The William S. Hart District School Board discussed plans to expand the Career Pathways Program at its Wednesday meeting, the same day the California Department of Education updated a similar plan, Career Technical Education.
Currently Valencia and West Ranch High School are the only two schools to utilize the Career Pathways Program, which matches students with business industry professionals in specific fields to help jumpstart their future careers, said Dave LeBarron, Hart district director of curriculum and assessment.
By Fall 2013 all Hart district high schools will have three or four possible pathways for students to choose from, each with a teacher advisor and business partner from the affiliated industry to help them, LeBarron said.
“Half of the students going off to colleges don’t finish, they’re leaving with debt, frustration, quite frankly because they didn’t know why they were going in the first place, college and training should not be the end point, it should be the path to the end point,” LeBarron said.
Not all students are required to choose a pathway, but those that do can study fields such as cosmetology, auto technology and sports medicine, and will become part of the students normal school day, after their core classes are complete, said Joe Messina, Hart district board president.
“The whole idea is that at the end they can show they have experience, knowledge and have been exposed to the career,” Messina said. “We haven’t had them in every school and we haven’t had it as an expanded program so everyone will have options.”
LeBarron said the goal is to guide students, and help them find what careers they want or do not want to be apart of, as well as provide an educational roadmap and maintain partnerships among secondary and post-secondary education, business and employers.
By February each school’s programs are scheduled to be organized and teacher-advisor training will begin, LeBarron said. And by spring each pathways goals and documentation should be set and a marketing plan will be developed
“We have the best Career Pathways plan in the world, but if students, parents, you don’t know what it is, it’s not good,” LeBarron added.
Prior to the Hart district meeting the Department of Education updated their Career Technical Education standards.
Meant to prepare students for specific careers once they graduate, the new standards added additional pathways to 15 different industry sectors, now making 59 various pathways, said Russ Weikle, California Department of Education interim director of career and college transition division.
The California Department of Education website offers models for how teachers can base their curriculum for these industries, which include agriculture, fashion and transportation, and have set new expectations for what students learn, Weikle said.
“The document’s are a good guideline for schools and teachers to use to design curriculum, our pathways standards are not necessarily course standards but meant to help develop,” Weikle said.