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The official blog of @SCHEVResearch at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Discussions about our work, national higher education data policy, and highlights about the data we publish.

 

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Pathways

by Tod Massa 16. May 2015 08:33

When we moved into our home almost 11 years ago, we added a dog. The previous owners had been cat people. Cat's tend to be light-footed compared to dogs and have different views about their role when they go outside. Dogs like to circumnavigate the area and check things out. Over time, a 60lb dog creates a noticeable path. Often, I think, this parallels any fence line or structure (house) , but may not strictly adhere to the boundaries. It is pathway of habit, convenience, ease, and interest.

The Appalachian Trail was built. Designed, routed, and built, sometimes taking advantage of existing trails. Despite its intentionality of construction, it continues to evolve over time as the trail is re-routed for a variety of reasons and remains somewhat in flux, especially in sections that have less use.

I think too often we think, or rather believe, that the pathway from high school to a credential, either an associate's or bachelor's degree, is like the Appalachian Trail. It is designed and built to go a certain way and is modified over time. It seems to me that in most cases, it is more accurate to see institutions and degrees as boundaries and structures where students create their own paths and follow the paths created by others.

The report below is a draft of a series of products under development that explore how the pathway after high school and through Virginia's two-year colleges. While there is certainly a lot of room here to improve student outcomes, I find these data to be compelling and positive, if only because I don't know why they are not better. A number of years ago I assumed everyone, especially students, understood what the pathways were, why "we" designed them to work a certain way, and what the expectations are. I no longer feel that way.

 

Report:

 

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