Georgetown ISD looks to prepare students through college, career readiness classes

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Georgetown ISD is investing in future-ready kids by adding 10 college, career and military-ready, or CCMR, programs in the 2019-20 school year.

In the 2017-18 school year, the district offered 59 CCMR programs. That number jumped to 61 in 2018-19 and to 69 in 2019-20.

“[CCMR is] all options for all students,” said Cynthia Pike, GISD director of college, career, and military readiness. “We want to build more for our kids so that the potential for their success is even greater.”

GISD offers Advanced Placement, dual-credit, OnRamps, industry certification pathways and articulation credit courses, but in the 2019-2020 school year, Pike said GISD is focusing on offering more OnRamps courses and industry certification pathways.

The state of Texas has a broad definition of what college-ready means, Pike said, adding that the state considers any student who has participated in some form of college, career or military-ready course as future-ready.

Pike said the district wanted to expand its definition of college and career readiness and in fall 2018 began by reaching out to community members to better understand how they define a future-ready student in GISD.

“Our hope is to inspire [students]as much as we can and then to link those inspirations to what those aspirations are,” Pike said.

College-bound

GISD offers AP, dual-credit and newly introduced OnRamps courses for students who believe they are college-bound. All types of courses provide students with college-rigor curriculum but are taught in different ways, said Hope Scallan, GISD advanced academics coordinator.

AP are courses offered through College Board that provide students with college-level material. At the end of the course, students take a test, and if they score a 3 or higher out of 5, the student receives college credit, Scallan said. Students are taught by a high school teacher who is trained to teach the course.

In dual-credit, students are enrolled in high school and Austin Community College. At the end of the course, the grade is place on the student’s college transcript.

The course is taught by a dual-credit trained teacher.

OnRamps works similarly to dual credit in that students are dual-enrolled in high school and college, but instead through The University of Texas. At the end of the course, students can choose whether they want the final grade to appear on their college transcripts. If the student did not do as well in the course as he or she had wished, he or she can opt out of accepting the credit, Pike said. Poor scores on college transcripts can affect financial aid, she said. The course is taught by teachers who are trained through UT.

OnRamps is a new program that GISD first offered in 2018-19 school year with one class—geosciences. In 2019-20, GISD will offer six OnRamps courses to include physics, precalculus, chemistry, and rhetoric or English, Scallan said.

“We like [the OnRamps]option because it is a safety net for students so they are still having this college-rigorous work, but they are doing it with the option that they do not have to accept that college credit,” Scallan said. “So if  they don’t do well in the college portion of [the course]they can opt not to receive that college credit.”

Career or technical school-bound

GISD is also working to expand its career technical education, or CTE, programs, offering 25 pathways in 2019-20, up from 21 in 2017-18 and 22 in 2018-19.

CTE offers career-oriented courses through multiyear or multisemester pathways that allow students to explore their interests while in high school, GISD CTE Coordinator Paul Boff said.

Boff said the state of Texas met with industry leaders and the Texas Workforce Commission to identify what certifications are needed in industries and how skill gaps can be closed in high school. The number of state-recognized high school certification pathways jumped from 73 in 2018-19 to 244 in 2019-20, he said.

Boff added the district is looking at available certifications and how it can add programs that make sense for its students.

“We want students to enter into pathways that are going to lead to employment,” Boff said.

Some GISD-offered CTE programs include certified nursing assistant and pharmacy technician, both of which are directly employable following graduation, Boff said.

For those with military aspirations, GISD has Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. NJROTC is a program with strong military influence where students learn discipline through community service and athletic and drill competitions, among other requirements. While some NJROTC students choose to join the military upon graduation, they are not required to through the program.

GISD also offers articulation-credited courses, particularly in automotive studies, in which teachers follow similar standards to technical school curriculums. The credits are offered through Austin Community College with the condition that the student earns all articulated credit if he or she completes at least one full ACC course, Boff said.

Students can complete that requirement it they take one dual-credit course while in high school, and all articulated credits follow the student in the form of a college transcript, Boff said.

“Our CTE programs allow us to reach more kids,” Pike said. “Not all of our students are going to be college-bound, and not all want to be college-bound, and so this provides a beautiful route so that all students all have access to all options.”

Community support

GISD has also opened a cosmetology program this school year, another expansion of its CTE growth, but officials have said adamantly it was not without the support of Sport Clips, a national chain of  barber shops founded and headquartered in Georgetown.

In the program, which runs from ninth through 12th grade, students would complete the 1,000 hours required to receive a cosmetology license and will be employable upon graduation pending the passing of an exam, said Julie Vargas, vice president of career opportunities at Sport Clips.

Sport Clips helped the district launch the program providing guidance on needed supplies and curriculum standards as well as donating shampoo bowls, chairs, stations and equipment, Vargas said.

“We believe that [high school cosmetology]programs are vital to our industry, and the more that we can do and help these programs be successful, the more we thrive at bringing new people into the industry,” Vargas said.

Participating in a high school cosmetology program allows the student to get training at only the cost of their kits, which include a hair dryer, diffuser, straightening iron, curling iron, apron, client capes, mirror, shears, mannequin heads, brushes and clippers, among other items. Kits range from $300-$500, Vargas said.

A private beauty school two-year program ranges from $18,000-$25,000, Vargas said.

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce is also helping in launching the program, offering scholarships to help students purchase supplies.

“In Georgetown, without the help of community … we wouldn’t be able to offer all the [programs]that we do,” Pike said. “We’re blessed to have people that want to be a part of what we’re doing because they know that [GISD is] passionate about developing the whole child.”

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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