Friday, March 23, 2012

Operation Preparation

The latest count of districts participating in Operation Preparation is 119. I know several more districts have plans to implement college- and career-ready advising strategies later this spring.

As a reminder, Operation Preparation is part of our Commonwealth Commitment to College and Career Readiness. This commitment was signed by every higher education institution, school superintendent and school board chair in Kentucky. This commitment has the potential to be the most important strategy for economic development that we could put in place for Kentucky.

College and career readiness for all students who graduate from Kentucky high schools is part of our vision of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education. This vision was heightened by the passage of 2009’s Senate Bill 1, which required a focus on improving the percentage of students who graduate from high school college- and career-ready. As a matter of fact, the college/career-ready concept has caught the attention of the entire nation through the Common Core Standards initiative, Race to the Top grants and the No Child Left Behind waiver process.

As we were developing strategies to improve college and career readiness rates, advising students came to the forefront. In Kentucky, our students are provided with college/career-ready measures through the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT assessments. Also, many of our students get additional information through ASVAB, COMPASS, KYOTE, Work Keys and Kentucky Occupational Skills Assessments. Also, every student in Kentucky has to complete an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) beginning in 6th grade that helps plan for college and career.

However, quite often the students and parents are not fully aware of how to use the college/career-ready measures and the ILP. Operation Preparation asked schools and districts to provide advice to every 8th and 10th grader in the state. The advice was driven by the students’ college/career-readiness measures and the students’ ILPs. Governor Steve Beshear proclaimed March 12-16 as Operation Preparation week, and thousands of volunteers worked in our schools to advise students on how to reach college/career-ready status.

During Operation Preparation week, I had the honor of working with several students at Gallatin County High School. I also had the opportunity to visit with Wayne County as that district kicked off the week. I went to Dayton Independent, which had a “signing day” to highlight each senior who had made a commitment to attend a postsecondary institution. The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) and Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) collaborated with Forward in the Fifth to create career guidance videos that can be distributed to all schools and districts. These are just a few of the events in which I participated; however, I have heard from many school districts about the great activities that happened in their schools.

I encourage readers to visit the Operation Preparation page to see many of these great activities. If your school district did not participate this year, I hope you will encourage leaders to participate in Operation Preparation for 2012-13. Our students’ future and the future of Kentucky depend on our collaboration and focus on college/career readiness.

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