Wedl Interview Please take one minute to evaluate our website. Click here to take the survey.
Education|Evolving Senior Associate Bob Wedl makes the case for redesigning high schools for the 21st century by creating grade 11-to-14 schools. Those schools, he says, would eliminate the overlap between high schools and postsecondary institutions, which often offer the same courses. And the 11-to-14 schools would offer high school students the opportunity to earn free college credits and credentials, possibly even A.A. or B.A. degrees, while still in high school.
Wedl says that Minnesota's Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, created by the Legislature in 1985, is a step in this direction. It allows high school students to take college classes for free, while earning both high school and college credits. He points out the large savings PSEO offers families whose students are earning free college credit and the savings to the state from paying out less for some college courses than for per-pupil aid to school districts. High school Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs have also offered the potential for high school students to earn college credits. But Wedl says high schools should drop those programs in favor of students taking actual college classes through programs like College in the Schools, PSEO and partnerships with postsecondary institutions, so students get guaranteed college credits.
Although Wedl says we should try to improve the current system, he doesn't see that as really creating the system change the 11-to-14 schools would create. He believes those schools would offer more personalized and more motivating learning opportunities for high school students and even potentially draw back to school students who have dropped out. He points to a number of Minnesota school districts and chartered schools that have developed ways of merging high school and postsecondary education. As in those examples, Wedl sees openness to the redesign coming from creative school superintendents and school boards, but not from the state.
For the complete interview summary see:Wedl interview
Response Summary:Readers rated these statements about the topic and about points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree):
1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.
2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.
3. Bad idea to separate high school, college. Keeping high school and the first two years of college separate is a wasteful impediment to students' education.
4. College credit earned in high school saves money. Allowing students to earn college credits while in high school could save Minnesota families hundreds of millions of tuition dollars.
5. College credit earned in high school frees up state funds. Allowing students to earn college credits while in high school could also save the state millions of dollars that could be reallocated to other needs.
6. Grades 11-14 would motivate more students. Implementing grade 11-to-14 schools would result in more personalized learning that could help motivate students and keep some potential dropouts in school.
7. Drop AP, IB for programs guaranteeing credits. High schools should drop Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in favor of College in the Schools, PSEO and partnerships with postsecondary institutions that offer students guaranteed college credits.
8. State government ineffective in redesign. State government isn't working effectively to bring about the necessary redesign of education.
9. Local units more likely to effect change. Creative superintendents and local school boards are more likely to provide leadership in bringing about effective redesign of education.
Scott Halstead (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (2.5) (5)
(5) (10) (5)
5. College credit earned in high school frees up state funds. That is going to require a lot of cost analysis.
8. State government ineffective in redesign. Minnesota state government is not working effectively in all areas!
Ray Ayotte (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
Gordy Ziebart (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10)
(10) (7.5) (10)
2. Further study warranted. I don't believe further study is necessary. Successful models already exist. Data is already available.
5. College credit earned in high school frees up state funds. Why not combine resources?
6. Grades 11-14 would motivate more students. I am a principal of an ALC. Students graduating upon completing 12th grade is often more the goal of adults than the students.
7. Drop AP, IB for programs guaranteeing credits. These students should be in PSEO. AP and IB are total wastes of resources.
8. State government ineffective in redesign. I believe MDE would like to do more. However, they are strapped for resources like everyone else.
9. Local units more likely to effect change. Has to start at the local district level. It is up to the individual districts to form partnerships with higher education.
Our current system is in need of significant overhaul. These concepts and ideas are very attainable.
Dennis Carlson (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
(7.5) (10) (10)
7. Drop AP, IB for programs guaranteeing credits. A transition needs to take place. Anoka-Hennepin is making those changes currently.
8. State government ineffective in redesign. Too much time and energy is spent on turf wars. Institutions don't want to lose revenue so they do not embrace what is best for students and their families.
9. Local units more likely to effect change. Yes it happens, but it is very frustrating work as obstacles are found everywhere at the higher education level.
Bob Wedl is an outstanding spokesperson and leader on this topic. I applaud his vision and his courage.
Bob Brown (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5)
Charles A. Slocum (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5)
(5) (5) (10) (7.5)
3. Bad idea to separate high school, college. We must think of it as a continuing experience, integrated to effectively teach students as they move to the world of work.
6. Grades 11-14 would motivate more students. Need more study here and some test sites with real measurement.
8. State government ineffective in redesign. Government in general is not especially effective at redesign—local better than state, and state better than federal, etc.
9. Local units more likely to effect change. Must encourage leadership for effective redesign at all levels in every sector, must test, measure and provide real data to determine who works.
Vici Oshiro (7.5) (10) (5) (10) (5) (5) (5)
Tom Abeles (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)
1) Many of the more advanced students and their parents aim for medallion universities and not graduation from secondary schools and post secondary programs and into "jobs". Bob's focus is on convincing students that this is the path to jobs, vocationalization.
2) While the examples Bob gives, many of which have been interviewed by Civic Caucus are from the vocational side of education, there are programs that encourage a broader education. This includes Early College (a variance of CIS, IB and AP). The latter two Bob dismisses because of his focus. I would note that Bard now, with its program at Simon Rock offers students as early as 9 to enter into a rigorous academic program provided by college-qualified faculty.
3) Buried in Bob's comments is an inference to competency-based education where students proceed at their own pace. Bob is right in that if this is created then the old AP/IB/CIS/PSEO credit based programs will disappear naturally.
4) The programs that Bob cites grew organically, based on a variety of site-specific confluences. Pushing the MDE to "mandate" another formal program and then expecting all to come, as in a "field of dreams" is delusional at best for all the reasons Bob lists that are keeping parties from coming together. Mandates are problematic at best.
Commander Jean Luc Picard in the TV series Star Trek issues a command and then says "make it so Mr Sulu. Education is not a command/control "Enterprise".
By the way, Market Place did an interview with an automotive production line worker who noted that high school grads are making 80K/year in his facility.
Wayne Jennings (10) (10) (9) (10) (8) (9) (10)
The emphasis on college and career readiness (note reversal of these terms—versus career and college readiness) causes too many students to head to community colleges and sit in on literature and history courses not unlike their high school courses they found irrelevant. Results: many drop out without getting their teeth into career programs. It’s like, for many, that they have to first prove themselves by persistence and discipline.
A more realistic approach of combining high school with postsecondary, as with Wedl’s examples, would increase motivation to acquire better basic skills. We also have to drop the requirement of algebra II and other programs, meaningless for individual student goals.
The dropping of International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses is a great suggestion in an era of the availability of college courses. Those two (IB, AP) now try to establish pre-high school grades, an example of academia run amok, though a benefit to gifted students, which would be unnecessary with a redesigned education.
The Legislature should require colleges and universities to recognize present College in the School courses that will be denied under the accreditation agency recent ruling. Accreditation isn’t going to remove their imprimatur of all MN higher education institutions in defiance of the Legislature.
Chuck Lutz (8) (8) (9) (10) (10) (9) (9) (8) (9)
Tom Spitznagle (10) (8) (7) (8) (5) (8) (8)
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The Civic Caucus is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Interview Group
includes persons of varying political persuasions,
S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill
Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted
© The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919 ~  Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.