ESSER update: Fostering college and career readiness

Dallas ISD’s College and Career Advising Program (CCAP) is setting high school students up for success starting in ninth grade thanks to an $11 million annual investment from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund. 

Cheryl Nevels, assistant superintendent of college readiness, said typical college advising programs focus on financial aid and college entry application, but with the ESSER investment, Dallas ISD has expanded the program to include career preparation. The program provides students with college and career advisers as soon as they enter high school to effectively support students to and through their postsecondary transition. 

“It’s about giving students a voice in the choices available,” Nevels said. “We are equipping them with the skills they need to increase their postsecondary options. Advisors work in tandem with counselors to support students with college and career readiness plans, college applications, financial aid, scholarships, entrance exams, etc. so they are empowered to matriculate from high school to college. They are also exposing students to career opportunities so they can plan for college and career success.”

David Laneave, a P-TECH instructional specialist in the postsecondary department, said Dallas ISD’s CCAP student data is “leaps and bounds” above neighboring districts. 

Over 90 percent of Dallas ISD seniors have college applications on file, well above most neighboring districts, which range from 56 to 77 percent of seniors. Additionally, 81 percent of Dallas ISD seniors have applied for financial aid in comparison to 53 and 65 percent in some neighboring districts.

Across the board, Dallas ISD’s student data is tracking at about 9 percent above other metroplex districts on average. 

“Of the 87 percent of our seniors who have submitted a college application, that’s 87 percent of our students who have a say in their future,” Laneave said. “That’s one of the biggest components of this program.”

The ESSER funds provide college and career access vendors to district campuses to guide students through the application processes and help them develop four-year plans. The vendors also conduct parent outreach to get families involved in the college and career process.

“The CCAP program helps establish, maintain and support a college and career identity in high school,” Laneave said. “By collaborating with high school students and team members starting from ninth grade all the way through high school, we are effectively targeting postsecondary success for our students.”

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