Career Readiness | News
West Virginia Department of Ed Adds Career Readiness System To Help High Schoolers
- By Dian Schaffhauser
West Virginia's Department of Education has begun promoting the use of an application to help students connect what they're learning in high school to what they'll need to know for specific careers or college. The division of Career Technical Education recently adopted Personalized Career Readiness System from WIN Learning for use by middle and high school students. The system consists of a number of online applications to help students learn how to succeed in and after high school.
A job analysis component in the system analyzes current and projected labor market needs for a given region to suggest career pathways. A skills assessment module measures a student's career readiness and provides a skill gap to expose areas for additional work. Career readiness courseware uses applied academics to promote workplace skill mastery. For example, a WIN math program helps students understand how Common Core State Standards-based math work applies to real-life scenarios they may encounter in 16 different career clusters. A soft skills program teaches students how to communicate more effectively, work as part of a team, think critically and solve problems, and convey professionalism on the job.
According to West Virginia's Assistant State Superintendent Kathy D'Antoni, WIN Learning was chosen because it was the first program she'd found that explicitly supported career and technical education. "It is the resource I've been waiting for," she said. "It's rigorous. It's relevant. It's personalized. And it's project-based. It puts everything in context for our students. They can relate what's going on in their classrooms now — be it math or science or language arts — to what they will do in the future. That is so powerful, especially because it supports students whether they go directly into the workforce or elect to secure a postsecondary credential or degree."
One West Virginia group that has tried out WIN Learning is the Fayette Institute of Technology in Oak Hill. There, Principal Barry Crist credits the WIN Learning programs with helping students meet their academic goals and find a fit in future careers. "Students who are genuinely excited about graduating and moving on to an engaging career aren't typically found in rural, vocational technology programs. But through this program our students see the direct connection between what they're learning and their future," he said. "Many plan to seek out some of the most advanced certifications in their fields. WIN Learning is something every high school should offer."
D'Antoni said she plans to extend the program's use to support West Virginia students as they prepare for the mandatory WorkKeys Assessments. This is a certificate program that measures students' skills that employers have deemed essential for job success. "These 'real world' skills don't just happen organically. Our students need curriculum support in honing these critical skills," she noted. "With WIN Learning we not only prepare students for good outcomes on the WorkKeys Assessments, but we know that it can complement diplomas, degrees, and resumes, and it gives job seekers an advantage in the interview process."
WIN Learning's software is also in use at Irving and Aransas Pass Independent School Districts in Texas and Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative in Kentucky, among other sites.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.