By Michael Piccirillo, Ed.D, CASDA Executive Director
Thank you for your membership in CASDA, and I wish you all Happy Holidays!
I recently accompanied my daughter Emma on her first formal college campus visit. Emma is a sophomore in high school and is eager to get a head start on the college search process. I’m not sure if starting college visits in 10th grade is typical or not, but I try to be a supportive parent and believe that every experience has inherent value. So, off to Northeastern University we went.
Campus visits typically start with an overview of school programs and admissions requirements followed by a student-led tour of select locations on the campus. Not far into the overview portion of the presentation Emma began whispering to me. The admissions requirements made her wonder whether she would need to take more rigorous courses in her junior and senior years and add community service and club experiences to round out her application. This interaction prompted me to ask the question, “How will I know in two years if Emma is college ready?”
College and career readiness is among the most frequently discussed topics in K-12 education today and is the theme of this month's In Focus newsletter. What does it mean for a student to graduate from high school college and career ready? I know with great certainty that Emma is not career ready. Her work experience consists of a few neighborhood babysitting gigs. So what programs can school districts offer to ensure students are ready for the academic rigors of higher education and/or the technical and interpersonal demands of the workforce? To begin to answer these questions we turn to research in the field. CASDA has a long history of partnerships designed to bring research to practice to support our members and will place greater emphasis on this aspect of our work going forward.
The University of Albany School of Education, a long-time, valued CASDA partner, recently published “College and Career Readiness: Promising Practices from Odds-beating Schools,” a study in collaboration with NYKids. Schools in this study, highlighted in this month’s newsletter, are acting to prepare their students to be successful regardless of the future path they take. CASDA has also recently partnered with Hanover Research to provide our members with access to research briefs and meta-analyses on topics of interest to educators. The first brief, also highlighted in our newsletter, focuses on planning for in-demand CTE programs.
A few years ago, as the Saratoga Springs City School District Superintendent of Schools, I had the good fortune to collaborate with Hudson Falls Central School District, Queensbury Union Free School District, WSWHE BOCES and SUNY Adirondack in the development of the Early College Career Academy (ECCA). This program offers students diverse opportunities for enrichment, including courses for college credit, internships with local businesses, industry specific certifications and exposure to multiple career pathways. I am hoping Emma will choose to spend her junior and senior years in the ECCA New Media Program before deciding on the next step in her journey. If she does, I am confident she will be college and career ready when she departs high school. These are the opportunities all students in every school district must be afforded.