September 2019
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BSD Students are ‘Career Ready’

After graduating from high school, students go on to pursue many different avenues. While some may choose to earn four-year or advanced degree, others will receive post-secondary training for a trade, and some will enter into the workforce. So rather than ensuring that every student is “college ready” upon graduation, schools across the state are adopting a new set of measures to make sure all students are “career ready.”

These measures, called the Future Ready Index, are part of revised federal legislation called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act.

“The Future Ready Index is a much more holistic tool to measure school districts,” says BSD Superintendent Dr. Shannon Wagner. “Previously, district ratings were based on PSSA and Keystone testing. This new rating tool brings in other factors in addition to testing and places an emphasis on how students grow, exposing them to different ways of learning.”

The key measures for high schools in Pennsylvania are now divided into three buckets:

1. State assessment measures. This is the same PSSA and Keystone testing that has always been done.

2. On-track measures. This includes English language proficiency, English as a second language (ESL) services, and attendance.

3. College and career bucket. This is the newest part. Schools are now required to have students collect a portfolio of specific “artifacts” by the time they graduate.

  • By 5th grade, students have six artifacts that reflect career exploration standards.
  • By 8th grade, students need to have another six artifacts that reflect career exploration. One artifact must be a career plan to help students choose high school courses that reflect career interests.
  • By 11th grade, students have six career exploration artifacts, as well as a resume and a career plan for when they graduate.

One example of how these tools are being integrated into the curriculum is the Science Olympiad that Stuart Elementary holds at the end of May. To collect key artifacts, students form random teams to take part in a day of team-building before the Olympiad events. Afterward, students reflect on what it was like to work in that team, what was needed, and what they had to do personally to grow and work better with that team.

“Teamwork is a huge part of being in a career now,” says Dr. Greg Egnor, Director of Student Services. “These standards are not about content; they’re about skills. Artifacts ensure that districts are providing these experiences. As a result, students will be more well-rounded people who can collaborate, think critically, and have strong emotional intelligence.”

For parents, the new Future Ready Index measure also provides a more comprehensive picture of each school district, so families can get a better idea of what schools are doing and how their students are being prepared for college and careers.

Families can also view “school fast facts” on the Future Ready website, which provide a breakdown of things like race, gender, the percentage of special education students, and the percentage of financially disadvantaged students in a particular district. School safety and financial information are also available.

“All districts across the state have to abide by these new measures,” Dr. Wagner explains, “but we in Burrell really enjoy this because it fits into our philosophy.”

Parents can go to https://futurereadypa.org/ to learn more about the new Future Ready Index and Burrell’s stats and progress.

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