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Program to help students chart academic goals

3/27/14 | By Clara Vaughn, Staff Writer/Ocean City Today

WORCESTER COUNTY - To help gear students toward college and careers, Worcester County Public Schools began using an interactive, online program this year.

Naviance starts in the sixth grade and helps students identify goals for high school and beyond while tracking their progress toward specific colleges, majors and careers, said Donna Main, coordinator of instruction for English and school guidance at Worcester County Public Schools’ central office.

“Our hope is that students will be able to make informed decisions about the classes they take that will identify with their specific talents and interests, and that they’ll be more focused in high school,” Main said.

Naviance — a portmanteau of “navigation” and “guidance” — uses four components to help students prepare for life after high school: college and career planning, preparing for success, determining which courses to take, and using e-documents when applying to college.

The program starts students’ thinking about what colleges and jobs they might like, starting in sixth grade. Two years later, they answer a series of questions — Do they like to work outside? Do they like working with people or animals? — to develop a “personality type,” which Naviance matches with broad career categories.

When students start high school, they narrow those categories down to career “clusters,” such as health care or finance, and continue to research more specific careers in 10th grade.

Students will also begin building academic resumes early in high school through the online program, thwarting the mad rush to recall four years of sports, clubs and community service projects when it comes time to apply to universities.

In 11th grade, students take another personality test, focusing on more specific career “fits” and corresponding colleges and majors.

Though seniors this year didn’t use the tool, as new classes make their way through the grades, they will use Naviance in 12th grade to identify colleges they want to attend, submit parts of college applications and seek out scholarships.

“In essence, what’s going to be developed is…  a six-year plan for these students. (It’s) very structured, very organized and the students will have a route that they’re going to take,” said Tom Davis, Snow Hill High School’s principal, to the Board of Education at its meeting earlier this month.

While he acknowledged that students might change paths as they enter college or careers, “at least they have some ideas.”

Jonathan Cook, the board’s vice president, commended the program that helps give students a taste for conceivable careers before leaving high school.

“I think there’s a lot of students out there that do well in school… but if you ask them, ‘Well, how are you going to apply that success when you graduate?’ they have no clue,” Cook said.

“Having a goal like this to bridge this success that they’ve earned through school and then apply it to the next career or to the next level is going to be extremely welcome,” he said. “I think this is going to be a great tool.”

“The students get to learn more about themselves and so when they get to be seniors, they’re a little bit closer to where they should be,” board member Douglas Dryden said.

Guidance counselors, teachers, students and parents will have access to students’ Naviance accounts, which are opened online or through a mobile app.

Learn more about Naviance at www.naviance.com. 

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