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CWC, school districts join forces in college prep for local students

Jun 12, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Administrators at Central Wyoming College have reached out to Fremont County public schools this year in an effort to improve college readiness among local students.

CWC president Jo Anne McFarland said all of Fremont County's K-12 superintendents have agreed to partner with the college to establish the Fremont County Transitional Alignment Task Force, which met for the first time in May.

"The purpose of this coalition of diverse Wyoming public school districts is to better align common core standards, expectations and testing between K-12 (schools) and CWC with the intent of creating an open dialogue," McFarland said in April.

Jason Wood, CWC's executive vice president for student and academic services, said the task force will develop a model that helps high school students transition to college without relying solely on placement tests to determine their success.

"How can our faculty and high school teachers work together ... so what they're doing lines up with what we're doing?" Wood said in May.

He talked about special exams and curricular alignment work as well as grade point average and transcript analysis. Wood also suggested extending CWC's summer boot camp to provide "just-in-time" instruction immediately before students take college placement tests.

"A lot of those initiatives will come out, but it will be a collaborative process," Wood said. "Every district will be represented."

He emphasized that faculty and teachers will be a big part of the process as the task force develops.

"They're the ones in the classroom working on learning," Wood said. "They know what students can do."

Faculty president Matt Herr wondered when CWC's instructors would find time to meet with teachers at districts throughout the county. He said he has spoken with CWC Board of Trustees member Nicole Schoening about working with Fremont County Board of Cooperative Higher Educational Services to help facilitate the process.

Schoening, an employee of Fremont County School District 25, suggested the college also could look at the "professional learning community" format initiated this year in Riverton schools, where employees have been meeting weekly to discuss the state's new common core standards.

"We're having a lot of these conversations about continuity in K-12," Schoening said. "The high school works with middle school staff, and eventually the middle school staff will work with elementary staff. (We could) continue that dialogue further to this setting as well."

State model

Wood said the goal, ideally, would be to develop a statewide model for student success that could be presented to the Wyoming Legislature.

"We're looking to establish best practices in Wyoming," Wood said.

Charlie Krebs, chairman of the CWC Board of Trustees, agreed, commending college staff for contacting the school districts.

"You have to work with them, and they have to work with us," Krebs said.

Board member Roger Gose expressed hope that the task force would be productive.

"I think this potentially bears a great deal of fruit, good things to happen in the future," Gose said. "It translates ultimately into completion."

The effort also should help reduce the need for developmental courses at CWC, Wood said.

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