The Story of a District-Wide Adoption

Kern Union High School District, Bakersfield, California

There truly is strength in numbers. Nowhere is this evidenced more clearly than the work being done at Kern Union High School District. Kern Union serves the county of Kern, located at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. It is California’s largest high school district with more than 35,000 students and 3,500 employees.

With 18 comprehensive campuses, 5 alternative education campuses, 4 special education campuses, 3 career and technical education sites, an adult education center, and a charter school, District Counselor, Christy Fraley, has the daunting task of ensuring that the Career Choices curriculum is taught with fidelity and enthusiasm.

“I look for teachers who not only are experienced in the classroom, but have that overwhelming desire to encourage every student, no matter what their circumstance,” she explained. She encourages her teachers to motivate students to dream big and to overcome obstacles. “Those concepts will assist in so many areas of their lives as they continue to mature,” said Ms. Fraley.

Before Kern UHSD began using Career Choices in 2015, the schools in the district did not have uniform career planning for their students, with some schools implementing certain practices while others did nothing. Given that starting point, when it came to choosing a curriculum for adoption, the career exploration component of Career Choices was the major selling point. Infused into a Life Planning class, students who may have been overlooked—the “disconnected youth,” as Ms. Fraley called them—now had a purpose and a direction.

Many of the Kern UHSD graduates attend the local community colleges where the Career Choices experience and students’ 10-year Plans complement the Naviance tools already in place to assist students in identifying the courses they should take. “[Career Choices] really has taken away a lot of the anxiety that new students face when they go to college for the first time,” according to Ms. Fraley.

Three schools were initially chosen to pilot the program in 2014, and things have grown from there. “Superintendent Dr. Schaefer has been supportive and has channeled funds into the program for additional teachers, training, and supplies all along the way,” Ms. Fraley added. In 2015, eighteen schools in the district implemented the Career Choices curriculum successfully, and the program will be expanded to include all freshmen in the Kern Union High School District in the 2016-2017 school year!