College and Career Readiness in Elementary Schools

By Pulliam, Nicole; Bartek, Samantha | International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, January 2018 | Go to article overview

College and Career Readiness in Elementary Schools


Pulliam, Nicole, Bartek, Samantha, International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education


Introduction

Career development describes "the lifelong psychological and behavioral processes as well as contextual influences shaping one's career over the life span" (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2005, p 12). During the elementary years, students are at a crucial period when career beliefs and aspirations are being developed (Mariani, Berger, Koerner, & Sandlin, 2016). While scarce, studies exist citing the significance of career-related decisions occuring during the elementary years. One study cited a large number of participants aged 9-10 who believed they already made decisions related to career aspirations (Seligman, Weinstock, & Heflin, 1991). In another study, adults aged 40-55 explained that they made career-related decisions about their current professions during early childhood (Trice & McClellan, 1994). Evidence supporting the need for evidence-based career counseling interventions for elementary students has increased in the research literature, though it remains highly underrepresented, with the majority focused on middle and high school interventions (Knight, 2015; Mariani et al., 2016; Woods & Kaszubowski, 2008).

Interventions focused on college and career readiness have gained traction in the literature, noting the importance related to the development of a collegegoing mindset and in-depth career exploration as early as elementary school (Knight, 2015; Mariani et al., 2016). Recent predictions highlight the importance of both college and career readiness interventions (Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, 2010), noting that by 2020, 65% of jobs in the nation will require some form of postsecondary education; however, the U.S. is predicted to be short of five million workers for these jobs by then (Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, 2014). Job outlook has continuously been stronger for those with postsecondary education, leading to increased income potential. Initiatives such as the North Star Goal launched in 2010 by the Obama administration, which aimed to make the U.S. a leader in postsecondary degree completion, and the Reach Higher Initiative (Reach Higher, 2015) led by former First Lady Michelle Obama focused on the goal of postsecondary access and success. As a result, many states across the country now require career planning before middle school (NOSCA, 2012). School counselors play a significant role in assisting students with career exploration and college readiness. The American School Counselor Association's National Model (ASCA, 2003) described a comprehensive school counseling program as a program addressing the needs of children beginning as early as pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in three domains: academic, career, and personal/social. The career domain highlights the significance of developing skills to locate, evaluate, and interpret career information. Additionally, the career domain includes competencies demonstrating how interests, abilities, and achievement lead to achieving personal, social, educational, and career goals (ASCA, 2003). Since we know that elementary-aged children begin to make career-related choices that influence their future career goals, it is imperative that elementary school counselors become more involved in career-related interventions early on (Mariani et al., 2016; Woods & Kaszubowski, 2008).

In a qualitative study (n=123) conducted with first-, third, , fifth-grade children to examine the types of careers they wished and expected to have (Auger, Blackhurst, & Wahl, 2005), results showed that the younger children held more gender specific career expectations (i.e., female students as teachers; male students as truck drivers) while older elementary-aged students aspired to occupations based merely on fantasy. In another study (n=150), the career development needs of fourth-grade students from two rural school districts (Wood & Kaszubowski, 2008) were explored using a scale to measure Donald Super's nine dimensions (Super, 1990) of career development during the growth stage, the period when students fantasize and develop likes/dislikes and abilities/potential relating to careers. …

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