Real World Learning

The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) is providing Real World Learning opportunities for students as outlined in the district’s Strategic Plan. Real World Learning opportunities prepare students for college and careers. Together, we are equipping our learners and communities to thrive in a rapidly changing, increasingly connected and complex world. 

SMSD has joined other school districts in our region in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to better prepare students for learning and work.  Real World Learning thrives when the community and schools collaborate to provide immersive experiences for students while building a pipeline for future talent.

Market Value Assets
At the core of Real World Learning are Market Value Assets (MVAs). MVAs are identified as specific work opportunities or accreditations that contribute to student success in work and learning beyond graduation. MVAs provide further education and training, and ultimately, make a job, more affordable and more attainable. They are defined in four categories:

1. Work Experiences
Internships or Apprenticeships: Students complete meaningful workplace tasks that develop readiness for work, knowledge, and skills that support entry or advancement in a specific career field. The tasks can be assessed as meaningful if they are resume-worthy.
Client-Connected Projects: Individuals or teams of students analyze and solve authentic problems in collaboration with professionals from industry, not-for-profit, civic, or community-based organizations.

Work Experience Webinar

2. Regionally Vetted Industry-Recognized Credentials (IRCs)

Vetting is an ongoing process. Certifications and Credentials currently undergoing the vetting process:

  • BACE (Biotechnology Associate Certification) - coming in 2021-22 if regional vetted
  • ISCET or AET (Digital Electronics/Aerospace Engineering) 

3. Dual-College Credit
Students will earn nine or more hours of college credit. SMSD offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses, College Now options, and Project Lead the Way curriculum. Signature Programs and the International Baccalaureate Program include college credit. 

Students may also pursue college credit outside of the school schedule. 

College Credit Webinar

4. Entrepreneurial Experiences
Students identify a compelling social or market problem and mobilize resources to research and solve it. Leveraging input and support from multiple stakeholders, students analyze, prototype, implement, reflect, and adapt potential solutions. Outputs of MVA-level entrepreneurial experiences include a market and stakeholder research summary, a ‘business plan’ that includes an assessment of costs and benefits associated with development or operation of their solution, and feedback from relevant external stakeholders obtained through exhibition or ‘shark-tank’ type pitch opportunities. 

An example of this process may be found at SM West where mentored teams participate in pitch competitions in the business pathway. 

A dedicated space for entrepreneurial exploration and collaboration will be coming soon to the Center for Academic Achievement. This incubator will be open to the public during regular hours, along with board of education meeting nights each month. Each month will focus on two pathways from across all SMSD high schools and the CAA.

Business Partners
A critical component of Real World Learning are partnerships with local businesses and industries. Entry-level opportunities for employers include being a mentor, coach to an individual student or a guest speaker to a class of students. Mentors and coaches may also work with an individual student or team of students working on an industry-specific project or problem. There are a wide variety of courses under each pathway where business or industry representatives may connect with students to share your business or industry knowledge and opportunities. Pathways include: