This is a curriculum map, published by the Washington State Department of Public Instruction, outlining appropriate college awareness themes and activities for seventh through ninth grade students. Instruction is divided into one of three themes or big ideas: education after high school, knowing yourself, and career interests. Lessons and activities for the above themes include discussions about goals, introducing background information and facts about college, introducing family wage jobs, interest inventories, discussing traits needed for success, connecting personal interests to careers, and connecting preparation to wages. This curriculum map also provides an outline for college and career awareness activities in high school so that you can see how all of the years align and build upon one another.
We could use this curriculum map as a basis or reference for other school systems that are currently implement college awareness instruction into the middle school curriculum. In addition, this curriculum gives us examples of activities that we could implement throughout our VPLC, or ideas for conversations that would be beneficial for the Elon students to have with the HMS students. Finally, we could use this curriculum map to inform our support for teachers which will enable them to make their students aware of college and career experiences.
This study identifies the new mission of middle schools to prepare students for the challenges of high school which ultimately prepare them for future college experiences and careers. These ten practices have been identified through this study and are proven to prepare students for high school and, ideally, encourage college and career readiness.
10 Best Practices:
1. Clear mission
2. District Support
3. Accelerated Curriculum
4. Engage Students in Learning
5. Improve Reading and Writing Skills
6. Success for Every Student
7. Identify at-risk Students
8. Provide Guidance and Advisement
9. Professional Development
10. Principal and School Leadership Team
These ten ideas are greatly expanded upon in the article. The main idea behind the article is that a unified team of educators who are working towards the common goal of student success and communicate in a collaborative environment provide students with better opportunities and are more likely to prepare them for high school and future success.
More recent version of the other handbook I uploaded:
This a student handbook from Washington State’s “Gear Up” program, preparing students for the future. The handbook is all about self identity and discovery, aligning interests with careers and finding out how to get there. This may seem like a lot for middle school students to think about, but this handbook breaks it up into a 6 step process and provides valuable information about SMART goal setting. SMART stands for specific, measurable, ambitions/attainable, relevant and tailored. Lastly, the handbook offers many resources for students including a checklist to stay on track in middle school.
There are many valuable tools in this handbook, but 24 pages for how to stay on task all the way to college seems too extensive for middle school students. There are many parts of the handbook that I would like to take out and use, but the whole thing just seems like too much. The most important aspect of the book is its SMART goal section which will be very helpful for our VPLC. The interest inventory will also help students look at what they are interested and think about careers that may align with those interest. Though students do not need to decide on a career at this point, it is never too early to have them thinking about careers, setting goals, and learning about the resource and technology needed to explore those careers.
This article stresses the importance of college knowledge in progressing to college and careers. Hooker and Brand define college knowledge as, “an understanding of the complex college admission and selection processes, the options available to help pay for postsecondary education, the academic requirements for college-level work, and the cultural differences between secondary and postsecondary education.” Therefore, Hooker and Brand consider academics, development and cultural understandings key in college and career readiness. This article also discusses social capital as a vital part of college knowledge especially for underrepresented groups who may fall behind in this area. Additionally Hooker and Brand write of 3 successful programs that prepare students for college. Though two of these focus more on High School Preparation, one program, Citizen Schools, does target Middle School specifically by preparing students for high school, stressing the importance of decision-making and goals, and working to promote relevance in the school experience.
Hooker and Brand’s article is relevant and important to our VPLC because it states that participation in programs like Citizen Schools increases graduation rates, a key step in college and career readiness. We can use different pieces of the programs mentioned to implement in our own project and encourage teachers to think about within their classrooms. Enhancing social capital as a part of college knowledge is important and can be practiced daily as well as a part of our proposed project of interacting with Elon college students. This article will help our VPLC think about expanding learning opportunities related to college knowledge.
This source is a report published by the ACT which argues that middle grades students – who are already falling behind in terms of college and career readiness before high school – never really have a chance to catch up. This study suggests that eighth grade academic achievement is the best predictor of college and career readiness by high school graduation. Next, it provides data based around the EXPLORE and PLAN tests which shows how students who scored well on these tests were better prepared for college and career experiences. The most applicable element of this report for our VPLC is the next portion which suggests that academic discipline during the middle grades is crucial to college awareness. The ACT suggests that academic discipline consists of the following three categories: planning and organization, follow-through action, and sustained effort. Finally, it lists nonnegotiable knowledge and skills needed by eighth grade students in order to be college/career-ready and suggestions to ensure that students are on track.
We can use this source as data that suggests that college and career readiness organization and planning at the middle school level is beneficial, which is what our VPLC hopes to achieve. We can use this information to motivate our students to put their best foot forward both in their content classes and in their college/career planning efforts as this study shows that these factors make a difference. Finally, we can share the nonnegotiable knowledge and skills with the teachers so that they will have an awareness of what their students need to be able to do academically by the end of eighth grade in order to be college and career ready.
