Friday, June 19, 2009

Expectations Gaps in HS and College

Civic Enterprises has just released a report on the dropout problem in high school. One of the key findings of On the Front Lines of Schools is that while many teachers and principals doubt that all students can take college-prep courses and graduate HS, 2/3 of dropouts say that they would have stuck with school if there had been higher expectations for their performance. Front Lines' authors call this the "expectation gap."

I wonder what that gap might mean for thinking and practice in higher ed. When students aren't retained or fail to graduate college, we rarely attribute it to low expectations. More commonly we imagine that college drop outs are caused by too-high expectations at the college (or financial and other personal challenges).

Would colleges retain more students if expectations (and support) were higher?

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