GtCNN is launching a series, Five Questions with GtCNN, where we ask education, foundation, and community leaders to share their views on a range of questions, including partnerships between K-12 and community colleges and how communities can work together to prepare our most vulnerable youth to succeed in college. Over the course of the next year, we will publish the series on our blog and website, and encourage respondents to share their views with their own audiences. We hope that the series creates additional dialogue on how communities can work together to create sustainable pathways for disconnected youth to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential.
By Rob Denson
1. What systematic reforms are needed to ensure all students receive the individual supports they need to complete high school ready for postsecondary education or training?
I believe that there should be more support and emphasis on the roles that School Counselors can play to improve outcomes for students. Counselor to Student ratios are too high; Counselors are being asked to perform duties that are not the best use of their limited time with students; and, school leadership have not been specifically educated on how to best utilize school counselors to help students.
2. What is the most effective way for higher education and K-12 to work together to support the success of disconnected youth?
Legislative funding should encourage and target K-12 and Higher Education partnerships based on outcomes. This may be a good instance where performance-based funding would work.
Increase the number of alternative ways for students to get their high school degree.
3. What is the value of dual enrollment for young people and for their communities?
The most significant impact in many schools is to allow qualified students to get more rigorous education than might not otherwise be offered by the school.
In this day of increased concern about student debt, dual enrollment is one way to shorten time-to-degree and significantly reduce debt. One big savings is that dual enrolled students are generally living at home rather than paying for an apartment away from home with all the associated costs.
4. College access has been receiving considerable attention in recent years. What are the biggest hurdles that remain in this area?
I believe that there is an access option for everyone. Clearly, students may not get the specific option they may desire but they can fashion an option that they can afford and is close to them.
5. What advice would you give to civic and state leaders who want to take more of a role in addressing high school graduation and college completion rates?
We know that the more individual support and encouragement each student can receive the more likely it is that the student will complete successfully. State leaders should look at the individualized attention students can receive and the availability of funds that could help students deal with small financial emergencies. How are students who face “life and family issues” supported?
Rob Denson is president of Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, and serves on GtCNN's board as vice chair. Rob is also a member of the Gateway Presidents' Circle
, a collection of community college presidents committed to serving out-of-school and off-track youth. Read more about Rob here.