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.

Regular College Prep Curriculum Has Weak Content/Skills

I spoke at the Education Commision of the States meeting in Austin July 2 and attended several sessions. One theme that emerged is that there is a huge drop off in course content and academic challenge below honors or AP courses. This is the so called "regular college prep" track that leads to broad access higher ed. Content varies enormously for courses with the same label like algebra 2 and social studies.High schools do not know how many students take which college prep courses.
Schools in states with a default college prep curriculum are all over the place in terms of quality and intensity of courses that count for the college prep label. For a good overview of this issue see Education Beyond Rhetoric at


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