Giving Compass' Take:

• Michael Ballone and Michael Bowman share four ways to boost college and career readiness to put high school students on paths to success. 

• How can funders help schools to implement these changes? Can states adjust their standards to encourage improvements? 

• Read about career and technical education

1. Be sure all students meet rigorous academic standards.
A new generation of state standards has been designed to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. Under these more rigorous standards, students are expected to read more complex texts and reach greater depths of knowledge than before. So, the first step in any college and career readiness initiative is to be sure students are on track for meeting these high standards.

2. Get students thinking about careers at an early age.
We believe it’s never too early to begin exposing students to various career options. Talking about potential careers in elementary school expands students’ vision of possibilities while encouraging them to set personal goals. It also helps connect what they are learning to the real world, giving this knowledge more context and answering the question: “Why do we have to learn this?”

3. Develop the “soft” skills that will enable students to be successful.
Surveys show that “soft” skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking are highly coveted by employers. Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks hiring managers which attributes they value most beyond a strong GPA and specific technical skills required for a job. Problem-solving and the ability to collaborate as part of a team were the top responses.

4. Foster independent learning.
Helping students become independent learners prepares them more effectively for the rigors of college and, ultimately, a career. It also ensures that students will continue learning long after they graduate—essential in today’s rapidly changing workplace.
Inspired by Google’s “20% Time,” we’ve started a program in which students in some Friday classes work on projects of their choice. In the past, students have designed video games, conducted historical research, and planned a nonprofit organization during this time.

Read the full article about college and career readiness by Michael Ballone and Michael Bowman at eSchool News.