Here are seven strategies (many already priorities for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) that will help us hit those marks:
Expand high-quality pre-kindergarten: By offering life-altering pre-k to Texas’ economically disadvantaged households, Texas can ensure children are ready on day one in kindergarten to get to the fun of learning. That way, the next thirteen years are filled with meaningful learning opportunities that prepare them for postsecondary success.
Increase rigor in primary and secondary schools: There are many things a student must already know to successfully obtain a certification or complete a degree program. Those things are taught in high schools. And middle schools. And elementary schools. Each level builds on the other, so we must ensure they are aligned, appropriately challenging our students, and preparing them for their next steps.
Broaden access to college-level coursework in high schools: Affluent schools readily offer college-level courses for high school students that prepares them for the academic challenges of higher education. Ensuring low-income schools offer the same opportunities increases the chances their students will attend and successfully complete college.
Reduce remediation rates: Reteaching high-school-level coursework should not be the function of higher education. Students and parents shouldn’t have to pay to learn what high schools should offer for free. Getting pre-k and K-12 education right the first time reduces student debt and increases the odds a student completes higher education.
Increase college applications and FAFSA completions: Sometimes, simply showing a student his or her postsecondary options does the trick. In addition, some students don’t know the real cost of higher education or the amount of student aid that may be offered. By providing this information to students, we open up proverbial doors and make the “dream” of college seem more attainable.
Support and expand Minority Male Initiatives: Some of our state’s most at-risk students are minority males. Through comprehensive supports in higher education, we can reduce the number of minority male college dropouts.
Bring college dropouts back into the fold: Many Texans have begun their degree programs but still don’t hold a credential. Offering flexible avenues for them to return to higher education increases the likelihood they will. Through extensive outreach, institutions of higher education can make opportunities known, and college dropouts can finally realize aspirations they had left behind.
The challenge before us is gargantuan. We must address the reality of college completion at every point of the education pipeline, from pre-k to high school to postsecondary. This coordinated effort is the only way that ensures every Texas student, no matter race, ethnicity, or zip code, has both the opportunity and the ability to succeed. That’s a Texas future worth fighting for.Print