Based on the average human lifespan, most students will spend 60 years beyond their K-12 education. Therefore, high school graduation is actually the starting line for students, not the finish line, explains Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District (CFAUSD) Director of Educational Technology Sarah Radcliff during her What’s Right in Education Gallery Walk presentation.
In 2016, leaders in CFAUSD recognized the need for future-ready skills for all 5,000 students in their district. Regardless of the career path students would follow after high school graduation, CFAUSD wanted to prepare students with the opportunities for valuable skill development. 2016 was just the beginning of the journey. After creating the initial plan for Redefining Ready, the committee has continued to analyze and adjust year after year in the name of student success.
In Sarah’s presentation below, she describes the multi-year improvement focused approach her team follows.
Over the last five years, Sarah and her team have participated in a continuous cycle of asking themselves, “how can we get better?” Here are just a few of the actions the team at CFAUSD took to redefine ready:
- Created a committee of stakeholders and eventually a data committee
- Implemented measures such as the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) self-assessment and the baseline data for the Cardinal Dozen
- Involved the community to enhance opportunities for external skills development
- Established a scorecard for measuring progress
- Refined their scorecard goals
- Included students in goal setting
In the video, we heard from five different students about their experiences and successes using the ACP approach. Through hands-on experience in a medical setting, Ivy learned nursing wasn’t the right path for her before she began to pursue it as a career. Edward developed life-changing soft skills—including increased confidence—through his internship. Brianne’s internship was so successful it was highlighted in a local news story. James found his dream career in construction, which reduced his family’s anxiety. Kiara expanded her opportunities in the Marines by earning her CNA while she was in high school.
LIFE BEYOND GRADUATION
These inspiring stories of student growth and readiness are just the beginning. In 2019-2020, 70-80% of high school graduates at CFAUSD earned college credit while still attending high school. In March of 2020, Chippewa Falls Senior High School opened a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) lab offering students access to virtual reality, modern manufacturing equipment and a wide variety of courses and opportunities to earn credits before graduating. Rather than focusing on high school graduation as a finish line, CFAUSD leaders are committed to preparing students for their lives beyond the school’s walls.
High school graduation isn’t the end for students, it’s the beginning. Are we doing everything we can to nurture student growth and development for the future?