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Students on the first day of school in the Carroll County School District were greeted by staff members wearing white T-shirts with a question written on back: “R U Ready?”
While the shirts suggested a curiosity about whether students are prepared for the 2011-12 school year, they are actually designed with a larger question in mind: Will students who graduate from Carroll County High School, this year and in the future, be prepared for college, a career, and citizenship?
“We’ve been given the charge by our state Legislature to make sure our students are ready to enter college without any remedial classes or enter a career field in which they can earn a living wage,” Lisa James, superintendent of the Carroll County School District, said.
James said last year’s data from the Kentucky Department of Education showed that 41 percent of students who graduated from Carroll County High School in 2010 were considered college and career ready, ranking the school district 28th among 174 school districts in the state.
However, James said KDE has set a goal for all students to be college- and career ready by 2021, and for all districts to be halfway toward its goal by 2015.
Therefore, by 2015,
71 percent of CCHS graduates must be prepared for college and/or a career for the district to meet its goal.
College and career readiness is based primarily on a student achieving all four of the following scores on the ACT: English, 19; math, 20; reading, 21; and science, 22. Students may also earn college and career readiness status by taking the ACT WorkKeys Assessment and receiving a silver, gold or platinum certificate, which indicates the student is prepared for entry-level positions in 65 percent to 99 percent of career fields.
“It will take an entire community working together to ensure that our kids are ready for the next step in their lives once they leave our doors,” said James, who is asking community organizations, such as the Carroll County Community Development Corporation, to sign a pledge vowing to support efforts to help students become ready for college, career, and citizenship.
James said employers can assist families just by asking their employees how their children are doing in school, encouraging parents to become involved in their children’s education, and providing release time for parents to attend meetings at school.
“Sometimes, little things can add up to something big,” James said. “We want to make sure everyone is working together to help students reach the goal of being ready.”
Based on conversations that James has had with representatives from local businesses and industries, she wants to make sure students develop the skills needed to compete for local jobs.
Students need to be able to speak and write clearly just to get in the front door, she said, and they must be prepared to sit down with a panel of interviewers – not just one person – to make the case for why they are the best candidate.
“With globalization, it is so competitive for our youth to go out and get a job,” James said. “We have to do a better job in our school, in our district, and in our community to make sure those kids know we are behind them 100 percent to get them there.”
Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.