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A Look at Leaders' Impact on the College-Readiness Landscape

In Duplin County, N.C., elementary school students don't just talk about college—every year they visit a different nearby campus.

The idea is to plant the seed early that college is a possibility and that a bright future does exist for every child.

That's the philosophy of Duplin County Superintendent Austin Obasohan:Prepare and expect all students to go to college and the district will do all it can to make that possible.

When Obasohan came to the rural county in 2010, he saw success happening at the Early College High School on the campus of James Sprunt Community College and was determined to offer all students in the district the opportunity.

Now, Duplin County is the only school system in North Carolina and one of two in the nation to implement district-wide early college. Early-college classes are now offered in all five district high schools and graduation rates are rising.

Obasohan is one of several Leaders to Learn From profiled in a special pullout report in the Feb. 4 edition of Education Week.

Another administrator featured is Daniel King, who once headed the only other district-wide early college in the Hidalgo district in southern Texas. King was recognized for his more recent work in the nearby Pharr-San Juan-Alamo district, where he launched a door-by-door campaign to bring back students who had dropped out. He led a push in that district to encourage all students to accrue college credits by graduation,and was able to make substantial improvements. The district's graduation rate has now risen to 88 percent, from 62 percent a few years earlier, and nearly 10 percentage points higher than the rate for all of Texas.

In Connecticut, Patricia Ciccone focused on school climate and vocational education to better prepare students in the state's technical high schools for life in careers and college.

It often takes a visionary leader to usher in change. There seems to be no shortage of ideas on ways to improve college- and career-readiness, but it takes a committed leader to bring all the stakeholders together to truly make a difference.

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