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 initiative in Kentucky. The program, called Career and College Readiness Transformations (C3R), is a product of a partnership with the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC), the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) and WIN Learning. Research cited in the proposal suggests the program will increase high school graduation rates by 14 percent from an average of 76 percent to 90 percent. As part of this initiative to improve student achievement among rural local educational agencies (LEAs), C3R is a joint venture with schools, districts, businesses and the community to serve 33 LEAs, 112 schools and 42,470 8th to 12th grade students in the area. “Investing in these vital innovations across the country has the potential to dramatically enhance learning and accelerate student performance and to do so cost-effectively” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This round of i3 grantees is poised to have real impact in areas of critical need including STEM education and rural communities, on projects ranging from early childhood interventions to school turnaround models that will prepare more students for college and career.”
In November 2011, KVEC was announced as a “highest-rated i3 applicant” among nearly 600 applications after an extensive review process conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. With this initiative, KVEC and WIN Learning will provide Kentucky’s rural students 1) a greater awareness of future careers and their relationship to classroom learning; 2) stronger foundational skills, eliminated the widespread need for remediation; and 3) a greater ability to move directly to college or career after high school.
“Our proposed approach was developed to increase achievement and graduation rates within two high-need rural regions of Kentucky. Using state-of-the-art WIN eLearning tools, KVEC, GRREC, the participating LEA‘s, and the participating schools will blend knowledge of education, the economy, and workforce development to show students how education is relevant to their career path,” said Jeff Hawkins, executive director of KVEC. “KVEC‘s emphasis on career development using proven tools and partnerships will keep students engaged in their learning, college planning, and readiness programs. Students will increasingly understand the relevancy of their education, and appreciate how much they can become goal-oriented.”
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to examine the effects of this promising program on student achievement, graduation rates, and preparation for college or career,” added John F. Pane, a senior research scientist at RAND Corporation, independent evaluator for this i-3 grant. Rand is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.
With the WIN Learning, KVEC and GRREC will integrate the following activities into its middle- and high-school curricula:
- Career exploration and individual career pathways for every student
- Foundational skills training for career and college readiness
- Soft-skills training for all high-school seniors
- Monthly e-Mentoring Webinars linking students with real-world work
- Support for Kentucky’s state wide Operation Preparation Initiative that brings together students, families, businesses, colleges and Universities.
ABOUT KENTUCKY VALLEY EDUCATIONAL COOPERATIVE (KVEC)
The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative is a 35-year-old educational consortium serving the 18
rural Appalachian school districts in southeastern Kentucky. KVEC focuses attention on teaching and
learning, maximizing educational opportunities, and building collaborations that lead to increased
support for student success.