Academic Innovations
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Suggested Narratives for Proposals

Below are possible narratives containing points you may want to use in your proposal. We suggest you paraphrase the appropriate sections to fit your own program.

For Freshman Transition or Career Guidance Courses:

The key to all educational reform is motivating students to learn. The best way to create a classroom environment in which real learning can take place is to make education relevant. Students want to see how the curriculum relates to them-who they are, what they want, where they are going, and how the knowledge gained will play a part in their lives. The Career Choices curriculum helps students see the connection between their studies and their lives-present and future. In an interactive and motivational classroom situation, this program enables students to visualize their future.

As we ask students to make sophisticated career and life decisions at a young age (during the 10th, 9th, or even 8th grade), it is imperative that we provide comprehensive career guidance. We can no longer rely on a few interest surveys and a 15-minute meeting with a counselor to provide the groundwork for one of the most important decisions an individual makes. A comprehensive guidance curriculum provides this foundation. Completion of Career Choices means completion of a comprehensive career and life planning process, ensuring future course planning success for students and simplified assessment for parents, teachers, and counselors.

For Dropout Prevention in High School and College:

It is important that young people are able to envision and then plan for a productive future as a self-sufficient adult. Studies show that entering college freshman who have a vision and plan for a career path are far more likely to graduate and successfully enter the workforce than those who enter college with the vague notion that they either “have to go to college” or they have a vision of themselves as “good students” and therefore college is the obvious next step.

A four-year plan, which is probably the most common format for most high school, may get a student through to high school graduation. But for far too many students, when the only goal is graduation from high school, this is just not enough to keep them in school, particularly when they find it boring or irrelevant to their lives. This has been sited in a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation as a key reason students drop out. 

Without the vision of a productive future and, more importantly, the understanding of the consequences of not getting a good education, far too many will still dropout.  

The U.S. Department of Education granted Career Choices a Promising Intervention Award for success in reducing dropout rates as well as supporting higher achievement in reading and math. The text effectively demonstrates future benefits of completing high school and possibly post-secondary education. Career Choices also helps at-risk students understand that, in spite of individual challenges, they have the ability, resources, and responsibility to determine their own life patterns.

For Integration into English/Language Arts:

The psychologist Eric Erikson identified adolescence as the stage of identity formation. When classroom assignments help students answer two urgent questions-Who am I? What do I want?-communication skills and critical-thinking skills become more relevant. When fictional characters are seen to be struggling with these same questions, literature, too, takes on personal meaning. By using this self-discovery theme, teachers will notice improvement in their students' general attitude toward language arts. At the same time, students will create a comprehensive personal education plan.

If students are to succeed in our increasingly complex and sophisticated society, they need to know more and reason more effectively then previous generations of young people. This poses a challenge for educators. Since the school day has not expanded to accommodate these new requirements, it is up to us to squeeze more learning into each of the five or six daily class periods available. This is why we are requesting assistance to restructure our curriculum. It is our intent to provide a comprehensive career guidance curriculum in our English/language arts class.

Career Choices will meet the communication requirements for English/language arts (reading, writing, speaking, literature), while at the same time developing decision-making, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. It will support the school's counseling and guidance functions by helping students write their own education plans. This planning process will motivate them to not only stay in school and pursue some form of post-secondary education/training, but also to set and achieve personal goals.

Career Choices provides a proven guidance/career education model for the academic teacher. Each activity in the Career Choices texts motivates students to sharpen academic skills by demonstrating the relevance of present studies to their future lives. At the same time as they practice reading, writing, and computation, students learn to identify interests, explore career options, and build decision-making skills.

For a Dual Enrollment Course:

According to "Dual Enrollment: A Strategy for Educational Advancement of all Students," dual enrollment programs can help the transition from high school to college. The report was written by Elisabeth Barnett, a senior research associate at Columbia University's Teachers College, and Liesa Stamm, a senior research associate with Rutgers University's Center for Children and Childhood Studies. The researchers looked at various dual enrollment configurations as well as other studies about these programs.

The report concluded that "there is evidence that dual enrollment helps a wide range of students to be more successful in college. Students in these programs experience themselves as real college students and gain confidence and skills that can help them to excel academically."

In a dual enrollment freshman transition course using the Career Choices curriculum, students will develop comprehensive 10-year plans while reaping the added benefits of dual enrollment. Dual enrollment encourages students to see themselves as college students, gives them the confidence that they can complete college-level work, and earn credits on their college transcripts, which studies show increases the likelihood that students will enroll in college after high school. A dual enrollment freshman transition course also provides an excellent forum for helping students to start thinking about college options in their freshman year while they still have time to plan their courses appropriately and get adequate grades to be eligible for admission to the school of their choice.

In Support of Gender Equity and Career Exploration:

Studies show that a comprehensive career guidance and exploration experience may be even more important for adolescent females than for males. In their landmark study, reported in Educated in Romance, researchers Dorothy Holland and Margaret Eisenhart report that girls entering college with clear career goals achieve occupational success commensurate with their talents and intelligence 80% of the time. Females who entered without a specific path, who only knew they need to go to college to earn a degree, or those who see their identity as "a good student," are much more likely to lower their career goals before graduation. Only 18% of females who enter college with these motives achieve occupational success commensurate with their talents or intelligence. The rest end up in marginal or dead-end jobs. Holland and Eisenhart point out that the women who attended college to "learn from experts" had a future vision of themselves. They were very much aware of how their studies affected realization of that dream. Because these women knew what they wanted, they did not need to set their own priorities aside to meet someone else's expectations. This brings us to another consideration for females: Since becoming "identity achieved" is so very important for adolescent girls, a formalized identity search experience should be part of the comprehensive educational plan for females. According to Eric Erikson, adolescence is the time for establishing and consolidating identity. This stage is followed in young adulthood by the "intimacy" stage-the making of commitments to people, family, occupation, etc. Many researchers theorize that a young female either spends less time in the identity formation stage or may even flip-flop the stages and place the intimacy stage first. Unless a young female has a formalized identity search (Who am I?) before she begins to become intimate with males, she is likely to "give up" her own identity, dreams and goals, in favor of the male in her life. The Career Choices curriculum not only provides that formalized identity search opportunity, it also helps young girls think about, strategize and articulate their own career and life plan. Students who complete the Career Choices process are much more likely to develop solid identification with career achievement.

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