Promoting College & Career Access: One School’s Journey

January 23, 2017

Cross County High School (CCHS) is located in the small farming community of Cherry Valley, Arkansas, approximately 30 miles south of Jonesboro and 60 miles northwest of Memphis. A New Tech Network (NTN) school since 2010 at grades 7-12, CCHS came to NTN looking to improve opportunities for their students by further developing the skills they need for college and career success.

Challenged by the limited amount of resources in the community and the relatively high level of poverty faced by many of their students (over 70% qualify for free or reduced fee lunch), the school had historically struggled to adequately prepare their students for post-secondary academic options. From 2012 to 2014, an average of only 45% of CCHS graduating seniors enrolled in either a college (2 or 4 year) or technical training program. However, after working to develop and implement a robust college and career access model, C^3 (college x career x choice), CCHS began to to rapidly change those statistics.  Of the 2015 and 2016 graduating seniors at CCHS, 88% enrolled in either a college or technical program, with 61% choosing to enroll in a 4-year college program.  In July of 2016, CCHS was awarded the NTN Chad Wick Award for Social Justice due to the incredible success of their efforts to increase college access for their students.

When designing their program, CCHS used the college readiness outcomes expressed in the NTN’s School Success Rubric to guide their planning. Those outcomes are organized into three domains (aware, eligible, prepared) aimed at ensuring that each student is aware of the steps needed to attend college and the benefits of earning a degree, that they have met the eligibility requirements to attend an accredited 4-year university, and that they are adequately prepared to succeed academically at the postsecondary level.  See the linked program description and vision video below to learn more about how the C^3 plan merged with their New Tech implementation to dramatically improve college and career access for their students.

CCHS C^3 Program Description and Long-term Plan

CCHS College and Career Access – Vision Video

At the 2016 New Tech Annual Conference, Cross County High School received the Chad P. Wick Award for Social Justice. This award is given to a school that has demonstrated success in closing the opportunity gap for underserved students, something CCHS works hard at every year.

Superintendent Carolyn Wilson and Director Matthew Swenson have a frank conversation on the challenges and successes they have encountered working to close the opportunity gap to ensure all students are college and career ready.