College and Career Ready Students 

Over the past three years the Twin Valley School District has taken a comprehensive look at what our students need to be prepared for college and careers. We want to be sure that all our high school graduates are ready to succeed whether they choose to go to a 2 year or 4 year college, technical school or go directly into the workforce. To better organize our planning we partnered with the National Center for College and Career Readiness (NC3T) in 2015. The organization supports school districts with developing a career pathway model for their students. The pathway model emphasizes two components critical to career success. The first is to organize a high schools extensive program of studies into pathways that are based on the Pennsylvania Career Clusters. The pathways help students navigate the course selection process so they can select courses based upon a career interest. The second component is to partner with local colleges, employers, civic organizations and businesses to provide students with authentic experiences that match their field of interest.

The process for developing a pathways model took over a year of discussions and meetings between a committee of teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors and our NC3T partners. It became evident during these planning sessions that it would take a systemic K-12 approach for the model to be successful. The team identified three distinct phases of career development. The kindergarten through 5th grade awareness of careers stage. The middle school years when career exploration becomes the focus and the high school stage where career planning comes to the forefront and students select a specific pathway depending on their interest.

To help with the career planning component the Twin Valley High School has organized their program of studies into two major pathways of science, technology, engineering and math or STEM and the arts and humanities. Each major pathway has six career clusters that students can focus on. Some Pathways culminate in a capstone course, when students take what they have learned and apply it to a real life situation working with experts in the field. Following a pathway allows a student to gain a more in-depth understanding of the career cluster and their own interests and skills. Our students also have the opportunity to engage in advanced course work including sixteen advanced placement courses and many dual enrollment courses with local college and universities taught in our high school, online, and on local campuses. As a school district we involve the employers in the community through our extensive internship program. This year over 120 juniors and seniors are serving as interns in nearly 100 different businesses. Our internship program has become a model program in Pennsylvania. Our students have the opportunity to apply their learning in real-world scenarios under the guidance of an experienced mentor. These internships have prepared our students for future education and employment by helping them develop the soft skills so important in today’s world.

Education of our administrators and teachers is also an important part of our pathways model. Administrators have gotten a first-hand experience at a local business and a hand-on visit to the Reading Area Community College Schmidt Technology and Training Center. Our teachers have also participated in trainings, with some middle school and high school teachers having the opportunity to spend time with local business and industry partners. These visits have helped educators gain an understanding of what our students need to be successful in the workplace.

Lastly, all systems need a way to evaluate student success. Twin Valley School District has developed a student achievement profile, a comprehensive data profile on every student to monitor their progress throughout high school. This profile looks at student performance on various state and local assessments as well as their involvement in internship, dual enrollment, and capstone courses. The profile gives us a way to ensure our students are not only learning, but gaining the experiences necessary to be successful in their future.

Posted by KHARPLE On December 14, 2016 at 1:33 PM