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Becoming college and career ready

In the age of constant and overwhelming streams of data, the Red Wing School District is using it to help students after they graduate from high school.

As part of its strategic plan, the district is using demographic information from the 2018 graduating class to find who is ready for postsecondary education and who is not.

Joe Jezierksi, the director of teaching and learning, said they have all of this data of test scores and information at their disposal that they weren't sure what to do with.

Then Superintendent Karsten Anderson mentioned Redefining Ready, a research-based metric to help assess if students are college and career ready.

The data covers grade-point averages, advanced placement grades, dual credit courses and algebra two scores, while also breaking down genders, ethnicity, free-and-reduced meal status, special education status and 504 or special needs status.

While the data may seem dense, it will help the district address certain areas of concern and show where they are finding success, according to Jezierski.

The data found that 118 of the graduating 164 students of the 2018 class were ready for college; only 46 were not.

In a further breakdown, 58 of the 89 male students were ready and 60 of the 75 female students were.

The data also shows the 2018 class had an average grade-point average of 3.16, with 121 students having a GPA over 2.8.

Jezierski said the test scores are "one piece of the puzzle." Just because a student could test well in high school or on the SAT/ACT, doesn't necessarily mean they are ready for a traditional, four-year college experience.

The goal is track the students, even starting in early childhood, to guide them along to their potential future careers.

"If we all think back to when were 15 and in ninth grade, what many of us thought we wanted to do as ninth-graders was different even from when were a sophomore, junior and definitely as a senior to that as 22-year-olds," Jezierski said. "So we want to make sure they have the options. I would love it if every child was college ready and career ready."

Flight paths

Through Redefining Ready, they can also focus heavily on career readiness. Redefining Ready said students should be able to meet two or more benchmarks including:

• 90 percent attendance;

• 25 hours of community service;

• Workplace learning experience;

• Industry credential;

• Dual credit career pathway course;

• Two or more organized co-curricular activities.

As part of the strategic plan, district leaders will be creating what they call a flight path. These flight paths will help guide each student to their individual career goals.

Jezierski said the upcoming referendum vote on Nov. 6 will play a large part in how quickly they can implement the flight path plan. The district is asking voters to consider an increase of $1,200 per pupil to replace the current $811 per pupil levy in Question 1. Question 2 would add an additional $450 per pupil. The current levy is set to expire next year.

The passing of both questions will help the strategic plan be robust, according to Jezierski, who hopes the flight paths will be fully operational for the class of 2023.

A component of the flight paths will be called A.I.M., which stands for apprenticeship, internship and mentorship. This program will give every single student a chance to either take part in an apprenticeship, internship or mentorship, showing students what they could possibly have for a career.

"For me, it's trying to align those interests to students so if we have a child who wants to be a mechanic, let's get you into a garage. So you can see what a mechanic really does." Students can take an auto mechanics class, take a precision exam and become certified, so that when they're done with school, they can have a bolstered resume.

The data culminated is larger than just more mundane information. As Jezierski said in the beginning they were "data rich, but were information poor."

Jezierski and the district goal is to make sure students have a chance to explore what they want to do, and when they figure it out, thrive.

"Again, I go back to, I want to make sure kids have options," Jezierski said. "And not all students are going to want to pursue their academic career afterwards, there's some kids who are going to be totally ready to go into the workforce. They might go into the military. They might go into business."

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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