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Ready or not, here we come

Crystal Fink


Director of Career & Technical Education Washington County Schools

A Senior approached me last week and asked, “I just recently began thinking about what I am going to do after high school, can you help me?” Would I help?  What kind of question is that to ask an educator?  An educator is a person who is dedicated to the ministry of teaching and a person who’s lifetime goal is to help students find their way into adulthood to become productive members in our community.

We sat down at the computer and began talking about his interests, goals, finances, scholarships, parent support, transportation, colleges and academic strengths and weaknesses.    We eventually came up with a plan and printed out the blueprint marking and highlighting points of interest and important details.    He rose from the chair standing a little taller than before with papers in hand and a smile on his face.    As he was walking out of my room, he glanced back at me and said “Thank you so much for your help, I know what I need to do.”  I smiled and gave the nod of affirmation.  Just as I was beginning to feel the all so proud pinnacle of educator achievement, he turned again and said “ My dad has been telling me this all along, can’t wait to hear him say, ‘I told you so’.”   It truly takes a village.

Most high school seniors will say that graduation sneaks up on them fast.   They will also say that they aren’t prepared.    It is an overwhelming process to say the least with so many details to sort through.  While some choose to go straight into the workforce, others are faced with college choice, scholarship applications, finding money for tuition, preparing for academic coursework, scheduling, debt and dorm room assignments.

The goal of Washington County School District is to help students transition seamlessly from high school to post-secondary enrollment or workforce placement. Before they head out our doors, however, the Tennessee Department of Education has developed an accountability metric to measure success milestones that are aligned to the department’s strategic plan.  These guidelines are called “Ready Graduate Indicators.”   

To be Ready Graduate status, students in the 2018-2019 graduation class will need to:

• Earn a composite score of 21 or higher on the ACT or 1060 or higher on the Sat, OR

• Complete four early postsecondary opportunities (EPSO’s), OR

• Complete two EPSOs plus earn an industry certification, OR

• Complete two EPSOs, plus earn a score of 31 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) OR

• Complete two EPSOs plus earn a WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate

Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSO) are defined as evidence of student performance beyond academic proficiency to represent a well-rounded education.  The following are examples of Early Postsecondary Opportunities:

• Advanced Placement (AP classes)

• Cambridge International Examinations

• College Level Examination

• Dual Enrollment

• Industry Certifications

• Local Dual Credit

• Statewide Dual Credit

• International Baccalaureate

• American College Testing (ACT)

• Armed Services Vocational  Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)

• Scholastic Aptitude (SAT)

• WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)

Teachers, post-secondary partners, counselors, graduation coaches, parents, students and administration work together to achieve this “Ready Graduate” status.    It can be a daunting task at times, but our goal is to prepare our students for what comes after high school graduation.   After all, they are our future.    In whatever career choice they decide to pursue, we owe them the foundational skills to accomplish this endeavor.   Graduation will come, ready or not.