The idea that the transition to adulthood starts in preschool is behind educational reform in the Kankakee School District in Illinois, where conversations about college and careers start when children first enter the classroom and continue as their learning progresses towards high school graduation.
Young children have a specific idea of what careers such as doctor or policeman entail. A doctor helps when you are sick and a policeman catches "bad guys." Most students have no idea what is necessary to earn an M.D. and the plethora of careers a medical degree could support. In the College and Career Academy classrooms in Kankakee elementary schools, each grade focuses on a different range of careers. Students are able to explore a variety of fields and discover what they are interested in. "For example, first graders focus on careers in agriculture, food, and natural resources; third graders focus on engineering, outer space, and plant life."
During the school year, students undertake four large-scale projects that align with their grade-level focus and appropriate state standards. Kankakee uses the supplementary curriculum, Defined STEM, which breaks down tasks by grade level, subject, and standard. As students enter middle and high school, they participate in career-investment inventories and choose from various educational tracks, including Freshman Academy, Business Academy, and Medical Academy. An emphasis on project-based learning teaches students the collaborative skills needed to enter the workforce.
To learn more about early college and career readiness visit https://www.definedstem.com/blog/college-and-career-readiness-starts-in-kindergarten/
To get information on STEM standards offered by EdGate, visit http://correlation.edgate.com/standards/index.html
By: Alex Alo