Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A school choice even the STrib loves 

This would be the post-secondary education option or PSEO, which allows high school students to take courses at a university to complete their high school requirements and simultaneously have college credits to transfer. We see many such students at SCSU. Speed Gibson notes an editorial today in the StarTribune that gives muted praise for the program started by DFL Governor Rudy Perpich. SG thinks HS students are missing time on their own campuses that is needed to learn social skills, and that they are unprepared for the life of a college campus. I don't notice much difference in the social skills between the PSEO and regular students here, so I'm not sure I agree. He also thinks students are missing out on drama club and other activities; again, I see no evidence of this. A student in my class this fall who was PSEO also had extracurricular activities and active in track. My problem with most students, PSEO or not, is that they do too many things. I wish they'd make choices like SG suggests! They try to do it all.

One notable point though is his fourth:
...this is really the wrong approach - it goes the wrong way. If anything, the colleges should consider coming to the high schools. It's logistically much easier and far less disruptive to send a professor to the high school. Make that AP History class a Senior elective; don't hold it on campus. I know of one case where this is being partially done, and it's been very successful.
We do this; one faculty member goes out to four or five high schools each term and lectures once every other week or so to supplement the teacher on campus. (SCSU readers will know this as "senior-to-sophomore".) We assess that course, and it turns out those students are gaining knowledge in basic economics at or above the level our on-campus students gain. That's gain -- those students are normally good students, and they score higher on the pre-test of economic literacy than most students will. We're measuring the difference between tests administered before and after the course.

I agree that the model works really well. But you have to find teachers at the sites who can teach the AP-level course. That's hard, particularly outside the metro area. For those students, PSEO may be the only reasonable option.

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