New technology for the fall term enables students to map their college or work plans.

by: KEVIN SPERL - Everyday, students at Crook County High School see this sign on their way to class, reminding them to stay focused on their future. From left: Junior Trevor Rasmussen, Sophomore Blake Lopez and Junior Robbi Timmer.

Editor’s note: Part four of this four-part series will explain the district’s use of technology to track student progress

By 2025, the State of Oregon has committed to 100 percent of the state’s high school seniors receiving a diploma.

The state’s 40-40-20 initiative establishes a goal of 40 percent of students earning a four-year degree, another 40 percent earning a two-year degree and 20 percent earning their high school diploma, or equivalent. Additionally, the initiative calls for a near-zero high school dropout rate.

The students to whom that mandate applies, at least as far as achieving a high school diploma, are, this spring, completing first grade.

To help student’s meet the goals of the state’s program, the Crook County School District is planning to implement supportive technology, in the fall of 2014, that will track sixth-graders on their journey through high school, ensuring they are college and/or career ready.

High School Assistant Principal Joel Hoff, along with Middle School Principal Kurt Sloper and the district’s Curriculum Manager Stacy Smith, have selected a technology-based application that will track, and help direct, a student’s plan for the future.

Naviance provides technology that is designed to guide students on their selected educational or career choice, modifying it as they grow and helping them to keep on track.

According to their website, Naviance is a “comprehensive college and career readiness solution for middle and high schools that helps connect academic achievement to post-secondary goals.”

“We are focusing on our students graduating and being college and career ready,” said Hoff. “This technology allows students to build a resume, complete surveys about college choices, and define their interests.”

Smith agreed, saying that high school students will have access to all the information they need to apply for college and financial aid.Ê For middle school students, Smith believes the program will create awareness in them that there is a path to college and that going to college provides them certain advantages.Ê

Hoff feels the new technology will also bring attention to yet another growing gap in a student’s education -- the aspiration gap.

“We don’t want student’s closing the door on their future too soon,” said Hoff. “Having this technology available to them should give students the ability to develop a pretty clear plan for their own future.”

The initiative for the program is clear — the district simply wants to empower students with the ability to do what they want with as many options as possible.

To meet that goal, the district has formed a “College and Career Ready” team led by Smith along with members Hoff, Sloper, High School Principal Michelle Jonas, Kate Worthing and Becky Munn of the ASPIRE Center, Kimberly Bonner, assistant principal at the middle school, and high school counselors Darin Kessi and Ann Kasberger.

According to Hoff, implementation of the program in the fall will require students to engage in 10 to 15 tasks per academic year with the Naviance software.

“Once a week, students will take a 20-minute connections class,” explained Hoff. “Juniors and seniors will also enroll in a career class. We are hoping to create a college- and career-ready atmosphere at the school and will incorporate the concept into other classes as we can.”

Hoff believes that students will be interested and highly engaged in the program as it will provide them a personal approach to planning their future.

“They are mapping out their own life,” he said. “I would hope they would be interested in doing so.”

Smith hopes the new program removes any obstacles faced by today’s students.

“The group that has been meeting to reconfigure our systems for creating a college-going culture in our schools views this program as an investment in our students on behalf of our community,” he said. “The next young person that creates economic opportunity in our beautiful little community may not be the type of student that typically attends college.Ê But because we’ve done our jobs well, we will have created that opportunity for all students.”

Hoff admitted that schools are becoming more data driven, and that they are required to administer and track an ever increasing array of student assessment information. He feels, however, that the data is necessary.

“We measure our students because our goal is to be sure they are ready for the world when they leave us,” he said. “We are just trying to not let kids fall through the cracks. I think we will see more students engaged in their future plans.”

When Hoff was a high school student, he admitted that graduating was not even a question. For today’s student it is not so simple.

“Now I have so much data about kids that are struggling. But, as a district we are doing a good job intervening with students when necessary,” he said. “It is good to see the community and district rise to the occasion to meet these challenges.”

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