Commonwealth Education Continuum to increase teacher diversity, career readiness

State leaders announced Thursday the creation of the Commonwealth Education Continuum, a “cradle to career” initiative that will focus on building a more diverse teaching workforce and helping more students earn degrees and credentials.



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The Commonwealth Education Continuum is a partnership between the Council on Postsecondary Education, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Kentucky Department of Education.

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It will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who also serves as secretary of the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, as well as CPE President Aaron Thompson and Kentucky Education Commissioner Glass.

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The continuum’s 27 members, with expertise ranging from the early childhood to adult education, will soon be announced, officials said Thursday during a news conference.

“This is an education first administration, and building a better Kentucky starts with our public education system,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “This continuum ensures that we’re taking advantage of every opportunity that helps our students and teachers.”

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 51% of Kentucky children are kindergarten-ready and 40% of Kentucky fourth graders are proficient in mathematics, with that percentage falling to 29% by middle school.

The Commonwealth Education Continuum will seek to improve those learning outcomes and create more equitable opportunities for students to transition to the next level in the education system.

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Thompson layed out three areas that Kentucky cannot ignore in order to better serve students.

The state must provide “more and better information about how to plan and pay for college,” he said.

It must improve access to high school dual credit options and other early college experiences and “ensure these opportunities are available all students,” Thompson continued.

“Finally, we must attract and retain more teachers, particularly men and people of color,” Thompson said.

Currently, students in the Bluegrass State are twice as likely to be male when compared with their teachers, and while minorities make up 23% of public school students, only 4.8% of the state’s teachers are, according to state officials.

“The change has to start with our schools, because schools are a microcosm of our larger society,” Glass said.

Thompson also pointed to how only 60% of Kentucky high school graduates are college- or career-ready, which leads to an in-state college attendance rate of just 51.7%, down from 55% during the 2013-14 school year, and well below the national average of 70%.

Those gaps remain higher for non-white students.

Coleman said the continuum will not cost the state extra money but is more a matter of using existing resources and “bringing us together so that we can all work together in a much more efficient way.”

Thursday’s announcement “is another step toward ensuring every Kentuckian has the tools they need to succeed from cradle to career,” she added.

“The collaboration between these shareholders and leaders will help

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Akron Public Schools receives $1.5 million grant for college and career readiness programs

AKRON, Ohio – United Way of Summit & Medina announced Tuesday it has secured a $1.5 million grant from the Hewlett Foundation that will go toward college and career readiness programs at Akron Public Schools.

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Akron’s College and Career Academies began in 2017 and are now offered at each high school, providing students with vocational training and other field-specific opportunities in one of about 60 career paths. The grant money will go toward expanding the academies, including in Akron’s elementary and middle schools, and supporting the programs which have moved online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Way of Summit & Medina said in a news release.

The United Way and school district are also seeking to make students more engaged in their learning and to enlist the support of parents and the community by sharing information about student learning and involving them in decision-making.

“Their grant award in the amount of $1.5 million will go a long way to address the social and emotional needs of our students as we navigate our way out of the current COVID-19 pandemic,” said Superintendent David James. “Having United Way of Summit & Medina serve as the fiscal agent for this grant is indicative of the partnership that we share in serving our community in reaching our Bold Goals.”

The district established its so-called Bold Goals in 2017 in collaboration with the United Way. Bold Goal 1 calls for 65% of third-graders to be reading at or above their grade level by 2025, and Bold Goal 2 calls for 90% of high-schoolers graduating in four years and 60% being college- or career-ready.

James discussed the district’s progress in reaching the Bold Goals during his State of the Schools address in February. From 2016 to 2018, the percentage of third-graders reading at their grade level rose from 37.9% to 49.5%, and the district’s graduation rate increased from 74.3% to 79.8%, he said.

“Making sure that our students feel empowered as they learn and grow makes a difference in how they perceive themselves well after graduation,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit & Medina. “Also, having parents and the community play a role in the education process shows the students that learning is more than just the student-teacher relationship. We all have a stake in our students’ futures. United Way is proud to continue to grow our partnership with Akron Public Schools and thankful for the support of the Hewlett Foundation.”

