Measuring Success

College and Career Readiness Collaborative Action Network Launches

The Spartanburg Academic Movement met another major milestone recently as it launched its second Collaborative Action Network (“CAN”).  The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with SAM to convene the College and Career Readiness CAN.

The College and Career Readiness CAN is fast at work, having already convened twice since launching in June of this year.  One of the group’s first tasks was to create a team mandate – a collective statement to guide the work of the group: 

The College and Career Readiness CAN will enable Spartanburg County students to achieve their college and career readiness potential by setting targets, identifying drivers or influencing factors to reach these targets, engaging community partners to impact the drivers, and tracking the attainment of the targets. 

The College and Career Readiness CAN is co-facilitated by SAM’s Director of Collaborative Action Networks Beth Thompson and Mark Fendley with BMW Manufacturing.  Members of the CAN are:

David Berry – Johnson Development Self Storage Division
Gloria Close – Citizen Scholars
Cheryl Cox – Spartanburg Community College
Rachel Dattilo – Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
Ty Dawkins – Chapman High School
Andy Flynt – Spartanburg County Public Libraries
David Griffin – Michelin
Crystal Irby – Urban League of the Upstate
Ann McIntyre – Dorman High School
Susan Myers – Spartanburg County Public Libraries
Cherie Pressley – Upstate Regional Education Center
Allen Smith – Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce
Donette Stewart – USC Upstate
Tabitha Talley – Spartanburg School District 2

This CAN is focused on improving ACT WorkKeys and Post-Secondary Enrollment outcomes for students in Spartanburg County.  Following the Six Sigma continuous improvement process, the group will identify potential factors that contribute to strong or weak performance on the state’s career readiness assessment (ACT WorkKeys) and whether or not students pursue postsecondary studies after graduating high school.

The most recent data for Spartanburg County (2015) reveals that 71.8% (Applied Mathematics) 82.3% (Locating Information) and 87.8% (Reading for Information) of high school juniors scored at a level four or greater on the ACT WorkKeys assessments.  A score of level four or greater means that students are prepared to match the skill level of 67% or more of the jobs profiled around the country.  

The percentage of students graduating high school and enrolling in some form of postsecondary education has been steadily increasing county-wide since 2011.  Of the students that graduated high school in 2014, 78.1% enrolled in either a technical certificate program, two or four-year institution, or the armed forces.  

A particular focus of this CAN will be setting goals to reduce disparities that exist in college/career readiness for students in poverty and within minority subgroups.

As the group analyzes the current data landscape, opportunities to improve outcomes for students will be developed with the help and support of local nonprofit organizations and other groups eager to work collectively and collaboratively.  

SAM Resolution for 2014

What is “the movement” in “The Spartanburg Academic Movement”?  

Is it rooted in a political cause like the Occupy Movement or the Tea Party?  Is it a trend as in art?  Or does it have to do with actual mobility or relocation?

None of the above.  “The Spartanburg Academic Movement” is a cultural shift. 

We are asking ourselves as citizens of Spartanburg County to rethink the cultural value we place on academic achievement for life and work in the 21st century.

We are asking ourselves to imagine what it takes to shift from an economy that uses labor to generate value to an economy that uses knowledge to generate value.  That is the shift that has occurred in Spartanburg County over the past twenty years, dating from the collapse of the textile economy. 

Now, imagine the shift in the importance we must place on academic achievement to meet the demands of this new knowledge economy.

No excuses.  Every child must be ready to learn to read when they enter school.  They must be reading to learn by third grade.  They must succeed in eighth grade math to manage the rigors of high school math and science.  They must graduate high school prepared to achieve a post-secondary credential and able to fulfill career ambitions involving vocational certification or college graduation.

Fortunately for us, the schools of the seven districts of Spartanburg County are thoroughly awakened to the challenges of the knowledge economy.  Their culture is changing.  They are on the move … innovating, reinventing, accelerating, supporting. 

The Spartanburg Academic Movement calls upon the rest of us – children, parents, neighbors, faith communities, small and large employers, non-profits, foundations – all of us in Spartanburg County to join as partners in the Movement, awakening to the crucial importance of academic achievement for every child, cradle to career. 

Make your resolution in 2014 to be a SAM Partner.  Join in the Spartanburg Academic Movement!