District 16 prepares students to be college ready

Spring Lake Park District 16 is working on an effort to get all of its students college ready.

The idea is to give the students a choice, whether they decide to attend college or not.

After leaving high school, students may opt for a four-year degree, a two-year degree, to enter a career or to go the military route. Either way, they will be prepared for the next step in their lives after high school.

“College readiness is really about having an option, having a choice,” said Denise Waalen, educational services director at District 16.

She delivered her comments at an Oct. 9 school board meeting in a report titled “Update on College Readiness Initiative.”

In preparing students for college readiness, the district is refining its learning targets and aligning them with the district’s academic benchmarks in core subject areas. The four core subject areas are math, science, language arts and social studies. The district plans to add another – world languages – to its core subjects.

“The core is really what we want for every student,” Waalen said. “And we know that if every student can have the opportunity to have the core classes, that they’re going to graduate and be college ready. They’re going to have the choice.”

As part of the plan, the district is embedding career and life skills into its adopted curricula.

“We don’t want those things to happen by chance,” Waalen said.

District 16 is working to communicate to parents and students the meaning of college readiness, said Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg.

“We’re really raising expectations for kids,” he said.

The district plans to have a student success plan in place starting at the early childhood level. The student’s plan will continue throughout high school.

To offer every student a core education translates to helping those who might need extra support but who want the opportunity to take advanced placement courses. It also could mean giving double douses of help to struggling students, Waalen said.

“So it’s really a focus on those kids traditionally in the middle,” Ronneberg said.

A first draft of refined learner outcomes and assessments for core classes is slated to be finished by February 2013. A final document is planned to be finished May 2013.

Starting phases/pilots of student learning plans will be implemented throughout the 2013-14 school year.

District 16 serves about 5,300 students from Spring Lake Park and parts of Blaine and Fridley.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]

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