October 17, 2017

Kentucky Teens Release Book on College Readiness

"Ready or Not" Promotes Student Voice in Education Policymaking

FRANKFORT — In a room full of policy experts and advocates convened by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a group of students from the Student Voice Team today released Ready or Not, the culmination of over a year of student-led research and interviews.  The 300-plus-page book features the stories of high school seniors and recent graduates from across Kentucky about their plans to continue their education—or not—after high school.


The bulk of Ready or Not is devoted to amplifying the voices of students who explain the challenges they face in navigating the postsecondary transition process. Chapter headings such as “Moonlighters,” “Dismissers,” “Oddsbuckers,” “Givens,” “Misnavigateds,” and “Newcomers,” organize the narratives into categories that define students’ challenges in preparing for, pursuing, and persisting to college degrees.


The teen authors of Ready or Not outline some of the central themes that emerged their conversations and from an original survey they disseminated to seniors in schools representing the geographic diversity of the state.  They include the team’s contentions that:

  • Too many students in Kentucky are not sold on the value of college.

  • Family support can make a massive difference in whether or not students pursue postsecondary education, yet too many Kentucky students feel they don’t have it.

  • The primary tool to measure college readiness reflects and possibly even perpetuates inequity.

  • Kentucky has a school counseling crisis.


Paul Laurence Dunbar High School senior, Sahar Mohammadzadeh, executive editor of the book, asserted that beyond serving as an important feedback to families, educators, and administrators, Ready or Not is meant for policymakers. “Ready or Not aspires to connect the head with the heart in public education policy,” she said. “I hope if nothing else, the stories students shared with us spark the intergenerational conversations that will normalize including student voice in more education decision-making.”

Ready or Not was supported with generous grants from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board and the Lumina Foundation's Strategy Labs.

Student Voice Team

Student Voice Team

The Student Voice Team was founded in 2012 at the Prichard Committee, a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky for all ages. Since 2021, they have been the Kentucky Student Voice Team, an independent, statewide organization organization of young people who are co-creating more just, democratic Kentucky schools & communities as research, policy & advocacy partners.

State Farm Youth Advisory Board

State Farm Youth Advisory Board

Thirty students, ages 17-20, from across the United States comprise the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. They are charged with helping State Farm design and implement a $5 million-a-year signature service-learning initiative to address issues important to State Farm and communities across the United States.

Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.