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Articles: College & Career

High school student interns at Frederick County Public Schools interview a teacher to learn pros and cons of the district’s next textbook adoption process.

Teaching research skills once meant asking students to turn stacks of library books into essays on the poetry of Emily Dickinson or the causes of the Civil War. But today, it’s just as likely to mean asking second-graders to design a museum exhibit on the physics of flight or encouraging a 10th-grader to make the case for backyard chicken coops.

Students taking a statistics course at Ipswich High School present on topics such as “Should the USA take on Syrian refugees?”

Statistics instruction has become integral in K12 math curricula thanks to a push from the Common Core and a national demand for students with the skills to fill data-intensive jobs.

Districts provide more courses that teach students how to analyze data and integrate statistics across subjects, says Jessica Utts, incoming president of the American Statistical Association.

Educators have long stressed the importance of showing students how classwork connects to future careers.

And this year, the importance of forging real-world connections is taking center stage at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual CareerTech Vision Conference, taking place in New Orleans from Nov. 19 to 22.

In the Morgan County Charter School System in Georgia, counselors take part in a workshop that involves community partners in business. It teaches counselors how to encourage students to get college and career ready. Above, counselors learn about energy, in part due to a partnership with the local Georgia Power company.

With national attention intensifying on preparing students for college and careers, the nation’s estimated 103,000 school counselors in K12 schools are playing a more critical role in preparing students for life after graduation.

Sheila M. Harrity is superintendent-director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District in Massachusetts.

When Sheila M. Harrity became superintendent-director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District—better known as Monty Tech—she hit the ground running, transforming programs and searching out partnerships to ensure her students find good work right out of school or attend college.

Superintendent David Tebo has helped established comprehensive career programs in his western Michigan district.

Superintendent David Tebo, and administrators in Hamilton Community Schools in western Michigan, develop partnerships with local employers and community organizations to offer students work experiences meant to foster a school-to-career mindset.

All preschool students within Washington’s Bremerton School District boundaries receive the same math and reading curriculum for kindergarten readiness.
Dallas ISD teachers undergo rigorous evaluations.
Art projects within the Humanities Research Program at Montville schools in New Jersey ignite passion in students.
The Employee Health Clinic at Independence School District in Missouri is convenient and cost-effective.

From early-learning to entrepreneurship to the environment, innovative instruction propels students to meet more rigorous standards and graduate high school better prepared for their next steps in life.

Superintendent Bob Horan of Schodack CSD offered space to an energy research firm, a business that converts wastewater into electricity and the builders of a solar-powered boat.

Faced with a nearly 40 percent decrease in enrollment and a middle school at 33 percent capacity, Superintendent Bob Horan of Schodack CSD in upstate New York offered empty space to startup companies. 

Janice M. Tkaczyk is the national director for counselor and academic relations at Universal Technical Institute. She spent 35 years in public education, including 30 as the guidance director at a regional, technical high school.

In today’s education landscape, it’s common for teachers, school counselors and administrators to encourage students to graduate high school and earn a four-year college degree.

For years, we have seen this as the “right” path and perhaps the only path to success. But this one-size-fits-all approach isn’t a viable one. While many graduating seniors are excited to head off to college, many students with great skills and big dreams are struggling to decide on their next step. So, what’s the right path for those students?

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.

Gaps in high school graduation rates are narrowing. National Center for Education Statistics data shows that nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup has seen a growth in graduation rates.

President Barack Obama’s proposed FY16 budget invests in programs that have improved student outcomes. Some highlights that will provide more funds for college-and-career readiness include:

A Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School planes wood pieces for a toolbox and stonecutting. Hands-on projects like this prepare students for later study in the trades as they relate to preservation.
a historic-structures mason at the National Park Service’s Historic Architecture Conservation & Engineering Center instructs students in the trades.
A student in the “Introduction to Historic Preservation” class.
Students are introduced to masonry through stonecutting demos in the freshman “Introduction to Historic Preservation” class.
Field experiences for students include walking tours of New York City. Above, a teacher at Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School explains landscaping decisions in a local park.

New York City students are getting a taste of carpentry and other trades through a partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) focused on refurbishing historical buildings.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar challenged NPS’ New York regional department about five years ago to gather ideas to increase involvement with local communities that were not engaged with urban national park sites.

A snake is the centerpiece of a lesson at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston. It’s a program of Expeditionary Learning, a non-profit that partners with district public schools and charters providing innovative curriculum and teacher-created resources.
Students at the World of Inquiry School #58 in Rochester, New York, work on a science experiment as teacher Chris Widmaier oversees the project. The education program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provides grants to fund this kind of deeper learning in schools nationwide. The program aims to increase economic opportunity and civic engagement in a changing world.
At the Richland School District in South Carolina, elementary students build and use engineer skills for different projects.
Envision Academy students at Oakland USD show off their art projects. This is another program made possible with a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

When four South Carolina districts joined forces in 2013 to compete for a federal Race to the Top grant, their shared educational vision was clear: Teach students to be creative innovators and independent learners. The challenge was finding a model to encompass all the sweeping changes they wanted to implement.

32 states and the District of Columbia have called for the development college and career readiness standards.

The phrase “college and career readiness” invades education discussions from classroom technology to the Common Core. But what does it mean? Now, 32 states and the District of Columbia have called for the development and adoption of a statewide college and career readiness definition.

Allan F. Daily High School students in Glendale USD take part in a total computer rebuild, used as a student-led training session. A student demonstrates with his classmates how to replace the CPU chip.

Students trained in IT support are providing teachers with Johnny-on-the-spot resources and bolstering the responsiveness of districts’ lean tech staffs. The eager students provide districts with an inexpensive and much-needed tech resource; and the students gain experience, new skills, and confidence.

Students at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Cato Middle College High School begin earning college credit in their junior year and can graduate from a 13th grade with an associate’s degree or professional certification.

Ninth graders in North Carolina take all their classes on the campus of a major state university. Early-college high school students in Connecticut can gain an inside track to one of the world’s largest tech companies. Online and blended learners in Michigan can spend a fifth year in high school and graduate with an associate’s degree.