There is an economic imperative to ensure that each learner has access to and completes postsecondary education or training. By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of postsecondary education and training beyond high school. However, many learners, particularly first generation learners, low-income and learners of color, face challenges when transitioning from high school to college.
To help ensure systems support learners during this key time of transition, Level Up launched on March 8. Level Up, managed and run by Education Strategy Group (ESG), is a coalition of state and national partners, including Advance CTE, whose aim is to significantly increase the numbers of high school students prepared for and successfully transitioning to postsecondary education and training programs. The launch event for Level Up featured two panels that provided insight into the barriers that learners face when transitioning from high school to postsecondary education and training and highlighted state strategies to address these barriers.
The first panel, Removing Barriers, Transforming Lives, featured students who participated in the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program, a collaborative between Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove. ACES provides services to students to support their transition to and completion of postsecondary education. The students remarked on how financial aid, mental health, responsibilities outside of school and a lack of information and academic planning were barriers to students’ successful transitions to postsecondary education. ACES helped students address these barriers through providing coaches that connected students to resources and helped them develop academic and transfer plans.
The second panel, Closing Gaps through Alignment and Collaboration, featured K-12 and higher education leaders who discussed how states and communities can work together to create seamless postsecondary transitions for each learner. For instance, Baltimore City Schools engaged in equity mapping to ensure its coursework is aligned across the education system to support learners’ attainment of postsecondary credentials.
At the launch event, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Education Commission of the States (ECS), ESG and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) released Taking Alignment to the Next Effort: How K-12 and Higher Education Can Collaborate to Support Student Success, which highlights steps that K-12 and higher education leaders can take to help learners successfully transition to postsecondary education and training. The report argues that there are three key pillars to a successful postsecondary transition strategy:
- Aligning expectations;
- Facilitating seamless transitions; and
- Extend navigational supports.
As state leaders work to build pathways that support learners in their efforts to achieve their college and career goals, they should develop postsecondary transitions strategies to ensure that each learner is able to access and succeed in postsecondary education.
Brianna McCain, Policy Associate