Consortium Matters

Cecilia CunninghamThe landscape of American education is rapidly adjusting to higher standards, more frequent testing and higher stakes for educators and students alike. Though Arne Duncan issued a temporary reprieve on roll out till 2016, the Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states and teacher and school evaluation will be intimately and legally bound to how rapidly and effectively student performance climbs up these ladders.

Also in the news is the Supreme Court decision on Affirmative Action which addresses the post-Great Recession America question: Which is the bigger barrier to opportunity-race or class? Though racial barriers certainly still exist, a mountain of evidence exists that quality higher education is tilting further toward the already wealthy.

It’s for these reasons that the 2013 MCNC Summer Conference is focused on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the issue of poverty as it impacts aspirations of all American youth.

MCNC and its member schools and colleges pride themselves in championing the disenfranchised and supporting all students to be college and career ready. Latest data (2011-2012) from NCREST studied 25 schools and almost 7000 students in grades 9-13.  These students represented 67% Black and Hispanic youth with 63% receiving free or reduced lunch. On both criteria of minority identification and poverty, MCNC schools have demonstrated consistent success at the schools and beyond, into post-secondary education. Ninety percent of middle and early college students in the Consortium had taken college courses during their time in high school. The most recent cohort accumulated 33.7% college credits-equivalent to more than one year of college coursework.  This is the highest average over the past seven years. Furthermore, college course taking twelfth graders have performed consistently over that time period with last year’s cohort earning a GPA average of 2.75. Ninety two percent of our graduates declared the aspiration to continue with their education upon graduation and data confirmed that 90% of the 2010-11graduates enrolled in a post-secondary institution.

MCNC appreciates the  mission to support  its membership with the current language, systems and strategies to maintain success in the national arena. This year’s focus on Common Core State Standards is designed to bring those research based practices to all it’s members. Intruding them to specifics strategies, incorporating differentiation and writing across the curriculum, as well as quality performance based mathematics instruction will serve to better prepare all students to meet the challenges of successful simultaneous high school- college attendance and completion with greater independence, confidence and performance.

The current focus on the impact of poverty and class on all of our students

Was recently brought back to my attention when I attended the MCNC Student Leadership Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The Mid Ohio Food Bank engaged students and teachers in a poverty simulation that sensitized us to the hidden influence poverty has on connecting youngsters and their families to education, aspiration, self efficacy and ultimately, reaching their potential. We are fortunate to be able to recreate this experience for all our attending members and we know they will, in turn, bring it back to their faculties and communities to use to propel us ever forward regardless of the current trends.