One year after the U.S. Department of Education approved a nearly $3 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to implement a five-year career and college readiness program in rural areas of Kentucky, program partners Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC), the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) and WIN Learning have made significant strides assimilating the WIN Learning solution into middle and high school curricula serving some 42,000 students in grades 8-12. With professional development training well underway, schools have submitted curriculum implementation plans and are actively enrolling students in programs that promote career exploration, individual career pathways preparation, foundational skills training, and college readiness.
“We are poised and ready to meet the future where it matters most, in the classrooms where our students are preparing for their life after high school,” said Dessie Bowling, Ed.D., associate director of KVEC. “And with WIN Learning’s personalized career readiness system in place, we can now offer our students a way to see the connection between what’s happening in the classrooms and in their impending futures. We feel confident that when they can see the relevance between the two, we will see greater commitment to classroom activities, increased motivation to stay in school, and true readiness for success following graduation.”
The i3 competition sought to reward districts, school consortia, and nonprofit organizations that proposed the most-innovative programs focused on improving teacher effectiveness, low-performing schools, standards and assessments, and data systems. The $650 million initiative is part of $100 billion in education aid funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic-stimulus measure passed by Congress in 2011.
The Kentucky initiative outlined a plan dedicated to increasing student achievement and graduation rates within two high-need rural regions of Kentucky using WIN Learning’s standards-aligned, web-based courseware in both middle and high school curricula. The personalized, project-based activities offer a unique level of flexibility that can be adapted to a variety of instructional offerings including elective courses, math and literacy intervention classes, blended learning models, extended day programs, and career readiness certification programs.
The best-in-class career and college readiness solution offers a three-pronged approach to prepare students for tomorrow’s economic opportunities. The first step is to analyze current and projected labor market data to reveal career pathways in a specific state or region. The program then measures individual career readiness and skill development gaps and offers direct, contextual instruction through applied academics for workplace skill mastery. In addition, the program offers WIN Soft Skills®, the only web-based soft skills curriculum on the market today. With WIN Soft Skills, Kentucky students will be exposed to a curricular framework offering a wide variety of attitudinal, behavioral and applied competency skills critical to success in schools and workplaces. The series offers four modules – conveying professionalism, communicating effectively, promoting teamwork and collaboration and thinking critically and solving problems.
“This exciting partnership links what goes on in the classroom with what is happening in the economy and that is a winning combination that everyone can benefit from,” said Joseph Goins, executive vice president, WIN Learning. “Our program is giving Kentucky educators the tools they need to help students build a powerful pathway to success, whether they opt to go to college, attend a trade school, enlist in the military or proceed directly to the workforce.”