Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Research on Career Readiness Skills for the Future: Emphasizing Needs in Western Pennsylvania


The research is not particularly strong in
the area of career readiness. There’s a lot of anecdotal knowledge, some
of which is incredibly strong and just makes sense. There’s a national center—the [College and
Career Readiness and Success Center] (CCRS) and this center developed—there are many
frameworks that are out there. David Conley, for example, has one. Pretty much any organization that studies
this topic has a framework. Here we’re just using the CCRS Center Framework,
and they group knowledge and skills into three buckets. The first is around academic content. These are your state standards, whether it’s
for different subject areas or career and technical education. The second is similar to what Erin was talking
about—which is that nexus between interests, skills, aspirations, and that path and knowing
that path to get from where you are to where you want to go. Then the last is lifelong learning skills
and this would be all of the social-emotional learning, higher-order thinking, etc. The center did a review of research and developed
a document called “Predictors of Post-Secondary Success.” You can find all of this on the CCRS website. In that document they, we looked at per level
of education, what are the key predictors of doing well moving to the next level. Probably not surprising at the elementary
grades reading proficiency by third grade was really important. Attendance [is important], and you see attendance
throughout every grade level being important. Paying attention in class. Social competence and skills [is important]. You start to see some of these lifelong learning
skills being predictive of future success moving forward. Middle grades, again we see good behavior,
attendance, passing in your core courses, taking rigorous coursework. And then also a number of different social-emotional
decision-making skills, whether its support-seeking behaviors, problem-solving, etc. It’s always important, you know better than
I do, passing ninth grade courses, taking a rigorous course sequence, getting good grades,
passing state exams, being proficient, as well as completing FAFSA, the financial aid
application, and also participating in enrichment activities. What does research say about what institutions
can provide students in order to help them be career ready or future ready? The Department of Education has a really nice
report that they’ve put out that focuses on helping students navigate the path to college. In that, they offer five different key supports. The first is offering courses and curricula
that prepare students for college-level work and ensuring that by ninth grade students
know what constitutes a pathway to college. So that touches on some of this academic organization
work. So the curriculum, instruction, and assessment,
they’re all aligned, they’re standards-based, etc. They are multiple pathways students can also
get experience with work and content. Then there are some cross-disciplinary connections. The second thing is using assessment measures
throughout high school so that students know they’re aware of where they are on the pathway
and there’s the ability to remediate when necessary. Surround students with adults and peers who
really support a college-going path and outcome. Engaging students in completing critical steps
for college entry. So for example applying [to college], filling
out FAFSA, etc. and then increasing the family’s financial awareness about the cost of college. So there is actually another really nice report
from the CCRS Center, and in this they highlight the district’s role in supporting college
career readiness. They summarize three different districts’
work: one is Long Beach, another Albuquerque, and the third is Philadelphia, here in Pennsylvania. Across all three of those school districts
some key themes come out. First is enhancing partnerships, and Mary
Kay talked about the importance of partnerships for CPE but partnerships with higher ed [and]
business in order to create these different pathways and different types of experiences
for students. Enhancing counseling. So aligning and enhancing the counseling. The counselors work [on] having advisories,
having mentoring, developing supports around students to help keep them from falling through
the cracks. Implementing district-wide academic expectations. All schools are offering AP and expanding
A dual-enrollment opportunities. Then also all three of them had different
components where they engage parents and families in order to support students. I know this is going to come up more later,
but I wanted to say a few words about Pennsylvania’s ESSA plan as it relates to career readiness
or future ready. Pennsylvania has in their plan has written
a number of goals that are related to this topic. One is certainly increasing graduation rates,
increasing the number of citizens who have post-secondary education [with] all districts
implementing 3-3-9 plans, increasing the number of students achieving success in college career
readiness activities as well as the number of high school students earning industry recognized
credentials and increasing the number of visits to PDE’s online career exploration. Interestingly Pennsylvania has included actually
a very interesting and I’d say a bit different type of career measure compared to other state
plans that I’ve looked at. This includes three indicators—one at fifth
[grade], one at eighth [grade], and one at eleventh grade—and they center around the
idea of the 3-3-9 plans, which I know you all are very familiar with and working on. So that in eighth grade you know ideally a
hundred percent of students will have the plan. In fifth grade, they will have taken a number
of career exploration and preparation activities, and then by eleventh grade they will have
been implementing their individualized plans. Then finally—a little bit more about the
context there. There are a couple of research studies out. One is “Inflection Points” another is,
has been put out by PASSHE ( PA State System of Higher Education). that talks about supply-demand, future projections
for different occupations. You know I’ve read both of these reports in
great detail. Here just a few points from the Pashey slide. I think one of the key takeaways that I have
is first of all you know health is going to be an important field. Technology is going to be an important field
and is. Energy [as well]. But I think even more importantly coming back
to what Erin was saying is, the key is really preparing students for what might be next
and really helping them to be adaptable. Because while these projections talk about
occupations that we know and understand right now, even in projections we’re not really
sure exactly what occupations will look like in five, ten, fifteen years from now. What types of skills do students will students
need? It will likely be a combination of some of
the social lifelong learning skills and preparing students to be lifelong learners. Then finally, and [then] I’m going to hand
it over to Jackie, one of the things that are three key questions that really became
prominent to us as we were looking through the research and thinking about the work that
that you’re doing today, and beyond today, and have been doing, is taking some time to
reflect on the skills that you think will be necessary. What are you currently offering students that
would help them build those skills? Then finally where are some of the gaps? What are the things that you would like to
do in order to support students in developing the future readiness? And I’m going to turn over to Jackie.

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