As educators, we must prepare students for success in a future we can’t even imagine. We must create opportunities that take education to a new level. At the same time, we must measure students’ readiness in different ways. Test scores are important, but they only tell one part of the story.

College readiness

One way for students to demonstrate readiness is through an initiative called Redefining Ready!. Launched by the School Superintendents Association, it introduces research-based metrics to assess the readiness of high school graduates so they can thrive in college, career and life. Students’ post-secondary potential is assessed by indicators such as community service, a C or higher in early college credit courses, good attendance and workplace learning experiences.

Preparing for college

In my suburban Chicago school district, we have implemented a robust Career Pathways program that includes access to early college credit, internships and career credentials. Our students can choose from more than 80 dual-credit offerings. These are classes which students take in high school that can be used as college credits. They help build confidence and can save students thousands of dollars in college tuition. To provide our students with real-world experiences, we engage industry and community partners in our nationally unique internship program. In the last eight years, our students have logged nearly two million hours in internships with more than 900 business partners.

As educators, we must truly provide students with the skills to be successful in life. We must help students discover their futures and ensure they graduate with more than a diploma and a knowledge of what they do or don't want to do with their lives.