The course integrates the skills and
concepts taught in Seminole State’s
math gateway course, focusing on the
concepts that students tend to struggle
with the most.
Similar work is going on with
English and writing skills, Summers
says. Teams of faculty from the high
schools and the college meet regularly
to have what Summers calls a “norming
session,” to make sure they agree on
common standards of excellence—such
as defining what a high-quality essay
should look like.
“I love the fact that we have a robust,
two-way communication with the
district,” Summers says. “We really work
The partnership has had a “massive
impact” on reducing the number of
high school graduates who need remedial
work at the next level, adds Gri;n.
North Dakota’s Bismarck State College
and the Bismarck Public Schools have
a similar relationship. Committees of
English and math instructors from
the school system’s three high schools
and the college “do a crosswalk of the
curriculum” to ensure alignment, says
Bismarck State President Larry Skogen.
The college and its local school
system also share a few facilities. This
has helped faculty in the city’s high
schools experience firsthand the career
skills that Bismarck State students are
learning in programs such as electronics
and aeronautics, so they can incorporate
these same skills into their career and
technical education programs at the
high school level.
“We are able to see what those students
are learning (at the college level) and then
back-map that into the K– 12 curriculum,”
says Tamara Uselman, superintendent of
the Bismarck Public Schools.
But it’s not just the content skills
that are important.
“What we’re hearing from the college
and from industry is that students need
to be able to communicate. They need to
be able to collaborate, to work well with
their peers both face to face and across
the globe,” Uselman says. “This isn’t your
old-fashioned group work, where one
person does all the work and the others
just tag along. This is about the teacher
ensuring that kids have met high levels
of achievement on complex curriculum,
and that they can apply their knowledge
to a real-world problem.”
She adds, “That is the essence of what
we’ve learned about alignment. It’s not
enough to just align the standards you’re
teaching. You also have to align the skills.”
The transition from high school to
college is about more than academics.
“Students are moving into a completely
di;erent environment that requires a
di;erent skill set,” says Skogen. He notes
that college students are on their own
for the first time, and they need to learn
self-discipline and time management
skills, among other behaviors.
The more exposure that students have
to a college environment while they’re
still in high school, the better prepared
they’ll be to take that next step, he says—
and the easier they’ll be able to adapt.
Opportunities for students to
take college-level classes while
they’re still in high school can help—
and that’s especially true if students
take these classes on the community
Both Bismarck State and Seminole
State have worked with their local school
systems to develop dual-enrollment
programs that allow students to earn
high school and college credit simulta-
neously. “This is not a new phenome-
non,” says Skogen. “Dual-enrollment
programs have been around for
decades. But studies show
that students who take dual-enrollment
classes tend to do better when they get
“If we have opportunities at the
college level that aren’t available at the
high schools, we want to make those
available to students. How do you keep
students challenged? Dual enrollment
is one way,” Skogen adds.
In Seminole County, the Collegiate
High School initiative establishes an
accelerated pathway to an associate
degree by allowing high school students
to take college-level classes either at
their own campus or at Seminole State.
A separate program established with the
county’s Lake Mary High School enables
Bismarck State College agriculture students at work in the
greenhouse of the Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy.
Both the high school students and college students have
classes in this space.
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