Thursday, 29 March 2018 18:46

Career-Focused Programs Offer MN High School Students Several Options

Written by Erin Hinrichs, MinnPost
A student practices welding in an auto body class at Burnsville High School. A student practices welding in an auto body class at Burnsville High School. MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs


“What we’re hoping to see is that the work they are doing in high school---and the choices we’re helping them make in high school---is leading to better choices for postsecondary education [and] less debt in postsecondary education,” Funston said.


Shakopee’s academy model follows a similar design. Students entering their sophomore year are expected to enroll in one of six academies. Within each academy, there are a handful of “programs of study,” which are three-course sequences that take a student deeper into the technical skills of each particular career track.


While there are no graduation requirements tied to how Burnsville students move through---or across ---the various pathways, Shakopee graduates will be expected to complete at least one three-course sequence.


“That’s where we’re a bit different---we tied a graduation requirement into the program,” explained Jeff Pawlicki, principal of Shakopee High School, noting the goal is to have students “see that progression, that line, so that when you get to the line of study there are more tangible skills you have, or something you can put on a résumé.”


Ideally, that includes completing a sequence with some college credits as well, he said. And students should have enough room in their high school schedules to complete multiple programs of study, he said.


For instance, students who first complete the health care course sequence could then enroll in the business and entrepreneurship academy to complement their passion for health care with a talent they have for business or sales.


In both the Burnsville and the Shakopee models, students take an exploratory-type class their freshman year so they can begin to narrow in on their career interests. They also benefit from having school counselors and teachers help walk them through their course planning.


Pawlicki said he’d like to see all students graduate not only having found something they enjoyed studying, but also “to have more than one foot in the door to get that certification, that degree, so they can transition into the workplace.”

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