Murray State University’s college of education (COE) hosted the first College and Career Readiness Summit for the area on June 13 in Alexander Hall on the Murray State University campus.

Attendees numbered 254 from the school districts of Ballard, Calloway, Caldwell, Crittenden, Christian, Fulton County, Fulton Independent, Graves, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, McLean, Muhlenberg, Murray Independent, Trigg and Union counties. Representatives from West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Henderson Community College, Madisonville Community College, Hopkinsville Chamber of Commerce and the Purchase Area Development District also attended.

School administrators, community leaders, chambers of commerce, economic development representatives and teachers were invited to participate in a college and career readiness track.

The event featured a keynote address by Dr. Charis McGaughy, of the Educational Policy Improvement Center from Eugene, Ore., as well as special guest speaker Jane Beshear, Kentucky’s First Lady.

McGaughy described changing expectations for high schools that now need to prepare students for college rather than just graduation and for higher education to do more than admit students, but to ensure that they graduate with a meaningful degree. According to McGaughy, the U.S. has for the last 30 years been at a plateau of 40 percent of the population with an associate’s degree or higher, while the college-going rates of other countries including Korea, Japan and Ireland have soared. Her work, which is funded by a Bill and Melinda Gates grant, is based on studies of effective schools where McGaughy presented four keys to college and career readiness. These keys include cognitive skills, content knowledge, responsibility for learning and “transition to college” skills that are difficult to acquire for first-generation college students.

Beshear lent her support to the regional effort to prepare more students for college and career. She discussed her 2008 initiative, “Graduate Kentucky: A Community Approach,” to increase the high school graduation rate, which is currently at 76 percent. The goal is to increase that graduation rate to 90 percent by 2015. Beshear explained “Preparation for Tomorrow,” where high school courses are tailored to meet job opportunities.

Lana Jennings from the Murray State University Community College, Fred McConnel from the ACT Workforce Development Division and Mary Anne Medlock of the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board presented a panel discussion on the critical need for students to be both college- and career-ready.

The closing session featured successful community and school district partnerships in the region. Kenny Wilson, superintendent of Hickman County school district, provided information on the highly successful Falcon Academy.

Lance Alison, president/CEO of the Murray/Calloway County Chamber of Commerce provided an overview of the Leadership Tomorrow program, an initiative of the Murray-Calloway Community Education and sponsored by Leadership Murray Alumni, the Murray Independent and Calloway County school districts.

Conda Wilson of the Calloway County school district shared her experience in organizing the district’s first Operation Preparation to focus attention on the importance of student preparation for college and career.

The summit also provided teachers an opportunity to select from 67 professional development sessions with topics such as school improvement, instructional technology use and curriculum development, and provided six hours of professional development credit for their attendance or six hours of EILA credit for school administrators.

The College and Career Readiness Summit was funded with a grant from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The planning partners included the MSU college of education, Teacher Quality Institute and office of regional outreach, along with the Kentucky Academy of Technology Education and the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative.

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