This is the first time the Akron school district has received a grant from the California-based Hewlett Foundation, which was founded in 1966 by Flora and William R. Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard computer and software company. The foundation reported awarding more than $450 million in grants in 2019 to support causes including education, environmental preservation, performing arts, economic development and women’s health.

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WGU Academy now an independent nonprofit focused on college readiness

New status gives Academy more flexibility to achieve its college readiness mission through partnering with other institutions and grant funding

WGU Academy—a largely independent operating unit of Western Governors University that was established in 2018—today announced that it is now a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. The Academy’s new status provides greater flexibility to pursue its mission of dramatically scaling college readiness solutions through service agreements and partnerships with other higher education institutions, K–12 schools, community groups, employers, and foundations.

WGU Academy began enrolling students in April 2019 and has already served over 10,000 individuals identified as needing additional preparation before enrolling full time into WGU. The Academy provides a low-risk and low-cost on-ramp to admission into WGU by providing transferable courses, but more importantly by developing students’ essential non-academic competencies: self-awareness and self-efficacy, a sense of belonging and growth mindset, and an increased capacity for ownership and accountability.

WGU Academy began pilot programs with other schools in 2019, and its new status allows the organization to more rapidly expand its ability to help students at community colleges and four-year institutions, in K–12 schools, through online summer bridge programs, and by helping employers develop the academic readiness of their employees—particularly frontline workers for whom postsecondary education is often perceived as out of reach.

“In addition to our ongoing work with WGU, our goal is to expand postsecondary access and equity for hundreds of thousands of students from underserved populations and to align with rapidly changing workforce needs,” said Pat Partridge, President of WGU Academy. “But access isn’t enough. We want to truly develop resilient learners, students who are equipped with the confidence, social and emotional skills, and mindset to reach their academic and career goals.”

Since launching in May 2018, the Academy has conducted pilot initiatives with tnAchieves in support of the Tennessee Promise Program, with Weber County (Utah) in support of an intergenerational poverty program, and with two K–12 districts in North Carolina to support seniors as they prepare to transition to postsecondary programs. The Academy’s staff has grown to over 50 employees to serve its growing enrollment and in preparation for supporting other organizations in the coming year.

“Students are facing tremendous stresses in the current environment,” Partridge said. “Students today must deal with COVID-19, a recession, and other stressors—including personal challenges—and success in college is tenuous at best for a lot of them. WGU Academy can help many students overcome these non-academic barriers.”

Whereas most college readiness efforts focus on remedial preparation for math and language skills, WGU Academy goes beyond that to include transferable college-level courses. More importantly, all students take the course Program for Academic and Career Advancement (PACA) to develop the mental and emotional characteristics of a resilient learner. Modeled on a nationally recognized course used by WGU for several years, PACA uses self-serve modules, group sessions, peer interaction, and one-to-one coaching to build confidence and persistence.

“Unlike traditional advising, which serves important roles,” Partridge said, “the Academy’s coaches and the PACA curriculum

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Shelby County Schools Partners with Naviance by Hobsons to Improve Graduation Rates and Student Career Readiness

“It is necessary to develop partnerships that align with the District’s mission to prepare students for success in learning, leadership, and life,” said Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray. “The collaboration with Naviance and its devotion to boost student outcomes, amplifies our efforts to improve and prepare students for opportunities in post-secondary education and their careers.”

“Naviance by Hobsons is honored to support Shelby County Schools with its efforts to prepare students for academic and post-secondary success,” said Paul McConville, Senior Vice President of Sales and Account Management for Hobsons. “Together, we are committed to helping students stay on track in understanding and attaining college, career, and life success no matter the challenges.”

With the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, SCS quickly adapted to a virtual environment and deployed Naviance for the 2020-21 school year. Naviance allows all students to access their CCLR planning in a virtual environment, anytime, anywhere. Additionally, Naviance will help SCS meet the Tennessee Ready Graduate requirements and indicators. As the largest public-school district in Tennessee, SCS serves more than 30,200 8th – 12th graders who will now have access to Naviance, the most widely adopted CCLR platform in the country.

