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Strategy to Improve College Readiness and Greatly Increase Opportunities for High School Students to Take College-level Courses Presented to MnSCU Board of Trustees

Plan outlines greater collaboration between K-12 and higher education systems

A groundbreaking plan to help ensure that high school graduates are ready for college, head to fulfilling careers, and can begin college-level courses earlier was presented Wednesday to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees.

Developed by Brenda Cassellius, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education; Larry Pogemiller, director of the Office of Higher Education; and MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone, the plan outlines a set of initiatives that would:

  • Enable more high school students who are prepared for postsecondary education to take college-level (community college, technical college, and university) courses earlier
  • Provide targeted academic support in high school for students who are not on track for being ready for post secondary education
  • Develop a statewide approach for the K-12 and higher education systems to assess academic aptitude, career interests and work skills of high school students
  • Better inform students, parents and teachers about career options and occupational market trends
  • Improve mapping of student passions, interests and aptitudes with the most appropriate postsecondary programs.

“This plan is about ensuring our youth have the tools necessary for success,” Cassellius said. “PK-12 preparation needs to meet the future workforce needs of Minnesota. We must make sure that all Minnesota high school students are engaged in their personal success and graduate ready for postsecondary education.”

Postsecondary education includes one- or two-year certificate or degree programs in a technical field through baccalaureate and graduate degrees.

The leaders propose that all students in grades 9, 10 and 11 would be assessed for their readiness for postsecondary education. The assessment would gauge not only academic preparedness, but work readiness, skills, interests and aspirations and would be used to help identify the best postsecondary education path for students, they said.

The plan also calls for all high school students to complete a career interest inventory and receive information about careers that match their aptitudes and interests. Results of the inventory would be used by students to create a personal plan that would identify courses, work-based learning and a postsecondary education path to reach their goals.

“This effort is aimed at helping more students attain quality credentials and degrees,” Larry Pogemiller said. “The objective is to better position students for a future of lifelong learning and success.”

“By 2018, 70 percent of all the jobs in Minnesota will require some postsecondary education. If Minnesota is going to remain globally competitive, we simply must help ensure that every high school student is on track to pursue the education they need for the jobs of the future,” Rosenstone said. “By working together, in new ways, we can better meet the needs of students, businesses and communities across our state.”

The MnSCU system includes 24 two-year community and technical colleges and seven state universities. It is the fifth largest higher education system of its kind in the United States. Each year, more than 420,000 students from all walks of life attend MnSCU colleges and universities for undergraduate and graduate degree, certificate and diploma programs, training and retraining classes and courses to enrich their lives. MnSCU educates:

  • 63 percent of Minnesota’s undergraduates
  • 49 percent of the state’s new teaching graduates
  • More than 80 percent of new nursing, construction trades, law enforcement and mechanics graduates
  • 9,000 firefighters and emergency first responders each year

These are recent high school graduates, adult learners, workers and professionals retooling to meet the current and future needs of Minnesota’s businesses. More than 80 percent of MnSCU graduates stay in Minnesota to work or continue their education. Nearly 86 percent of MnSCU graduates get jobs related to their field of study. In addition, MnSCU partners with 6,000 employers throughout the state to provide customized training to 122,000 employees, helping to ensure that these Minnesota companies remain competitive. MnSCU delivers the most affordable and cost effective higher education option in Minnesota.