You are here

Articles: College & Career

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.

Joseph Moylan, principal of Oconomowoc High School in Wisconsin, meets with students interested in AP and IB programs at the school. He calls IB’s more narrow-but-deeper approach the gold standard for college prep.

Fueled by a growing consensus that students need post-secondary degrees to compete in the world economy, participation in the 58-year-old Advanced Placement program, once reserved for a small band of elite achievers, has doubled in size over the past decade. The much smaller International Baccalaureate program has also grown steadily.

Stuients at El Monte Union High School District in California benefit from AP programs, which just earned College Board recognition this year.

Careful use of data can guide school administrators as they deploy limited resources to promote college readiness for all students.

Students in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County Public School System learn to make drones in a career technology class developed with a local engineering company. At Mississippi’s Ocean Springs High School, students in the robotics and engineering program design about 40 robots. Tempe Union High School District in Arizona has created living labs in solar thermal, fuel cell and other types of power.

Anoka-Hennepin district students in the seventh-grade technology education class.

In suburban Minneapolis, seventh graders will soon start building skills for local technical jobs that may be open to them when they finish school.

At POLYTECH High School, Delaware students take an EMT training course, something that was recently added because the region needed more EMTs.

Delaware’s New Castle County Vocational Technical School District offers 41 career programs in four technical high schools. And while some programs are in cutting-edge fields, like biotechnology, robotics and athletic health care, many are the same programs that have been offered for decades.

With some 44,000 students, Cleveland (Ohio) Metropolitan School District was struggling without a centralized place to track college preparedness information prior to 2011. Students were being served by CollegeNow, an organization that assists with the advice and funds necessary to prepare for and graduate from college, as well as their own guidance counselors. All parties were using individual databases. The lack of structure and accountability led to low college enrollment and graduation rates for the district.

For years, schools have focused on preparing students for jobs that require a four-year degree from a university, and federal and state education policies “have prioritized college preparation over career preparation,” says Ashley Parker, spokesperson for the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

As it becomes clearer that many high-paying jobs are remaining unfilled—and that many university-educated job seekers are not prepared to fill them—that focus has started to change. But to get students and parents on board, districts must start early.

Pages