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Web Site to Support School Districts in Implementing New Standards

The Outreach for K-12 Office at Pennsylvania College of Technology coordinated and recently launched a Web site that can help school districts across Pennsylvania implement the state?s new Career Education and Work Academic Standards.

The site is a “toolkit” to help schools sort through the abundance of resources available to them and to help them use their own time, funds and personnel efficiently. The site was launched Sept. 5 and will be introduced to school districts during an event in Harrisburg on Oct. 25.

The Career Education and Work Standards, approved by the state in July, are one of 12 sets of state academic standards that all Pennsylvania students are required to achieve. The standards cover two major focuses. One is career development, helping students to understand who they are, how to get a job and how to keep a job. The second focus is on the foundation skills of entrepreneurship.

Penn College?s Outreach for K-12 Office organizes the Career Development Leaders Network, a panel that serves as a source for knowledge on career development in Pennsylvania, which has been working with the state particularly the Bureau of Career and Technical Education to support the implementation of the standards in local school districts.

The group was given a contract administered by Penn College to build a resource guide toolkit, which, with expertise of about 15 people compiling and writing resources, has resulted in the new Web site.

The site is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, and was developed by the Career Development Leaders Network and Penn College?s Outreach for K-12 Office.

Jeannette L. Fraser, director of Outreach for K-12, said the problem for school districts is not a lack of available materials. Rather, it is deciding which to use when beginning to incorporate the standards into their classrooms.

The toolkit suggests key resources such as classroom activities, books, software and Web sites for preparing for the third-, fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade benchmarks. The key resources can be used in a wide variety of classroom and real-world settings for all students.

The toolkit also provides “crosswalks,” which show how Career Education and Work Academic Standards can be met while satisfying another set of academic standards.

“The goals of the standards and the Web site are to help students do a better job at building career maturity,” Fraser said. Career maturity is a person’s ability to make good career decisions about what is right for him or her.

“If kids don’t have career-development skills, they end up making bad choices,” she said. “Everyone has a right to find a job or career they love. It’s in their power to do that if we help them along the way.”

At the elementary school level, the standards are meant to help children understand who they are and what they like and don’t like. In middle school, students should start to experience different careers through such activities as job shadowing and learn to ask the right questions about a job. In high school, the standards aim for school districts to help students begin a plan for their career by deciding how to achieve what they want through a four-year or two-year college, or through the military, for example.

It is natural for children to change their minds, Fraser said, but the standards are meant to build students’ skills to help them make choices along the way.

“These are the skills that will make you happy in life. … It’s teaching students skills so they know how to assess themselves, know how to assess an opportunity and figure out if it fits them,” Fraser said.

For more information regarding the programs offered to schools through Penn College’s Outreach for K-12 Office, call (570) 320-8003, send e-mail or visit online.

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