A new “4 for the Fall” guide from NCAN outlines four key steps for district and school leaders, school counselors, teachers, and community partners to take to keep seniors on track for a postsecondary pathway.
Billed as “a blueprint for supporting the high school class of 2021,” the new guide focuses on practices that will be familiar to NCAN members but may have room for growth in many districts and schools:
- Understanding students’ postsecondary intentions and needs through survey data.
- Obtaining and analyzing postsecondary outcomes data from the National Student Clearinghouse.
- Increasing access to financial aid by improving Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates.
- Examining current activities around fall milestones, and pivoting to virtual where possible.
Each section of the guide includes questions stakeholders should ask and a curated slate of related resources.
Although there are any number of practices that K-12 systems could strengthen this academic year to assist students, NCAN identified these four because they are tactical, conceptually clear, and backed by strong resources that help practitioners with implementation.
The guide insists that data collection is a key piece of the puzzle. Schools should survey their students, seniors primarily but grades 9-11 as well if possible, to understand what their postsecondary aspirations and intentions are and see what roadblocks students identify to pursuing their goals. Having this survey data in hand can help school staff triage supports to students.
Another piece of the data puzzle comes from using the National Student Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker for High Schools Service. For just $425 per high school annually, K-12 stakeholders can get real data on their students’ postsecondary outcomes. Those data are invaluable because they can help with advising students on which institutions to attend and help students understand how other students like them have fared.
This would hardly be an NCAN publication without some mention of FAFSA completion. NCAN has long placed considerable emphasis on FAFSA completion because of its association with postsecondary enrollment and its role as a signal of a student’s intent to enroll. It also happens to be an area where NCAN has considerable expertise, much of which is housed in the new FAFSA Resource Library.
Finally, the guide is realistic that not all milestones can make the pivot to virtual delivery, but many can. Schools should consider their current practices and see which can make that jump. For the activities that cannot (e.g., ACT/SAT testing), schools should start thinking now about the additional resources they will need and the new protocols that will need to be in place to keep students and staff safe.
“4 for the Fall” is the latest in a series of K-12 focused tools; it comes on the heels of the spring’s, “5 Actions for Districts and Schools to Take Action Right Now.” It joins the College Advising Corps’ Virtual Advising Guide as another critical resource to bookmark.
Additional tools, resources, and success stories will be released throughout the fall to support K-12 systems and their community-based partners. Bringing high-quality resources to K-12 systems and bringing these systems closer to community-based partners is a pillar of NCAN’s current strategic plan.
This post was originally released by the National College Attainment Network here.