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Articles: College & Career

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.

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.

Maine early-college student Brianna Smith, right, studies water circulation in Portland Harbor with a community college professor.

Under a statewide program first funded in 2013, Vermont students can leave public high schools before their senior year to enroll full-time in college.

They can then graduate from high school with a full year of college credits. While students don’t pay tuition, they do have to pay for textbooks and fees.

Students in the Academy of Computer Game Design magnet program learn game programming and 3D animation.

A magnet program in the booming field of computer game design draws career-focused high school students from across Florida’s sprawling Hillsborough County school system.

Middleton Magnet High School houses four STEM programs, including the Academy of Computer Game Design, which opened in fall 2008 with a four-year, four-course track.

Andre D. Spencer is superintendent of the Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs, Colo.

With the national trend of institutional achievement being measured by the number of graduates who go on to the next level of college or career, Harrison School District Two in Colorado collaborates with the community on a pioneering student success program.

Scott McLeod is the author of the popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog.

A photo on Scott McLeod’s popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog carries the caption, “We’re so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don’t have time to initiate 21st century learning.” McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership, is concerned that an education system that doesn’t embrace technology won't prepare students to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Volunteers from the social networking company Tagged help set up classrooms in Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco this fall.

Most San Francisco students live a car ride away from Silicon Valley’s tech giants, but will never set foot inside any of those fabled corporate campuses. A new philanthropy initiative is pairing some of these companies with city schools to inspire students to pursue college and career pathways that may lead right back to some of those high-tech HQs.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan addresses a group of educators at the Association of Career and Technical Education at the VISION 2013 conference in Las Vegas.

Career and technical education isn’t what it used to be. For example, sessions scheduled for the Association of Career and Technical Education’s annual conference in November cover training teachers to use smartphones to improve literacy and how students learn "higher-order thinking” through reading, writing and group learning.

Only 69 percent of high school seniors who took the ACT in 2013 enrolled in a postsecondary institution that fall.

Record numbers of students are taking the ACT exam and expressing an interest in higher education—but scores on both the ACT and SAT are lagging, according to test administrators.

More than 1.84 million 2014 graduates—a record 57 percent of the national graduating class—took the ACT. This is a 3 percent increase from 2013, and an 18 percent increase compared to 2010, according to the ACT’s annual “Condition of College & Career Readiness” report, released in August.

Administrators striving to align instruction with the Common Core have an ever increasing range of curriculum programs from which to choose.

Several new social studies programs focus on keeping students abreast of current and archived news while other materials spotlight America’s history.

Cross-cutting career and college readiness skills and thinking behaviors. (Click to enlarge)

Education and business stakeholders continue to call for more rigorous curricula, instruction and assessments in order to adequately prepare students for the demands of the 21st century.

But even if implemented well, does the Common Core fully capture the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in college, the workplace and life? And what do tougher academics and more challenging courses really require of schools in terms of how best to support the diversity of student populations?

Some Jennings School District students play the violin and viola—using music to help them make connections in core subjects of math, science and language arts. The students above rehearse for their district gala recently.

When students in music class at Jennings School District in Missouri started taking violin lessons, they would show when they were frustrated. After a year of playing beautiful music, the students wait a beat, and calm down, instead of acting out. With troubled schools where standardized test scores are abysmal, absenteeism runs rampant and aspirations of breaking out of poverty feel like a pipe dream, the district in urban St. Louis County has the look and attitude of a feisty kid that wants to overcome the long odds for success.

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