- Anthony Cook, Coordinator of College and Career Services, School District of Osceola County
- LaVerne Handfield, Programs Coordinator, Florida College Access Network
FCAN host: Kathy McDonald, Assistant Director for Network Partnerships
In 2013, Osceola County’s education stakeholders formed a committee to analyze why the county had the lowest college-going rate in Central Florida. As a result, Osceola has seen its college-going rate rise from 41.3% in 2011 to 56% at the end of last year.
On September 9, FCAN’s Kathy McDonald welcomed Anthony Cook from the School District of Osceola County (SDOC), who talked about his district’s Plan It Florida implementation strategies and shared data related to students’ postsecondary planning. LaVerne Handfield, FCAN’s Programs Coordinator, also joined the webinar to share updates about FCAN’s statewide Plan It Florida initiative, which was inspired by one of Osceola’s strategies.
The committee of Osceola stakeholders created the “Got College” initiative to boost the county’s college-going rate. They identified eight focus areas to provide the best opportunities for all students:
“We formed subcommittees to ensure everyone was on the same page,” Cook said. “It really was a community effort.”
One of the strategies of the “Got College?” initiative became the inspiration for Plan It Florida, which aims to ensure every student graduates high school with a plan for what comes next, whether it’s continuing their education, enlisting in the military, or entering the workforce. Additionally, SDOC sought to marry its activities with the rest of FCAN’s statewide initiatives: Apply Yourself Florida, Florida FAFSA Challenge, and Florida College Decision Day.
“It’s not just about where students are going (after high school),” said Cook, adding that students also need support and direction to follow through on their plan.
Tracking Postsecondary Plans and Progress
Osceola students have college and career exploratory opportunities from K-12 embedded in content areas to help them decide which pathway they are most passionate about.
Data is tracked on a monthly basis in a High School Secondary Report Card as part of SDOC’s strategic plan. Data that SDOC tracks include:
- Confirmed plans and postsecondary plan type – in 2014-2015, the first year of the “Got College?” initiative, SDOC’s goal of tracking confirmed plans showed that 92% of students had a postsecondary plan.
- FAFSA Completion – in 2018-2019, 55% of students reported completing a FAFSA but the district saw a 15-point decrease when students produced a confirmation page or Student Aid Report that confirmed their FAFSA was completed error-free. This finding led to their following up with students throughout the FAFSA completion process the following school to ensure their FAFSAs were completed correctly.
- Scholarship money awarded – in 2019-2020, SDOC saw a decline of $11 million in scholarships earned and are now focusing on ways to improve increasing scholarship dollars in the district.
- Total Bright Futures Awards – in 2019-2020, SDOC saw a 25% increase in the total amount of Bright Futures scholarships awarded by focusing on test preparation for students to increase their scores.
- AA Earners – in 2017-2018, SDOC saw a 60% increase in the number of students completing an AA degree with focused attention on creating partnerships with state and technical colleges in the area.
“We need to expose students to what is in our backyard,” Cook said.
The Future of Plan It Florida
FCAN hopes schools and districts adopt a goal of 100% of students graduating high school with a thought-out plan for what comes next – selecting the major pathway that is best for their success (education, service, or work). Schools and communities would track students’ plans and help them execute the major tasks to follow through on their plan.
Among recent Plan It Florida updates:
- One-pagers are now available in Spanish and Haitian Creole.
- The College and Career Readiness Guide is also now available in Spanish and Haitian Creole.
- A virtual Plan It Florida toolkit has been created to adapt college and career exploration activities for a virtual setting.
- See the Plan It Florida webpage for resources from Local College Access Networks that are tailored specifically to your community or region.
To learn more about implementing Plan It Florida in your school or community – or to view the webinar and download the presentation – take advantage of these resources:
Plan It Florida – College and Career Readiness Guides (English, Spanish, Haitian Creole)
Scope and sequence examples from Marion and Broward counties.
Be sure to visit our Past Webinars page for access to recordings and downloadable material from FCAN’s previous presentations.