Universities and high schools need to be on same page with college prep

Universities and high schools must be more in sync when it comes to defining “college readiness,” NAU President John Haeger told a governor’s council on education April 13.

Haeger was one of six presenters to address higher education’s expectations for Arizona’s K-12 system at the meeting of the Governor’s P-20 Council. The council was established in 2005 to improve education from preschool through post-graduate work.

For starters, Haeger said, high schools must offer a rigorous, consistent curriculum, and university entrance requirements need to be the same as high school exit requirements.

Haeger cautioned that those requirements cannot be determined by course titles. “It is what a student knows that is important, not the courses taken or the seat time in class.”

Instead of talking about course requirements in such core areas as English, math and social science, universities must work with high schools to determine “learning goals” that identify the specific skills students must have in each area to be ready for college.

Haeger argued that all high schools should be geared toward college preparation. “You need the same level of skills to succeed in the work place or at a university,” he said.

The president also addressed the need for a “cultural change” to reflect a commitment to improve high school graduation rates, increase the number of students pursuing a college education and to raise expectations of families with potential first-generation college students.

“However,” Haeger concluded, “none of this will happen unless we pay teachers what they are worth.”