“At Shelby County Schools, we’re focused on improving academic and lifelong outcomes for all students,” said Dr. Antonio M. Burt, Chief Academic Officer. “Naviance by Hobsons offers a scalable solution with the necessary tools to equitably support our students through their college and career planning. We want students to be inspired by their possibilities and to be empowered to chart their own course.”

Naviance equips students to discover personal interests and strengths and real-world careers that match, research and apply for colleges and scholarship opportunities and build resumes and portfolios. As part of Destination 2025, Naviance will help SCS work toward its goals of 80% of students being college- and career-ready, 90% of seniors graduating on time, and 100% of graduates enrolling in a postsecondary opportunity.

“Even in challenging times, our commitment to support our students in every way possible does not cease, it gets stronger. I’m delighted that this tool helps ease the decision-making process as our students plan for their futures,” said SCS Board Chair Miska Clay Bibbs.

Counselors and designated instructional staff are undergoing training to learn how to support students using the new tool. Students will begin using Naviance with their school counselors and teachers later in the fall.

About Shelby County Schools
Shelby County Schools is Tennessee’s largest public-school district and is among the 25 largest public-school districts in the United States. Formerly composed of two smaller districts, Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools, SCS serves over 100,000 students in more than 200 schools. SCS is the second largest employer in Shelby County with over 14,000 employees, including 6,500 teachers. SCS has placed a strong emphasis in five high-leverage areas: early literacy; improvement of post-secondary readiness;

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MajorClarity, Inc. Partners with the National Technical Honor Society, and Others, to Launch Career Readiness Micro-Credentials

MajorClarity, a career and college exploration and academic planning software program, announced today a groundbreaking new partnership with National Technical Honor Society to achieve two primary goals: (1) provide the opportunity for all 75,000+ active National Technical Honor Society student members to add on access to MajorClarity’s one-of-a-kind platform, and (2) co-develop a Soft Skills and General Employability Skills micro-credential sponsored by the National Technical Honor Society that will be available to students exclusively through MajorClarity’s online platform.

Together, MajorClarity, Inc. and the National Technical Honor Society reach over 6,000 schools nationwide.

“At NTHS, our mission is to do everything we can to celebrate the development of skill and empower CTE students in their pursuit of a career they love. As we continue to expand offerings to our members, such as resources to explore career pathways, develop their employability skills, find educational opportunities and to connect with employers, MajorClarity was a natural fit. MajorClarity has developed a valuable platform that will not only help move our mission forward, but the careers of our members as well. We are also proud to partner with MajorClarity in developing the NTHS Employability Skills Micro-Credential. We know that the leaders of tomorrow’s workforce will not only need refined technical skills, but equally important employability skills. MajorClarity shares our passion in developing tomorrow’s workforce by empowering today’s students with the practical resources they need to become the well-rounded craftsperson they want to be.”

– NTHS Executive Director, Peyton Holland

The NTHS partnership is part of a broader initiative already underway within MajorClarity to launch competency-based Career Readiness micro-credentials with industry leading employers, postsecondary education institutions, and educational associations.

“MajorClarity’s expertise lies in building proprietary and unique content that engages students in career exploration in ways no other academic planning solutions offer. While our initial content focused on exploratory interactions, we always knew an essential next step would be to add competency and skills-based content within our pathways. Partnering with leading employers and higher education institutions is helping us ensure the value and alignment of these micro-credentials in helping students take meaningful steps towards successful post-secondary and career outcomes while in high school.”

– MajorClarity’s Founder and CEO, Joe Belsterling

The initial launch of micro-credentials will include four unique offerings:

  • Software Programming and Cybersecurity both built in partnership with Kingsland University

  • HVAC built in partnership with TRANE Technologies

  • Soft Skills and General Employability Skills built in partnership with National Technical Honor Society.

MajorClarity, Inc. is also already underway in forming a joint-venture partnership with Tidewater Medical Training in order to offer students both micro-credentials and postsecondary opportunities within Medical Services and Nursing.

“Both Medical Services and Nursing are two of the most popular pathways for students, and both pathways offer strong career opportunities to students who do not wish to pursue a 4-year education. We are excited to form this partnership to continue working towards offering schools and students meaningful opportunities that help ensure that every student’s education leads to a successful career outcome.”

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