Like lots of districts, Clairton City had long considered senior projects the key to engaging students in making post-secondary plans. The problem was too many were treating the projects as just another assignment to finish, not an opportunity for exploration.
That’s why the district’s Forum team is working this year on interventions that not only would help kids gain a sense of direction, but begin thinking about it well before senior year.
“Our goal is for 90% of seniors to identify a career path before graduation,” said Guidance Counselor Maureen Shaw.
A centerpiece of the district’s strategy is a career pathway activity beginning ninth grade. As part of it, kids must identify career clusters of interest and examine specific careers within them, including the training needed, the job outlook, salaries and other information.
The senior project “was often a ‘hurry-up-and-get-it done thing’,” said Shaw. “We want students to look at careers earlier and we want the way they do it to be more meaningful. We feel senior year is really too late.”
Along with earlier and deeper explorations, the district is implementing some other supportive measures, including vocational aptitude testing for sophomores and a grade-point contest in the adult-student advisory sessions that Clairton initiated as part of the Consortium’s MAPS (My Action Plan for Success) initiative. Additionally, Clairton is strengthening its 339 Plan, a state mandated framework for ensuring students receive adequate career preparation.