Our education system is growing increasingly complex. Why not give all students the opportunity to receive life-changing information that helps guide them through the process?
BY: JAYDA BATCHELDER, FOUNDER & CEO OF EDUCATION OPENS DOORS
Ten years ago, I was an award-winning middle school science teacher in the Dallas Independent School District. My students were thriving. But they also had a million questions about their education. What classes should I take in high school? What’s the difference between a two-year and a four-year college? How could my family or I possibly pay for my education? And it hit me that our education system is so complex, I didn’t have all of the answers. I remember navigating this difficult uncharted path as a first-generation college student myself.
A student’s typical resource would be a high school guidance counselor. But in Texas, one counselor is responsible for 449 students. This means a student will only get 38 minutes of college guidance. That’s 38 minutes, total. Imagine being a first-generation college student. Not only is there too little information — it’s coming too late. And make no mistake about it — this is a massive inequity in our education system.
“We believe that when doors open, lives change.”
I founded Education Opens Doors to help solve for this inequity. We believe that when doors open, lives change. Over the past decade, we’ve served over 80,000 students in Texas and beyond. Education Opens Doors partners with schools and school districts across the U.S., with its headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We provide solutions for middle-schoolers so they are intentional as they make early decisions about their college and career choices, which many do not know begin in middle school.
“Early intervention is imperative – students are being asked to make important decisions well before they enter high school.”
Early intervention is imperative. Students are being asked to make important decisions well before they enter high school. Our proprietary “train the trainer” approach and flexible curriculum equips teachers, parents and other adults to give students a strong foundation for success. EOD provides a blended learning experience inclusive of in-person student lessons and support materials, as well as online supplemental extension activities.
“Students receive 900 minutes of active post-high school planning and career pathway preparation.”
We offer two different year-long program options embedded into existing classes. In each year of the digital, culturally responsive curriculum, students receive 900 minutes of active post-high school planning and career pathway preparation, learning and discussion. We also provide extensive teacher support and coaching, data and metrics to help inform, impact and keep the support needs of the student in focus through and beyond our curriculum.
As a result of our program, students demonstrate social and emotional skills, such as increased motivation and stronger planned paths to college and a career. We also see significant growth in their career and college preparedness. EOD is building a continuum of postsecondary support for our community and serving as a stepping-stone to career and college paths beyond high school. Of teachers surveyed, nine out of 10 said that given the opportunity, they would want to teach the program again. Not only are teachers and principals satisfied, data shows that our model works. Our students show increases in college readiness indicators, their state standardized test scores go up, and they’re less likely to receive discipline referrals.
We have scaled successfully across urban Dallas, the 16th largest school district in the U.S., and we are scaling across Texas. Whether public, private or charter schools, we meet districts where they are. Our program works because we know that one size doesn’t fit all.
“For the rest of 2022, in connection with our 10th anniversary since launching, we’ll be releasing an article on The Texas Tribune on the 10th day of every month.”
As we come further out of the pandemic, 2022 will be one of the most important ever for students. We support standing up and fighting for equity in education and systems-level change. Battles for educational equity have been dragged into culture wars. Curriculum transparency, virtual learning, school choice, standardized testing and disciplinary policies are just a few of the issues that have taken renewed interest for voters. And as these issues have drawn the interest to voters, they have become polarized. We’re seeing that efforts for educational equity are sometimes misconstrued and attacked, bogged down in politics. Through this, we as an organization are going to continue advocating for our parents, teachers, schools and communities as best we know how: committing to our students.
We’re going to be here, sharing our ideas and insights, for the rest of the year. For the rest of 2022, in connection with our 10th anniversary since launching, we’ll be in this space on The Texas Tribune on the 10th day of every month. We’ll be discussing what we’ve learned and offering our vision for the future of education reform, as we aim to provide all the students of Texas the education that they deserve. We’ve been unlocking doors for students for a decade, but there is a lot more work to be done. We hope that you’ll join us.
This article was published in The Texas Tribune.