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Superintendent's Corner

posted Oct 20, 2016, 6:23 AM by Martie Helm   [ updated Oct 20, 2016, 6:23 AM ]

As I mentioned previously, the Kansas State Department of Education unveiled a new vision for Kansas schools -- Kansas Can. The outcomes from Kansas Can (KSDE’s new vision) are as follows:

·      High School Graduation Rates

·      Post-Secondary Completion/Attendance

·      Remedial Rate of Students Attending Post-Secondary

·      Kindergarten Readiness

·      Individual Plan of Study Focused on Career Interests

·      Social/Emotional Growth (measured locally)

The new outcomes are very positive as they change the focus to preparing students to truly be college and/or career ready versus hitting a target on a single test.  Last week, I shared information regarding High School Graduation Rate outcome and this week I would like to share information regarding next outcome Post-Secondary Completion / Attendance. 

With the labor market constantly trending toward a higher set of skills, students will need to pursue higher levels of post-secondary education/training in order to remain competitive for jobs.  A recent study from Georgetown University (July 2016) found that over 99% of job growth in the recovery went to workers with more than a high school education.  Workers with a high school diploma or less saw virtually no jobs recover.  Another study found that by 2018, Kansas needs 71% of workers to have a post-secondary certificate or degree.  Approximately 36% need to be bachelor degrees or higher and approximately 35% need to have a certificate or associate degree.  Simply put, post-secondary training is a must for today’s students!

The Kansas Can vision has previewed for possible indicators for post-secondary completion (students should meet one)

·      Meet all four college and career indicators on the ACT

·      Earn an Industry Recognized Certification in high school or in the first semester post high school.

·      Earn 12 college credit hours in high school or in the first semester post high school.

·      Enlist in the military post high school and complete basic training

In USD #386, we have set the following outcome goals for graduating seniors

·      Earn an ACT composite score of 21

·      Complete an Industry Recognized Certification

·      Earn 9-12 college credit hours

If students are meeting one of these outcomes, we feel this provides the appropriate evidence to ensure they are college and career ready.  Just under 50% of our juniors and seniors are in dual credit courses.  Dual credit means that they receive both college and high school credit for these courses.  These courses include the technical college, as well as courses like College Algebra and English Composition. The number of students in dual credit courses has risen steadily over the past three years.  For instance, we have 35 students signed-up as potential candidates for technical college programs over the next two years.  Students who take dual credit courses in high school have experienced high levels of success.  This success is in part due to the fact that students taking dual credit courses in high school have a stronger support system while in high school and the environment is more structured.  This helps them gain experience with college level work while in high school and thus setting them up for a higher level of success in their post-secondary experiences once they leave high school. 

Students currently can take dual credit courses tuition free through Butler County Community College and the Flint Hills Technical College.  While the tuition is free, the courses include fees, books, tools, etc.  The Flint Hills Technical College offers scholarships to some students to assist with books, fees, etc.  While these tuition free opportunities and scholarships provide fantastic opportunities for our students, we still have some students who are unable to pursue their desired dual credit opportunities do to financial constraints. While there are several scholarships available for students once they graduate from high school, scholarships or sponsorships for students still attending high school is somewhat of a new area.  I think that there is a strong argument to be made that the return on the investment of dollars (success rate) is greater for students taking dual credit courses.  In other words, a high school student with a scholarship for a college course has a higher success rate then peers who wait until after high school to take classes because their support system and dual credit environment is stronger and more structured during that time.  Providing students experiences as a junior or senior in dual credit courses will only increase their success in future post-secondary endeavors. 

USD #386 is exploring ways to support students who may be limited in their dual credit experiences due to financial constraints.  Currently areas being explored include, sponsorships or community partnerships aimed at providing financial assistance for students wishing to pursue dual credit offerings.

Next week, I will share information regarding individual plans of study (IPS).  As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.  Have a great week and remember, “It’s A Great Day to Be a Bulldog!”