Faced with low college enrollment rates, the Philadelphia Education Fund is working to change the culture in local schools and create a pathway to college for all students through its Philadelphia Postsecondary Success Program (PPSP).
Over the past five years, this unique and powerful public–private partnership has demonstrated that the only thing standing between students and their postsecondary success is the ability to create a clear pathway of quality supports and services for all students. The PPSP, which is part of the FHI 360 Postsecondary Success Collaborative, works through a partnership of stakeholders from K–12 schools; community-based organizations; postsecondary institutions; and the business, foundation and civic sectors to increase the number of low-income and first-generation public high school students who have access to and success in postsecondary education.
In Philadelphia, results from the Postsecondary Success Asset Map led to an agreement among partners to make better alignment between high school and college English language arts classes a priority. The result was a unique use of instructional rounds to connect secondary and postsecondary educators. Adapted originally by educators at the Harvard Graduate School of Education from the medical concept of doctors improving care through collaborative rounds to each patient, the PPSP rounds provide an opportunity for educators to visit each other’s classrooms and engage in shared professional development. Never, or exceedingly rarely, do educators from the high school and college level systems open their classrooms to each other with the clear intention of improving outcomes for students from both sides. Among the four pilot high schools and their two- and four-year postsecondary partners, the rounds have led to improved classroom support to high school students by preparing them for the level and style of writing that college professors expect. Conversely, college instructors are taking into account how high school students are taught to prepare essays and reports and are using this knowledge in developing their coursework.
Another priority area that surfaced as a result of the asset mapping process has been incorporating college-readiness activities as part of orientation for incoming high school freshman. This early start has been instrumental in helping students to see college as a reachable goal and in creating a tangible college-readiness culture in high schools.
Together with their community partners and sponsors, the Philadelphia Postsecondary Success Program is changing the way students and the adults who support them approach college readiness, helping to make the college dream a reality.
Promising results: The average high school graduation rate among Philadelphia’s Success Collaborative schools increased 5 percent between 2009 and 2011. Overall graduation rates in the district remained flat during the same period.
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Additional information: Postsecondary Success Collaborative