Future Ready: Empowering Students to Succeed Today and Tomorrow

While an average of 77% of graduates from high schools in Northwest Area Education Agency districts state an intention to enroll in postsecondary education and training immediately after high school graduation, an average of fewer than 50% of those graduates earn a degree or certificate within six years of completing high school. So what makes a difference for those students? And how can we, as educators, support all learners in realizing their full potential and reaching their postsecondary goals? 

That is exactly what the Northwest AEA Future Ready Team is here to help you do. Research shows that the best ways to support students from early on in their education journey to pursue their passion and curiosity is to provide career-connected learning opportunities and help them develop the skills that help students be successful while in school, as well as after they graduate. 

One of the latest research studies around skills development is the Durable Skills study from America Succeeds. The Durable Skills Advantage Framework was created to help educators get a better understanding of how to provide students with opportunities to develop the durable skills that each learner needs. As stated in the study, these skills were identified from over 80 million job postings in the United States. Yet as we think about preparing students to be successful throughout their educational journey and beyond, students need to build connections to opportunities that exist outside of the school walls.  

There are numerous ways to support work-based and career-connected learning at all age levels. Northwest AEA has made Defined Learning (accessible through OneClick), a project-based learning platform, available for free to all districts in the AEA. CAPS is another program that is taking off in our region. CAPS stands for the Center for Advanced Professional Studies and it creates opportunities for students to get outside of the classroom and connect with business professionals by providing solutions to real problems our businesses are facing. Since its inception in northwest Iowa in 2021, Siouxland CAPS has served 254 student associates who have completed over 85 projects for businesses and has now grown to 13 districts in the region. These are just a few examples of how schools are providing meaningful learning experiences for students at all levels. 

If you are interested in learning more or partnering to share your experience with our Future Ready team to dive deeper into this work, reach out to Jordan Menning at jmenning@nwaea.org or Mark Shea at mshea@nwaea.org.