Systematic, Systemic and Motivating: The K-12 Career Development Process

Article excerpt

In Butler County, Ohio, the K-12 career development process is structured to promote success for students.

How do we motivate students in today's world to achieve high levels, make wise academic choices and prepare to compete in a global economy? In Butler County, Ohio, Butler Technology and Career Development Schools (Butler Tech) firmly believes that systematic delivery of career development theory and practice integrated with academic content standards will enable students to do all of the above.

Because of this, Butler Tech's Career Initiatives division delivers a countywide career development program in a thoughtful and structured way designed to promote success for all Butler County students, K-12. Career Initiatives at Butler Tech is supported by the Ohio Department of Education through Ohio's Career Development Program.

Behind the Theory

According to Kenneth Gray in Getting Real, seniors in high school should exhibit four characteristics upon graduation:

1. They should understand that career direction, even a tentative one, is as important to developing postsecondary success as good grades.

2. They should have made tentative career choices by the 10th grade.

3. They should have taken actions that would verify these choices during their final two years of high school.

4. They should use these decisions as one focus for postsecondary planning.

In his book, Ready or Not, Here Life Comes, Mel Levine identifies four growth processes that parents and educators are obliged to see nurtured in children:

1. Inner directions: Help students know themselves and teach them to become goal-setters, and show them how to reach short- and long-term aims.

2. Interpretation: Help students get to know the outside world. They need to become proficient at on-the-job learning, interpreting new knowledge and integrating what can be gathered from day-to-day experience.

3. Instrumentation: Develop skills in students that foster high-quality thinking and productivity as illustrated in organizational skills, brainstorming power, creativity and sound decision-making in a systematic manner.

4. Interaction: Develop in students interpersonal skills that include communications skills, development of work-life relationships and sophisticated political behavior.

Butler Tech and Ohio's Career Development Program have worked hard to provide programming that addresses these issues through the development of students' career maturity and thoughtful selection of coursework in developing an educational plan.

In Practice

Career development is a K-12 process that culminates with the eighth through 12th grade Individual Career Plan (ICP) and the 11th through 12th grade Career Passport exit document. Ohio's Career Development Program is the foundation for the work of Butler Tech. The process provides resources and support to give students in grades K-5 opportunities to increase awareness of careers; in grades 6-8 opportunities to explore careers; and in grades 9-12 opportunities for exploration and planning for careers. Key concepts that are a part of the career development process are emphasized in each grade level category.

Butler Tech has demonstrated a firm commitment to the career development of all students within the nine Butler County associate school districts through an initiative that encourages districts to adopt K-12 career development board policy with identified performance measures. The purpose of the Butler Tech initiative is to provide financial support and resources to districts, helping them prepare students for their postsecondary career plans through awareness, exploration, planning and preparation.

By helping a student understand his/her interests, skills and aptitudes, and combining that with information about career clusters and careers, as well as current labor market information, the students can make informed decisions and bring relevance to educational plans, leading them to successful careers and lives. …