Cheryl Vedoe – CEO, Apex Learning
While national dropout rates have decreased and graduation rates have increased over the past 10 years, there is still concern that high school students are not graduating well prepared for college or career.
Based on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, just under 40 percent of U.S. students score at college- and career-ready levels, and only a third of U.S. high school seniors are prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading. Of the students taking the ACT in 2016, just 23 percent of Hispanic students and only 11 percent of African American students showed strong readiness for college coursework. Earning college credit is delayed for many students as anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent are required to first enroll in remedial courses in college.
As we celebrate an all-time high for high school graduation rates nationwide, I challenge us to consider the work still to be done in truly preparing our students for college, career, and life.
How Do We Achieve Readiness?
Ensuring students stay on track and are well prepared for the future is about more than just completing courses. It’s about making sure students are really ready for what comes next. If students complete a course but are not ready for the next step, they could fail to pass the state end-of-course exam, end up in credit recovery for the next course, or get frustrated and drop out. An effective instructional program can not only support at-risk students, but also better meet the needs of all students in achieving success.
Personalize the Learning Experience
When learning is personalized, teachers are able to better meet the diverse needs of an entire class. Each student is not prepared to learn the same thing on the same day in the same way. Some students lack foundational skills or require more time to master content, while other students are capable of accelerating. Digital curriculum makes it feasible for teachers to personalize learning at scale.
Support All Students
Through a balance of scaffolded direct instruction, meaningful practice, and formative assessment, digital curriculum supports all students in mastering required skills and concepts and developing critical thinking skills. With access to opt-in supports at the exact time they are needed, digital curriculum meets each student where he or she is.
Actively Engage Students
Instead of passively watching, listening, and reading, with an effective digital curriculum, students are actively engaged in their learning with greater motivation to complete their coursework. Students have the opportunity to observe, inquire, create, connect, and confirm to deepen their understanding.
More Learning = Readiness
Efficacy data from districts across the country proves that digital curriculum programs get results: graduation rates rise; dropout rates decrease. The key is a rigorous digital curriculum that provides supports and scaffolds to meet the needs of diverse learners. When learning is personalized and students are actively engaged, more learning happens. More learning means students are better prepared for their futures. And shouldn’t that be the goal: to ensure that students are really ready for what comes next?
Cheryl Vedoe, CEO of Apex Learning, has spent her entire career in the technology industry and more than 25 years partnering with schools to improve educational outcomes. She is a trustee of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.