In recent years, there has been much talk nationwide about preparing our youth for post-secondary education and the workforce by making our students college, career and civic ready or life ready.
Beyond academic mastery, it includes foundational knowledge, skills and habits such as a strong work ethic, the ability to collaborate, time management, problem solving and a sense of civic duty. It incorporates an awareness of talents, weaknesses and an understanding of the skills and mindset necessary for engaging and succeeding in our evolving, global society.
The mission and vision of our schools includes empowering our students to embrace challenges and future opportunities as they become informed and productive global citizens in our society. This is supported by the Next Generation Learning Standards, NGLS. The NGLS promote critical thinking and college and career readiness with the goal to better prepare our students to become lifelong creative learners, collaborators, communicators, and critical thinkers who effectively participate and then lead in civic, community and professional endeavors. Students need to develop grit, a combined passion and perseverance towards meeting their life and career goals.
Communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity are considered key 21st century skills. Reports have shown that 60 percent of employers complain new hires do not possess these important soft skills as there is often disconnect in applying these skills to real life scenarios. Twenty-first century readiness also refers to information, media, communication and technology literacy. Many jobs, even those formerly considered purely vocational, now incorporate high-tech skills requiring specialized knowledge based on computerized machinery.
Freeport’s schools prepares our students for college, career and civic readiness beginning in our elementary grades. Social Emotional Learning, SEL, is aligned with 21st century skills. SEL builds on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. We have SEL standards and curriculum in place to teach our students these vital skills leading to better communication, collaboration and problem-solving abilities.
We bring college and career awareness to all our students through college and career days, renowned speakers, and partnerships with colleges and universities, prestigious organizations and businesses. Our students learn to code from the youngest ages to build on their technological literacy. Through community service, coursework and after school enrichment, our students gain valuable hands-on experiences that enable them to apply 21st century skills.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, college, career and civic readiness is an accountability measure using multiple measures of success such as diplomas, credentials, advanced placement and college-course credits, and career and technical education certifications. At Freeport High School, our Pathways Program allows our students to participate in a career pathway of their choice and to experience learning opportunities which not only prepare them for high school graduation, but to be successful in college, post-secondary training and ultimately in the career they aspire to attain.
Currently, Freeport High School has 13 pathways for our students. Among these are Architecture and Construction, Business Management and Administration, Finance, Health Science and Information Technology. Each pathway is a multiyear program of academic and technical study that provides our students with a full range of postsecondary options within each career cluster.
Pathways allow for exploring career options at all levels of education and link student learning to the knowledge and skills needed for future education and employment. Each pathway has a program of study consisting of a sequence of courses and experiences linked to the career cluster. All provide the opportunity to earn college credit and industry recognized credentials or certifications. Students in the Pathway Programs gain valuable external career experiences, while still attending high school.
Dr. Kishore Kuncham is the superintendent of Freeport Public Schools.