School leaders focus on preparing kids for college, careers

2012-11-01T18:45:00Z 2012-11-01T22:44:03Z School leaders focus on preparing kids for college, careersCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HOBART | School administrators from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties are looking at an assessment to better help students determine their interest in college and careers.

About 70 school administrators came together Thursday at Hobart High School for a one-day executive leadership coaching session sponsored by the Center of Workforce Innovation in partnership with the College Acceleration Network.

For years students have taken the ACT exam, a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, math, reading and science. Some years ago, the company developed ACT Explore, an achievement test designed to help eighth- and ninth-graders explore a broad range of options for their future.

The Crown Point Community School Corp. began using the ACT Explore test a few years ago, and school administrators have worked closely with READY NWI, a local grassroots initiative developed by a broad coalition of business, education, civic, economic and workforce leaders. The group has worked to create a plan to increase the readiness of Northwest Indiana high school graduates for careers or further education that aligns with business growth and economic development in the region, said School City of Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington.

READY NWI is an outgrowth of the One Region effort sponsored by The Times Media Co. The goal is to produce a workforce in Northwest Indiana that has an additional 120,000 two- and four-year degrees by 2025.

Portage Township Schools Superintendent Ric Frataccia said Portage administrators attended the workshop to hear more about the ACT Explore test and how it's used.

"We're interested, but we haven't made a decision yet," he said.

Gary Community School Corp. spokeswoman Charmella Greer said the district will offer the ACT Explore test to 500 eighth-graders later this month.

Lori Pavell, Hebron Middle School principal, said this is the second year MSD of Boone Township has offered the assessment to middle school students.

Administrators are pleased to say Hebron students scored higher than Indiana and the nation, Pavell said. She said students took the test last month, and will soon be going over the exams with students and their parents.  

Tina Cantrell, a representative for the network and principal at Hersey High School in Illinois, said administrators have to work with all students to develop a four-year plan so they are prepared for college or careers.

"Students have to take the right courses, and in the right sequence," she said.

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