Students learn more and faster, and learning generalizes across contexts and lasts longer, when they are active participants in a language- and content-rich hands-on, social, relevant, and creative learning community.
A focus on student engagement requires a culture shift in education systems from concentrated power to distributed power; student consumption to creativity and production; and from compliance to voice and choice.
Preparedness is the knowledge and skills that students can demonstrate now and in the future. Preparedness is distinguished from completion, which is a description of activities done in the past. Completion and preparedness are more likely to converge when they are both anchored in relevant and validated competency standards.
Preparedness is more likely when student pathways are marked by learning milestones, including social/emotional competencies (from early learning and onward); fluent and joyful reading by the early years (third grade); deep knowledge of fractions by the middle years (fifth grade); exploration of student interests and careers by the middle years (eighth grade); enrollment in algebra (ninth grade); enrollment in a math pathway after algebra (calculus or computational math/coding); and early college and workforce experiences during high school.
Social networking is a key component of early college and workforce experiences, which help close equity gaps, particularly opportunity gaps, in that these experiences offer students, not just academic and practical knowledge and skills, but also personal and professional relationships with those who wield social, political, and positional power, which often serves as a gateway to subsequent student and adult opportunities.