Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gearing up for college and career ready . . .

We had our first meeting last night of an ad-hoc committee commissioned by the board to look at how well we are preparing all of our graduates for success in post high school learning and work. It is a good mix of staff and community members, but we still need to find a way to get the student voice in the room.  Meeting in the evening during the summer months is not something they see as fun.

Below, is the guiding question for our work.

How do we partner with our community to ensure that ALL Tahoma High School graduates leave with a plan that provides options for success in post high school learning and work?

As a part of this work we are exploring the mental model held by many adults that the only path to success is through a four year university degree.  Our task is to craft a vision that forces people to examine this mental model and become knowledgeable about aligning learning opportunities with career goals.  It may sound easy, but the work will be difficult because we are challenging long held beliefs and assumptions.  Changing culture is always difficult and risky work.  But, we are committed to it because we know that not all graduates leave our system with a focused plan that has options for them to consider as they make life decisions on a career.

We shared a number of readings with the committee and also had a guest speaker, Steve Hanson, President of Renton Technical College.  Steve shared data and information that caused dissonance for some and that was affirming for others.  One of the slides that he shared is copied below.

He believes that it captures the issues that college students and graduates are facing in today's world where one out of two 2011 graduates is either unemployed or underemployed, meaning they are working in a job that does not require their college education.  We also reviewed the issue of college debt that now is greater than credit card debt at about $1 trillion dollars.

We know that the majority of jobs of the future and all jobs that pay a living wage will require learning beyond high school.  In the slide below Steve reinforced this, but shared with us that there are multiple pathways for securing these jobs that require us to examine our current mental models.  Being able to broaden our thinking as he and others suggest is at the core of our work as we learn and provide the board with guidance on how to proceed.

Our high school has already embraced this need coining the phrase Future ready.  Terry share with us some of the work currently underway to better align with meeting the needs of ALL graduates.  He stressed how this is not a high school issue and it can't be changed in three grade levels.  It is a community issue and we will need their support to change the prevailing mental model and to implement adaptive solutions.

Below, are links to the readings we gave committee members.

Here is another that Steve shared with me this morning.

1 comment:

Scott Mitchell said...

The presentations and discussions at this meeting were both engaging and educational. When you asked for a TEA representative I thought to myself, do I have time to be a part of this? My answer was no, so I offered it up to some others, who were too busy and in the end was the rep for our group. As conversations ensued though, I became very intrigued by the topic, I felt myself changing mental models of what I felt post HS success and paths look like. It was eye opening. I quickly realized that my role as a TEA rep would not be the only role I could bring to the table. I had my 5th grade teacher hat on, I had my hat of a parent of incoming Kindergarten student on, and I had my hat of my own past experiences. In the end I am happy that I am a part of this group that will help mold the future of so many students in our district for years to come and hopefully create a broader experience for our young people to be introduced to in our schools.