High school principals connect with postsecondary ed representatives

High school principals have a lot on their minds this month as they work to support teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning and sharing experiences with other principals is valuable while they navigate similar challenges, such as grading, attendance, and planning for graduation. The Chief Education Officer (CEO) Network – a partnership between the Association of Washington Principals (AWSP), Partnership for Learning, Washington Roundtable and Challenge Seattle – brings a cohort of Washington high school principals together this school year for monthly virtual workshops and offers access to online curriculum developed by AWSP.

The November CEO Network meeting offered an opportunity for principals connect with one another, as well as engage with representatives from postsecondary education groups and institutions around admissions, as well as resources for high school families and counselors.

Julie Garver, director of Academic Affairs and Policy at the Council of Presidents, and Terri Standish-Kuon, president and CEO of Independent Colleges of Washington, emphasized that their member schools want to enroll Washington students.

Garver and Standish-Kuon discussed the importance of sharing financial aid resources with high school students and families. Filling out a financial aid application, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA), is a key first step for students and families in determining the resources available to them. For example, the Washington College Grant is now available to all eligible families. It can be applied to an apprenticeship, two-year college, or four-year college in Washington. It’s also important for families to document any significant change in income or expenses that may have occurred.

Representatives from Pacific Lutheran University, Saint Martin’s University, Washington State University, and Western Washington University discussed changes to their admissions processes in response to the pandemic. This includes test-optional pathways for students. Institutions are looking closely at students’ experiences, backgrounds, and service or mission. Letters of recommendation and essays are other ways that admissions offices learn about students.

Melody Ferguson from Pacific Lutheran University said applying to a college isn’t choosing, but “allowing us to have a longer conversation.”

When determining student supports, Cezar Mesquita of Western Washington University said the institution identifies social and financial resources that would help students thrive. These supports can be informed by grade trends and class rigor.

Principals also heard from Randy Spaulding, executive director of the Washington State Board of Education, about high school credit waivers/adjustments, supporting mastery-based learning, how learning standards could reflect ethnic studies and culturally responsive education, and more.