• Completion
  • Readiness
  • Transition
September Update: 2021 Postsecondary Transition Demonstration Project


PSCCN has been working with two Pierce County partners since Spring of 2021 for the 2021 Postsecondary Transition Demonstration Project. The first partnership is between Fife School District, Clover Park School District, and Clover Park Technical College. The second is a partnership with Bethel School District. This regional postsecondary transition effort has focused on supporting the ℅ 2021 to enroll in postsecondary programs in coordination with high school/districts and community and technical colleges. This demonstration is intended to model reduced barriers for incoming college students, leverage expertise and support of K-12 and college partners, and acknowledge the known and potential heightened personal and educational impacts of COVID-19 on students and communities of color.  Each partnership has worked together, using a continuous improvement framework, in identifying a clear aim, collecting student feedback, identifying potential performance indicators, and brainstorming/testing change ideas. 

Each partnership is currently in the process of testing the following change ideas to continue to support the postsecondary transition for the class of 2021, as well as apply learnings for future classes:

  1. Fife SD, Clover Park SD, and Clover Park Technical College

    1.  Create an enrollment process and communication strategy to enhance admissions of  CTE dual credit earners 

  2. Bethel SD

    1. Increase financial aid completion through targeted advisory outreach and intervention

    2. Increase financial aid completion and decrease summer melt by establishing partnerships with local colleges and student cohort support

What we have learned so far:

1.     Take time to fully understand the problem: It is crucial to study the problem and understand the system that produces it. Analyze data and collect stakeholder feedback (especially students) to look for gaps in your knowledge. 

2.     Get on the same page: Do not assume everyone has the same understanding of the issues or the proposed solutions to those issues. Make sure to take the necessary time to ensure your group’s aim and theory of change are understood and agreed upon by the entire team.

3.     Keep the main thing, the main thing: Systemic barriers are complex and have numerous factors that influence them. Create a theory of change and change ideas that are clear, measurable, and within your locus of control to ensure that you can see the impact of your work. 

4.     Big improvements can come in small packages: Avoid initiative fatigue and loss of time and resources by starting small, and scaling up. Sustainable, student-centered solutions come from targeted, small tests of change.

We encourage you to review the Puget Sound Continuous Improvement Summit Series Workbook and Shift’s online learning library to learn more, and to apply a continuous improvement framework to your school-wide/district-wide postsecondary goals. Though still early in the school year, we recommend that schools start planning now to analyze root causes and collect student feedback to apply small tests of change to iterate and scale. Here are some useful prompts to consider as you begin planning for your school/district’s postsecondary strategies:

  1. What resources and supports do you need now to support the ℅ 2022?

  2. Are you collecting student feedback from a representative group of students to better understand the barriers and challenges associated with this year?

  3. Does your team have an understanding of the root causes of said barriers and challenges? 

  4. What small tests of change can you try now, analyze, adjust, iterate, and scale to be better prepared for your students’ postsecondary transition at the end of the school year?

We look forward to sharing strategies, findings, and more detailed learnings later this Fall. If you would like to learn more about how to get started applying the continuous improvement framework at your school or district, please reach out to Naveed Badri at nbadri@psesd.org.