Wake Ed

August 7, 2014

Groups differ on importance of preparing Wake County students for college

On an online survey, 81 percent of Wake County parents and 80 percent of students ranked being prepared to go to college as being very important. That percentage was only 51 percent for school staff and 49 percent for community members.

There’s an apparent disconnect between how Wake County parents and students view the importance of being prepared to go to college compared to the community and school system staff.

As part of the development of the school system’s new strategic plan, 11,000 respondents on an online survey were asked to rank how important they felt various items were for the Wake County school system to accomplish. One question that provoked a wide range of opinions was how important it is for Wake to prepare students to go to college.

Click here to view the report on the survey responses. The gap on college readiness is on page 121.

According to the survey, 81 percent of the parents and 80 percent of the students ranked being prepared to go to college as being very important. But only 51 percent of school staff who participated in the survey and 49 percent of community members ranked it as very important.

Tony Wagner, an education expert from Harvard University who is helping Wake with the strategic plan, told school board members Tuesday that they need to do more to persuade the community on the importance of college readiness.

Wagner linked the community’s response on the college readiness question to another question where 85 percent said it’s important for students to have a strong foundation in the basics.

“I think it’s because they’re taking a somewhat old-fashioned view of school to heart,” Wagner told the board. “They’re thinking that if kids graduate from high school – and everybody agrees that’s important – and they’ve got the basics in terms of academics, they’re good for life.

Well that was true 30 years ago. It’s not true today. And so I think there’s a huge challenge in helping the community understand what college, career and citizenship readiness means today in the 21st Century.”

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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