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.

Performance in Middle Grades Strong Predictor Of College Success

A 2008 ACT report, "The Forgotten Middle" ( finds that under current conditions the level of achievement that students attain by eight grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduated from high school than anything that happens academically in high school. This includes family background, high school course work , and high school grade point average. ACT uses its 8th grade explore test for grade 8 and follows up with its grade 10 and 11 tests. Students who fall off the college prep track in middle school have a hard time recovering, but there are some student behaviors in high school that ACt finds can help.
I am part of a team doing a large scale survey of middle schools in California. More on this study in next blog, but our inital finding is how shallow the research base is on middle grades. Researchers have much more work completed on elementary and high schools, but there is no educational reason for this.

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