The semifinalists for the national ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign include an impressive array of students who challenge themselves, high schools and community colleges that defy expectations and businesses committed to educational and career advancement for their employees and communities.
“As our campaign continues to grow in its fourth consecutive year, we are honored to share these stories and celebrate in the remarkable success of these students, schools and employers,” said Scott Montgomery, ACT vice president of policy, advocacy and government relations. “In their states and across the country, these semifinalists are beacons of possibility for future improvements in college and career readiness.”
A national selection committee comprised of seven education and workforce leaders chose four semifinalists in each of four categories: Student Readiness (high school senior), College and Career Transition (high school), Career Preparedness (community college) and Workplace Success (employer). Each of these categories represents a critical juncture in the college and career readiness continuum.
“By setting clear goals and tracking measurable progress towards achieving them, all of this year’s exemplars are having a tangible and meaningful impact on the education and economic advancement of their states,” said Jeremy Anderson, chair of the campaign’s national selection committee and president of Education Commission of the States.
The 2016 semifinalists in the Career Preparedness category are listed below:
Central Louisiana Technical Community College (Louisiana)
Elgin Community College (Illinois)
Lake Area Technical Institute (South Dakota)
North Dakota State College of Science (North Dakota)
North Dakota State College of Science is distinctive for its approach and success in serving both current and future students through adapting to its community’s changing demographics and workforce demands. Through longstanding partnerships with local K–12 schools to help students seamlessly transition to college, students from 31 area high schools are enrolled in its dual enrollment courses, allowing them to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.
One in five NDSCS students come from a low-income household, and 70 percent qualify for Pell Grants. Though students’ financial constraints frequently impede their postsecondary plans, NDSCS has greatly exceeded expectations, with first-year student retention and three-year graduation rates above the national average for community colleges. Almost all of the college’s 2015 career and technical education graduates are employed and/or continuing their education and, on average, these students have increased their annual salaries by 7 percent since 2014.
The college pays particular attention to helping students navigate the non-academic barriers that can impede their progress to graduation, and it employs a full-time advocate to help students navigate resources and assistance for housing and other public services.
The four National Exemplars will be announced and celebrated at the 2016 ACT National Gala on College and Career Readiness in Washington, D.C., in late June, where all semifinalists and state exemplars will be recognized. Each of the 41 student state exemplars will be awarded an academic scholarship from ACT, regardless of semifinalist status.
In addition to Anderson, this year’s National Selection Committee included Kris Amundson, National Association of State Boards of Education; Kwame Boadi, Democratic Governors Association; Adam Lowe, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships; Chris Minnich, Council of Chief State School Officers; Angel Royal, American Association of Community Colleges; and Ranjit Sidhu, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships.
Learn more about the ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign at www.act.org/readinesscampaign.