Theory of Action

Ramp-Up to Readiness™ is a school-wide college and career readiness program with an engaging, interactive, and aligned curriculum for grades 6 to 12 aimed at helping all students become prepared for postsecondary. It is designed to be a series of Activities and Workshops to be implemented in a 30-minute instruction once a week, and can be easily adapted to out of school youth programs as well.

The theory of action behind the program is that from grades 6 to 12 students receive intentional instruction and engage in meaningful conversation about key elements of college and career readiness so that they see connections between what they are learning to their own lives, are able to plan for their future and assess their progress. Five Pillars frame the Ramp-Up to Readiness curriculum, and deep levels of learning and reflection about each are embedded in the curriculum so that students learn more about these areas in age appropriate ways.

The Five Pillars include the following:

  • Academic Readiness: The ability to succeed in first-year, credit bearing courses at a technical college, community college, four-year college or university, the military, or an apprenticeship
  • Admissions Readiness: The ability to meet admissions requirements at a range of postsecondary institutions
  • Career Readiness: The ability to identify careers that match personal, financial, and other goals and an understanding of the skills, credentials, and experiences required to succeed in those careers
  • Financial Readiness: The ability to cover the cost of the first term of study at a postsecondary institution through savings, loans, and financial aid
  • Social and Emotional Readiness: The ability to set educational goals, make and monitor progress toward them, and create relationships with peers and adults that support academic success

Outcomes for each Ramp-Up™ pillar have been identified and the curriculum has been carefully designed to assist students advance toward meeting those standards as they progress through school.

Academic Readiness

Outcome: The student has the knowledge and skills to do first-year, credit-bearing, college-level work. A student who has reached this can:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills required for college-level work in English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Writing as outlined in
  2. Score at or above the ACT college readiness benchmarks on the ACT
  3. Think critically, demonstrated through the ability to gather, analyze, synthesize, and present information
  4. Use effective study strategies
  5. Evaluate and revise academic work to ensure accuracy and achieve precision

Admissions Readiness

Outcome: The student has completed all requirements for admission to the type of postsecondary education that is a match for their goals, interests and abilities.

  1. Describe the purpose of and opportunities offered by postsecondary education in the United States
  2. Explain the main types of postsecondary institutions in the United States and the differences among them
  3. Identify the type of postsecondary institution that could be a good match for the student’s academic, career, and personal goals
  4. Outline the admissions requirements for the type of postsecondary institution that the student plans to attend
  5. Plan for and successfully complete the process of applying to at least three postsecondary institutions that are a good match for the student’s academic, career, and personal goals

Career Readiness

Outcome: The student understands how education increasingly determines income and opportunity in the global knowledge economy, and will know which types of jobs in the future will need skilled workers, will pay enough to support a family and might be a good match for their interests and abilities

A student who has reached this can:

  1. Describe the ways that globalization and technology-driven change are reshaping the workplace and society today and predict ways that those forces will affect the future
  2. Articulate the great and growing connection between the highest level of education a person completes and his/her income and quality of life
  3. Identify careers and jobs that pay enough to support a family with at least a “middle-class” lifestyle, provide opportunities for advancement within the field, and that will be in demand over the next two decades
  4. Explain the knowledge, skills, and habits and the credentials and/or degrees that are required to enter and succeed in a range of careers
  5. Identify one or more careers that could be a good match for the student’s talents, interests, and abilities

Financial Readiness

Outcome: The student will be able to cover the cost for one term of study at a postsecondary institution through savings, loans, work-study, and financial aid.

A student who has reached this can:

  1. Create a personal budget and make decisions based upon it
  2. Identify the current and projected cost of study at each of the main types of postsecondary institutions in Minnesota
  3. Know the major ways that families cover the costs of postsecondary education
  4. Produce a realistic plan to cover the cost of at least the first term of study at the postsecondary institution of the student’s choice through savings, employment, loans, grants, scholarships and other means
  5. Complete the process of applying for any needed financial aid

Social Emotional Readiness

Outcome: The student knows how to set educational goals, make progress toward those goals, and create relationships with peers and adults that support the achievement of those goals.

A student who has reached this can:

  1. Set personal goals and continually monitor progress toward reaching them
  2. Operate from a growth mindset, believing that his/her basic abilities can be developed through hard work and persistence
  3. Seek help from adults and peers and use other strategies to overcome obstacles on the road to achieving important goals
  4. Create and maintain positive relationships with teachers, professors and other adults in positions of responsibility and authority
  5. Know what college culture is like and use the practices and habits needed to succeed in higher education, such as skills in time management, studying, working cooperatively, responsible risk taking, and self-advocacy

Instructional Activities

A series of weekly Instructional Activities at each grade level are designed to engage students in interactive learning that not only provide them information about college and career readiness, but also challenge them to think about their own engagement and decision making regarding their postsecondary plans.

Each Instructional Activity is designed to be 30 minutes in length. Activities cover an array of topics directly tied to one or more of the Five Pillars. A unit may span two to four Instructional Activities. Instructors facilitate these activites approximately once a week throughout the school year during the designated Ramp-Up instruction time.

Activity Overview Sheets for each of the instructional sessions are included in the Implementation Guide. Activity Overview Sheets are clearly written for the instructor with the following sections:

  • Learning Target - Indicates, in measurable terms, what students should learn in the activity
  • Resources needed for this session - States what additional resources (i.e. PowerPoint, worksheets, or handouts) that may be needed
  • Opening - Provides the instructor a way to introduce the topic to students
  • Activity - Traditionally an interactive activity that has students engaging with one another
  • Closure - A summary idea that reinforces the main idea of the activity or question that asks the students to reflect on the information or themselves

Each of the Opening, Activity and Closure sections are given approximate time allocations.


Each year, students engage in one Ramp-Up Workshop that is roughly one hour long and can be scheduled at a convenient time for the school. Some Workshops are designed as guest panels, which require advanced organizing by the Ramp-Up site coordinator. Others involve students using computers to take college and career interest surveys.

The Ramp-Up Tools

In addition to the Activities and Workshops, students engage in college and career readiness progress monitoring through the use of two tools—the Readiness Rubric and the Postsecondary Plan—that help them analyze and reflect on their progress, set goals, and make plans for their future:

  • Postsecondary Plan: The purpose of the Postsecondary plan is to connect career, postsecondary and academic planning as students move from one grade to the next. The Postsecondary Plan is an individualized learning plan that takes into account all 5 of the Readiness Pillars. Students articulate, communicate, and update their plans for life after high school in their Postsecondary Plans. The Postsecondary Plan helps students ask and answer the question: What do I want to do with my life after high school?
  • Readiness Rubric: Using the Readiness Rubric, students continuously monitor their progress toward being college ready by the end of high school. The Readiness Rubric asks students to assess their readiness in areas like grades, academic belief, self-management, effort and persistence, and state standardized and college entrance test scores. The contents of the Readiness Rubric vary slightly by grade level, reflecting the skills and concepts that students should encounter at that point in their progress toward college readiness. The Readiness Rubric helps students ask and answer: What do I need to do to reach that goal?

These tools can be shared with teachers and families so that students’ progress and goals are well known by key adults in their lives.

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