How does CTE prepare students?


05 Dec How does CTE prepare students?

Let’s be honest… sometimes envisioning life after high school can be overwhelming. Students may be asking themselves: Should I go to college and figure things out as I go? Should I get a job? If so, where? Schools in the Southeast Tennessee Pathway regions are aware of this challenge many students face, and have incorporated activities that help students decide the post-graduation path that is right for them.

There are five school districts in four counties in the Southeast Tennessee Pathways region, and they each have unique ways of preparing students for life after high school.  Golda Elliot, Pathways Career Coach for Marion County Schools, invests in CTE students by assessing them when they are in the 8th grade to determine possible career paths that fit their interests and strengths.  Based on their results, Golda recommends career pathways for them and makes suggestions to school counselors. More importantly, she follows up with students during their junior year to make sure students are still interested and engaged in their chosen career path. Golda participated in a Q & A to help others better understand the 8th grade career assessment:

1)      What are the top 2-3 positive experiences you have had with the 8th Grade Assessment?

The high school principal and I took a day and spent it at the middle school with 8th graders.  We went over each student’s results of their interest inventories/assessments and pointed out the top 3 areas of interest to the student.  We gave each one a list of those three along with the high school class requirements for those programs of study.  This was done prior to their 8th grade night visit to the high school with their parents and we asked them to start with the three programs on the list, then feel free to look at whatever else might interest them.  According to the principal, the students followed our instructions and as a result, 9th grade registration went smoother than it had ever gone in the past.  I will interview these same students in the spring to find out how they are doing in their program; if they are happy there; is this still what they want to do; are there any changes that we need to make in their program(s) of study?”

2)     What could a larger school district do to properly assess incoming freshman?

 “Larger School–if there are enough people, the same thing could be done; however, if not, they might have to look at the student information available and determine a number of students they could effectively work with and prioritize based on some area of need.  Or, if there are several schools, choose the students in the school(s) with the greater need.”

3)       Have there been any specific success stories with the assessment (i.e. – students deciding on a definite career choice, interviews, etc.)

“I do see from the student evaluations over the past three years that the students are putting more thought and showing more serious interest into their responses.”

Bradley Central High School helps prepare CTE students by performing mock interviews with industries from around the area. These interviews help students prepare for the real world by giving them feedback, which sometimes turn into real job opportunities or internships.

Lorri Wickam, Southeast Tennessee Pathways Liaison, participated in a Q & A session which provides a better understanding of the mock interviews:

1)      What are the top 2-3 positive experiences you have had with the Senior Mock Interview?

“We have found that most students take it very seriously and are very nervous beforehand. It has made some really think about what they want to do after graduation. It is rewarding to work with them on this project and see them in the interview experience. They asked a lot of good questions while planning for it and a few want us to practice with them prior to the interview. We help them prepare from what to wear to what to put in their cover letters. Each part of the process is important, and we do believe this will help them when real opportunities come along.”

2)      Have there been any specific success stories with the Interviews (i.e. –  students deciding on a definite career choice, real interviews, internship, etc.)

“We once had a student receive an internship from his interview. We also have students who were told by their interviewer to come see them when they graduate. A company this year told us they would have hired at least 5 of the students who interviewed with them.”

3)      Has there been any feedback/advice industries have given to students after interviews (and if so, any specifics)?

“We had a lot of compliments about how the students did this year. The companies give students advice/critique about their interviews as well. There is a scoring sheet that students receive that explain their scores, how to improve and what they did great, etc.  The employers we have spoken with really enjoy this and see potential in their future workforce.”

Some schools may not have the means to conduct such a survey, but alternatives like exist to make sure students are getting assessed so synergy between their skills and potential career choices is reached.

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