Vancouver Public Schools is preparing students for all pathways with a future readiness tool that empowers students, administrators and educators alike. Xello, the future readiness tool of choice for this Washington district, helps students meet their High School and Beyond Plan requirements with ease, setting them up for future success.

The Vancouver Public School’s (VPS) College and Career Readiness team is on a mission to make sure their students are “enrolled, enlisted, or employed after high school.”

With a goal of honoring all pathways, they are working to prepare students to enroll in a professional technical school, a two-year college or a four-year college; enlist in one of the branches of the military; or become employed in a high-demand, high-wage career. 

In addition to achieving the state-mandated 24 credits, high school students are expected to make connections with what they’re learning and what they want to do when they graduate.

“They need to find out about themselves, their interests and skills and what career opportunities are available to them and then put that all together to make a plan,” said Katie Siewert, career and technical education (CTE) assistant director and lead of the Washington district’s Career Guidance team. 

“Our job isn’t to just get them to graduate high school. We want our students to be aware of all options and be prepared when they leave us. We need to make sure they’re ready to launch into their career journey,” she said.

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What are the High School & Beyond (HSBP) Plan Requirements?

The sprawling district covers 58 square miles of land in Vancouver, Washington. It’s home to more than 23,000 students spread across four high schools, six middle schools, three specialty education magnet schools and one alternative school. 

Siewert has been in education for 22 years as a family and consumer sciences and CTE teacher, which has put her in a position of “always being concerned about the future of my students.”

Leading the work of the Career Guidance team has allowed her to focus on strategic and systemic ways to help students plan for a successful life after high school.

In addition to course credit requirements, Vancouver Public School’s high school students must meet the requirements for one of eight pathways:

  • Statewide assessment scores in ELA and math: Meet the graduation cut score on Smarter Balanced ELA and math (most common pathway).
  • Advanced placement exams: Score a three or higher on an AP/IB exam, e.g. English Language Arts, Government and Politics, Statistics, Computer Science, etc.
  • College admission exam scores for ELA and/or math (SAT/ACT): Exam scores from the SAT, SAT with essay, ACT or ACT with writing, with minimum scores.
  • Dual credit courses: College in the High School, CTE Dual Credit and other courses allow students to earn college credit.
  • Transition courses: Pass a Bridge-to-College course in ELA or math to earn a credit per subject throughout high school.
  • Combination: Meet graduation pathway requirement with any combination of at least one ELA and one math pathway from the above options.
  • Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery: Meet pathway requirements by earning at least the minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.
  • CTE course sequence: Meet a pathway requirement by completing a designated CTE course sequence connected to the High School and Beyond Plan.

    Free Guide: Unlock Strategies to Engage Your K-12 Students Remotely with Future Planning

    How Xello Enables this Washington District to Meet High School & Beyond Plan (HSBP) requirements

    We’ve set up our High School and Beyond Plan, which is our state’s graduation requirement, and we use Xello as our tool to document that work for our students.

    Here’s how Xello can help VPS students meet their graduation requirements as per the High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP):

    • The activities in Xello encourage students to explore their learning styles, abilities and career and education interests; set goals relative to their future; and compile school and community involvement throughout sixth through 12th grades in an electronic portfolio.
    • The course planner in Xello allows students to develop a four-year plan of high school courses aligned with their career and post-secondary plans and is the vehicle by which students will forecast for next year’s classes. The plan is developed in eighth grade and reviewed annually by students in cooperation with counselors, career specialists and parents.
    • The resume will prepare students for a successful transition to work and other post-high school opportunities.
    • The budget will be completed as part of a financial literacy unit of instruction in the classroom designed to increase awareness of important financial information and skill-building for life-readiness.
    • To incorporate the family connection, students will be given the opportunity to share the components of their High School and Beyond Plan annually with parents as part of the student-led conferences.

    How Vancouver Public Schools Continued Using Xello to Meet High School & Beyond (HSBP) Requirements Remotely

    Vancouver Public Schools made the switch from Career Cruising to Xello in the 2019/20 school year. Before the mass evacuation of schools due to the pandemic in March, they had set up High School and Beyond and had begun to use Xello as the tool to document that work for their students. 

    “Students had been doing assessments, lessons and activities and documenting all of those plans and college and career readiness activities within Xello. We had a system for students in 6th grade through 12th grade, with different activities that students do each year that would contribute to their High School and Beyond Plan,” said Siewert. 

    She acknowledges that it was tough to switch to remote learning in the middle of implementing a new tool, but Xello has proven to be useful as they continued to communicate with students learning remotely

     

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    “We could message them through Xello, reminding them of what they needed to do for their activities for their High School and Beyond Plan or we could message through our Student Information System and let them know they needed to log into Xello,” said Siewert.

    “Xello was integrated with Clever, so students, from their devices, could just click right into Xello and complete their assignments,” she said. 

    If we hadn’t had an online platform already established, I think it would have been very challenging to continue to do college and career readiness remotely.

    According to Siewert, the student response to Xello has been positive from the beginning. They especially appreciate the engaging interface, the way they can customize their profile and search for careers that are interesting to them based on the filters they’ve entered.

    Students are fascinated by figuring out how much money they want to make and then how much schooling they think they want to do, whether it’s two-year or four-year college.

    “And then [Xello] will show them different careers that meet that filter range, and then they can explore. They’ve been really liking that,” said Siewert.

    The district’s career specialists have noted that students were able to stay engaged and on track using Xello throughout an entire class period, which she agrees is the sign of a successful program. 

    Since they’ve been working remotely, Siewert says they’ve been trying to do all of the same activities they used to do in school. This includes tracking the High School and Beyond Plan completion.

    “I’m running reports from Xello on an ongoing basis and sending that out to our team of career specialists so that we can support our students in getting the activities done that they need to get done and then the seniors, especially, can get that completed before graduation,” she said. 

    Future Readiness Advice for Other Districts

    “Choosing a tool is really important for your college and career readiness system because it helps you provide curriculum and assessments and everything that’s tied into one platform.  That’s been helpful for us, and I would suggest that that would be helpful to others,” said Siewert.  

    Xello has been such an important tool for us as it helps provide curriculum and assessments and everything’s seamlessly tied into one platform. Students can document their career and educational plans, save schools of interest, use the transcript request feature and develop goals–all using one intuitive tool.

    The VPS district also uses Xello to help eighth graders develop their four-year plan of courses in high school. Siewert appreciates having the same tool for everything.

    The VPS district is definitely on the path towards creating future ready students!

    Want to learn more about how Xello helps you meet your state requirements? Just click on the link below to book a call with our education consultants. 👇

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    Heather Hudson
    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.