In order to appropriately prepare students for college and careers, educators should be knowledgeable of exactly what is necessary for students to know. This article explicitly defines college and career readiness and identifies four categories in which students should be competent that will lead to preparation.
According to the article, students do not need to be equally proficient in all content areas and skills. This article addresses this by categorizing different knowledge, skills, strategies and techniques and postulates that students should be experienced in all four categories.
The categories include Key Cognitive Strategies, Key Learning Skills and Techniques, Key Content Knowledge and Key Transition Knowledge and Skills. These four areas cover a lot of necessary material and skills but allow flexibility in relation to specific areas so that students can apply which knowledge, skills and techniques are most appropriate for them individually.
The article also discusses two other aspects. It differentiates between college readiness and career readiness. The categories apply here because there are similar skills but differentiation in regards to pertinent knowledge. It also identifies other areas of preparation that are beneficial in readiness such as financial support, community support and citizenship.
These considerations in addition to the four categories define college and career readiness and aid educators in directing the teaching. By focusing this knowledge, teachers are more able to appropriately prepare students for future endeavors.
This article identifies four ideas of early learning that are important to take into consideration when discussing students' college and career readiness. The four ideas and their effects are summarized below:
1. The importance of early learning
Learning is sequential and is based off of students' previous experiences and prior knowledge. Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the importance of this aspect of a spiral curriculum because sequential learning dictates that intervention is most efficiently accomplished early in student education as opposed to in middle and high schools.
2. The components of a strong learning program
Strong learning programs consist of strong reading math components but also are interdisciplinary and provide comprehensive experiences with science, history, geography, civics, and the arts. In addition to academic knowledge, activities should also help students develop social behaviors.
3. The obstacles to strengthening early learning programs
These obstacles consist of three main ideas: a focus on short-term results, beliefs that argue that early learning is too challenging and unnecessary and that a lack of support and training limit early learning programs. While these obstacles are legitimate, they can be overcome with exposure to where, when and why they are occurring.
4. The importance of a system to improve early learning
Early learning can be improved. NC is actually taking steps towards this by using the P21 Framework and the NC Teaching Standards which address the following practices that are used to improve early learning programs:
Curriculum and Academic Goals
Staff selection, Leadership and Capacity Building
Instructional Programs and Strategies
Monitoring Performance and Progress
Intervention and Adjustment
These ideas can all be used to better understand the challenges educators are up against when working to prepare their students for the future. Understanding these challenges can lead to interventions that can prevent such issues in the future.
While this source almost entirely deals with College Access, the first two sections are the most relevant to our VPLC as they deal with the idea of College Access as a whole. The remaining sections describe specific programs that have been implemented across the nation to support college and career awareness. The document, published by the American Youth Policy Forum first describes how college is unattainable for many students, and that their goal is to enhance access to college for all students. Next, it provides a framework for college and career readiness. It defines college and career readiness and then begins to detail a model that they believe to be most effective for raising college and career awareness. The model is broken into necessary background knowledge and support, then immediate, intermediates, and long-term outcomes of a college education. Finally, it provides a chart detailing support and program providers. I think that this source will help us most with choosing and assigning discussion topics for our conversations between Hawfields Middle School students and Elon students, and also with helping to grow teachers’ knowledge of how to prepare students for college and career experiences. The necessary background knowledge provided in the source could give teachers an idea of what they need to be working on with their students in order to them to be as prepared as possible. In addition, college students will be in the intermediate outcomes section of the college education chart, and will be able to discuss with the HMS students how they are currently being affected by their college education. In addition, they could also talk about what they will be able to accomplish in the long term thanks to their college degree. In addition, the immediate outcomes portion could serve as guidelines for the SMART goals that our students will set.
Afterschool Alliance supports after school programs for many reasons, but this article discusses how after school is beneficial for preparing students for the future. The article contains many statistics about how middle school and high school education affects college dropout rates. In contrast, after school can be a time for students to explore their passions outside of academic courses and gain confidence in both school subjects as well as extra curriculars. There is even research that suggests that students are more likely to set goals if they can connect additional higher education with enjoyment. After school activities can incorporate mentors, college visits, internships, technology and more that can allow students to realize their potential.
This article is important to our VPLC because although it describes after school programs, there are concepts that can relate to our project and career and college readiness curriculum. This article supports our project of SMART goal setting through communication with college students because it discusses how mentorship is beneficial to students because it helps students create relevant goals. The statistics and facts about higher education would also be helpful information for a VPLC because it will give quantitative data backing up the importance of college and career readiness even at an early age. Students may even benefit from this information.
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