College and career readiness (CCR) have been educational buzzwords for the last several years, yet districts continue to graduate students who must take remedial courses in college and are un-prepared for the workforce. In order to increase the number of students we launch into the post-secondary world who are not just college eligible, but truly college ready, change is necessary.
Tomball Independent School District in Texas decided the solution was to focus on aligning our systems to help students gain a deeper understanding of the multiple pathways to success. We know from research that students who haven’t acquired the requisite knowledge before entering postsecondary education struggle and often do not continue to their second year of college. In order to combat this, effective transitioning is needed at each grade level so that students know what to expect when they step foot on a college campus.
First, we had to evaluate our systems in place. We convened a College and Career Readiness Taskforce consisting of district stakeholders. Our elementary counselors were ready and willing to do much more with CCR but needed to know where to begin. We used The Eight Components of College and Career Readiness Counseling as a comprehensive guide for school counselors to help build college and career readiness for all students.
As a Counseling Collaborative, we spent time delving into what each component meant at every level. Equipped with that knowledge, our elementary and intermediate counselors were ready to soar. It then became a matter of aligning their work with what was taking place at the secondary level.
From there, we developed Annual Guaranteed Levels of Service (AGLS). These alignment documents were a vague rendering of the school counselor’s duties that lists specific, progressive, programmatic responsibilities and culminates the educational preparation necessary for postsecondary success. It is absolutely necessary for counselors to see how the work they do at each level propels students forward.
Once AGLS were complete, we shifted our attention towards Naviance implementation. Naviance has been an excellent complement to the services our school counselors provide. Students create Success Plans based on a four year timeframe, their interests and endorsement selections, take career inventories and personality assessments, build resumes and keep track of their service hours through the platform. We were sure to refine it so that students could clearly develop an understanding of the pathways to success. Not only has it streamlined processes for the counselor, it has made navigating postsecondary preparedness much easier to grasp.
Having created a strong foundation by implementing the Eight Components of College and Career Readiness Counseling, developing Annual Guaranteed Levels of Service, and refining our Naviance implementation plan, our school counselors possess a deeper understanding of what college and career readiness is at each level of the student’s academic career.
This article was originally published in Texas School Business.