Exposing students to career and technical education options as early as middle school can help them better identify areas of interest and map out an educational path, District Administration reports.
Districts can use grant funds to hold summer courses that introduce middle school students to different types of technical fields, with counselors playing a key role in helping guide students toward which classes to take in high school.
In Everett, Washington, where the economy is dominated by Boeing and aerospace manufacturing, Edmonds School District’s middle school program features education in the engineering and manufacturing industries, with courses aimed at better preparing them for high school CTE courses in high school.
Students start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up early in life, and these ideas are typically related to a career they’ve been exposed to one way or another. That’s why there are so many 4-year-old future policemen and firefighters running around.
Introducing already curious middle school students to career paths allows them to put deeper thought into potential areas of exploration earlier on.
The 2018 passage of the updated Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act also allows districts to use federal funds on middle school CTE courses. Some districts are even letting 8th-graders select career clusters with the hope that students will be more driven to finish school if they're provided a work-related end-goal.
For example, Charleston 8th-graders who took a health science technology program are informed that if they become, say, an emergency medical technician, they will make about $32,670 a year. They also know that they need to graduate from high school and achieve a literacy score of 1250.
Some districts are even exposing elementary school students to career exploration opportunities, with California's Chula Vista Elementary School District, for example, teaming up with businesses and community groups to develop tools geared toward young students.