- Wichita Public Schools
- Superintendent Kelly Bielefeld
Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on 9/26/2023
When the state of Kansas updated the regulations for school districts in 2015, K-12 schools were tasked with looking at a piece of data we have never looked at before: post-secondary effectiveness. This isn’t a term that most people in the education world were familiar with, let alone individuals outside of the education realm. Simply put, we are now tracking how well our students succeed after graduation.
At the start, it might seem unfair to hold schools accountable for this data. Historically, K-12 schools have seen graduation as the goal…once students cross the stage with a diploma, we have “done our job.” But what we have learned from listening to community and business leaders is that our students need more than just a diploma to be ready for life after high school.
This is why in 2021 we began Graduation +, a system for helping at least 70% of graduates to have something in addition to their diploma upon graduation. This “something” might be college credits, a credential, or a work-based learning opportunity such as an internship.
Preparing students for post-secondary success has many elements. In Wichita Public Schools we support students with college applications, applying for FAFSA, scholarship applications, and making the right choice for their path after they graduate. We also have implemented routes for students to obtain industry recognized credentials through their CTE courses so that they are work ready if they want to go straight into the workforce. Finally, we have increased and expanded students’ opportunities to earn college credits while still in high school. This prepares students for the rigor of college while at the same time giving them the confidence to know that they can be successful at the next level if that is what they choose to pursue.
Three years ago, around 25% of our graduates had one of these market value assets, either a credential, college credit, or a work-based learning opportunity. The class of 2024 already has almost 50% of students who have already earned one of these…and that number will move up as the year moves on.
We have more work to do, but we are headed in the right direction in Wichita and in Kansas to help ensure that students who graduate can be successful in the next phase of their life.