August 2013

August 2013


• Webinar – Transforming Remediation: Understanding the Research, Policy, and Practice (Thursday, August 15th)

Capitol Hill Forum – State Perspectives in Expanded Learning: the Role of Statewide Afterschool Network  (Friday, September 27th)


Webinar – Transforming Remediation: Understanding the Research, Policy, and Practice, Thursday, August 15, 2013, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, approximately half of all undergraduates and 70 percent of community college students take at least one remedial course. Unfortunately, many of these students never move beyond their placement in remediation. Only about a quarter of community college students who take a remedial course graduate within eight years according to a 2006 sample from NELS. Thus in order to ensure more students successfully complete postsecondary education, there is a need to significantly transform remedial education.

This webinar will present some key principles for this transformation along with the growing research base of best practices. In addition, the webinar will highlight promising institution-level practices. Panelists will include: Bruce Vandal, Ph.D., Vice President, Complete College America; Michelle Hodara, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Education Northwest; Katie Hern, Ed.D., Chabot College and Director, California Acceleration Project; and Cynthia D. Liston, Associate Vice President for Policy Research & Special Projects, NC Community College System.

Capitol Hill Forum – State Perspectives in Expanded Learning: the Role of Statewide Afterschool Network, Friday, September 27, 2013, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

As communities are beginning to realize the benefit of a coordinated approach to expanded learning opportunities in which program providers, schools, intermediaries, and other stakeholders work together to provide high quality programming, they have benefited from the support of statewide afterschool networks (SANs). Currently, these networks operate in 41 states and provide a range of coordinated supports in the form of research, resources, and technical assistance to state and local level stakeholders. SANs have developed valuable expertise in both policy and practice issues that can improve the quality of afterschool and expanded learning opportunities.

The American Youth Policy Forum will hold a Capitol Hill forum in D.C. to provide an overview of how the SANs support the work of afterschool providers and how they work alongside multiple stakeholders, including state agencies, community-based intermediaries, and local programs. Representatives of SANs will share their perspectives on the qualities of a highly functioning afterschool system, the supports SANs have provided, and how federal policy can support or hinder such work. Terri Ferinde Dunham, Partner, Collaborative Communications, who serves as the coordinator of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks, will share lessons learned from that work. Two Statewide Afterschool Network Directors will also discuss best practices in expanded learning in their state and what role federal policy has played in supporting a scaling of those practices.


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Ready for Success Blog

The Ready for Success Blog, operated by College and Career Readiness and Success Center at the American Institutes of Research, provides practitioners and policymakers with many posts related to college and career readiness. Topics span the field of strategies which help prepare students for postsecondary education and beyond, including accelerated learning; dropout prevention and recovery; increased learning time; and federal, state, and local policy initiatives to name a few.

Recently AYPF has provided several contributions to the Ready for Success Blog, including several posts related to state and local competency-based education strategies to prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce.

Forum Brief – College Match Matters

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009 only 36 percent of youth in the United States ages 18-24 were enrolled in college. Of those that managed to navigate the system and gain access to higher education, only 53 percent attending four-year institutions were able to graduate within six years. While many factors contribute to the issue of postsecondary enrollment and graduation, a major challenge has been the matching of youth to appropriate programs. Oftentimes youth may be the first in their families to apply or enroll in college, and are forced to navigate the process with little or no guidance. If students are to enter into and ultimately succeed in postsecondary education, greater support is required to match each individual student with an institution and course of study that matches his or her needs, both academically and financially.

This forum provided an overview of the research conducted by MDRC on the promising College Match Program in Chicago Public Schools, as well as a panel discussion the implications for policy, specifically considering opportunities for sustainability and scaling up. Presenters included D. Crystal Byndloss, Senior Associate, MDRC; Michael McPherson, President, Spencer Foundation; Greg Darnieder, Senior Advisor to the Secretary on the College Access Initiative, US Department of Education; and Mariana Saucedo, College Match Advisor, DeVry Advantage Academy High School and Lincoln Park High School.

