Maybe it's because my car needs a new set of back tires, but I've been much more conscious of bumps in the road lately. During this state of heightened sensitivity, I've also been more conscious of the unnecessarily bumpy transitions in American education between different levels of schooling.
First step. My TLN colleagues and I recently explored the persistent problems some groups of children have moving from pre-school or kindergarten to first grade.
Second step. We also had an invigorating conversation among the teacher leaders about 9th grade--in its many configurations around the country: the highest level of middle school, lowest level of high school, or set off (literally) from everyone else in their own buildings or academies.
Third step. In a response to a post on The Faculty Room that commented, among other things, on the contrast between American and European schooling practices, Joseph Scotese wrote: "...my European friends cannot get over how easy [U.S.] elementary and high school classes are--especially when compared to our colleges....They think it is ironic that we expect so much of our students when they get to college--which they felt are as tough as any in Europe...."
Fourth step. Community college has become the Ellis Island to American higher education. Yet, as Kevin Carey highlights, there is a good deal of conflict and confusion around the country over transfer of community college or dual enrollment credits even to four-year universities in the same state (or as Carey points out, on the same block!)
Fifth step. More and more Americans are attending college (as Carey also points out) everywhere. Physically moving from one place to another, taking courses online, more college courses being offered in conjunction with employers, open source courses.... However, many students still find transferring from one college to another to be a treacherous passage, full of hidden dangers (and fees). I could go on with the grad school entry hazards, but you get the idea.
Looking over the entire sequence of steps, it's more like playing dodgeball than advancing through a coherent, pedagogically designed system created for students . Surely, we can do better.
What can we do (or have some of you already done) to eliminate these largely unnecessary roadblocks to student progress at every transition point?
...who thinks kids' journey through education is rough enough without having to dodge political crossfire on the way....