High schoolers to plan early for career goals

All District 51 high school students will write a plan for reaching their future career and education goals, beginning next school year.

The state has mandated all Colorado ninth- through 12th-graders create an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) beginning in the fall of 2011.

Each plan will include a portfolio of information about a student’s goals for future employment, performance in classes and tests needed to reach those goals, and plans for college, if applicable.

School District 51 got a jump on the mandate three years ago, when it began registering all sixth-grade students with the website CollegeInColorado.org.

The site offers assistance with financial aid, education and career planning. School counselors offer seventh-grade students a career-centered curriculum, and eighth-grade students in the district take a test that results in a list of 50 to 100 professions at which they may excel.

Before these career and academic plans, students didn’t have much formal guidance aside from parental advice and a visit to the counselor’s office on which classes to take or steps to make to graduate ready for a job or the college major they’d like to enter, said District 51 Executive Director of Middle Schools Deb Bailey.

Bailey and District Executive Director of High Schools Bill Larsen said the new system will get kids more invested in their own education because they’ll be involved in the making of their plan.

“We want our students engaged in their futures,” Larsen said. “It’s good when we shift from external motivation from adults.”

The look of the plan has not been decided. A district task force is examining whether to make each plan a physical form or an electronic version that can have essays and data attached to it. Each plan in the district will have to follow the same format.

Superintendent Steve Schultz said the plans are something the district looks forward to launching.

“This is mandated, but even if it wasn’t, we’d be doing this,” he said.


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