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 Prichard Committee 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.”

The Kentucky Student Voice Team is an independent, youth-led, statewide organization that supports students as research, policy, and advocacy partners to ensure Kentucky’s education system is as equitable, just, and as excellent as it can be. Until 2021, it was part of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky—early childhood through postsecondary.

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

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