One of author Stephen Covey’s seven habits of Highly Effective People is: Begin with the End in Mind. For K-12 education in Kansas, this idea is evidenced by the focus on post-secondary success. Post-secondary success is an outcome that is measured by the Kansas State School Board to help determine the effectiveness of Pre-K–12 education.
In Kansas, post-secondary success is measured by the percent of high school graduates who either earned an industry-recognized certification, a higher education degree or continued their education two years after graduation. This goal aligns with the demands that we are seeing in the job market for a growing need for skilled graduates with an associate’s degree in addition to those with a four-year degree.
As a parent, I have different priorities for what I want my kids to learn in school than as an educator. As an educator, I want us to have physical and mentally healthy kids that grasp academic skills and content. As a parent, I truly care about mastery of skills and content, but I care more about the foundation that I see having a higher priority. Qualities like effort, ethics, faith and empathy are high on the priority list. All of these goals align with our district’s efforts to begin educating our kids with the end in mind.
An emphasis by the Kansas Department of Education as well as USD 113 has been on developing Individual Plans of Study (IPS) for students. The goal of IPS is for students to set educational goals and create a roadmap for success in high school and beyond. This roadmap, or IPS, includes development of a flexible career focus and an education plan that is clearly defined, rigorous and relevant to assure a successful and efficient transition to postsecondary education and/or the workforce.
The purpose is not to force children to make a choice by high school age, it is to better prepare them to make informed choices based upon their interests, abilities, information and research.
I am proud of the work our district has done toward developing our IPS process. Through this process, we are recognizing the success of students choosing careers that require an industry-recognized certificate as well as those who pursue a four-year plan. The important thing is to position our kids for success and provide them with the tools to achieve their choice of careers. We are still working to improve the process and could benefit from more ownership of all educators, parents and the community, but we have made great strides in the past few years. Teaching kids to have and achieve goals is a responsibility that is shared by all.