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Oct 19, 2011

College/Career Workshops to Drive Collaboration on Workforce Needs

State and Local Education Leaders from K-12 & Higher Education to Meet Statewide

A series of one-day workshops focusing on college and career readiness will be held in Connecticut next week, bringing together superintendents and principals from K-12 school districts across Connecticut along with higher education leaders in an unprecedented effort to strengthen educational attainment statewide.

The state’s P20 Council will sponsor three regional workshops, to be held on Oct. 26 at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Oct. 27 at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury and Oct. 28 at Manchester Community College, with K-12 educators and college leaders set to participate with a clear focus on boosting post-secondary readiness and success and the state’s workforce.

The workshops are designed to develop a shared understanding of college and career readiness among participants, along with ways to improve student success. They will be facilitated by the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) which has spurred similar collaborative initiatives around the country, including Massachusetts, California and Illinois.

The goal is to initiate college and career readiness action planning that will serve as a model for statewide reform that will translate into more students being prepared for, and succeeding in, post-secondary education.

It is anticipated that new data will be shared with officials that delves into the postsecondary experiences of students at public and private institutions, to provide a clearer picture of what happens to students after they graduate high school.

Connecticut currently ranks 34th out of the 50 states in the rate of increase in degree attainment for young adults, and a large proportion of Connecticut’s students enter postsecondary institutions requiring remedial or developmental courses before being able to take college level classes in English and math. Studies have shown that students who need to take even one developmental or remedial course are less likely to earn a degree than their counterparts who do not need remediation.

“Here’s the bottom line. We need more students to succeed in education and rigorous training programs beyond high school. That success improves the life of each graduate and pays dividends for the state as a whole,” said Michael P. Meotti, Executive Vice President of Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education.

“Right now, too many students who are graduating from high school are not sufficiently on track for success in college and career,” said State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. “This is not just a higher education issue and not just a K-12 issue. The workshops signal a heightened commitment to work together across the education continuum to find solutions that will work on the ground, in the classrooms. We are in this together.”

Officials point out that the K-12 and higher education systems are often not coordinated in curriculum planning and expectations. While there are effective collaborations between some schools and some faculty, the educational sectors as a whole are not aligned. With better collaborative efforts, officials say Connecticut has the opportunity to make it easier for students to progress from high school through a successful postsecondary experience and into a satisfying career.

Presenters at the workshops will provide an overview of the current state of college readiness, the prevailing disconnect between K-12 and postsecondary systems, the resulting impact on students, and the importance of ensuring that all students graduate high school prepared to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing college courses or are career-ready with skills expected by employers. Participants will also learn about tools, techniques, and strategies to work locally to improve college readiness, leaving the workshop with an action plan to work with their communities.

Officials say another by-product of the sessions is expected to be a reaffirmation of the need for better and more regular data detailing the experiences of Connecticut’s students as they transition from one educational system to the next, and into the workforce.

“Local education leaders and higher education officials will quite literally be sitting across the table from one another throughout these workshops,” said Robert A. Kennedy, President of the Board of Regents. “That fact alone should help invigorate the conversation and jumpstart the collaboration.”

The P20 Council’s mission is to improve coordination among early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education and workforce training to improve educational attainment. The Council is focusing on three areas: 1) building partnerships between school districts and higher education institutions, 2) linking data across early childhood, K-12, postsecondary education, and labor, and 3) strengthening the preparation and professional development of teachers and education leaders.

Additional information and registration details are available at www.ctregents.org/policy/p20#workshops or by calling 860.493.0000.