College Access and Completion Inaugural Symposium
On Friday, September 19th, 2014, attendees at the Inspire. Incite. Innovate. Symposium discussed the issues of broadening college access and pre-college resources for all students.
This convening began with a discussion among a diverse panel of experts about data-driven decision-making, the importance of partnerships, and a collective impact approach to modern education.
The panel emphasized the “power of data” in guiding important decisions, including Scott Gordon, CEO of Mastery Charter Schools, who explained that such data, “has been...enormously helpful because it's allowed us to refocus our entire program...and [determine] why are students succeeding in college or not succeeding in college and then having programmatic changes...all the way down to kindergarten..."
Additionally, securing effective partnerships was underscored, particularly by Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director in Philadelphia for the John S. and James L. Knight foundation. Frisby-Greenwood lauded the impact of the work between Temple University and the Urban Apps and Maps studio on the lives of high school students, "[They] learn how to code, use design thinking...They are creating mobile applications...some of which are going to be commercialized." This program illustrates the importance of the collective impact approach; Dr. Judith Gay, Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Community College of Philadelphia, explained, "It's not just your own lane, it really is looking across the whole pipeline."
Following the panel presentation, the congregation discussed with one another educational issues related to college access, college completion, financial support, and assessment and research.
The keynote speaker, Gregory M. Darnieder, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary on the College Access Initiative, gave those in attendance a "preview" of Mrs. Obama's new initiative: to bring more attention to training high school counselors how to advise prospective college students. This is based on the national research that revealed the current gaps in the skill level of school counselors. “It matters what a skilled counselor says to a prospective college student.”
Dr. Anderson, in his closing remarks, explained that post-secondary education within the College of Education is no longer only the preparation of tomorrow's teachers, but also of educational advocates from many sectors of society. This inaugural conference achieves this goal by inspiring practitioners, policy makers, educational advocates and corporate partners to use data to guide decisions about the futures of students everywhere, to promote partnerships across nontraditional sectors among the community, and to revolutionize pre-college preparation so that college access is extended to all students.