Georgia 9th-graders to pick career path

Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 10:54 AM
Last updated 7:06 PM
  • Follow Education

ATLANTA — David Lemcoe Jr.’s high school education included field trips to Georgia’s death row and a lab where he learned how blood flies when a head is struck with a baseball bat.

The 2013 graduate of Centennial High School chose classes that gave him a peek into the work world. Starting this year, all Georgia high school freshmen are required to follow his lead.

Hoping to address a dismal graduation rate and prepare students for the workforce, the state is requiring ninth graders to pick one of 17 broad career “clusters,” such as finance or health sciences. They can opt instead to take more college-prep courses, such as world languages, fine arts or advanced-placement courses, but officials hope college-bound students will voluntarily take career-specific classes as well.

Vocational programs have long been offered in Georgia high schools. But, with the new mandatory clusters, the state is following a national trend to align coursework with the needs of employers.

Students will obtain three of 23 credits they need for graduation through the “career pathways” program, but critics have raised doubts that a high school freshman is capable of making a decision with potentially life-long impact.

Lemcoe is now a freshman at Georgia Tech majoring in industrial and systems engineering and does not regret studying about courts and cops in high school. “You got to see hands on what would be done in regular police work,” he said.

The new mandate comes with no additional funding, so implementation is up to each school. State officials acknowledge that some districts will have teachers with expertise in more pathways than others.

Within the clusters, there are more than 100 career pathways, with differing levels of difficulty and potential earnings. Most of the pathways prepare students to take a credentialing test that can open the door to an entry-level job, such as certified nursing assistant, which pays about $25,000 a year.

Proponents say the mandate will expose students to career options, leading them to think about what they want to do in life. They hope it will make school relevant to those at risk of dropping out and improve the state’s graduation rate while addressing business complaints about graduates not ready for work.

Schools are offering courses that play to regional strengths, said Mike Buck, chief academic officer for the Georgia Department of Education. For instance, Savannah area schools may have a strong maritime logistics focus because of their proximity to shipping and fishing industries, he said.

“The reality is not every district is going to be able to offer every pathway in every cluster,” he said, adding that the state will supplement local offerings with online coursework.

And one potential problem is that students who change pathways might delay their graduation, if they aren’t following one of the college prep pathways, Buck said.

Shellie Caplinger, a school counselor at Centennial High School in Roswell, said she’s glad there’s an option for an advanced academic route.

“A lot of these kids are academic warriors who are shooting for those Ivy League schools,” she said.

Students aren’t going blindly into the career-selection process. Some school systems are doing extensive testing to determine careers that would fit their students’ interests and personalities. Parents are included in the decision-making, which is either guided by a school counselor or a teacher. Grade-appropriate discussions of potential careers are now part of every step of the K-12 experience.

Levi Reece, a junior at Hillgrove High School in Cobb County, worked with his parents and a counselor to choose a business pathway before there was a state mandate.

“I figured it would interest me the most and would look better when applying to colleges,” he said.

Ninth grade is the right time for students to make such decisions, he said. “If they don’t like the pathway they can always switch.”

But J.D. Capelouto, a senior at Grady High School, isn’t sure freshmen are ready to pick careers.

“Students’ occupational interests change over the course of high school — at least mine have multiple times,” he said.

The mandate to study a career may not help all students figure out what they want to do in life, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a useful experience, said Jody Reeves, director of career technical education in Gwinnett County.

“It also helps them figure out what they do not want to do,” she said.

Comments (24) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
BamaMan
2163
Points
BamaMan 09/09/13 - 11:29 am
6
0
9th graders?

Like 9th graders are going to have a clue. Ask almost any parent or college student for that matter, just how many change their choice (assuming they had one that far back) when they get to the big world of college.

IBeDogGone
2871
Points
IBeDogGone 09/09/13 - 11:46 am
6
0
You are so correct BamaMan

I graduated college with a degree in Education, explored many different fields and ended up in the medical field, in the 9th grade I wanted to be a groupie for the Bee Gee's so that tells you how old I am. Motivate students to go to college, but picking a career is not very feasible.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/09/13 - 01:05 pm
6
1
My thoughts exactly. Both my

My thoughts exactly. Both my husband and I changed our majors in college. We did not have a clue in the 9th grade.

Little Lamb
43525
Points
Little Lamb 09/09/13 - 01:26 pm
2
0
List

Here are the seventeen career clusters from the Georgia Dept. of Education web site:

Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources

Architecture and Construction

Arts, A/V Technology & Communications

Education and Training

Energy

Finance

Government & Public Administration

Health Science

Hospitality & Tourism

Human Services

Information Technology

Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security

Manufacturing

Marketing

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/09/13 - 01:41 pm
3
1
Good grief!

Good grief!

raul
3954
Points
raul 09/09/13 - 03:40 pm
3
1
Check out an overview of the

Check out an overview of the German public school system. Around 9th grade is the critical decision point as to continuing an academic education leading to university or a vocational type path.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/09/13 - 04:10 pm
3
1
I have no problem with

I have no problem with choosing a vocational or college tract early. That is done all the time.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/09/13 - 04:10 pm
2
1
Or at least it used to be.

Or at least it used to be.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/09/13 - 05:32 pm
4
2
ABSOLUTE INSANITY.
Unpublished

ABSOLUTE INSANITY.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/09/13 - 07:43 pm
2
1
Who the heck came up with

Who the heck came up with this?

So glad my grandchildren are not facing this inadequate and misdirected attempt to solve low graduation rates. Not that they would have been the targets.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/09/13 - 09:10 pm
2
1
2 to 3 decades I used to be able to express my opinion

I just could not post what I wanted to say. It kept disappearing.

