The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

How to Prepare More College-Ready Students

It is useful to highlight some particularly good state studies and actions regarding college student risk factors and college support for struggling students. A superb report was released on February 12, 2007 by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education through their Developmental Education Task Force. It is entitled Securing Kentucky’s Future. It has six core recommendations:

  1. Update college admissions regulations

  2. Create an integrated accountability system tied to performance funding

  3. Fund infrastructure improvement

  4. Align college readiness standards and tie to educator professional development

  5. Better link educator preparation to college readiness

  6. Develop early student interventions
Among the specifics in the report is a detailed plan on how to help students with poor college preparation once they enter college. A key passage is quoted below:

Best practice, as implemented in the Council’s admission regulation, will require that under-prepared students (a) receive developmental help in their first semester of college (or perhaps before that in summer workshops); (b) be required to stay in developmental education until they successfully complete the course(s); and (c) take the appropriate credit-bearing course(s) immediately following completion of developmental work.

Implementing these changes will require improved (and more directive) advising, revisions in course registration procedures, and additional resources to increase the availability of developmental education in the first semester for all students in need.

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