On April 29, the Midwest Equity Assistance Center (MEAC) hosted a webinar titled, "Hidden Rules of College and Career Readiness." The webinar, conducted by Dr. Katherine Sprott, Dr. Tonnie Martinez and Mr. Jessie Myles, all from the MEAC, highlighted the connections between college and career readiness (CCR) standards and expectations and the underlying causes for why students might not meet those standards and expectations, and shared strategies to improve this situation.
MEAC shared multiple resources on defining CCR and examined the essentials and transitions related to readiness. Essentials include solidifying academic, behavioral, cultural and social-emotional skills with students and in partnership with families and other supporting adults in children’s lives. An interesting area of research discussed came from the Search Institute, which has identified 40 essential building blocks for healthy, caring and responsible youth development. The organization’s research shows that substance abuse, violence and risky sexual behavior are all significantly reduced as these assets are acquired by students. Transitions encompass a variety of ideas and strategies to support successful growth for students and families, such as addressing students’ heritage and cultures respectfully, honoring all types of excellence within schools, engaging cultural and community brokers and advocating on behalf of all students’ civil rights.
The MEAC presentation also explored the “hidden rules” of CCR. The concept of hidden rules can be an area of both frustration at first, but also an opportunity for first-generation college students and historically low-performing schools’ students and families. The good news is that they appear to be repairable on many levels. Taking the ACT or SAT multiple times (i.e., your best score matters not your first score), earlier access to FAFSA information and support, college visits and prioritizing gatekeeper skills, like Algebra, can be infused into the information all families and students receive and school improvement efforts. Improving these areas addresses the often overlooked “opportunity gap”, which can negatively impact the complementary “achievement and excellence gaps”. They could additionally be aligned to early warning system interventions, supports, and outcomes.
The archived webinar, PowerPoint presentation, and additional resources are all available online. MEAC is one of ten equity assistance centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance in the areas of race, gender, and national origin equity to public school districts to promote equal educational opportunities.
Nick Pinchok is the Deputy Director of the Midwest Comprehensive Center at the American Institutes for Research.