Relationship between schools, colleges gets improving marks

Education leaders discuss `seamless K-16' effort

April 20, 1999|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Maryland is a model for the national effort to get public schools and colleges and universities to work together to better prepare students, but it still has a long way to go, four top education leaders said last night.

"What you don't find very often is the kind of partnership where both systems, and the leaders of both systems, are putting their shoulders behind the same goals," said Kati Haycock, director of the The Education Trust Inc., a nonprofit educational reform group. "Fortunately, what you've got here in Maryland is the leaders working together."

The progress report on the state's efforts to create what educators describe as a "seamless K-16 system" was delivered last night at a forum at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County by Haycock and three other education leaders -- Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham, UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III and Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

The two-hour forum -- called "K-16 Working Together: Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow" -- was sponsored by The Sun. It was the second in a series of public policy forums arranged by the newspaper.

In Maryland, public school systems have created a partnership with colleges and universities to try to "improve student achievement at all levels for all students," Langenberg said. "This partnership formed out of the recognition that none of us could accomplish this goal alone."

Among the critical issues faced by the partnership is ensuring that the state has enough qualified teachers, the panelists said. While Maryland public schools hired about 5,600 teachers last year, its colleges and universities graduated 2,500 teachers.

"We have got to have the best qualified teachers," Hrabowski said. "Clearly, the more attention a child can get, the greater the probability that the child will become well-educated."

College and university faculty members are working with the state Department of Education and K-12 teachers in developing the state's new set of high school exams. The tests -- expected to be more rigorous than the current low-level functional tests -- will be required for graduation.

"We want to send one set of signals to students," Langenberg said. The new exams "will test core learning goals and a set of standards" that students should be expected to know to be prepared for college.

The panelists said they expect the partnership between school systems and colleges and universities to continue to grow stronger in the next few years.

"I believe we will achieve that seamless transition," Parham said. "I believe, in time, we will find that K-16 is the standard, not the exception."

Pub Date: 4/20/99

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