Implementing Equitable Career and Academic Planning Solutions to Drive Education Change

November 12, 2021
Read Time: 3 min
By XAP

Education: Envision

“Streamlining the process of transitioning from high school by empowering students to generate connections between who they are and how to reach their personal goals beyond the classroom doors.”

A Foundational Culture

Having awareness and understanding of the diverse skill sets, unique personal experiences, dreams, and goals of high school students fosters an inclusive approach to education by nurturing a learning environment where every student can thrive. A strength-based culture where each learner is valued as having remarkable talents and unique interests sets up students for success.

Frequently, however, the narrative around what it means to be successful in high school promotes a single story that leaves too many students feeling inadequate and as a result, disengaged in their learning. For many young people, a traditional four-year college is the best option. But limiting the conversation or having biased messaging where four-year college is presented as the only desirable path will close doors of opportunity that should be left open for students and their families.

There should be an education framework that includes a high-quality technology platform that enables students to map out their personal goals as they evolve throughout middle and high school, whether that means a traditional four-year college or university, community college, technical or trade school, an apprenticeship, military service, employment, AmeriCorps, or something else. This will empower them to take charge and participate in meaningful ways. Nurturing students’ unique interests and skills will build confidence and self-esteem that translates into lifelong gains.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Modern-day classrooms reflect a wide variety of social and cultural characteristics. Counselors and other educators who embrace diversity and intentionally design inclusive curriculums while maintaining high standards promote equity and nurture learning environments where each student can achieve their personal best. Equality ensures that every learner has access to the same resources. Equity ensures that each student’s needs are being met based on recognizing individual differences within social contexts. An expansive approach to post-secondary learning embraces this and keeps pace with evolving dynamics. This includes career and technical education (CTE). The practice of teaching specific career skills to students in middle school, high school, and post-secondary institutions to better prepare them for careers is increasingly popular in the US.

Schools can better prepare learners for success through varied work-based learning programs and a range of services, including:

  • Robust career exploration and planning learning experiences
  • Opportunities for shadowing, internships, and registered apprenticeships
  • Contextualized instruction
  • Integrated education and training
  • Career ladders/roadmaps to careers
  • Curricula built on industry competency models
  • Multiple entry/exit points
  • Stackable credentials that lead to certificate/degree attainment
  • Career navigation and supportive services

Counselors and other educators require the proper support and tools to do this. It is important for learning environments to include a technology platform in their toolkit to track individual students’ progress throughout each phase of their high school education. The difference between equality and equity is nuanced. Meaningful, real-time data collection helps educators assess whether a student’s individual needs are being addressed and encourages programming that is fluid and tailored to students’ unique identities, strengths, and challenges.

Choices360

One of the best ways to advance equity in schools and support educators is to establish an online network where all students have access to learning materials and school resources. Technology platforms like Choices360 add a layer of support by providing a user-friendly, inclusive approach designed to honor individual interests and personal goals. With validated assessments and detailed reports to assess progress, along with a customizable, grade-based activities curriculum, students are guided through a series of activities that connect careers, high school courses, postsecondary programs, and majors to drive purposeful decision-making throughout high school.

This high-quality technology platform combined with attentive monitoring establishes a foundation that:

  • Provides teachers and counselors with a tool to foster individualized learning
  • Establishes a strength-based lens to raise awareness and create the link between high school and post-secondary decision-making
  • Expands the conversation around post-secondary options
  • Empowers students to take charge by engaging them in actionable ways
  • Collects real-time, usable data

Choices 360 is an innovative, comprehensive, and modern platform that encourages life readiness exploration and planning. As a result, students become deeply engaged in their learning and feel validated as they become aware that their personal decisions and input are respected.

Districts that include Choices360 in their toolkit can provide equitable strategies to ensure that young people leave high school with next steps in place that are tailored to their own unique goals and dreams. Students can learn the relevance of what they are learning and working toward in school and how it translates into benefits in life beyond the classroom doors. Whether it is college, career, military, AmeriCorps, technical training, or something else, students can make decisions based on a careful and thoughtful process.

When we lean in and listen to individual voices, we honor diversity, embrace inclusion, and promote equity in schools.

Here at XAP, we believe that exploration lays the foundation for planning. That’s why we help school and district counseling leaders implement equitable programs and strategies to ensure that students graduate high school not only with a diploma but also with a plan.

To see how we can help you better support your students and drive state, district, and school initiatives with greater ease, transparency, and data, feel free to contact our specialists today!

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