COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — High school accomplishment, not scandal, brought some high-level recognition in Howard County.

As Alex DeMetrick reports, it’s coursework designed to open doors long after the last school bell rings.

At Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, the Career Research and Development course sounds kind of dry—unless you’re taking it.

“It’s a really interesting class. I highly recommend it for students who are a little iffy of where they want to go in life,” said student Jason Berke.

“It asks students to look at themselves. ‘Who are you? Where are you headed? Where do you want to be when you’re 25?'” said teacher Sue Bullock. “And we help them get there.”

It’s a strategy that caught the eye of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. After the usual ice breaker, Duncan visited some of the classes, where the emphasis isn’t always on college but on making the most of each student’s potential.

“It’s not really learn this, learn that, learn the history of other people. It’s making your own history,” said student Kaila Bradley.

This program may exist in all Howard County high schools, but it’s far from being universal.

“I go to great schools; I go to struggling schools,” Duncan said. “I’m always looking to learn and this is a school I can learn from.”

“I want to go to Forsythe University for music production. It’s a pretty big goal; I’m glad I have this class to help me get there,” said student Korteo Robinson.

The Howard County program has been closing the achievement gap between students, nearly doubling proficiency in math and reading for students who struggle with those subjects.


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