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College, Career and Life Readiness

Client: Boston Opportunity Agenda


How can we align organizations towards a common vision?

Boston’s education ecosystem is rich in resources, cluttered in execution. Students are served by district, charter or private schools, by a slew of service organizations, and through partnerships with local employers and colleges. It is not always clear, however, that the sum is greater than these parts.

Working with a group convened by the Boston Opportunity Agenda, we facilitated a cross-functional group of educators, employers, and philanthropists to develop Boston’s definition of college, career, and life readiness. This definition articulates the city’s goal for its high school graduates and sets a common objective for a disparate range of system actors.

The group began by exploring “ready for what,” brainstorming the future demands that students will need to be prepared for. We then worked backwards to imagine the skills needed to meet these demands, bringing them down from edu-speak into real-life scenarios so we could feel in detail what, say, “self-efficacy” might mean, from not hitting the snooze button to stepping up to fix the neighbor’s leaky toilet.

Supported by stakeholders across the city, Boston’s definition comes to life as a competency-based narrative. The flexible metaphor of a trek allows students and the adults that support them to access this definition to support planning for journeys both long-term and immediate.

This common vision allows for system stakeholders to act autonomously—but towards a shared objective. It has provided the Boston Opportunity Agenda a new way to measure the education landscape, having set, validated and benchmarked indicators for the college, career and life competencies. 

Our mission is to use design to reduce structural inequity in America. Agncy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  © 2020 Agncy Design Inc. 
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