Video Recording – Transforming Remedial Education to Improve Postsecondary Attainment

With recent estimates suggesting that over 50 percent of all college students require remedial education and research indicating that remedial education students rarely earn a postsecondary credential – it is critical that the transformation of remedial education become part of every state strategy to dramatically increase college attainment rates. Fortunately, new research and innovative practice are demonstrating that dramatic improvements in student success can be achieved. However, without state and federal action, this transformation will be slow and inevitably fall short of its potential. This event co-sponsored by Complete College America explored how state and federal policy can accelerate proven reforms that will be central to meeting state and national goals to increase college attainment rates in the U.S. Speakers included: Stan Jones, President, Complete College America; Tristan Denley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Austin Peay State University; Matt Gianneschi, Vice President of Policy and Programs, Education Commission of the States; and Katie Hern, English Instructor, Chabot College.

In addition to a full recording of the forum, a series of post-forum interviews were conducted with each of the speakers is available online.

Webinar Recording – Promising Practices and Considerations for Districts in Competency-Based Education

High performing education systems across the globe have based their work on a competency-based approach as opposed to the time-based system that we have in the United States. Currently, innovative states and districts around the country are beginning to challenge this outdated system and pursue an approach that calls for student demonstration of mastery. While many are currently interested in making such a shift, it is important to recognize that a host of policies, structures, and systems must be aligned. This two-part webinar series, co-hosted by the American Youth Policy Forum and the College and Career Readiness Center at the American Institutes for Research, addressed major policy issues states and districts should be considering as they think about implementing competency-based education.

This second webinar looked at two districts that have pioneered the development of competency-based approaches and examined how policies can support or hinder district level systems-change. Dr. Joe Harris, Director, provided an overview of the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at the American Institutes for Research. Thomas Rooney, Superintendent, Lindsay Unified School District, California discussed the district’s motivation and approach to pursuing a district-wide competency-based system. Linda Laughlin, Assistant Superintendent, RSU 18, Maine and Co-Chair of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning (MCCL) shared her district’s progress and how collaborations such as MCCL can support the work happening in individual districts. This webinar also identified key policy questions that districts should consider as they pursue competency-based education pathways and systems. Dr. Matthew Lewis, Senior Research Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School, and Dr. Jennifer Steele, Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation served as respondents and shared preliminary lessons from ongoing research of several competency-based districts across the country.

Webinar Recording – High School Credit for Expanded Learning Opportunities in Providence, Rhode Island

State and district education leaders are thinking about how they can more closely link what is happening in the school day with unique learning experiences that prepare students for college and careers and that take place in project-based, work-based, and real world settings. Communities across the country are pursuing a collective impact approach that integrates school systems, afterschool providers, and other youth serving providers into a student-centered learning strategy. Some of these approaches are competency-based education systems, in which students are awarded credit not on seat-time, but upon demonstration of mastery in specific competencies, allowing them to move ahead at their own pace. In a competency-based system, there can be more flexibility to gain credit for activities beyond the school day, and increasingly districts and states are starting to allow such flexibility.

As educators begin to think about how to award credit to students, they should consider incorporating expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) into such efforts. ELOs take place outside of the boundaries of the school day and allow students to learn in non-school settings with diverse community providers on topics of relevance and interest to students. There is growing agreement that ELOs, afterschool, and summer programs are a promising strategy for helping youth develop the full range of skills needed to succeed in college and careers. ELOs add to the depth and breadth of learning and draw upon many adult experts to augment, enrich, reinforce, and support in-class learning, help students master academic and other competencies, and apply their knowledge.

There are a few examples of such collaboration between schools systems and ELOs in which students are learning skills in ELOs that count for credit in school. Providence Afterschool Alliance (PASA) has begun to offer coordinated programs to high school students through The HUB, a student-centered initiative which provides high school credit to students for work they do outside of the school day. Activities include video game development, Android App design and development, debate, and environmental science. This webinar will highlight this unique initiative in Providence, Rhode Island and describe the goals of the program, how the program is organized, the relationship between the afterschool providers and the school district, how credit is awarded, and implications for advancing student learning. Hillary Salmons, Executive Director, PASA shared the motivation for the HUB and PASA’s experience working alongside providers and Providence Public School District (PPSD). Patrick Duhon, Director of Expanded Learning, PPSD on loan to PASA, discussed how he has served as a bridge between PPSD and PASA to support the district’s expanded learning initiative in multiple schools. Ashley Belanger, Executive Director, Rhode Island Urban Debate League, shared how her community-based program has worked closely with PPSD to help youth develop academic and other skills.

