Madison County middle schools are getting a jump-start on preparing students for life after high school. If they meet a list of criteria, eighth-grade students have the opportunity to earn a College and Career Readiness Certificate upon completion of middle school.
Eligibility for the certificate will be determined in the third quarter of the eighth-grade year. Students must have a 95 percent attendance rate (around 168 out of 177 school days); at least a 3.0 GPA; no suspensions or expulsions; and less than three discipline incidents.
In addition, students must meet three of the four EXPLORE test benchmarks in Reading, English, Mathematics and Science. EXPLORE is administered nationwide and is part of an ACT series of tests.
Students also must write a one-page response describing how they played a role in ensuring their school team, group or club was successful, how they supported their peers and how that experience contributed to the success of the school.
“This certificate will show potential colleges and employers that this student is of high moral character, is dependable based upon attendance and demonstrates an excellent work ethic based upon their grades and EXPLORE scores,” said Steve Evans, Madison Middle School principal.
Students who receive the certificate “have distinguished themselves from their peers and should stand out to future employers as must-have persons in their organization,” Evans said.
A countywide celebration for students who achieve the certification will take place at Madison Southern or Madison Central high schools, alternating each year.
The idea for this certification came out of a summer meeting between educators and business leaders from all over the county, said Mendi Goble, executive director of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber sent out a survey to members to find out what essential skills are needed to be a good employee. “Soft skills” were most needed, according to the 73 survey responses, Goble said.
“Soft skills” are communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking and professionalism, as outlined by The U.S. Department of Labor.
“One major concern is trying to get employees to understand that they are part of an organization, once they’re hired in,” said Ken Bicknell, B.Michael Caudill Middle School principal. “The goal should not only be getting the job, but to help the business thrive.”
At the summer meeting, one Richmond CEO told the principals: “When I ask an employee what their goal is for my company, and they tell me they want to be successful, that's not really what I want to hear. Because success, at that point, is their own agenda. But if they say 'I want to make the company the best company
“We always talk about getting students ready for college,” Bicknell said. However, “in today’s world, it is not enough to have a lot of knowledge ? you have to be able to use it.”
The certification also creates a “standard of excellence” that is consistent at all middle schools in the district, he said.
“We’re hoping it becomes a real carrot, especially for parents. We’re just raising the bar, for what we hope becomes the norm,” Bicknell told the school board when presenting the idea at an October meeting.
Students were informed of the certificate at the beginning of the school year, he said. Although only eighth-graders are eligible, teachers are working to prepare sixth and seventh-grade students for the certification opportunity.
“Our biggest obstacle is the EXPLORE assessment,” Bicknell said. Teachers are preparing students for EXPLORE’s more rigorous questions, which are different than years past, he said, as well as promoting test-taking skills and practices.
The focus on college and career-readiness in high schools was another reason the middle school principals created the certification, Bicknell said.
In Kentucky’s new accountability system, Unbridled Learning, “college and career-readiness” is a major component in middle/high school assessment.
College Readiness is assessed using EPAS (Educational Planning and Assessment System) which consists of three tests: EXPLORE, administered to eighth-graders in September; PLAN given to tenth-graders, also in September; and ACT, taken by 11th-graders in March. These test are administered nationwide.
In middle schools, College Readiness is based on the percentage of students who meet the EXPLORE benchmarks in three academic areas, Reading, English and Mathematics. This component accounts for 18 percent of a middle schools’ overall score.
High schools are held accountable for both college and career-readiness, which makes up 20 percent of a school’s score.
High school students are considered “career ready” by achieving a qualifying score on the ACT, the ASVAB (military assessment test), COMPASS (Computer Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System), KYOTE (Kentucky On-line Test), the ACT WorkKeys, a job skills assessment system that measures foundational and soft skills, or KOSSA (Kentucky Occupational Skill Standards), an industry-recognized certificate in a vocational field.
Creating a Work Ready Community
The Richmond Chamber wants Madison County to be certified as a Work Ready Community, an initiative by Gov. Steve Beshear, Goble said. To meet this goal, local educators and business people are collaborating to implement “soft skills” at the school level.
Representatives of organizations from all over the state will meet next week to discuss a pilot curriculum that will develop soft skills in all of the county’s high schools.
“We don’t know what that curriculum looks like yet, but that is what the meeting is all about,” Goble said.
Being a Work Ready Community “assures employers that a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require,” according to a release by the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
Boyle County received the designation earlier this month.
Counties must meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certificate holders (an ACT test), demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.
Madison County will need to work on soft-skill development and the number of National Career Readiness Certificate holders to achieve the designation, Goble said.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com
or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.
New certification program ‘raising the bar’
- Local News
Store employee charged with taking $10,000
Tanya R. Horn, 33, of Darlene Court, pilfered $10,196 in cash from Posh Tots on Meridian Way over the course of two years, according to a Richmond Police report.
Madison County Fair paid admissions total 10,000 by Tuesday
Approximately 10,000 people had purchased tickets to the Madison County Fair by Tuesday evening, Billy Tudor, fair board president said Wednesday morning.
The count does not include Sunday’s Family Fun Day, which offered free admission, Tudor said.
Babies, toddlers crowned at Madison County Fair
Airport getting $600,000 in federal funds
On July 14, Gov. Steve Beshear announced the Madison Airport and the Eastern Kentucky University aviation program would be receiving $1.1 million for expanded and improved facilities.
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Sixth District, announced the airport also would benefit from $600,000 in Federal Aviation Administration funds.
Veggies going on the grill Saturday
The Madison County Farmers Market will demonstrate Saturday that fresh garden vegetables can go on the grill as well as in a salad.
The Madison County Extension Service staff, along with members of the extension homemakers clubs, will be on hand to show market customers how tasty grilled vegetables can be, said Gina Noe, extension agent for family and consumer sciences.
Stumbo says McConnell ‘handpicked’ leader of coal association
Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo said Wednesday there’s an obvious reason the president of the Kentucky Coal Association has publicly defended Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s support of the coal industry.
Berea utility doubles solar farm, again
Berea Municipal Utilities started its solar farm in October 2011 with 60 panels. In less that five days, all were leased.
Another 60, which became operational in June 2012, were leased in less than four months.
Now, the farm again has doubled, with the addition of 126 panels that are ready for leasing, said Steve Boyce, a retired Berea College professor who has been involved with the program since its inception.
My fair ladies
10th Quilt Extravaganza is Friday, Saturday
Displays of quilts by men, baby quilts, the Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern, an exhibit of feed sack fabric, ongoing demonstrations, and a vendors market are features of the 10th Berea Quilt Extravaganza Friday and Saturday at Berea Community School off Ellipse Street.
RPD: Heroin sales lead to trafficking indictment
Executing a warrant issued after Samantha Frederick, 29, Northgate Drive, was indicted July 16 by a Madison County grand jury, Richmond Police arrested her Monday on drug trafficking charges.
- More Local News Headlines
- Store employee charged with taking $10,000