March is Operation Preparation College-/Career Advising Month in Kentucky, a time when students across the state will be getting advice on what they can do to prepare academically for their futures.

During Operation Preparation, 8th- and 10th-grade students are scheduled to meet with trained community advisors to review their college and career plans as identified in their Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and talk about:

  • career aspirations and required education/training
  • whether the student is on target to meet his or her goals
  • whether the student is taking the courses recommended to prepare him or her for the future

“It’s estimated more than 50 percent of all future jobs in Kentucky will require employees to have a college degree and/or some sort of postsecondary job training ,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “So, it’s important students start thinking about what they want to do and what it will take to do it. Operation Preparation should help them realize their potential, maximize their academic preparation and stay on track for success during and after high school,” Holliday said.

College/career-readiness is one of the measures on which schools and districts are judged as part of the state’s new Unbridled Learning: College/Career-Readiness for All assessment and accountability system.

All Kentucky school district superintendents and local board of education chairs have signed a pledge to increase the college/career-readiness rate of their high school students by 50 percent by 2015. Statewide, the college/career-readiness rate stands at 47 percent (non-bonus rate) — up from 34 percent in the 2010-11 school year.

“We’ve made great progress increasing our college-/career-readiness rate in Kentucky but our schools can’t do it alone,” Holliday said. “Our teachers, counselors and principals need this support from our communities and parents to ensure students graduate ready to take that next step in life,” he added.

With a statewide student-to-counselor ratio of about 450:1, many school counselors are overloaded with the number of students to whom they must provide services. Operation Preparation is designed to supplement a school’s overall advising program by engaging parents and the community in a partnership with the school in support of Kentucky’s college/career-readiness agenda.

This is the second year for Operation Preparation, expanding from a week in 2012 to an entire month this year to give schools a longer time period in which to conduct the community advising sessions. The majority of Kentucky school districts, along with the Kentucky School for the Blind, the Kentucky School for the Deaf and the Division of Juvenile Justice Youth Detention Centers, are participating.

Kentucky Masons and the Kentucky Area Health Education Centers are joining Operation Preparation as statewide partners this year helping to supply community advisers. And once again, Kentucky Department of Education employees have volunteered to advise students in various districts across the state.  Others interested in volunteering can contact participating districts to see if volunteer advisers are still needed and if not, get on the list for next year.

Volunteer community advisers are required to take an online training course developed by the Kentucky Department of Education and KET, sign a non-disclosure affidavit agreeing not to share confidential student information and abide by all district policies.

Operation Preparation is a joint effort of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Department for Workforce Development.