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Check these out – recommended reading from the AYPF staff

School-Based Mentoring Programs: Using Volunteers to Improve the Academic Outcomes of Underserved Students MDRC

Previous research suggests that school-based mentoring programs like those offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) yield small but statistically significant improvements in the academic performance of mentored students and in their beliefs in their own scholastic efficacy. This study uses data from a randomized control trial involving over 1,000 students from 71 schools across the country to investigate further the academic benefits of school-based mentoring, and to enrich the field’s understanding of how schools can use volunteers to support students. Instrumental variables and other approaches are used to provide insight into why the BBBSA school-based mentoring program is effective, finding that the relationship between mentor and protégé appears to play a key role. The evidence suggests that developing a close relationship with a mentor led to better academic outcomes for students; in contrast, students who were mentored but did not experience a close relationship showed no improvement in academic outcomes relative to the control group.

Advancing Competency-Based Pathways to College and Career Readiness Achieve, Inc.

This state policy framework, focused on graduation requirements, assessment, and accountability, is designed to assist states in building a policy structure that contributes to statewide adoption and implementation of competency-based pathways (CBP) that support all students in reaching college and career readiness, as defined by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CBP can help all students reach college- and career-ready standards through the following strategies: students advance upon demonstrated mastery; competencies are designed to include learning objectives that empower students; assessments that are meaningful learning experiences; rapid and differentiated support for students; emphasis on the application and creation of knowledge, and learning processes that encourage students to develop skills and dispositions important for success in college, careers, and citizenship. It recognizes that there is no one-size-fits all strategy to advancing policies that support CBP, that everything does not have to happen at once, and that both the vision and approach to implementation will vary across states. In particular, it anticipates that states’ visions will fall along a continuum from keeping the current system largely intact to reimagining the traditional, time-based education system. It also anticipates that the path that they will take to implement this vision will vary based on state priorities and policy context, as well as preferred scale and rate of change.

Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: State Education Agencies’ Views on the Federal Role Center on Education Policy at the George Washington University

This report, based on a winter/spring 2013 survey of 40 Common Core State Standards-adopting states, examines state education agency (SEA) officials’ views on the federal role in implementing the standards. The report finds that, although a direct federal role in implementing the Common Core State Standards has been controversial, a majority of states in the survey support legislative and/or regulatory changes to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act to help them with their implementation efforts. The report also addresses the issue of within-state opposition to standards and finds that the vast majority of survey states do not anticipate their state’s decision to adopt the standards will be reversed, limited or changed in 2013-14.

What It Takes to Complete High School: The Shifting Terrain of Course and Diploma Requirements Jobs for the Future

In recent months, several states have altered their high school course requirements in various ways, from creating endorsements within a single diploma to creating new diplomas. These states appear to be making changes for a variety of reasons: to elevate career and technical education; to emphasize STEM fields; to improve the alignment with non-remedial college entrance requirements; to provide options for students who are not heading to college right after high school. Whatever the reasons, and they do not seem to be in anticipation of Common Core State Standards, the new legislation and accompanying rules and regulations require scrutiny and a careful consideration of implications, both for themselves and for their relation to other categories of graduation requirements such as test scores, Carnegie Units, and new interest in competency- or proficiency-based assessments. Of particular interest is whether changes augment or undercut the ongoing effort to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in postsecondary education—whether headed toward a certificate, an Associate’s degree, or a four-year degree. Right now, with systems in flux across the nation, it is critical to track and pay attention to the trends. In that spirit, This publication focuses on one category of graduation requirement: courses required by states for students to attain a high school diploma.


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.

AYPF events and publications are made possible by a consortium of philanthropic foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and others.



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