working together to align their academic standards and curriculums.

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