Find out how the district prepares students for all pathways with a future readiness tool that empowers students, administrators, and educators alike.

Find out how the district prepares students for all pathways with a future readiness tool that empowers students, administrators, and educators alike.

The Challenge

The Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) district Career Guidance 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, CTE teacher and lead of the 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.

In addition to course credit requirements, VPS high school students must meet the requirements for one of eight pathways, including statewide assessment scores in ELA and math, advanced placement exams, dual credit courses, and a CTE course sequence.

Students must also fulfil the requirements of a state-mandated High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP), and administrators must document each student’s progress.

District
Vancouver Public Schools District
Location
Washington State
Problem
The district needed a future readiness solution to help students prepare for their future and and document High School and Beyond Plan progress
Solution
Xello helps students meet state-mandated requirements and create personalized plans for future success, no matter what pathway they choose

VPS made the switch from Career Cruising to Xello in the 2019/20 school year and began using the new platform to provide innovative future readiness activities and document the state-mandated activities.

Siewert says she and her team immediately identified a number of Xello features that would help students become future ready and improve administrative efficiency, including:

  • Activities 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.
  • Course Planner allows students to develop a four-year plan of high school courses aligned with their career and postsecondary plans and is the vehicle by which students will forecast for their next year’s classes. The plan is developed in 8th grade and reviewed annually by students in cooperation with counselors, career specialists, and parents.
  • The Resume Builder feature prepares students for a successful transition to work and other post-high school opportunities.
  • The Budget feature in Xello is used 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 HSBP annually with parents as part of student-led conferences.

Even when the pandemic caused an abrupt switch to remote learning in March 2020, Xello proved to help students continue with their future readiness work.

“We could message students 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. 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.”

Vancouver Public Schools District
23,400
Students
3,300
Employees
17:1
District-wide student-teacher ratio

“Students do assessments, lessons and activities, and document all of those plans and college and career readiness activities within Xello. We have 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.”

Vancouver Public Schools District

Katie Siewert, CTE teacher and lead of Vancouver Public School District’s Career Guidance team

The Results

Siewert says 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.

Xello has also been a useful tool in helping 8th graders develop their four-year plan of courses in high school.

Even during remote learning, Siewert said the district continued to do all of the same activities they used to do in school, including tracking HSBP completion. “I ran reports from Xello on an ongoing basis and sent that out to our team of career specialists so that we could support our students in getting the activities done that they need to get done and then the seniors, especially, could get that completed before graduation,” she said.

When a district has an ambitious goal like VPS does, they need a technology partner that empowers administrators, educators and students to see the big picture and prepare for a successful future—no matter what pathways youth may choose.

That was Vancouver Public Schools District’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
The sprawling district covers 58 square miles of land in Vancouver, Washington. It’s home to five 21 elementary schools, six middle schools, five high schools, a STEM school, and three additional programs. Students have many opportunities to explore their interests, think critically, and prepare for college, careers, and life.
About the Educator
Katie Siewert has been in the education industry for more than 20 years, all within the world of CTE. She is passionate about the opportunities CTE provides to students in their career exploration, preparation, and eventual career success. She currently oversees the areas of Career Guidance, Work-Based Learning, and the Human Services and Health Sciences pathways at Vancouver Public Schools.
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.