College Career and Citizenship Readiness

The current education climate encourages a tremendous amount of time and energy be spent on preparing students to take exams. But does that strategy actually ensure students are prepared for college, career, and citizenship? Too often, the answer is no. Connecting learning today with students' futures engages and prepares them to take on the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. Service learning, student voice, debate, early college preparation, and other efforts to meaningfully engage students in the process of learning and leading in and outside of school is critical to preparing young people for the complex futures that lie ahead.

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From the Whole Child Blog

Ready and Able in the 21st Century

2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award winner Quest Early College High School

Many researchers agree that students need a diverse set of competencies to be ready for and thrive throughout adulthood. Yes, students need to demonstrate content knowledge. Yes, students should master basic skills. Yes, students need to graduate from high school. And students must be able to communicate effectively, solve complex problems, produce creative solutions, work well in teams, make and follow through with plans, and so forth. To ensure that students are truly ready for college, careers, and citizenship requires more than preparing them to take and pass standardized tests, meet graduation requirements, and be eligible for postsecondary opportunities.

Many schools have set a strong example by successfully preparing students for the complex and demanding futures that lie ahead while meeting all state and national requirements. One such school is Quest Early College High School, winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Located in Humble, Tex., Quest prepares a very diverse student population for the next phases of their lives by creating a learning environment that allows students to practice taking college courses, work at businesses in their community, and experience the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Principal Kim M. Klepcyk says,

Students are not told to care about their world; they are caring for it each week at their service-learning sites. Students are not simply learning about how to be a change agent in their society; they are practicing it through social action on a daily basis. Finally, students are not preparing to be a worker in this 21st century global community; they are practicing being a worker now.

In each critical area of developing the whole child, Quest connects learning and leading today with lifelong success and well-being. Quest challenges students by requiring them to exhibit mastery of learning target standards from throughout their four years through a senior exhibition experience that provides, according to students, the single most important preparation experience for college, the workplace, or the military. The school also developed a wellness program that meets state-mandated physical education requirements and addresses all aspects of wellness; instills lifelong health habits; and develops goal-setting, planning, and evaluation skills. Quest staff and community continually build a sustainable structure that centers all learning on preparing for, practicing, and connecting the skills they are learning today with their lives tomorrow.

Throughout March, learn more about Quest Early College High School and how each school can ensure that students are college-, career-, and citizenship-ready. Read the Whole Child Blog and post your comments; e-mail us resources for and examples of preparing students for complex futures; and download the Whole Child Podcast featuring Quest staff and students, along with Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, on Monday, March 28.

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Ready and Able: College, Career, and Citizenship in the 21st Century


Download the latest episode of the Whole Child Podcast, recorded live at ASCD's Annual Conference with Quest Early College High School, recipient of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award.

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Fast, Free, Online: The ASCD School Improvement Tool

Designed for use in schools and districts, the free ASCD School Improvement Tool offers educators a comprehensive and completely online needs assessment.