Last Sunday I attended the closing ceremonies of the Long Island National History Day competition and I was enormously impressed. I was impressed with the work done by the middle school and high school students who were part of National History Day. And I was impressed by the enthusiasm and support of the family members and the mentoring and volunteer staffing provided by dedicated teachers. We host many other events for the Long Island area which bring K-12 students to our campus. These events include FIRST Robotics, the National Spelling Bee, and the Ethics Bowl. At each of these events, I encounter a similar environment and have a similar reaction. Family members are a great support and cheering section and volunteers working with the University are invaluable mentors and facilitators.
The support for and reaction to these events is similar to what I see in K-12 athletic events and in arts related events. Very positive and ultimately very helpful. They all serve to varying degrees to enhance the passion for learning and or enhance the appreciation of teamwork.
There are too few examples of a coming together of K-12 education and higher education or interactions between these levels of education. Ideally K-12 education would dovetail with the higher education experience. A common core K-12 experience could help make that happen but the common core has been too inextricably interwoven with testing and testing has been too interwoven with evaluation of teaching. There is some cooperation in opportunity programs to help economically disadvantaged students. Most of the time there is more interaction with the students in such programs and less feedback to the schools that could result in enhanced education.
As we go forward, areas such as writing call out for more cooperation. Colleges often think that entering students are not as prepared in writing as they should be. There are, of course, specific issues that lead to that conclusion. How, if at all, are these issues transmitted to high schools from our colleges? The same holds for quantitative analysis. If entering students have gaps in the quantitative skills, how are those gaps communicated to the high schools graduating these students? College admissions individuals visit high schools but deans and provosts typically don’t. Given my school board role, I am often in district schools but not in the capacity of trying to weave our education into a continuum with high school education. I think that we should all look for additional opportunities to interact with K-12 education. In the meantime, we should all be supportive of events such as National History Day. Not only are the fields such competitions are held in important, but together we are all enhancing the passion for education.
Student success in higher education is strongly correlated with student success at the high school level; with communication that success can be enhanced.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.