Community Summit Held on the Seven Keys to College Readiness

June 1, 2009
Community Leaders Join Forces To Help Parents and Teachers Support Success for All Students

Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), and Shirley Brandman, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, issued a “call to action” at a community summit on the Seven Keys to College Readiness, held at The Universities at Shady Grove on May 29. They were joined by leaders from the higher education community, including Dr. Mary Kay Shartle-Gallotto, executive vice president for academic and student services at Montgomery College, and Dr. Stewart Edelstein, executive director of The Universities at Shady Grove.

Approximately 100 leaders from faith, government, community, business, and higher education organizations who participated were asked to harness the power of community organizations to reach families that would most benefit from information about college readiness. Community support will reinforce the efforts of parents and teachers and extend the reach of the multilingual materials that have been developed by MCPS to help prepare students for post-secondary education.
Attaining the Seven Keys to College Readiness will increase the likelihood of a student being well prepared for college and earning a degree. Research shows that students on the pathway to college should be challenging themselves during their K–12 academic career and taking the most rigorous courses available. 

The Seven Keys are based on MCPS research, which identified key data points in a student’s school career that have been proven to be reliable predictors of whether a student will be fully ready for college-level work. It also emphasizes a wide variety of national research that consistently indicates that the rigor of a student’s high school curriculum is one of the prime factors in predicting whether a college freshman will go on to complete a bachelor’s degree.

The Seven Keys to College Readiness are:

KEY 1: Advanced reading in Grades K–2
This first key gives students the strong foundation they need for all learning that follows.  In the early grades, students read and comprehend levels of text that vary in difficulty.  In kindergarten, students who can read Level 6 text by the end of the year are reading at advanced levels. By the end of 1st grade, students should be reading Level 16 books. In 2nd grade, students who score in the 70th percentile or higher on a national test called the TerraNova are reading at advanced levels. Scoring at the 70th percentile means that they perform better than 70% of students nationwide.

KEY 2: Advanced reading on MSA (Maryland School Assessment) in Grades 3–8
MSA results are scored as “basic,” “proficient,” or “advanced.” Students who score “advanced” demonstrate more complex reading, thinking, writing, and creative problem-solving skills.  They are more likely to stay on the college-ready pathway when they go to high school.

KEY 3: Advanced math in Grade 5
Students can start advanced math as early as kindergarten.  In 5th grade, advanced math means Math 6 or higher.  Students who successfully complete end-of-unit assessments for Math 6 will be well prepared to successfully complete Algebra 1 in 8th grade.  Math 6 is available in all elementary schools.

KEY 4: Algebra 1 by Grade 8 with a “C” or higher
Algebra 1 is an important gateway to academic success.  Students who complete Algebra 1 with a “C” or higher by the end of 8th grade are more likely to be successful in science and math courses in high school, as well as on the SAT, which is one of the entrance exams for college.

KEY 5: Algebra 2 by Grade 11 with a “C” or higher
Students who complete Algebra 2 by the end of 11th grade with a “C” or higher will perform better on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams, and are less likely to have to take remedial math courses in college.  Students who complete Algebra 2 also are more than twice as likely to graduate from college than are students with less mathematical preparation.

KEY 6: Score of 3 on an AP exam or 4 on an IB exam
AP courses are offered in all MCPS high schools and IB courses are available in several MCPS high schools.  Both are college-level classes.  It is important for students to take the AP and IB exams that are offered at the end of these courses. Students who take the exams perform better in college than those who don’t.  Students who score a 3 or higher (on a scale of 1-5) on the AP or 4 or higher (on a scale of 1-7) on the IB exam may earn advanced standing in college or college credit.  Each college sets its own criteria for awarding credit.

KEY 7: 1650 score on the SAT or 24 on the ACT
Scoring at least 1650 on the SAT (maximum score 2400) or 24 on the ACT (maximum score 36) college entrance exams helps students gain acceptance to the colleges of their choice.  It minimizes the chance that students will have to take remedial courses in college and it also increases their chances of earning a college degree.  In preparation for the SAT, MCPS offers all 10th grade students the opportunity to take the PSAT (preliminary SAT) free of charge.

For more information about the Seven Keys in multiple languages, visit the link below.

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