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Education

August 6, 2012

Duncan High School pilots Career Pathways program

Launch happens at Simmons Center

DUNCAN —

Duncan Public Schools is working to set the standard, instead of reacting to other school districts who are ahead of the curve.

The school district is taking the helm of the Career Pathways program. Duncan is the first school district in Oklahoma to institute such a program. The program will train students to prepare for their chosen career paths.

“We’re in this position because Dr. (Sherry) Labyer is involved with the Southwest Oklahoma Workforce Investment Council,” Assistant Superintendent Glenda Cobb said. “They work with local industries to find out what they’re needs are in the workforce.

“Their needs haven’t changed. What they need is a work force that has skills that match the job.”

The school district has been working toward such a pilot program by introducing the Work Keys Certificate to Duncan High School sophomores. The assessment test rates a prospective employee’s levels in specific skill sets, from communication to math. This helps the employee figure out what kind of job they would be good at, while employers have an easier time finding someone to best fill an open position.

The Career Pathways program will take the assessment a step farther by having the teachers inform their students what jobs exist for their skill sets. Cobb said the program will give students an idea of why they are learning certain things and will give them an idea of what classes to take when it comes to preparing for life after high school.

“The teachers are encouraged to make the connection to the workforce,” Cobb said. “It’s a national movement that pushes for the three Cs, college, career and citizenship-ready.

“It shouldn’t be a big change for teachers. It’s just making that next connection. It’s the logical next step.”

Along the lines of Career Pathways, the school district is adding Project Lead the Way to the Duncan Middle School curriculum. This program will better introduce to students to math and science, and will give them an idea of some of the jobs that exist, including engineering.

DHS Assistant Principal Justin Smith said the Careers Pathway program is something everyone is getting excited about. Smith said this is something other schools in Oklahoma will want to learn about. “We’re trying to be the school other schools go to, instead of always going to other schools,” Smith said.

The high school administrators, including Smith and Principal Gary Reed, recently met with the school district administration to better familiarize themselves with the program.

The community will also get an opportunity to learn about the program and to find out how they can help better train students for the working world. A public launch of the program will stake place at 9 a.m. Aug. 8 at the Simmons Center.

The Career Pathways program may be new to Duncan and Oklahoma, but it has a record for success in other states, including Virginia. Representatives from the Virginia Department of Education will present the strategies they’ve used to make the program successful in their schools.

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