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Working With K-12 Schools to Create Student Pathways

By Ann McGee

The path to college and career success begins before students ever set foot on campus.

The key to student success lies in our ability to create pathways to degree completion for every student.

But these pathways don’t begin on college campuses. In almost every case, they begin before that — in our nation’s K-12 schools.

That’s why, at Seminole State College of Florida, we work closely with Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) to increase college readiness and ensure a successful transition to higher education. Nearly half of all SCPS graduates who choose to pursue a postsecondary education do so at Seminole State, making these relationships crucial to the success of our students.

Six years ago, our college partnered with SCPS to develop a new math curriculum. While the district was high performing in many areas, administrators realized that nearly 60 percent of high school graduates were underprepared for college-level mathematics.

Committed to improving college readiness for all students, SCPS and Seminole State held a series of joint meetings. Together, our educators reset the curriculum so that our SCPS-Seminole State math-readiness courses were aligned in every way, from teaching to textbooks. We also supported remediation in the final two years of high school, helping more students graduate prepared for college-level work.

These efforts resulted in dramatic improvements in student success. College readiness in mathematics increased from an average of 40 percent at the start of the program in 2008 to nearly 90 percent this year. Today, the college math-readiness partnership we helped develop serves as a model for the entire state.

Starting early

Our success with mathematics has led to the formation of other partnerships with the local school district, including Career Pathways, a program that allows high school students to explore careers and to begin making positive strides toward college graduation before they ever set foot on a college campus. Depending on their individual career path (there are 12 to choose from), local high school students can earn up to 12 college credits, saving as much as $1,000 on tuition.

A dual enrollment program between Seminole State and one local SCPS high school allows students to complete their high school diploma and associate in arts degree simultaneously.  Students who complete the program can transition seamlessly as college juniors to Seminole State or transfer to the University of Central Florida through DirectConnect, a guaranteed admissions program. In addition to better preparing students for college, our dual enrollment program also saves students money on textbooks and courses, as there is no cost for students who take these programs in high school.

Through partnerships such as these with local public school systems, our nation’s community colleges can provide clear academic pathways to ensure students are poised to achieve their educational and career goals.

For more on creating successful student pathways, check out the three-part pathways series in our resources section.

Ann McGee

is president of Seminole State College of Florida.

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