College access

Hechinger quotes Ascend CEO on college readiness and persistence

By Susan Pollock April 18, 2016

A recent article in The Hechinger Report describes how many charter schoolsresponding to evidence that students’ college persistence is falling short of ambitionsare focusing more of their efforts on developing in their students the social and emotional skills needed to succeed in college and the professional world. This focus is encouraged by the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) under which states are now required to incorporate non-academic measures in their accountability systems.

While some charter school networks have been successful with their students’ admission into college, students have often struggled to thrive once at college and complete their degrees. The article highlights Perspectives Charter in Chicago, which has long focused on social-emotional skills and has shown relatively strong college completion rates despite low test scores, and the KIPP network, which has implemented a character education program since 2008 and has seen a rise in college completion among its graduates.

Ascend Chief Executive Officer Steven Wilson is quoted explaining why Ascend schools have moved toward a school culture that embraces social and emotional learning. “Middle class kids have been told their entire lives that what they have to say is valuable, maybe to the point of ridiculousness. That’s what our kids are up against. Our kids may have the content knowledge but they didn’t have the social and emotional skills, the intellectual confidence, they were going to need to succeed in college.”

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