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The Career Choices CurriculumJTPA Summer Youth Program Successful

"The children we started with seven weeks ago are not the kids we have now. They look differently, they act differently, they hold their heads up, they speak distinctly... [and it all happened] in seven weeks," according to Anne Swygert, coordinator of the Greensboro, North Carolina, JTPA Summer Youth Program. Greensboro was just one of 34 diverse locations, from the Los Angeles inner city to rural towns of the Midwest, to use the Career Choices curriculum as part of their summer academic enrichment program. In total, over 5,000 young people used Career Choices this summer.

A federal project, JTPA (Job Training and Partnership Act) targets disadvantaged, at-risk youth and provides summer employment as well as remedial instruction. This year many sites focused on academics to help students improve reading, writing and math skills. The Career Choices program provided not only basic skills instruction, but also offered work maturity activities so important to these young people. The Career Choices curriculum proved extremely popular with students and instructors alike. We've heard many gratifying reports from the summer, including rival gang members now working together peacefully in the same classroom and teen moms becoming intrigued with working on computers. Attitudes toward school, work, and each other changed dramatically, and external evaluations showed significant gains in reading and math skills.

Margaret Johnson, last year's New Orleans JTPA Summer Youth Coordinator made this observation regarding their program: "The Career Choices curriculum was extremely successful for our 1,100 JTPA participants... Not only was the reading, writing, and mathematics relevant to the students' interest, but the program also made it easier for teachers to implement interdisciplinary instruction. As a result, basic skills were finally perceived as useful by our students; Everyone loved the program!"

Academic Innovations is in the process of developing an instructors' handbook for use by future year-round and summer JTPA youth program leaders. If you would like a copy please email us.

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