Survey: College and career supports for students vary across and within schools

Dive Brief:

  • The majority of teachers and principals think their schools are doing a good or excellent job of preparing students for future careers, but some programs focusing on that transition are more common than others, according to new results from the RAND Corp.’s American Educator Panels.
  • For example, 89% of principals and 85% of teachers responded that students can earn college credit in high school, but only about a third said their schools offer seniors opportunities to prepare for college coursework.
  • According to educators’ reports, programs such as assistance with college applications and educating families about financial aid options were more common in urban and high-poverty schools, while dual enrollment programs were more common in non-urban and low-poverty high schools.

Dive Insight:

Principals and teachers also report high-achieving students are more likely to receive support for college and career transitions than low-achieving students. Principals chose “staffing constraints and time” as the two top reasons why their schools might not be giving students sufficient support in these areas. 

This year’s school closures also present additional challenges for high school seniors in families that might no longer be able to afford out-of-pocket costs that go with applying and preparing for college, according to Bridgette Davis, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago who studies college access. Students making decisions about postsecondary opportunities are likely to have less support from school counselors and other staff members over the next few months.

The survey results show principals are often more familiar with college and career planning opportunities than teachers. “If teachers lack awareness of supports that principals know are available, it suggests a need to ensure that all school staff are up to speed on what their schools offer so that they can provide accurate and consistent guidance to students,” the authors write. 

More than 40% of teachers also reported they had no information on apprenticeships to share with students, even at a time when support for apprenticeships in the U.S. is growing. The authors note geography is a significant factor in providing students access to college and career readiness programs.  

Many of the activities noted in the report “are facilitated by having nearby colleges and universities and an engaged business community with which high schools can collaborate,” the report says.

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