Higher Education News
Being a youth in foster care can be difficult. Some youth in foster care often experience trauma before entering into the foster care system. Once youth enter foster care, there are often a lack sufficient role models and resources are either scarce or spread out. Gaining access to information about even the simplest things, like opening a bank account, can be a real hurdle. That’s why the recently released Foster Care Transition Toolkit is so important.
The toolkit was first envisioned in 2015 at a roundtable at Cincinnati Community College. During this meeting, students from the Columbus State Community College Scholar Network urged the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and other agencies to help them and other youth in foster care across the country better transition to college, successfully navigate through college and then to a career.
This toolkit, developed in coordination across the executive branch was designed with constant feedback from youth in foster care and stakeholders from across the country, to inspire current and former youth in foster care to pursue college and career opportunities. The toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help youth in foster care access and navigate social, emotional, educational and resource barriers as they transition into adulthood.
Secretary John B. King, Jr., invited seven students – some of whom helped develop the toolkit – to a roundtable discussion at ED. The students talked about their successes, struggles and the obstacles they faced to make it to and through college. They also brainstormed about how ED could better support youth in foster care and gave ED employees ideas about getting the toolkit into the hands of youth who need it.
The idea of developing and maintaining effective support systems was a key theme that emerged from the discussion. During the conversation one student shared that he might have not taken a year off of college if he had additional support like the Boise State Impact Scholars Program and another student Rachel from Washington expressed her desire to encourage all states to join the foster care until 21 movement, like her hometown of Washington, which allows youth in foster care to receive services until 21 years of age.
Secretary King also shared his personal story and applauded the students for their commitment to helping create more thoughtful programs and policies for youth in foster care. Rafael López, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also attended the roundtable and followed-up saying “Your voices and expertise can make a tremendous difference. Almost all of the progress that we’ve made in child welfare over the last few years has been rooted in the powerful stories and recommendations from youth and alumni of the foster care system.”
College can be an extremely hard system to navigate emotionally and financially, even when a student has supportive caregivers, teachers, school administrators and programs. Without access to these resources, it can be really easy for a youth in or formerly in foster care to get lost. As we were wrapping up student from Los Angeles said this is why rethinking the current educational and social system could go a long way toward working for – and not against – traditionally marginalized communities like youth in foster care.
This session was a part of the ongoing “Student Voices” series at the Department through which students engage with senior staff members to help develop recommendations on current and future education programs and policies.
Samuel Ryan is a Special Assistant and Youth Liaison at the U.S. Department of Education.
The post Youth Formerly in Foster Care Help Create Federal Foster Care Transition Toolkit appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
When our students sit down for state-required assessments, we don’t worry about whether we prepared them. After all, we helped create the tests ourselves.
Our district is one of a small cohort piloting New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment Competency Education assessment system, a first-in-the-nation accountability strategy that replaces some standardized testing with locally managed assessments. As part of this program, we work together with our colleagues across the state to develop, implement, and evaluate performance assessments that measure a student’s mastery of concepts and skills and better connect to what our students are learning.
We assess student progress in a hands-on, project-based manner. For example, in our ninth grade English classes, our students were asked to defend a peace treaty they had created in their Global Studies class that would solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. They wrote argumentative letters to the United Nations explaining why their treaty was the best solution to the crisis. Fifty miles away in Rochester, geometry students are asked to take on the role of town planner, designing two potential water towers and writing a letter to the town recommending one of them. Instead of standardized tests driving the curriculum, our curriculum drives our assessments.
Working with teachers across the state to develop PACE assessments has helped us grow as classroom teachers. We have regular opportunities to share experiences, combine resources, and learn from colleagues across the state. As a result, our assessments reflect the same expectations for all students across New Hampshire, while still being individualized for the specific teacher or student involved. For our upcoming performance task, the essential question is the same in every PACE district, but the texts and teaching methods leading up to the assessment can be adjusted to best fit each class’s curriculum and each student’s abilities and needs. We also get to control at what point within the school year the assessment is given, which allows us to integrate it into the unit in which it best fits. This way, the PACE performance assessment acts as a snapshot — one data-point of many — that allows us to gauge our students’ progress and to continually adjust throughout their time in the district.
We look forward to developing assessments with our Grade 9 ELA colleagues. Every time we do, we leave with more ideas about how to better meet our students’ needs and interests in our own classrooms. Our collaboration has extended beyond the assessments and found its way into our day-to-day teaching. Now, our curriculum is more aligned and we can be more confident that students across New Hampshire are receiving the same high-quality education, regardless of their district or teacher.
Coming from backgrounds in more traditional education, some of the innovative work going on at Sanborn Regional High School seemed intimidating at first. However, after seeing and experiencing the results, we can say that the hard work of creating and implementing PACE has been rewarding — for both teachers and students.
Ashley Millerd and Julia Ryan are English teachers at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, New Hampshire.