Success and changes dominate 2011 year in review for college admissions in and around Kentucky.
First and foremost the provisions set forth in Senate Bill 1 have taken affect in the 2011-2012 school year which will affect graduating seniors. End of course assessments is something that graduating seniors and other high school students have not had to consider before this year. It is not foreseen how affective the end of course assessments will be for graduating seniors but for other high school students the end of course assessments will show growth or lack of growth in content areas. As educators move forward with Senate Bill 1 objectives the focus will be more on the Explore, Plan and ACT results as the state moves forward in accountability. Senate Bill 1 was designed to ensure all Kentucky students are either college or career ready at high school graduation.
Kentucky has also adopted the Common Core Academic Standards in English/Language Arts and Mathematics to make sure that high school graduates are ready for college or work. The Common Core Standards have been adopted by 48 other states. The standards allows for employers to be sure that current graduates have met certain qualifications in English and Math.
The individual learning plans (ILP) that are required of every public school student were opened to homeschooled students and adult students pursuing a GED. The learning plans help students set goals for college or careers, research careers and search for scholarships. ILP’s are a one stop shop for college and career planning. This allows for students outside of public school access to college and career readiness tools provided by the Kentucky Department of Education.
For the first time GED graduates were allowed to apply for the Robert Byrd scholarship. This scholarship has traditionally been open only to high school students but this year it is open to adults returning to school. The Robert Byrd scholarship is worth $1,500.
College Application week was piloted throughout the state in November. In order to help students apply and make the application process smoother KDE, KHEAA and other educational organizations worked with several local school districts to pilot a college application week in November. This is the first time such a large scale project has been done in Kentucky. The project was highly successful with hundreds of applications complete and lots of college advising going on during that week. This was convenient for students at local high schools; it allowed them to receive advising and complete applications without taking a lot of time from core classes.
The statewide summer reading programs held at local libraries gave away college savings to some participants. Every summer libraries across Kentucky have a summer reading program. The reading program sets goals and gives prizes for obtaining reading goals. Participants range from adults to beginning readers. As an incentive this summer money for college was given lottery style to several participants.
College and career readiness seems to be the theme during 2011. Kentucky is focusing on accountability and reaching out to different student populations.