Prairie Hills USD switched from Career Cruising to Xello to give their college and career readiness program a boost.

Prairie Hills USD switched from Career Cruising to Xello to give their college and career readiness program a boost.

The Challenge

One of the ways Prairie Hills USD 113 prepares students for a bright future is by embracing future readiness technology to help them fulfil their state mandates, create and execute meaningful individual plans of study (IPS), and find efficient administrative gains so all students are consistently supported.

The district had been using Career Cruising for more than two years before switching to Xello leading up to the 2019/2020 school year. It was important to work with a future readiness solution that aligned perfectly with the Kansas CAN Competency Framework.

The transition from Career Cruising to Xello created a learning curve for administrators and educators, but it also unlocked a host of opportunities to level up their future readiness.

District
Prairie Hills USD 113
Location
Kansas
Problem
The district needed a future readiness tool to help them meet state mandate requirements
Solution
Xello unlocked a world of possibilities that helped the district align with the Kansas CAN Competency Framework and level up its future readiness efforts

The Solution

“When I heard that Career Cruising was no longer going to be supported it was like, ‘Oh man.’ But when I saw the features of Xello and how visually appealing it is, as well as the content that reinforces, supports, and encourages our efforts in course and career planning and social-emotional growth, there was no turning back for me. The move was a leap forward for us,” said Briana Evans, a USD 113 school counselor.

“Our goal is to prepare students for what’s to come and, to do that, we need to meet them in the now, which is what Xello does,” she said.

“It has helped push us a new direction we may not have gone otherwise. Not only is it supporting day-to-day efforts, but it’s allowing us to set goals for how we’re going to do this differently next year and how it connects to the focal point for state and district mandates. Xello continues to challenge us to move forward.”

As part of the transition, Xello Success Manager Matthew Krawczyk and his team were able to overlay the IPS requirements for USD 113 and ensure Xello fulfilled their mandates.

“We created a document that demonstrates how our model aligns with USD 113’s requirements. For example, for each of the Kansas CAN Competencies—Take Action, Know Yourself, Make Choices, Explore Choices—we have pre-made curriculum that fulfils their mandate,” he said.

Prairie Hills USD 113
94%
Graduation rate (2016-2020 average)
96.2%
Attendance rate (2016-2020 average)
21.1
District average of American College Testing (ACT) results

“Another one that stood out was a Xello lesson on finding success for seniors. Some of the seniors were struggling to define what success meant to them. It was a good conversation. In both situations, I liked that the kids had to think their way through that and solve the issue at hand.”

Prairie Hills USD

Briana Evans, USD 113 school counselor

The Results

USD 113’s partnership with Xello means they have a future readiness platform that aligns perfectly with the Kansas CAN Competency Framework, including the social-emotional learning (SEL) component.

“The Xello lessons support SEL explorations in students of all ages. We’ve got lessons on time management at the 6th grade level, but we see threads of that in a lot of different lessons. An 8th grade lesson focuses on creating a self-advocacy plan which aligns with our assertiveness focus very well,” Evans said.

“The lessons have done a really good job of tapping into those needs in a pleasant setting. The students are comfortable exploring.”

Xello’s assessments, lessons, and tools also allow students to identify careers of interest, explore clusters, and create postsecondary plans for success. Students continue to develop their unique electronic portfolio from K-12 while using Xello’s Course Planner to select courses based on their interests and postsecondary goals.

Evans says that Xello has sparked invaluable conversations among students and teachers throughout the high schools and middle schools that use it. The real breakthroughs come after students have completed some lessons.

“They tend to be very thought-provoking. I was with some 6th graders when they did a time management lesson and the part that prompted the most conversation was the task of laying out their day. It was a challenge for them. They realized that they have all these things they want to do but had to make some choices and give up some things in order to have time for others,” she said.

Evans believes the digital nature of the solution also plays into its impact.

“The [online] lessons have been conversation starters. When a teacher is standing up there talking about assertiveness or self-regulation, the kids are rolling their eyes like, ‘Yes, we know this.’ But an interactive lesson that they’re drawn into is different. Kids are put on the spot with a situation and asked to think about how they would respond. The conversations afterward are just so valuable because they tie right back into our college and career competency conversations.”

Another element that she says has been a game changer is Xello’s Course Planner. The value of each student having a having a four-year plan for high school is “immeasurable”.

“Course Planner is supporting our efforts to help students make a plan with the understanding that it can change. It prompts some good conversations and deep thinking about things like, ‘Do I want to take trig and calculus? How will that prepare me for what I want to do as a career?’” said Evans.

“We want students to understand that we do not have a pre-defined plan for them postsecondary. They need to be prepared for whatever it is they want to do. It’s also opened up other options beyond college. Students can see what else is available.”

That was Prairie Hills USD’s success story—now it’s time to write yours. Learn how Xello can help students at your district get college and career ready. Book My Demo

About the District
Prairie Hills USD 113 is located in a rural area tucked away in the northeast corner of Kansas, just south of the Nebraska border. The tiny district’s motto is “Preparing Kids, Shaping the Future” for approximately 1,100 students in its three PreK-12 schools.
About the Educator
Briana Evans is a school counselor in USD 113 Prairie Hills. Specifically, she serves the students of Sabetha High School and Wetmore High School, two schools located in northeast Kansas. She leads the district in Individual Plan of Study implementation and in their expansion of work-based learning opportunities for students. Daily, Briana visits with students about academics, career planning and aspirations, and social/emotional needs, and she finds these conversations most rewarding. Her website provides a more comprehensive picture of her work in USD 113 and is a great resource for students and families. Outside of school, Briana enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons. She typically finds time to crochet while traveling to and from her boys' activities. For entertainment, the family looks to Jagger (dog) and Aslan (cat), two unique and amazing critters!
ABOUT HEATHER

Heather Hudson is a Toronto-based freelance writer and journalist. She specializes in content marketing, corporate storytelling and good old-fashioned journalism. You can read some of her work in The Toronto Star and learn more about her at heatherhudson.ca.