EXEMPLARY CAREER GUIDANCE PROGRAM, 1996-97
PROGRAM NAME: Career Counseling
LOCATION: Kuna High School, Idaho
POPULATION: All students (l,160), grades 9-12
DESCRIPTION: The Kuna School District's comprehensive, developmental career guidance program moves students progressively through an organized, age-appropriate curriculum. The program is based on the Idaho Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program K-12 model, which is modeled after the National Career Development Guidelines. At the elementary level, the focus is on a variety of career awareness activities embedded in the curriculum. For example, parents and others visit the classroom to discuss their work, teachers relate their curriculum to jobs, and students take field trips to businesses. At the middle school level, many teachers relate their curriculum to work. Two-month long classroom career guidance units, developed by the middle and high school counseling staff, are taught through the language arts classes co-facilitated by trained teachers. Commercial inventories and career information are provided at the seventh grade level; students in the eighth grade identify their "dependable strengths." Every student leaves middle school able to articulate his or her strengths and how they relate to the world of work.
At the high school level, the career guidance curriculum is both exploratory and preparatory with an ongoing emphasis on planning for future education and careers. The heart of the program takes place in the language arts classes. Language arts teachers are strong supporters of this approach to career development. Ninth grade students explore careers through commercial software programs, job clusters (groups of jobs with similar characteristics), fantasy job searches, and supporting videos. These activities are supplemented through several 90-minute class periods in which counselors and teachers assist students in developing high school plans. Tenth grade students focus on their interests and learning/working styles through commercial assessment instruments. In the eleventh and twelfth grades, career guidance is highly focused and more personalized. Students use print materials, videos and computers to link with career information. They combine this information with data in a portfolio, which contains material accumulated over several years, to develop career-related research projects for language arts. These projects provide extensive career orientation through required interviews of people in the career field being studied and "job shadowing" (mentoring) experiences. The research culminates in papers and presentations for all students. Teachers help students develop their resumes and practice interviewing through mock interviews conducted by local business people. Students also have opportunities for internship experiences.
The Kuna career guidance program is a highly collaborative, integrated effort supported through professional development. All teachers participate in week-long work-based experience and receive training on using computer career information and guidance systems. While one high school counselor is assigned to career counseling, all the high school counseling staff believe career guidance is crucial to student development and focus much of their work with students on career exploration and planning. Parental involvement takes place at every level of career guidance activity.
PROGRAM EVALUATION: The Kuna Career Counseling Program is routinely evaluated in a number of ways. The program is part of the Federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act mandated evaluation process. For accreditation purposes, the program is part of the evaluation process in both the junior high and high schools. Student surveys are used to determine student perception of the program. As part of the district curriculum development plan, a needs assessment is required. The program is included in the information that is secured from spring graduates in their exit interviews. Informal counselor evaluations and anecdotal information are utilized to make changes and reinforce essential program components.
PROGRAM EFFECTIVENESS: The career counseling program has been very effective in providing appropriate opportunities to all students for the purpose of developing careers. Students have a minimum of 32 contact hours for the purpose of career counseling in classrooms and individual interviews. Because of this contact:
-students are better able to express what types of career options are of most interest to them;
-students are more familiar with training/educational options;
-students understand where information can be accessed when there are questions;
-classes have more relevance to students when these courses fit a plan for the future;
-career development competencies are demonstrated in each level with language arts projects resulting in a portion of a grade and in the career portfolio;
-academic and career counselors share information for students;
-students come to their academic advisors with a clearer understanding of what the future holds;
-fewer students exhibit anxiety about career decision-making
-the time-consuming task of delivering information is reduced for the academic counselors.
PROGRAM RECOGNIZED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
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