Texas Education Agency

Senior Year Campaign

One initiative of the Texas Education Agency’s GEAR UP program was the STAR Senior-Year Plan (SSYP), a pilot program managed by AMS Pictures in six GEAR UP high schools around the Corpus Christi area. SSYP was designed to foster a college-going culture in these underserved districts, providing support focused on helping students graduate from high school, apply to college and succeed in their postsecondary endeavors. AMS worked closely with the GEAR UP teams at these schools to ensure that the class of 2012 made the most of the final year before graduation.

With a goal of 100% of students applying for college and financial aid, AMS developed a set of sustainable tools that were implemented by educators and volunteers on the ground in each district to help reach that magic number. Based on needs assessments and evaluation data, we created a set of “universal” resources that were used by all six schools (including a mobile OYOF app, college roadmaps, portable kiosks, training modules, PR strategies, community engagement techniques—even mascot costumes), as well as customized tools unique to the needs of each specific school. Download the smartphone app now from the Android Marketplace or iTunes.

The resources were meant to be sustainable, meaningful tools that could be used in conjunction with college-prep efforts already in place at the schools, and may be repeated and expanded upon in years to come.

At the schools participating in the SSYP pilot program, the 2011-2012 school year was divided into monthly themes, and AMS worked with the local teams to ensure that the tools were implemented at the appropriate times and in the most effective manner possible. As we provided close oversight to the implementation process, we were able to help the districts adjust and course correct as needed throughout the year.

Too often, students dismiss the idea of going to college because they don’t think they can get in or afford it. In today’s economy, students must understand that the decision to pursue postsecondary studies will greatly influence their future success. As a result of the collaborative implementation of these tools, these six GEAR UP schools have started to change the culture into one of college readiness for all students.

Of course, in addition to giving the senior class a huge dose of extra support, the SSYP pilot was an excellent test of different approaches that could be adopted in the future when rolling out Own Your Own Future through statewide outreach campaigns targeting students and educators.