PITTSBURG, KS (May 30, 2018) – Ensuring the employability of graduates has increasingly become an explicit objective for school districts. In the quest to provide a solid foundation for their career prep programs, districts have explored frameworks such as ACT® WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certification® (NCRC®) and the national career clusters. Pitsco's Career Expeditions, which have been profiled against the NCRC assessments and designed with the 16 national career clusters in mind, provide a powerful tool at the middle level for enhancing a school's career-focused ambitions.
This is exactly what officials at Yankton Middle School in Yankton, South Dakota, have discovered. The school is currently beta testing the Career Expeditions. South Dakota, like other states, has followed industry's lead in identifying the NCRC as a valuable metric for gauging work readiness. "When we saw that WorkKeys and NCRC were aligned with these Expeditions, we just felt that that was a home run," said Principal Todd Dvoracek. "That is an area of focus within our high school, and it's something that's even in our accountability at the state level with career readiness."
Each Career Expedition title allows students to explore career pathways associated with a different field, as specified by the national career clusters. (In fact, one title, Now Hiring, provides a broad look at all 16 career clusters.) Students are placed in real-world scenarios they could experience while working in those fields and are asked to solve challenges through hands-on work. In this way, students discover their own aptitudes and interests.
In addition, by working in cooperative pairs to solve open-ended problems, students develop the kinds of 21st-century skills valued by employers. The curriculum's alignment with ACT's NCRC ensures that the knowledge students gain is truly relevant to the needs of employers. If students do go on to pursue certification, they will find that a strong performance on the assessment opens doors both for postsecondary career training and for employment immediately following high school.
It is easy to see how schools can use the Career Expedition titles to craft a career prep program tailored to the local economy. Yankton Middle School Career Expeditions Facilitator Tiffany Beste speaks excitedly about the value of the program for the Yankton region.
"Construction is crazy around here, and you can't find enough people to plumb and to be electricians and to build houses. We've got TruXedo, which makes the coverings for trucks, and we have Applied Engineering, which creates equipment for airplanes. Kolberg creates conveyor belts and rock-crushing equipment. . . . There are definitely students in our population that we want to have stay in Yankton and fill those jobs for us."
Perhaps the greatest aspect of the Career Expeditions is the expanded perspective on the future that students acquire. "We have a bigger picture in that career mind-set of getting kids experience, and it's not necessarily to master. It's to explore," said Principal Dvoracek. "We want to focus on giving kids skills in many different areas and follow along within the CTE career cluster realm."
Pitsco Education is the leading provider of hands-on K-12 STEM solutions. STEM Education prepares learners for the future through the integration of science, technology, engineering, and math concepts using relevant hands-on applications to connect school, community, and work. Our various products, activities, curriculum, and solutions promote positive learning experiences and continued classroom success.
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