The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation is pleased to release its year-long research study on the condition of college and career supports and career pathways for students in Northern New Mexico. The resulting research report and policy brief, titled “The Road to Readiness: Equitable Access to Career Pathways and College Transition Supports in Northern New Mexico,” provides multiple actionable recommendations and reflects the work of a core LANL Foundation team in collaboration with 25 administrators from diverse high schools throughout the seven-county region that the LANL Foundation serves (Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Taos).
Recommendations for short-term and long-term strategies to expand and strengthen college and career services and programming in the region and in other parts of New Mexico include: providing each high school with a core team of key staff; enhancing support for small, rural, and tribal schools; securing recurring, equitable, and sufficient funding; increasing broadband access and maximizing business and education partnerships.
Approximately one year ago, the LANL Foundation made a commitment to expand its focus on enhancing students’ access to academic and technical opportunities that lead to high-quality jobs by supporting the growth of college and career readiness in schools, districts, communities and Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations.
President & CEO of the LANL Foundation Jenny Parks says, “Investing in research that advocates for the improvement of learning opportunities and support structures for students as they transition from high school to college, career, and community pathways is at the core of our mission. A systematic and equitable approach to college and career readiness in Northern New Mexico is more important than ever given present and future job market demands, the critical need for economic mobility, and our increasingly global context. I am optimistic that our findings and recommendations—with the help of lawmakers, education leaders, and communities—will drive positive, lasting change.”
The findings of the study indicate that students’ readiness requires a multi-pronged approach and systematic coordination with school districts, communities, tribal nations and the state of New Mexico in the form of institutionalized industry partnerships, professional training to support college and career readiness programming, equitable funding and financing for all schools, and universal access to broadband.
Collaboration with education leaders throughout the region ensured that this research is community based, robust, and relevant. Española Public School District Superintendent Fred Trujillo commented: “This report is an outstanding accumulation of useful information to help plan for the future of our students. We are committed to utilizing the research to ensure that our students are college and career ready and experience dual credit, AP courses, vocational education, and career pathway offerings to aid in their life decisions.”
Cuba Independent School District Superintendent Karen Sanchez-Griego added: “The LANL Foundation report on college and career readiness speaks volumes about embracing the true realities and racial underpinnings that exist in our schools today, inhibiting students of color and rurality to succeed beyond high school and their own dreams of 21st century careers. We must take action on the recommendations cited in the report to inform our students, parents, communities, and show our students that the world is their oyster and we will support their dreams.”
With New Mexico’s 55th legislative session underway, there are a number of bills gaining positive feedback and traction that reflect the substance of many of the “Road to Readiness” report’s recommendations, including expanding broadband access, supporting career and technical education, and providing recurring, equitable, and sufficient funding for all college and career supports.