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Jennifer McCormick and Teresa Lubbers

Jennifer McCormick, left, is Indiana's superintendent of public instruction. Teresa Lubbers, right, is Indiana's commissioner for higher education.

The transition students make after high school graduation is one of the most important they face in their lives. It is exciting, but it can also be challenging to know the best course.

In Indiana, we are taking steps to ensure the academic part of this transition is more seamless for students as they prepare for a fulfilling career and life.

Over the last two years, we have focused our attention on science, technology, engineering, and math programs; career and technical education; adult learner, and closing the achievement gap — all in an effort to prepare Hoosiers for a successful future.

It is also important to focus on the transition between high school and college.

Whether choosing to pursue a two-year or four-year degree or an industry certification, it is our shared responsibility to make sure students are prepared for the next step after high school graduation.

Indiana’s rigorous K-12 curriculum and academic expectations are a strong step toward ensuring studentsgraduate from high school equipped with the skills and experiences necessary to enter the workforce or the postsecondary program of their choice.

Moreover, additional steps can be taken to improve student transitions from high school to college.

One way we measure students’ college readiness is by whether they need remediation in math or English/language arts before moving on to college-level coursework.

As data show, students who require remediation are far less likely to complete college and even when they do, they likely incur extra costs. Roughly 13 percent of all Hoosier students entering college require remediation, with 9 percent of those students requiring remediation in math.

This year, we co-chaired the Postsecondary Transitions Steering Committee to develop recommendations to support students as they transition from high school to higher education. Three broad recommendations were presented and subsequently supported by both the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the State Board of Education.

Develop postsecondary transition pathways

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Building upon recent efforts to redesign remedial education at Indiana colleges and universities, we will rethink high school course pathways to better prepare students for entry-level courses in higher education — starting with math.

We will begin by offering a grade 12 transition math course at 10 pilot schools for students who are not yet ready for college-level coursework. Our goal is to increase statewide college readiness rates and bridge the gap between high school and college-level mathematics for students —ultimately, decreasing the need for remediation and increasing completion rates.

The impact of the course and success at our pilot schools will determine how best to scale the postsecondary transition math course.

Promote navigational supports

To further address the often complicated transition from secondary to postsecondary education and training, we will work together to promote career and navigational supports. Such activities are currently required for 21st Century Scholars, Indiana’s successful scholarship program for low-income and first generation students.

In addition, we will leverage partnerships to expand advising supports, integrate study-skill development and provide time management training to further support student success during and after their transition to college.

Expand the use of key data

While both K-12 and higher education systems have clear goals for progress, we will expand the use of key postsecondary transition data to facilitate cross-sector collaboration.

Indiana’s Department of Education and Commission for Higher Education will work together, building upon the strong foundation of the Commission’s College Readiness Report, to make postsecondary transition data more utilized and relevant in its local use.

As education leaders, we are dedicated to ensuring our students are prepared for learning beyond high school. This collaboration between K-12 and higher education will compress the space between high school graduation and higher education to ensure Hoosier students are poised for lifelong success. This is our shared obligation and goal.

Teresa Lubbers is Indiana’s commissioner for higher education. Jennifer McCormick is Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction. The opinions are the writers’.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.