College and Career Readiness Start Early

Forty years ago, a high school education could get most Americans a good job. Those days are over. Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that within five years, six out of ten U.S. jobs will require a postsecondary degree.

At FHI 360, we’ve been asking ourselves: what can we do in early and middle grades and high schools to make sure that students are ready to go the distance? How can we make sure that all students — including low-income and minority students, who frequently show up in the smaller slivers of education and employment pie charts — not only start postsecondary school, but also finish with a certificate and a job?

Over the next few weeks, experts from FHI 360’s education programs will write about how their work promotes students’ college and career readiness. This conversation is exciting for us, and, we hope it will be for you as well. It speaks to links among primary, middle, secondary and postsecondary education that have not been as clear in past decades as they are now.

For instance, recent studies show that what a fifth grader does on the playground can predict whether she will finish college. Michael Selkis and Christine Newkirk talk about how early warning signs can help teachers keep young students on track toward promising futures, while Connie Warren shows how data can help schools make critical course corrections through secondary school.

Rochelle Nichols-Solomon and Maud Abeel discuss connecting high school and college instruction. Research repeatedly shows that solid and appropriate academic preparation is one of the best ways to ensure that students succeed at the next level.

Lisa Johnson writes about school–business partnerships and the surprising role that imagination plays in helping teenagers transition from a classroom to an office.

Corinne Alfeld examines how career technical education can help get the economy back on track, and Robin White tells how community colleges are more vital now than ever.

Finally, Elaine Mulligan lays out an equity agenda and how to make sure that people with special needs aren’t falling through the career or college crack.

Together, this thinking establishes education as a continuum of learning, development and escalating effects — just as it is for students. It also calls all of us in the education business to lift our eyes occasionally from the urgent task at hand to the important goal on the horizon.

Look for posts from these experts in the coming weeks. And, send us your responses to keep the conversation going.

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