The Kansas State Department of Education adopted graduation requirements last week that look very similar to those of McPherson USD 418.
For the state, college and career ready now means, “an individual has the academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills and employability skills to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation.”
This definition has been developing for the past six months. Although there has been coordination with many entities, the Kansas School Superintendents Association has played a major role in this work. KSSA president and McPherson Superintendent Randy Watson was pleased with the outcome.
“We think it encompasses everything we've been doing in McPherson, so we're very pleased,” he said. “Everything we're doing we think had an influence on the definition and it definitely supports the efforts we've been trying to do in the last three years. Our happiness is that the direction our school board determined a few years ago is being supported statewide by this definition.”
In 2011, McPherson adopted C3, an initiative that defined the district's goals for citizenship, college and career readiness. These hard and soft skills are evaluated by ACT and other assessments locally, but the state has yet to determine what will assess its new definition.
Although it matches closely with McPherson's approach, USD 418 went one step further to include citizenship.
“We thought citizenship was part of being a good person and a full-fledged adult,” Watson said. “Our board felt being a good citizen is important.”
Even so, Watson said this definition is a big move for Kansas.
“This is changing the way we look at graduation,” he said, adding readiness has gone from grade point averages to asking what skills students have when they leave. “That's a huge shift. I know it was a huge shift for us and now we're asking everyone in the state to make that shift.”
Although it may be a challenge, Watson said most across the state have had positive responses.
“Most people realize these are the targets we should be striving for,” he said. “We all know it's the right thing to do, but we've got some work to do. For here in McPherson, we'll have a two- to three-year head start.”