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(GOAL 1) Expand STEM and CTE-Focused Partnerships

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Expand STEM and CTE-Focused Partnerships 

Implement new STEM and CTE-focused partnerships through the City of Kent. The outcome of this initiative is increased student participation in experiential learning opportunities (field trips, internships/apprenticeships, work-based learning, etc.) with particular focus on opportunities to build student digital and media literacy. 

2023-24 Winter Progress Update 

With the continued help of consultant Kinetic West, stakeholders from the City of Kent and KSD have worked to further solidify the shared strategic vision for advancing STEM and CTE opportunities, and researched surrounding and national partnership practices and websites as we worked to develop content to launch a public facing partnership website. 

Also, we developed a draft Partnership Guide of Best Practices for our external current and potential STEM and CTE partners from industry, nonprofits, higher ed, foundations, and government agencies to engage with the KSD to implement the shared strategic vision. While developing and refining the external partnership onboarding process, we also spent time collaborating with district, school building, and community stakeholders on refining our current internal partnership process. 

Further, we worked on a draft communication plan for advancing STEM and CTE with all interested stakeholders, including follow-up engagement with students, and a joint 45-minute presentation between the City of Kent and KSD on March 26, 2024. This presentation will provide a summary of the progress of this partnership to-date, the context for this focus, and will conclude with next steps for implementation over the next several years to create and expand meaningful experiences for our students, families, and our community. 

Given a strong meeting and focused collaboration cadence almost daily, we are proud to share that we used an array of data to collect and share feedback from many internal and external stakeholders. We used surveys, research, statewide data dashboards, interviews, virtual meetings, group multi-day conferences/site visits, questionnaires, observations of other school district programming, staff/student/admin work site visits, street data, KSD STEM/CTE course offering/ student experience review, and more. All of this feedback was analyzed, considered, and serves as a foundation for the summary overview and vision for this work. We are eager to share findings as part of our overall communication plan. 

We are still collaborating on the operational and academic side of this plan. We must get a bit more creative in thinking and leveraging resources given current staffing and financial constraints. The great news is that we can get this done; however, the pacing will likely be a little slower than anticipated initially. 

This work will be sustained through ongoing collaborations with stakeholders, continuing to onboard stakeholders to help sell the vision and mission for this work as a though line in communications, leveraging internal/external resources, thoughtfully planned internal/external professional development capacity building, exploring and sharing ideas with other interested stakeholders inside and outside of the Kent Community, and continued focus on lifelong learning, collective possibilities, and making benchmark progress towards the ultimate deliverables.

2023-24 Fall Progress Update

Recent focus has included an assessment of Kent School District’s current state of STEM and CTE offerings for students in grades K-12, including Career Connected Learning across STEM and CTE in the region. Additionally, we heard elementary, middle, and high school student voice from similar career interest assessments.

All data and feedback from stakeholders were analyzed by our Consultant Project Manager group, Kinetic West, and was shared and discussed over three Design Sessions that included a nonprofit, members from the City of Kent, and administrators from the KSD Teaching and Learning and Learning Supports Communities. Through gathered feedback on our current partnership experiences with industry, higher education, non-profits, foundations, and other entities along with their capacity to expand their partnership with us in the STEM and CTE areas, we have captured the voice and needs of our KSD educators and administrators regarding STEM and CTE. We've mutually agreed on a shared City of Kent and KSD Strategic Vision for STEM and CTE work for grades K-12.

Looking ahead, our collaborative team is discussing commitments, prioritization, and where we will begin with a phasing in of STEM and CTE activities over a 3-year period, including consideration of current resources and further investments needed, what capabilities we need to have for a smooth, efficient, and effective implementation launch, etc.

As this collaborative work is occurring, we have also expanded fieldtrips to worksites from 150 students to 500 students in grades 10-12, brought back Robotics to KM, are supporting some of the Cedar Heights STEM work, have created a CTE mentoring student to student opportunity for students in 9-12 grader, provided Rocketry professional development to select science teachers, are launching internships, and are engaging in collaborative meetings with potential partners in Aerospace, Construction, Advanced Manufacturing, Maritime, and more regularly.

This collaboration with the City of Kent and others has been exciting and needed to ensure that our students are college, career, and life-ready global citizens. We anticipate that this work will not only change our educational landscape and increase student achievement and well-being, but it will also improve our local economic landscape for parents and the community. This partnership will help Kent thrive and will attract businesses, investment interest, and interest from others who may want to replicate what works well.

Centering Stakeholder Voice

We will continue to gather feedback from students, staff, industry employers, nonprofits, higher education, parents, foundations, and government entities through ongoing meetings, surveys, testimonials, panels, advisory groups, interviews, local and regional committee participation, and more.

We will be meeting with our data team soon to help plan data captures, analysis, benchmarks of progress, and evidence of impacts/outcomes, and what improvements are needed.