Because arbitrary benchmarks such as standardized test scores will not be used in isolation of other student data, the goals of the action plan envisioned herein will be strictly considered in terms of achieving a positive academic outcome as defined as the student successfully graduating from high school with at least a "C" average; this goal would be applied across the board to all students, with an analysis of how many scored above or below this average grade used to fine-tune the individualized plan for each student.
The objectives of the action plan, therefore, will be to provide all students with an individualized plan for their high school experience that includes specific references to what coursework will be required to help them gain admission to college or vocational-technical school in a given course of study, or to help them become better prepared for working in the real world if that is their choice. Appropriate extracurricular and vocational training opportunities would also be included in this plan where appropriate. Behavioral objectives would be based on any identified need such as hyperactivity or other learning disabilities, or, where appropriate, for physically challenged students who may be experiencing emotional problems related to their high school experience.
Subjects and/or Audience
The subjects envisioned for this action plan would consist of all high school students entering their freshman year and their parents or caregivers and would extend through the course of their attendance unto graduation or otherwise.
As the term implies, an "action plan" requires "action." Therefore, the action plan envisioned herein would immediately proceed according to the specific needs, weaknesses and strengths of each student with follow-up counseling being provided on a regular, but individualized basis. To the maximum extent possible, each student's parents or caregivers would be solicited to actively participate in the action plan process to ensure that their concerns are identified and to provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of their child's education to them.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of the action plan envisioned herein will be based on a combination of interviews, test results and feedback from other faculty members that would be solicited on a routine basis for each student using a hard-copy evaluation form or the school's secure intranet (because of the privacy considerations involved when discussing students' personal information) (Isaacs & Stone, 2003), if one is available.
Expectations if Plan is Implemented
Assuming that money was not an object, and the high school admissions counselor enjoyed the luxury of all of the time that would be required to implement and administer the action plan envisioned herein, the expectations of the program would be to help a significantly larger percentage of all students graduate from high school, with an even greater percentage of formerly at-risk students graduating as well.
The milestones used to evaluate the ongoing effectiveness of the action plan envisioned herein would be quarterly report card results and the aforementioned synthesis of the routine faculty reports and interviews with the students and parents. The grade results would be assigned their numeric value and a weighted score assigned to the results of the interviews and faculty feedback to develop an overall progress indicator for each student that would then be tracked using SPSS or Excel with trending graphs and narrative analyses of these findings being furnished to the students themselves as well as their parents during subsequent interview sessions. These interviews and the analytical reports could be used in conjunction with the results of any other standardized tests, report cards and so forth, and could serve as yet another opportunity to fine-tune the individualized plan in response to changes in the students' lives, new career goals, aptitude test results, or any disciplinary problems that might arise preceding the scheduled interview.
The research clearly showed that the importance of the high school admissions process has assumed new importance in recent years. Because schools are not factories and young learners are not products, it is critically important to keep in mind that each student is unique and has certain strengths and weaknesses that should be taken into account when formulating any decisions concerning their high school experience and beyond. In order to accomplish this responsibility in an effective and informed manner, high school admissions counselors need a framework in which to proceed and the action plan envisioned herein can be used to help them for this purpose. Moreover, the same approach can be used in a modified fashion to the extent that resources are available for just those students deemed as being at-risk if there are insufficient resources available to provide this level of counseling for every student (which would be the ideal, of course). By encouraging parents or caregivers to become more actively involved in their children's academic lives, the action plan envisioned herein will provide a win-win outcome by helping students identify what they need to do to succeed throughout their high school experience and beyond, as well as demonstrating in a concrete fashion that everyone in their lives in truly concerned about their education and their futures as American citizens in the 21st century.
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