URI administrators, faculty participate in study of how state fosters school participation

from kindergarten through college

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — November 8, 2001 — University of Rhode Island administrators and professors joined about 80 other state education leaders recently to assist a national agency with its first study of how states put in place programs to build an educational system that fosters involvement from pre-school through college.

For three days in October, a team from the State Higher Education Executive Officers, based in Denver, Colo., in concert with William R. Holland, Rhode Island commissioner of higher education, addressed a variety of issues critical to improved links and cooperation from elementary and secondary schools to higher education.

A year ago, with support from four U.S. Department of Education programs, the State Higher Education Executive Officers launched a three-year initiative called “Building Statewide K-16 Systems for Student Success,” aimed at strengthening connections across federal and state programs through kindergarten through college partnerships.

Esther M. Rodriguez, associate executive director of the higher education officers group and team leader, said 40 state higher education agencies sought to participate in the program. Rhode Island was one of five selected to participate in the case studies, along with California, Louisiana, Maryland and Missouri, according to Rodriguez.

“The goal of our case studies is to analyze K through 16 system building,” Rodriguez said. “We’re looking at what it takes to succeed in post-secondary education. We’re looking at how Rhode Island’s new (elementary and secondary) standards are connected to achievement in higher education.”

Holland told the groups meeting for the various sessions that promoting a pre-school through college initiative can help gain visibility and support for higher education in the state legislature. Strengthening the state’s commitment to a full educational experience through four years of college will also help the state gain support from private foundations, he added.
Many of the team leaders praised Rhode Island for its own initiatives to ensure that all children in the state have access to and can succeed in college with solid foundations laid in the state’s pre-school, elementary and secondary schools.

Among the areas discuss during the three-day conference were:

o Early outreach programs— Efforts designed to inform, motivate, and support elementary and secondary school students to encourage college participation.

o Student financial aid and other incentives— Programs designed to make college attendance more affordable and attractive.

o Teacher quality initiatives—Steps to improve teacher preparation, recruitment, induction, licensure, professional development or other efforts aimed at strengthening the quality of the teacher work force.

o Curriculum development and assessment of learning—Programs to align elementary, secondary and post-secondary curriculum, standards pedagogy, high school exit/college admissions and placement requirements.

o Data and accountability systems—Development of statewide databases from kindergarten through 12 and post-secondary education and links between them; reporting systems in place that address student transition issues and student outcomes.

o Statewide leadership structures—Existence of active regular collaborative work at the state level between kindergarten through 12 and post-secondary leaders and agencies.

Following the case studies, a series of briefs on the topics listed above will be developed and published. In addition, one-day roundtables will be conducted in Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Washington State, with additional meetings to follow in 2002. The meetings will bring together state leadership and program directors to foster kindergarten through college development. In 2002 and 2003, the State Higher Education Executive Officers and the Pathways Network will sponsor four regional forums to help encourage interstate sharing of kindergarten through college initiatives and reinforce promising practices.

In the coming year, the higher education group will begin building a kindergarten through college database, which will provide on-line access to resources on national, regional, and state activities including data sources, initiatives, web sites, studies and reports related to statewide efforts.

For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116