Story by Deb Seminary, contributing writer
Not every student who graduates from high school will go to college. Some might enter the workforce and others might enlist in the military. Making sure students are successful, no matter what they choose, is the goal of the North Dakota Choice Ready initiative.
The Choice Ready Framework was introduced statewide during the 2017-2018 school year. It is a tool to assist educators, helping them to ensure all students successfully leave high school with the skills they need. Whatever path they choose, students must graduate with Essential Skills. They must also show they are Post-Secondary Ready, Workforce Ready, and/or Military Ready.
Since its introduction, North Dakota’s Choice Ready rate has increased from 36 percent in the 2018-2019 school year to 43 percent in the 2020-2021 school year.
Choice Ready is 21 percent of the metric used to measure the quality of public high schools in North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is working hard to make sure schools, and their communities, have the resources and knowledge they need to implement Choice Ready.
“During the past four years, we’ve held trainings, communicated with educators, and shared information (about Choice Ready) at numerous conferences and events,” said North Dakota Assistant Superintendent Laurie Matzke. “Parents, school board members, and the community may not have as broad of an awareness of the Choice Ready Framework as educators do. It is critical that stakeholders know about this critical element.”
Having parents involved in documenting Choice Ready activities and showing an active interest in how their child is progressing is also an important factor in the program’s success. For instance, if a student is heading to college, having them take credit-bearing courses saves time and money. One program, the College Ready English and Math (CREAM) program, gives juniors and seniors the opportunity to get their English and Math coursework out of the way and assists those that may have been struggling to meet the ACT benchmark in those subjects.
Another reason to support the Choice Ready framework: starting in 2025, only students meeting the Choice Ready metrics will qualify for the state scholarship.
Schools are encouraged to recognize Choice Ready graduates, maybe with a special certificate, a cord, or a sash. Other ways to engage students and other stakeholders include making Choice Ready results a part of parent-teacher conferences, discussing it at school board meetings, and/or on social media.
There are many resources and funding opportunities available to help support activities designed to graduate students Choice Ready.
This initiative provides an opportunity for youth to think and plan for their future. Every student can be Choice Ready, prepared for success upon graduation, no matter where their life is taking them.