Urban League holds annual meeting

Pictured (l-r): ULMT President/CEO Patricia Stokes, Speaker Giana Solomon, ULMT Board Chairman Harry L. Wilson. photo by Cass Teague).

Pictured (l-r): ULMT President/CEO Patricia Stokes, Speaker Giana Solomon, ULMT Board Chairman Harry L. Wilson. photo by Cass Teague).

The Urban League of Middle Tennessee (ULMT) held its annual meeting at St. James Missionary Baptist Church on Dec. 5. The church is pastored by ULMT board member Rev. George T. Brooks, Sr. who gave the meeting’s invocation and closing prayer. President/CEO Patricia Stokes presented the annual report to the group, mainly covering the action year from July 2012 through June 2013, including some updates.

“Our work and the support of that work is so dynamic,” said Stokes. “We continue to advance the mission of the league through our efforts in workforce development and education. We have also been provided opportunities to expand the scope of our work to other areas and in this current year, we’ll work toward making progress.”

The Nashville Youth Training and Employment Corp (Y-TEC) program at Maplewood High School offered career assessments and paid internships, giving students the opportunity to experience work and careers of interest with the goal of keeping the participant connected to school. ULMT conducted college tours for 17 high school students; ACT Boot Camps for 69 students; and served 61 students in a three-week summer leadership academy.

ULMT provided over 3500 units of service to adult job seekers with resume preparation, interview and personal presentation coaching, basic technology support, job search support including access to employers through presentations and job fairs. Since July 2011, ULMT has supported instruction for about 75 adult learners. In 2012 they had eight adults to complete all requirements and receive their GED, and an additional 12 since July 2012, with support of the Tennessee Technology Center.

During 2012-13, NULITES/Project Ready served 52 high school students. Students completed community service projects, attended workshops geared toward college and career success and personal and social development.

Giana Solomon, deputy director of assessment design for the Tennessee Department of Education, gave an eye-opening presentation on a new form of pre-college testing that may soon usurp the ACT. In a wide-ranging presentation entitled ‘Common Core State Standards and The Future of Assessments in Tennessee,’ Solomon introduced the new PAARC educational assessment for college-bound students.

“The impetus behind PAARC is that there has been a long-standing disconnect between scores and information that students get from TCAP and once they enter college and career what that actually turns out,” said Solomon. “PAARC stands for The Partnership for the Assessment for Readiness of College and Career, a consortium that was developed to assess the common core state standards that will better predict student success. Tennessee is working with 18 other states currently to develop these common core aligned assessments in grades three through eleven.”

The major emphasis difference on the new assessment appears to be in analysis of writing skills as a function of critical thinking that is the ability to interpret rather than regurgitate information.

“There’s really not a good alignment between our current state tests and college and career readiness,” said Solomon. “We’re going to bridge that gap, when students take PAARC.”

PAARC will be in place for the 2014-15 junior high school class—the 2016 college entering class.