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Significant Discussions: A Guide for Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum Alignment

Significant Discussions: Auditing Major Projects to Aid Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum Alignment in Math and Promote Student Readiness, Retention, and Completion

 


Significant Discussions: A Guide for Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum Alignment

To view the full Significant Discussions guide, click here.

The Significant Discussions Project, with generous support from MetLife Foundation, is based on the recognition that misalignment of curriculum among secondary schools, community colleges, universities, and employers creates barriers to student success, and that collaborative discussions about curriculum alignment across educational sectors are often random and voluntary. Further, few systems are in place to institutionalize or incentivize collaborative work to improve alignment. One highly significant exception is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, which requires that secondary, postsecondary, and business partners collaborate in the development of programs of study.

The major emphasis on increasing student success, particularly in the community college, has been strengthened by the current administration’s call for a steep increase in the number of students who complete a postsecondary degree or other credential. Private foundations have also challenged educators to increase college completion with an emphasis on minority and low-income students. In this environment, as colleges seek innovative, effective strategies to facilitate student completion, curriculum alignment is a promising area for helping ensure student success.

Throughout 2010, the League for Innovation has led the Significant Discussions Project, with the goal of developing a Significant Discussions guide designed to facilitate discussions between faculty and administrators in secondary and postsecondary institutions that would lead to curriculum alignment between these institutions. Based on effective practices identified from participating pilot community colleges, and including supporting materials that can be widely used or easily adapted for use, Significant Discussions: A Guide for Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum Alignment is available for free use by community colleges and their partnering institutions and organizations.

Project Participants. Nine community colleges, each with at least one partnering secondary school, were selected through an application process to participate in developing and piloting the Significant Discussions guide:

  • Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland
  • Central Piedmont Community College, North Carolina
  • Lehigh Carbon Community College, Pennsylvania
  • Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona
  • Miami Dade College, Florida
  • San Diego Community College District, California
  • Sinclair Community College, Ohio
  • Southwestern Oregon Community College, Oregon
  • St. Louis Community College, Missouri

Review Panel. In addition to the nine colleges, a national review panel with expertise in various levels of education reviewed and provided feedback on the Significant Discussions guide as it was developed.

  • Ann Benson, Benson Consulting, Former State CTE Director, Oklahoma
  • Ken Kempner, Professor of Education, Southern Oregon University
  • Christine McPhail, Managing Principal, The McPhail Group, LLC
  • Ellen Meyers, Co-Founder, Teachers Network
  • Terry O’Banion, President Emeritus, League for Innovation in the Community College, and Director, Community College Leadership Program, Walden University
  • Jean Petty, Senior Partner, JC Petty & Associates

Principal Investigator
Laurance J. Warford
Warford and Associates, LLC

Project Assistant
Marsha VanNahmen
Interim Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus

Project Liaison
Cynthia Wilson
Vice President, Learning and Research
League for Innovation in the Community College

 


Significant Discussions: Auditing Major Projects to Aid Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum Alignment in Math and Promote Student Readiness, Retention, and Completion

In Significant Discussions: A Guide to Aligning Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum, the League for Innovation in the Community College (League), with support from MetLife Foundation, engaged community colleges and their secondary school partners in an iterative process to develop a handbook for holding curriculum alignment conversations. This guide, freely available on the League website (www.league.org/significant discussions), is designed to help decrease the need for remediation, thus allowing a significant portion of community college resources currently used in developmental courses to be reallocated to college-level courses or other academic support services.

The second Significant Discussions project, Significant Discussions: Auditing Major Projects to Aid Secondary and Postsecondary Curriculum Alignment in Math and Promote Student Readiness, Retention, and Completion, builds on the Significant Discussions guide and focuses on developmental math and student success. The project includes (1) an audit of major projects and initiatives on math and student success, and (2) development of examples of aligned curriculum in math. These two project elements are described in the paragraphs that follow.

  1. Audit of Major Projects and Initiatives on Math and Student Success

    Numerous projects focused on developmental math and/or student success have been conducted across the country, and many, if not all, of these projects potentially provide useful resources for secondary and postsecondary institutions that engage in the work of curriculum alignment through Significant Discussions. Easing access to the findings and resources developed through these initiatives is a step toward expanding their use to improve student learning and success. Resources designed for community college developmental math courses might be easily transferred to the secondary school setting to support curriculum alignment and to help high school students improve their math skills and abilities. If these students are college-ready when they graduate from high school, the need for remediation among recent high school graduates is reduced, and the likelihood of retention and completion is increased.

  2. Examples of Alignment of Secondary and Postsecondary Math Curriculum

    In March 2012, the League convened a group of leaders of developmental math and student success projects with community college and secondary school partners to share experiences and to develop plans for integrating resources into curriculum alignment for math. The nine participating community colleges and their respective secondary school partners then set out to develop models for the alignment secondary and postsecondary math curriculum. In some cases, math faculty built on existing work at their institutions; in others, faculty used their expertise, experience, and creativity to imagine what their ideal aligned math curriculum would be. Some models integrate or adapt resources and findings from projects and initiatives identified in the audit. The examples are intended help faculty and administrators begin to envision what an aligned math curriculum could be in their secondary-postsecondary partnerships. Although they do not necessarily represent existing aligned curricula, in some cases the project partners are making progress toward that goal.

Project Participants. The nine community colleges that participated in developing the Significant Discussions guide are the college participants in this project. Each college is working with at least one partnering secondary school.

  • Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland
  • Central Piedmont Community College, North Carolina
  • Lehigh Carbon Community College, Pennsylvania
  • Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona
  • Miami Dade College, Florida
  • San Diego Community College District, California
  • Sinclair Community College, Ohio
  • Southwestern Oregon Community College, Oregon
  • St. Louis Community College, Missouri
For more information, please contact:
 
Principal Investigator
Cynthia Wilson, wilson@league.org
Vice President, Learning and Research
League for Innovation in the Community College