From left: H.D. Woodson freshman Natalia Givens and senior class valedictorian Tarrell Talbert discuss their progress using the D.C. Public Schools Student Guide to Graduation, College and Career with Damali Stewart, manager of postsecondary planning for D.C. Public Schools and a former Woodson counselor. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
From left: H.D. Woodson freshman Natalia Givens and senior class valedictorian Tarrell Talbert discuss their progress using the D.C. Public Schools Student Guide to Graduation, College and Career with Damali Stewart, manager of postsecondary planning for D.C. Public Schools and a former Woodson counselor. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

With the launch of the D.C. Public Schools Student Guide to Graduation, College and Career comes the opportunity for thousands of high school students to track their progress toward a traditional school diploma and chart a path to the college and career of their choice.

Last month, ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders received hard copies of their individualized student guide, along with access to an online version. Both, to be released twice an academic year, include an unofficial transcript and individualized college readiness guide, an aggregation of career opportunities based on students’ interests, and an action plan.

“We thought that students should be empowered with this information on a regular basis,” said DCPS Deputy Chief of Graduation Sarah Navarro in reference to the High School Graduation Progress chart where footprints of various colors indicated completion of a course.

Data points in the seven-pages booklet show a student’s attendance rate, SAT and PSAT scores, community service hours completed, and weighted GPA.

The College Readiness Guide portion uses the aforementioned information to measure a student’s likelihood of acceptance into colleges and universities based in the District and five surrounding states. In the Career Opportunities section, students learn their earning potential in the fields of their choice and reminisce on their past work-based learning opportunities documented in the guide.

Navarro said the visually appealing interface of the Student Guide to Graduation, College and Career, based on a model that originated in Long Beach, California, served as one of the biggest draws in conversations with students and other stakeholders.

“Each of the requirements toward a traditional DCPS diploma are articulated by subject matter and seen in a visually friendly way,” she said. “Students will see what [classes] they had, what they passed, and where they are enrolled. When students are off track, the red footprints [on the third page of the guide] will cause students to reflect on where they are.”

Planning and production around the guide started in the fall of 2017. DCPS officials engaged students, parents, staff members, student groups and members of the chancellor’s student cabinet for more than a year, at times showing them mockups of the student guide at various stages of the guide’s development.

Student ambassadors would later also gather feedback from their peers at various schools across the District about their high school experience and college search.

For DCPS students such as freshman Natalia Givens, the guide gives her and her mother greater insight into what she has to do to achieve her goals. Natalia, an aspiring therapist, said she plans to work and take part in the College Success Foundation this summer.

“Everything I’ve done since I got to Woodson Senior High School is in the guide,” she said. “It showed me what I need and what I have done so far. My mother knows my attendance and PSAT score. My plan is to take certain classes so I can get them out of the way and push myself to go to college.”

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *