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Northwest Missouri State University

Executive Summary

Northwest Missouri State University and 14 of its primary feeder schools have agreed to collaborate to solve one of the nation's most vexing and critical problems: the lack of alignment between the nation's high schools and colleges. These districts have a combined enrollment of 16,120 students, 22.1 percent of whom are minorities.

Although 90 percent of high school seniors aspire to attend college and 70 percent actually attempt post-secondary education, 50 percent require remediation and 41 percent never complete a degree program. In response to this challenge, over the last 18 months we have carefully studied related literature and have benchmarked the major efforts in the nation that address any part of this problem. As a result, we have a sharply focused agenda that will address the three dominant reasons students have difficulty transitioning to college: lack basic knowledge in math, science, reading, writing and test taking; poor work habits and study skills; and difficulty with the social environment. We are proposing an exemplary pilot project that will serve as a prototype for the nation.

Our objectives include aligning course content and assessment processes so that high school graduates have the knowledge and skills necessary for a smooth transition to college; revising the high school science and mathematics curricula; understanding and intervening to change high school students' work habits; and annually meeting with all high school students and their parents to assess each student's performance to standards.

From the beginning of this project we have worked with Dr. Michael Kirst at Stanford University (editor of the recent book, From High School to College). We also have unqualified support from Dr. Mary Cohen, Regional Representative for the US Department of Education, Dr. Kent King, Missouri Commissioner for Elementary and Secondary Education and Dr. Robert Stein, Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education.