Meeting with an admissions counselor

I had the opportunity to meet with a university admissions counselor earlier today. I was interested in getting a sense of what counselors may be considering when they review an application from a student who recently graduated from a new or relatively unknown high school.

I was pleasantly surprised that they were not necessarily looking for the number of honors or AP classes that a student took, per se, but, rather, that applicants could demonstrate that they attempted to challenge themselves in school, especially when considering the various courses that could be taken in the school curriculum. Did the student choose the “easy credits”? Or did the student attempt to engage in a variety of classes throughout the curriculum? Is the student a well-rounded student as a result of the high school experience?

The counselor advised the need to let the university know of the school’s graduation requirements at least a year in advance of the first graduating class. This notification should highlight the minimum graduation requirements and expectations of the school’s students. This was especially important should the school expect the students to participate in service learning, internships or offer other learning opportunities for credit. Based on this provided profile, careful decisions are made regarding admission status.

The counselor didn’t even flinch when we talked about a hybrid high school graduation diploma. To her, this was part of the reality of admitting students in the 21st century.

Overall, I appreciated the opportunity to discuss what a new school needs to consider from a university admissions point of view. Clearly, the need to explicitly express minimum graduation requirements is important. Even more important is to articulate the vision and expectations that a new Christian high school may have for its students as graduates and representatives of the school when they leave to go to college.

Advertisements

Financial literacy instruction remains important

I discussed the “case for financial literacy instruction” a few months back. Today, I came across some additional resources that may be helpful regarding this important recommendation. Adams (2011) noted that the possibility of accumulating student debt in college during these difficult times is pushing students to learn more about financial literacy. There are currently four states that mandate a financial literacy graduation requirement, and 19 additional states have integrated financial education into their high school curriculum. There is no such requirement in the state of Washington, but this is important enough an issue for student development and stewardship that I have been watching for financial literacy electives when reviewing possible online providers. I am also learning that there are numerous free resources available to help supplement a class curriculum on this topic, including Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy , National Endowment for Financial Education , National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the US Mint.

Reference:

Adams, C. J. (2011, Oct. 28) High schools, colleges push financial literacy. Accessed Nov. 2, 2011 through Education Week.

http://www.orangekids.com/teacher/additional-resources-literacy.aspx

Mandates for online learning continue

As a follow-up to my post last summer, I came across this article on mandated online learning requirements. As online learning becomes more prevalent, a number of states and school districts are taking initiatives to require online learning experiences for their K-12 students:

  • Michigan was the first state to require students to complete at least 20 hours of online learning between grades 6 and 12 (2002).
  • Idaho recently passed a requirement for all high school students to complete two credits of online learning for graduation (Sept. 2011).
  • Florida now requires online learning credits as part of their revised graduation requirements (2011).
  • Alabama and New Mexico require an online “experience” as part of graduation.

Students are encouraged to complete the requirement on their own time (in the evenings or during summer) or as part of their high school schedule. To ensure equity of access for all students, schools are making their computer labs available during lunch or after-class hours or instituting a laptop check-out program (similar to a library book) so that all students have access to the technology.

As I suggested back in July, it is evident that “more kids will learn in cyberia” and that, once again, we are proceeding down the right path as we consider online learning for a Christian high school environment. This serves as a reminder, too, that we will need to address equity and access issues as part of our plan.

Reference:

Davis, M. R. (2011, Oct. 19) States, districts move to require virtual classesEducation Week: Digital Directions. Accessed Oct. 20, 2011 through Education Week.

Categorizing my thinking

Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University recently launched the Developing Effective Schools Center (DESC), a national research and development center on identifying programs, practices, processes and policies that make some high schools more effective at reaching certain students than others. The DESC notes that consensus has grown among practitioners and researchers around the essential components of a successful high school. These include quality instruction, a rigorous curriculum, a culture of learning, professional behavior, connections to external communities, systemic use of data, system performance accountability, and learner-centered leadership.

Marzano (2003) reviewed 35 years of research of ‘what works in schools.’ He organized his results into three general factors of  influence on student achievement. These are 1) school-level factors (viable curriculum, challenging goals and effective feedback, parent and community involvement, safe and orderly environment), 2) teacher-level factors (instructional strategies, classroom management, classroom curriculum design), and 3) student-level factors (home atmosphere, learned intelligence and background knowledge, motivation).

As I reviewed the two lists, I wondered if considering these components and categories would be helpful as I continue to organize my thoughts regarding a new Christian high school. It seemed that each component and category could be applied to a Christian education context with little difficulty. I then recalled my recent site visitation experience at Monroe Christian School which introduced me to the accreditation standards that are central Christian Schools International. These are Standards 1) Community, 2) Staff, 3) Students, and 4) Curriculum. I mapped my understanding of the components suggested by DESC and the Marzano categories of what works in schools to the four CSI Standards and decided to include those additional components that a private institution needs to consider. This led to following organizing framework:

1. School

  • centrality of vision and mission of the Christian school (including the philosophical foundation of education/school)
  • connections to external communities (including parent and community involvement)
  • responsibilities & relationships among all participants in the learning process (including the student-level factors of home atmosphere, motivation, and learned intelligence and background knowledge)
  • systemic use of data to guide decision-making and inform system performance
  • facilities

2. Teacher

  • teacher development and support
  • healthy, professional, and biblical teacher leadership
  • developing a culture of learning

3. Students

  • discipleship and development
  • student services & programs
  • enrollment (admissions & retention)
  • graduation requirement

4. Curriculum & Instruction

  • a guaranteed, viable & rigorous curriculum
  • quality instruction & classroom management
  • learning environment
  • educational technology

I am going to start categorize and/or tag my posts in this blog according to this framework. This should help me as I continue to reflect and act upon this “whisper” for a Christian High School.

References:

Christian Schools International. (2006). Vision to action. Retrieved October 12, 2010 at http://www.csionline.org/.

Marzano, R. J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Peabody College of Education. (2010, Fall). Ideas in action. Peabody Reflector. 11.