Local and state education leaders need to start collaborating now so future students are more career and college ready.
That was the message at the Pathways to Postsecondary regional leadership summit Wednesday at Central Lakes College’s (CLC) Brainerd campus. Secondary and postsecondary education officials from across the region attended.
It’s the third of six summits across the state organized by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).
Half of recent high school graduates nationwide require some form of developmental education once they enter postsecondary school, according to MDE.
“I challenge you to think of all students,” said Paula Palmer of MDE. “How are you serving all students? Or are you? It’s about building pathways to make sure all students are successful.”
The summit is part of a larger effort to both expand on newly-enacted legislation and to explore opportunities for partnerships between educational systems that will ultimately get students more career and college ready by the time they graduate.
With each school district in the state facing different barriers like language, race or culture, there is not just one way to serve all students, Palmer said.
“This is an opportunity to explore things that state officials haven’t thought about or didn’t know about,” Palmer said.
During the summit, regional school officials met in smaller groups to brainstorm opportunities and action planning.
JoAnn Simser, state director for career and technical education at MnSCU, said the state set “ambitious goals” for districts.
“We need to figure out how they will work,” she said. “As good as the education system is in Minnesota, we can do more.”
Presenters went over in more detail newly enacted legislation which, among other things, aims for schools to close achievement gaps, graduate all students, and give all students college and career preparedness.
Officials also covered early college credit programming available, like postsecondary enrollment options (PSEO) and concurrent enrollment.
Regional leaders at the summit posed frustrations and suggestions, like putting even younger students inside the college classroom. Several suggested that might raise problems if the student isn’t mature enough or if a college professor isn’t used to teaching a teenager. Other school leaders expressed concern about high school staffing needs if more students are being sent to college courses.
Karen Hynick with MnSCU said she would take feedback back to state leaders.
“We’re here to talk about what’s working and what’s not working,” she said. “The reality is, we have to think together. It’s not about us, but about the students.”
As education officials gear up to better prepare students for the real world, the job market is beating at a healthy rate, according to statistics from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
Minnesota has regained all jobs lost during the recession, plus an additional 5,100 jobs, said Jan Saxhaug, regional market analyst at DEED.
Unemployment was at 4.8 percent in October, compared to the national rate of 7.3 percent.
Looking forward, Saxhaug said, Minnesota’s economy will grow by 13 percent, or 368,000 new jobs, between 2010-2020.
And by 2020, MDE reported 74 percent of all jobs will require some postsecondary education.
That’s why there’s “some urgency” to the collaborations in getting future students more career and college ready, Palmer said.