In an effort to incentivize students to earn their diplomas, a counseling professor created a program to match high school curricula with student’s career goals.
Roughly 25 percent of Americans fail to graduate high school each year, the National Center for Education Statistics found, putting the United States at a disadvantage in the global market. Graduate School of Education and Human Development professor Rebecca Dedmond’s program, the Freshman Transition Initiative, is aimed at eighth and ninth graders and hopes to encourage students to see it through senior year.
“Everybody is talking about dropouts and trying to measure the number of students who do not stay in school,” Dedmond said. “I was tired of people just talking about it. We needed to actually do something.”
Using 12 standards that relate to a student’s personal knowledge and abilities, students in the program find after-school jobs and create a 10-year plan for their education and careers.
“The standards help students make better informed decisions about taking more challenging courses,” Dedmond said. “In career development, students take what they know about themselves and the world to make choices.”
Dedmond said using a 10-year plan rather than a four- or five-year plan helps students avoid struggling with career choices once in college.
“Students with a written, quantifiable plan are far more likely to succeed in their goals,” Dedmond said. “If you’re going to make a 10-year plan, you can’t just leave it after ninth grade.”
Students revisit the plan each year to make changes based on new knowledge and goals.
While Dedmond said she is not sure of the exact number of schools using the curriculum, she said several schools are offering courses based on the initiative’s standards.
Matt Maynor, Assitant Principal at Ridgeland High in Georgia, said educators struggled with the curriculum of a previous “High School 101” course, but Dedmond’s standards give teachers a better vision for the course.
“The new curriculum has given teachers a vision for the class,” Maynor said. “They have a powerful tool to use and everything is mapped out for them so they don’t have to struggle.”