THE COLLEGE-READINESS GAP
The majority of high school graduates in the U.S. are not prepared to succeed in college. Over seventy percent fall short of readiness in at least one major academic area. Two out of three students entering college require remediation in core subjects, and nearly half do not graduate within six years. For socioeconomically disadvantaged students, college access and success are even more difficult.
Clearly, the existing college preparation and admissions paradigm is not working.
BetterRhetor wants to help all college-bound students prepare for college-level academics, regardless of their income or background. That means equipping them with college-readiness essentials: effective college-prep instruction combined with authentic college-readiness assessment.
We’re building an online platform that will deliver to students and teachers six-week Ready For Real™ instruction and assessment modules in Writing and STEM. The modules, designed to slot readily into existing courses and programs, will both better prepare students for college-level expectations and generate rich performance information that gives a fair and full indication of students’ college readiness.
Ready For Real™ Platform
Our finished platform will include complete competency-based assessment and reporting capability, delivering both rigorous instruction and actionable feedback. Teachers, administrators and other stakeholders can have confidence that their students are gaining the competencies most needed for college success.
Through our platform, colleges will be able to more readily discover and connect with their best-fit recruits. In turn, students will gain a powerful new tool for both preparing for college-level work and connecting with schools that believe in them.
Ready For Real™ Writing Module
One of the most glaring areas of college-readiness deficiency—yet one of the most important for overall success—is writing. Research indicates that prior to college, students benefit from experience with authentic academic composition—that is, extended writing that requires research, engagement with credible sources and multiple perspectives, critical thinking, and adherence to academic conventions.
Our Ready For Real™ Writing Module, for use in high school classrooms and other pre-college and early college programs, provides students and teachers with a research-based, tightly focused college-ready writing instructional resource that they can easily integrate into existing courses and programs. Educators can have a high level of confidence that students working through our module are receiving the opportunity to acquire the competencies they will need most for college-level writing success.
Ready For Real™ STEM Module
Our vision also includes developing a STEM module similarly organized around an authentic extended project, emphasizing student choice and engagement, problem-solving skills, and the ability to convey complex ideas clearly, persuasively, and in accordance with academic conventions.
The Ready For Real™ platform will deliver the instructional content of both modules, capture student work, and generate authentic readiness assessment information.
Our overall model includes:
- Instruction aimed at bridging the gap between what students learn in high school and what is expected of them in college;
- Readiness assessment seamlessly integrated into instruction: no test that doesn’t teach;
- Multiple modes of evaluation that ensure reliability and validity;
- Key social, cognitive, and personal competencies taught, elicited, and assessed as integrated dimensions of authentic academic performance;
- On-going actionable feedback generated for both teachers and students;
- Equity-minded instruction and assessment: no test-prep advantages, no unfair cost barriers;
- Assessment of both student products and processes;
- Measures of progress and promise, as well as achievement.
If we’re going to close the college-readiness gap, college-bound students need to know what will be expected of them. They need opportunities to practice and demonstrate the full range of their abilities by doing authentic, relevant intellectual work. They need socialization into authentic academic communities. And they need to know how to take responsibility for their own learning and performances.
Real Student Portraits™
Performance information collected through the platform as students work will contribute to robust, comprehensive profiles of students, their capabilities, and their potentials.
We take an evidence-centered design approach to assessment:
- Defining key social, cognitive, and personal competencies;
- Identifying and articulating evidence of those competencies;
- And designing tasks that elicit the skills and abilities that give evidence of competency.
Multiple modes of evaluation integrated into student activities throughout the modules provide fuller, and fairer, assessments of student performance, compared with conventional standardized testing.
The platform combines authentic performance assessment with other vital student information—demographics, interests, extracurricular activities, work experience, family obligations, etc.—to produce an enriched portrait of students, who they are and what they’re capable of. These Real Student Portraits™ become the basis upon which we help match students with colleges that believe in them. They also serve as diagnostic indicators that help students and their teachers understand and respond to academic strengths and weaknesses.