Our problem of practice was to improve students’ successful transitions to college in our region. In order to do that, we wanted to improve communication and collaboration among sectors in solving common problems of practice that serve as barriers to successful transitions to college. We have data that describe high levels of placement into developmental courses and high failure rates in early college-level courses in our region.
This summary is meant to be an overview of what worked well to:
- Design a professional partnership, tailored to regional needs, to allow new forms of collaboration to take-hold over time.
- Create and sustain communities of practice (cohorts) that work together to understand and articulate problems of practice.
- Provide time and resources for cohorts to conceive, apply, and evaluate solutions.
- Connect with administrators to strengthen ties within and across sectors to facilitate cross-sector improvement practices.
Successful Transitions to College builds upon work completed previously, or in progress, in the area of aligning curriculum and expectations. Specifically, in mathematics, faculty members from Eastern Washington University and the Community Colleges of Spokane have been involved in numerous collaborative efforts with high school mathematics teachers from Spokane area schools. Specific collaborative efforts include, the Transition Math Project, Core to College,the Riverpoint Advanced Mathematics Partnership (RAMP) and the College Board’s Affinity Network.
Many of the ELA stakeholders who participated in Successful Transitions also have worked together previously. They collaborated on Core to College, the College Board’s Affinity Network project, and Spokane Public Schools’ (SPS) Grade 12 Curriculum Committee.
Participation from both disciplines, mathematics and ELA, and all sectors in Core to College and the College Board’s Affinity Network project resulted in key relationships among faculty leaders, and served as a catalyst for the request for funds from College Spark Washington to support the Successful Transitions to College project. Faculty leaders wanted to find a way to expand the work begun through those projects. One key purpose of the Successful Transitions project was to take work done previously to the next level. We significantly expanded previous work by engaging a much wider group of faculty. New high schools joined our work, and each partner institution included more instructors. This project includes instructors from Eastern Washington University, the Community Colleges of Spokane and the following school districts: Cheney, Columbia, Deer Park, Lind-Ritzville, Mead, Spokane, and West Valley. Expansion of our work to include more schools and more instructors at each institution will lead to a greater regional impact than would be possible without the expansion.