Little Lamb
43525
Points
Little Lamb 09/09/13 - 11:08 pm
2
0
18th Cluster

Where is the cluster for hard manual labor?

LillyfromtheMills
12372
Points
LillyfromtheMills 09/10/13 - 07:25 am
2
1
I like the idea

At least they will understand they are in school working toward some sort of goal.

Young Fred
15561
Points
Young Fred 09/10/13 - 08:33 am
4
0
A huge problem with this

From the article: "And one potential problem is that students who change pathways might delay their graduation, if they aren’t following one of the college prep pathways, Buck said."

Another problem: "“The reality is not every district is going to be able to offer every pathway in every cluster,” he said, adding that the state will supplement local offerings with online coursework."

Young Fred
15561
Points
Young Fred 09/10/13 - 08:58 am
4
0
How long do you suppose it

How long do you suppose it will be before the state at least attempts to “tell” children what path has been chosen for them?

It will start with staff, teachers, and administration, at least subconsciously, being resentful towards students choosing something other than what aptitude test results pointed towards. Pressure will be brought to bear upon children picking “wrong” fields or against children wishing to change paths.

It will just snowball from there.

navycubfan
194
Points
navycubfan 09/10/13 - 09:25 am
2
0
I agree Young Fred..One more

I agree Young Fred..One more step towards socialism. Let's couch it with trying to "improve graduation rates". Garbage. "Young Man you have aptitude in science, you will be a nuclear engineer." "You have aptitude in nothing... you will be a politician."

LillyfromtheMills
12372
Points
LillyfromtheMills 09/10/13 - 09:42 am
0
0
Yea

Let's just let them hang out on corners with pants on the ground waiting to shot someone - America is not the same America we knew and loved. The parents raising the 47 percent aren't going to give a damn what their kids do anyway. I know my grand kids have their parents directing them not some "it takes a village" mentality.

Echoes86
911
Points
Echoes86 09/10/13 - 11:23 am
1
0
Little Lamb: "18th

Little Lamb: "18th Cluster
Where is the cluster for hard manual labor?"

That would most likely be under the manufacturing and architecture clusters which include classes like building construction, mechatronics, machine tool, electricity...

I'm surprised welding isn't an option, unless I'm missing it. I think this could only lead to positive things. Yes, people in college don't even have a clue what they want to do. I was one of those people, however, I think if I had been exposed to more areas earlier I would actually have an idea about what I was or was not interested in. The kids do not have to stick with that cluster for the rest of their life, and I'm sure there will be wiggle room. For instance, if a kid in 9th grade chooses Health Science, but learns he/she doesn't really like it, maybe the next year that kid could take Criminal Justice or something else he or she is interested in. By graduation time, instead of this kid sticking with health science, he or she will know that it wasn't a fit. That at least narrows down the options.

It's good exposure, and I like that it doesn't force college on every kid. College is not for everyone and more often than not, college graduates can't find a job in the career they studied for because many jobs around the CSRA want skills and certifications.

Red Headed Step Child
4006
Points
Red Headed Step Child 09/10/13 - 11:52 am
1
1
I do think that there needs

I do think that there needs to be a change in our educational system. I don't see a thing wrong with offering career pathways in addition to the "traditional" pathways we see now. Sure, kids change their minds all the time, but as the old saying goes - "knowledge is power"! Part of that knowledge is hands on experience and exposure to different fields. How can that harm our future workforce? Do you really think they'd be worse off than they are now?

It's not about socialism or pigeonholing students, it's about having educational options that produce skill sets that are in demand.

Young Fred
15561
Points
Young Fred 09/10/13 - 12:10 pm
3
0
I have no problem with giving

I have no problem with giving children more choices.

Because of personal observation and the history/results of public education system over these last 50 years or so, I'm just a wee bit mistrustful.

The program should work like this -
The blank aptitude test would be sent home with the child, for the child to complete and the results interpreted with his/her parents. The child, with help from the parents, will then choose which path the child will take. It is none of the states business how or why that decision was made. There should be no negative consequences if at a latter date the child wishes to change paths.

I could support a program like that! But does anyone actually believe the state would give that kind of power to mere parents and students?

Echoes86
911
Points
Echoes86 09/10/13 - 12:25 pm
2
0
That's true

Fred, your concerns and plan are completely valid. I wish the actual plan was more like that too.

Red Headed Step Child
4006
Points
Red Headed Step Child 09/10/13 - 12:55 pm
0
0
State involvement

You're right, Fred - the state's involvement should be limited to providing the options and holding educators accountable. Parents have to be accountable to supporting education from their end.

Kids are taking some sort of aptitude test now, but it doesn't really move beyond that. I know that the parents don't have any involvement in those, and had my child not mentioned taking one, would have never known anything about it.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/10/13 - 05:40 pm
0
0
Aptitude tests don't always

Aptitude tests don't always work. When my husband was in high school, his uncle, who was affiliated wit MIT, arranged for him to take aptitude tests in engineering to determine which type of he was best suited to be. They determined because of his talents and the fact that he has perfect pitch.he was particularly suited for being an acoustical engineer. Nope, that was not he wanted to do, and he has been perfectly happy with his choice.

KSL
119036
Points
KSL 09/10/13 - 05:45 pm
0
0
My aptitude tests said I was

My aptitude tests said I was best suited for science and math. I majored in English and Sociology. Go figure.

LillyfromtheMills
12372
Points
LillyfromtheMills 09/10/13 - 07:55 pm
1
0
Mine said

I was great dancing on tables heheh

Back to Top

Top headlines

Germany wins World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO - Mario Goetze volleyed in the winning goal in extra time to give Germany its fourth World Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday.
Loading...