School to Work: Beginning the Journey in Middle School

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The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas


Today's employers expect entry-level employees to be self-aware about their skills and goals, in addition to being prepared academically. When those would-be workers are still in middle school, however, they have very little idea about their future occupational paths. Except through informal discussions with people in their lives, they typically have not examined career-related choices. Thus many adolescents enter high school ill-equipped to select courses that would support choices they must eventually make. A student may therefore fail to enroll in the courses or join in the types of activities that would contribute to a successful and satisfying career.

In this article, I describe the effects of the Individual Career Planning Program, which was created as a result of a state of Ohio law requiring career planning for all students and which addressed the need, understood by schools and employers alike, to have students see the clear connections between school and work. Versions of the program varied from district to district, but all were built on statewide themes (see Ohio Career Development Blueprint themes in figures I and 2).

The program objective for eighth graders, who were the participants in the study reported on here, was to have them become aware of various paths toward employment and the decisions a person must make along those paths. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were significant changes between pretest and posttest scores on the Career Maturity Inventory among the eighth graders in 29 school districts served by the Montgomery County, Ohio, Joint Vocational School District during the 1992-93 school year.

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