March event targets student preparation

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In 2012, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday talked with sophomore Alex Kearns about his future college and career plans during Operation Preparation at Gallatin County High School. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 15, 2012
In 2012, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday talked with sophomore Alex Kearns about his future college and career plans during Operation Preparation at Gallatin County High School. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 15, 2012

This month, thousands of Kentucky students will be getting advice on what they can do academically to prepare for college or career as part of the third annual Operation Preparation.

During Operation Preparation, trained community advisors meet with 8th- and 10th-grade students to review each student’s 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

“We want to provide every resource available to help students realize their potential, maximize their academic preparation and stay on track for success during and after high school whether they choose college or a career pathway,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.  College/career-readiness is one of the measures on which schools and districts are judged as part of the state’s Unbridled Learning: College/Career-Readiness for All assessment and accountability system.

All Kentucky school district superintendents and local board of education chairs signed the Commonwealth Commitment, pledging 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 54.1 percent — up from 34 percent in the 2010-11 school year.  The college/career-readiness goal this year is 58 percent.

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.

Operation Preparation will run the entire month of March to give schools and districts flexibility in conducting community advising sessions. The majority of Kentucky school districts along with the Kentucky School for the Blind and the Kentucky School for the Deaf are participating.

How it is implemented is a local decision, although the overall goals remain the same: help students see the connection between education and financial security in adulthood and help districts increase college/career-readiness of students.

In addition to school district-level participation, a number of statewide groups are providing advisors including the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky (Masons), the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), the Kentucky National Guard and employees of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

“Our students, teachers, counselors and principals need this support from our communities to ensure students graduate ready to take that next step in life,” Holliday said. Others interested in volunteering can contact participating districts to see if volunteer advisors are still needed and if not, get on the list for next year. Volunteer community advisors are required to take an online training course developed by KDE 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 KDE and the Department for Workforce Development. More information can be found at www.operationpreparation.com.

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