The College Puzzle Blog
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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.

Blackboard Hopes to Help Bridge the Divide

Blackboard Inc., a provider of education and software services will launch " a strategic initiative" to help connection and collaboration between k-12 and postsecondary institutions.
The Company appears to have a good grasp of the problems including disconnected systems and the resulting poor preparation for college as well as low postsecondary completion overall.

Blackboard's assumptions are that a k-20 community can be built by leveraging technology and spending "over a million dollars". Both of these assumptions are problematic, but Blackboard's specific objectives are sensible. Technology could be an impetus for connecting two systems that rarely talk to each other about crucial issues. Blackboard hopes to build a k-20 online community of educators, promote state and local models of successful collaboration, publish case studies of success, and utilize Blackboard solutions and technology to enhance coordination.

Unfortunately, Blackboard's examples in its press release feature universities, rather than community colleges where the bulk of the problems (like remediation) exist. Something new is needed because k-20 connections are not growing fast enough. Focusing on so many age groups at once has bogged down states and regions as the Education Commission of the States found out in trying to organize around such a huge target. Perhaps Blackboard should focus on grades 8 to 14 as a first step , and not try to integrate kindergarten with college seniors in the same initiative.

I am intrigued by what technology might do, because there are few natural meeting places where k-12 and postsecondary come together face to face to confront their mutual problems and discuss potential solutions. Sectors of education have different governing boards and funding systems. The teacher unions are not well integrated either. Perhaps technology can bridge some of these divides without expensive and time consuming travel to meetings.

Don't forget to visit our sister site for one tool that we believe could help students BEFORE they get to college.

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