Experts in education gathered to discuss the barriers that hinder Georgians from reaching postsecondary success at the first College and Career Pathways Working Group, held November 13. Among those in attendance were leaders from noted college readiness nonprofits, leaders from the private sector, and postsecondary educators.

Beginning this important dialogue included a look at what “college” and “career” readiness signifies for students in Georgia. Sources such as Achieve, Inc. say that:

“…“[C]ollege ready” means being prepared for any postsecondary education or training experience, including study at two- and four-year institutions leading to a postsecondary credential (i.e. a certificate, license, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree).”

Georgians must possess the tools to thrive in a two year or four year college setting, as well as have the ability to learn quickly with on-the-job training. Members of the working group aim to outline a vision of “readiness” that channels efforts in schools to not only help students meet educational benchmarks, but also prepare more students for “real world” challenges. Refining these definitions and giving context to the way students in Georgia are prepared for higher education and employment will be a key next step for the working group.

Discussion at the first meeting also focused on improving the quality of teaching in schools across Georgia. Student and parent interaction with teachers can greatly impact the likelihood a child is adequately prepared for postsecondary education. Public Impact, a research and strategy collective focused on quality k-12 learning, finds that one high quality teacher can produce up to a year and a half of learning progress in just one year. Also considered was the need to recruit more high quality educators while raising the accountability of all stakeholders–parents, teachers, and students alike. Exploring ways to link teacher evaluations with student performance will be an equally important next step.

The College and Career Pathways Working Group will continue to review the challenges students face–including identifying common qualities college-ready students share and examining how schools serve at-risk students.  Going forward, experts of the group will meet monthly for the next year, continuing on December 18. For more information on The College and Career Pathways Initiative please visit the GCO website here.

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