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National K-20 Leadership Group Proposes New Model of Student Progression, Highlights Dual Enrollment

Blackboard establishes institute to gather, share practice-driven guidance for education leaders
WASHINGTON, Sept 01, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A report released today presents a new model of student progression and plan of action proposed by a unique assembly of high-level stakeholders from K-12, community colleges, and four-year institutions working toward increased high school and college graduation rates. The group was convened by the Blackboard Institute, a new research organization within education solutions provider Blackboard Inc., and called for a greater focus on expanding opportunities for dual enrollment in order to accelerate student progression.

The gathering, "Pipeline Matters Council: Improving K-20 Student Progression," included 50 education leaders representing a cross-section of leadership in education, government and business including superintendents, college presidents, chief technology administrators, business executives and national policymakers.

"When our traditionally siloed interest groups come together to benefit the student, a constituency often sidelined in the education debate, there is potential for real education change," said Council participant Bill Flores, president of University of Houston-Downtown. "Together we can help find ways to make the system more responsive to the student, rather than simply asking the student to be more responsive to the system," added Flores.

The group stressed the importance of educating policymakers on K-20 as a complex cycle of lifelong learning with many entry and exit points and multiple paths to student success - not just a linear progression from K-12 to higher education. In this dynamic model of learning, dual enrollment, electronic student portfolios and early warning systems will play an important role, according to participants. At the top of the list: dual enrollment as a universal option in every state.

In dual enrollment, higher education institutions partner with K-12 school districts - or community colleges partner with four-year institutions - to offer higher-level course work for dual credit, accelerating completion to a degree for motivated students and engaging learners who have lost interest in their current courses. Dual enrollment programs are growing nationally, according to the most recent study by the U.S. Department of Education. But while more than half of all colleges and universities enrolled a combined five percent of high school students for college credit, dual enrollment offerings are not available consistently nationwide.

Council participants identified a need to examine the existing practice and mine data in order to develop actionable guidance on how to create successful dual enrollment programs - and to make those tools available to the time- and resource-constrained leaders seeking to add dual enrollment offerings to their school or system.

To fill that gap, the Blackboard Institute will publish effective practice studies on dual enrollment by drawing on Blackboard's proximity to education practice and make them widely available to all educators on the Web. The effective practices will assist on the ground educators, but also inform the larger policy debate by surfacing and sharing real responses to education's critical challenges.

"Without addressing roadblocks throughout the entire learning process, student success will continue to be compromised," said Gordon Freedman, Blackboard vice president for education strategy and a Council organizer. "We seek to increase accessibility for all students by supporting policies and programs that make the journey through school and into higher education as efficient and productive as possible," added Freedman.

About the Blackboard Institute

The Blackboard Institute, launched as an independent organization within the education technology company, seeks to help leaders at all levels improve student progression. The Institute will put to work millions of hours spent in partnership with thousands of education institutions tackling tough problems through technology, and offer the education community insight into both the problems and the real practice of addressing them in a multitude of different environments. Additionally, the Blackboard Institute will continue to bring together diverse actors to address progression issues with a combined perspective.

"At Blackboard we're fortunate to be close to a large global practice in both K-12 and higher education," said Jessie Woolley-Wilson, Blackboard president of K-20. "Because of that proximity, we have an important opportunity and responsibility to help build consensus on common approaches for tackling progression issues and to share those approaches more widely in the education community. We also believe it is important to tie successful approaches to education policy discussions to help create meaningful and lasting change," added Woolley-Wilson.

In addition to the focus on dual enrollment, the Blackboard Institute is also addressing related progression issues with ongoing effective practice research on fully online education programs. Following in-depth interviews with nine North American higher education institutions with high performing online programs, the Blackboard Institute outlined key drivers of success - strategy and planning, student experience and measurement - to help institutions learn from the success of others. The Blackboard Institute's summary of those results can be found on the Institute Web site:

The Blackboard Institute is focused on leveraging Blackboard's education expertise and the broader network of education's leaders across the globe to partner in driving the future of education. The Institute will undertake research on issues that Blackboard's proximity to education practice at more than 5,500 education institutions worldwide can help better understand and advance. For more information, visit

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.