Crossroads Alternative High School, Coon Rapids, is one of 36 schools selected by the University of Minnesota (U of M) to take part in its Ramp-Up to Readiness program.
The program is aimed at closing achievement gaps for students and increasing the number of students who graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills and habits for success in higher education and in careers.
Developed at the U of M, the Ramp-Up program features engaging curriculum, a series of supports for students and a technology platform that personalizes the process of preparing for and gaining admission to a postsecondary institution.
Through 28 lessons, Ramp-Up focus on five areas of readiness:
• Academic – the ability to succeed in first-year, credit bearing courses at a technical college, community college or four-year college or university.
• Admissions – the ability to meet admissions requirements at a range of postsecondary institutions.
• Career – the ability to identify careers that match personal, financial and other goals and an understanding of the skills, credentials and experiences required to succeed in those careers.
• Financial – the ability to cover the cost of the first term of study at a postsecondary institution through savings, loans and financial aid.
• Personal and social – the ability to set educational goals, make and monitor progress toward them and create relationships with peers and adults that support academic success.
“There are students who know they want to go to college but might not have the adult guidance on how to make that a reality,” said Crossroads Principal Nancy Chave.
“With Ramp-Up to Readiness, we will give students specific planning tools to help them set their goals and map their course of action.”
The school was one of two alternative learning centers (ALC) to be accepted to the program.
Chave is heading a team of instructors and administrators who will work with different segments of the program.
Allison Konkel will work with ninth- and 10th-grade students, Dennis Olson will work with 11th-grade students, Chad Nowariak will work with 12th-grade students and Patty Halsey will lead work experience.
Chave and Heather Forse, an assistant principal, will also work with the program.
The team will teach the Ramp-Up lessons as well as help other Crossroads instructors utilize the program.
Ramp-Up is not a recruiting tool for the U of M.
The overall goal is to help students make informed decisions about their post-secondary future, whether it be entering the workforce or earning a certificate or attending a two- of four-year college or a university.
Research shows that by 2018, more than 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require some form of education past high school. Currently, only 40 percent of Minnesota adults have a two-year associate’s degree or higher.
Career readiness is also an important component of the program, according to Chave.
There are overlapping English, math and writing skills for students who will continue their education and will go into the workforce after their high school graduation, Chave said.
Chave looks forward to adding more business classes at Crossroads because students need to know word processing, how to create presentations and use spreadsheets, she said.
“Those areas are important to all students, not just students going to college,” Chave said.
“In addition to core academic areas, students need to learn soft skills like working with others.”
Chave and the Crossroads staff are excited to offer this road map to success to students.
“Many of our students are the first in their family to earn a high school diploma, and the high school diploma is their end game,” Chave said.
“It’s great to see them walk across the stage at graduation, but we want them to know that a high school diploma isn’t the end, it’s the start of the next phase of their lives.”