How well is Delaware really preparing students for life after graduation? We know there are many outstanding in-school and out-of-school programs and support services up and down the state, but what are our strongest assets? Our biggest opportunities to improve? Rodel is just one of several partners dedicated to finding answers to these questions, and analyzing what Delaware’s college and career support landscape looks like. In partnership with Jobs for the Future, an analysis and recommendations have been published entitled Supporting Postsecondary Success in Delaware: A Landscape Analysis of Student Opportunities.
The analysis confirmed that while Delaware is a burgeoning national leader in college and career readiness efforts, there is still work to be done to ensure that all students are getting the support they need for success. Recommendations can be found in full detail in the report. Recommendations are divided into four themes:
- Rethink College and Career Advising: Professional school counselors are an essential piece of the puzzle, but a new approach that utilizes all educators in college and career planning, engages parents, and coordinates state, school, and community-based services is desired to address broad student needs.
- Address Student Mental Health Needs: Counselors, educators, and community-based organizations address students’ mental health needs, but all providers could do better to understand the current services that are available and how to scale best practices.
- Expand Access to Support Services and Equity of Distribution: Race, geography, citizenship, and English learner status can reportedly hamper access to high-quality services for students. Current programming does not adequately cover all postsecondary and career preparation topics (such as persistence/completion of postsecondary education and affordability), and student demand is not being met consistently or equitably.
- Leverage Existing Resources: Cross-sector communities (e.g. counselors, schools, mental health, community-based, higher education, philanthropy, and business) provide critical support services, but there is a need to expand infrastructure, “braid” financial resources, and deliver services more strategically and effectively to ensure that all youth are prepared for college and career upon graduating from high school.
We refuse to allow this report to sit on the shelf without a plan for action. So, representatives from nearly 75 community-based organizations, schools districts, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and the private sector gathered to learn about the findings and recommendations of the analysis and began discussions on opportunities for action. Participants discussed the following priorities:
- Develop a meaningful family engagement strategy to share new and existing opportunities, such as the SEED and Inspire scholarships or career pathways.
- Utilize common language and understanding of social and emotional learning supports that can be used in schools, community-based organizations, and homes across the state.
- Consider a compendium of college and career programming and supports available across the state, including the types of supports available and the age groups served.
- Brainstorm a collaborative strategy for college and career readiness and success efforts that would more effectively point students to needed resources, share best practices across organizations, and work toward common goals and outcomes.
- Recognize and capitalize on opportunities to leverage resources to expand collaboration and scale best practices.
Feedback will be used to inform planning and implementation moving forward.
Over the next eight years, Delaware will hire or replace 30 percent of its workforce. In order to prepare students for the future, we must provide them with the academic and technical skills, advising and supports, and leadership and work experiences that will prepare them to be our future leaders. We must continue to work together to provide students with both the college and career supports to prepare them in those endeavors.