by Emily Westerlund, Achieve Twin Cities manager of monitoring and evaluation
Each year, Achieve Twin Cities provides career and postsecondary planning guidance for nearly 20,000 students through our career and college readiness centers in 25+ Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) high schools. Our dedicated team offers student-centered advising, connections and resources to successfully explore, plan and achieve their career and postsecondary goals.
Our school-based work is carefully informed by data that focuses on which students are engaging with our programs and the specific milestones they are accomplishing in their career and postsecondary planning. We use this key information to target students who need our support the most and to design programs that are the most effective in helping them plan for life after high school.
Not surprisingly, during the disruption of COVID-19, career and college readiness practitioners across the country saw significant declines in student engagement and career and college readiness, with students of color and lower income students impacted the most. Our school teams had to pivot quickly to help students stay on track with their planning during school closures and distance learning, and they relied heavily on peer-to-peer learning across our school sites.
After two years of declining numbers, we’re delighted to report that data for the class of 2022 shows an upward trajectory for engagement between students and the Achieve team and the completion of career and college readiness milestones. We are seeing the highest rates of student engagement, FAFSA completion and transcript requests (related to college applications) since the start of the pandemic in both MPS and SPPS districts.
Compared to the 2020-21 school year, our combined data for the class of 2022 at the MPS and SPPS schools we serve shows:
9% increase in the numbers of seniors who engaged with our team (2,425 total)
7% increase in transcript requests (2,474 total)
5% increase in FAFSA completions (1761 total)
Looking specifically at our six SPPS schools, we saw even larger increases, which is an especially exciting indication of our growth and progress in these new school sites. This includes:
26% increase in senior engagements
15% growth in college application submissions
11% rise in FAFSA completions
Now that we’re finding our footing after the chaos of the pandemic, we look forward to having more capacity to reflect on student outcome data in the next school year. We’re encouraged by the growth we’ve seen over the last year and hope to see even greater progress toward pre-pandemic student engagement and milestone completion in the school year to come!