“Education Advances” Award Finalists Share Lessons Learned

A prospective first-generation college student wanted to attend a community college 300 miles away from his high school in Everett, Washington. He needed help applying for financial aid and finding housing. Devoted faculty members supported him throughout his journey and even surprised him with supplies for his new apartment.

Meanwhile, across the country at Longwood Senior High School in New York, a sports-minded senior didn’t know how to begin a college search or establish a career track. Teachers helped the student discover a career as a sports agent and identify colleges that could provide a successful career trajectory.

These are just two of the inspiring stories we have had the privilege to hear from applicants for Hobsons’ annual Education Advances Award for College, Career and Life Readiness. Using Naviance, student success teams have helped these students — and so many others —meet their goals.

Education Advances Award for College, Career and Life Readiness Recognizes Leading Success Teams

This week, we announced our finalists and the winner, Everett Public Schools in Washington, which received a $2,000 award. We’re proud to have played a role in encouraging students to find and follow a path to higher education and rewarding careers.

The finalists faced numerous challenges – changing demographics and gaps in persistence and retention – prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The worldwide crisis brings a myriad of new issues to tackle. By creating a personalized experience for all students, collaborating across departments, and using data to drive decision making, these schools set a new standard for student success teams everywhere.

Their stories provide insights into what it takes to transform student success programs and drive measurable change.

 Everett Public Schools: Focus on Social Emotional Learning Increased Graduation Rate

For Everett Public Schools, the 2003-2004 on-time graduation rate was 58%. Wanting to see improvement, the district turned to social emotional learning (SEL) strategies, which encompasses emotional intelligence, grit, self-awareness, the ability to make informed decisions and an understanding of one’s strengths and interests.

As school staff learned more about their students and helped students better understand themselves, they worked as a coordinated educational community. No longer was college and career readiness assigned solely to the school counselors. The Everett initiative brought together leadership, counselors, teachers and a designated “High School and Beyond/Naviance facilitator” in a holistic approach. They devised ways to personalize support for each student and used data to design interventions and strategies for college, career and life planning. By 2019, the on-time graduation rate was 95.9%.

Meet the 2020 Education Advances Award Winner.


Broward County Public Schools: Peer Influence Boosted College and Career Ready Students

Broward County Public Schools in Florida leveraged the power of peer influence, using students to inspire their cohorts to prepare for life after high school. The school district created the Broward Advisors for Continuing Education Students (BRACE) program and cultivated student BRACE cadets to assist counselors by influencing their peers. As a result, more students are filling out applications, applying for financial aid and scholarships and considering career options.

Longwood Senior High School: Created a Personalized Plan for Each Student

Longwood Senior High School in New York created an Academy model, where students have opportunities to work with local businesses and earn college credits and industry certifications. For each of their 3,000-plus students, Longwood has been able to “be more purposeful and targeted to the individual interests, rather than a group of individuals.” Student interests are tied to:

  • Curriculum
  • Course selection
  • Representation at career expositions
  • Connections to business and internships

Since implementing the Academy model, Longwood has seen greater student interest and engagement in college and career activities. The school increased the number of dual-credit courses by 85% to accommodate student interest. Students have completed nearly 800 resumes using Naviance, compared to none previously. Among 11th graders, the number of prospective college applications and activities completed doubled.

Marietta High School: Guides Personalized Support Using Data

All programs and initiatives at Marietta High School collect, review and evaluate data to target support. The school reviews pass/fail rates every six weeks to provide remediation and unit recovery for at-risk students. They’ve created a diverse set of programs to support students, including:

  • A summer initiative for rising 9th graders to give them a boost of academic, social and emotional support before high school
  • Course Recovery/Credit Recovery programs
  • Attendance panels
  • Pep rally events to build excitement for graduation

Key Takeaways

Moving forward, finding innovative ways to support students’ college and career readiness will be more important than ever. The abrupt school closures, the struggle to successfully transition to online classes and the overall devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on high school and college students has also taken its toll on college and career planning. It also highlights the importance of having the right people, process and technology to help students navigate.

Each of our finalists used data and tools from Naviance to identify and support student needs. They came together to craft targeted plans for students to build necessary skills, and they’ve seen measurable results of their work.

Topics College and Career Readiness

College & Career Readiness

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