Missouri Career Education

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Career Preparation Certificate Program

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  I am interested in establishing a Career Prep Certificate Program for all of our district’s graduating seniors.  Where do I start?

The underlying theme of this program is “process”.  First obtain a copy of the guide (online [pdf] or paper) and refer to the section “Local Planning and Implementation”.  Many of the issues that will be faced during implementation may have already been experienced and are addressed in this guide. The first (and most essential) step is to establish an advisory committee to assist in creating a “demand-driven system.”

2.  How were the academic and work readiness components developed?

In the fall of 2006, the statewide advisory committee (Inside Cover) reviewed pertinent research and recent curriculum organizers to identify academic and work readiness components. Different stakeholder groups were surveyed to determine the most important components to the world of work. Based on the survey results, the committee identified 12 academic and work readiness components, which are linked to key curriculum drivers in Missouri schools.  The academic components are cross-referenced with Missouri’s Show-Me Standards and Grade-Level Expectations.  The work readiness components are cross-referenced with Missouri’s Career Development Standards and Grade-Level Expectations within the Missouri Comprehensive Guidance Program.

3.  How do I determine the most appropriate assessment tools and techniques to use for this program?

Numerous effective assessments are available to determine individual knowledge and skill levels. Several of the most prevalent and promising assessments in Missouri schools were analyzed and aligned to the academic and work readiness components.  The assessment summary was developed with assistance from each of the sponsoring companies and organizations. Each assessment was cross-referenced to the underlying knowledge and performance expectations for each component. A more detailed analysis of assessments is recommended in determining the most appropriate selection for a local or regional program.

While schools have experience in assessing academic components, there are challenges in assessing work readiness components.  There are a number of activities taking place in schools where individual behavior and performance can be documented

4.  What does a Career Prep Certificate look like?

It is important that the program make available an easy-to-understand certificate that provides employers with information and documentation of individual accomplishments. The front of the certificate can be formal with general information; seals and signatures. (See sample certificate [pdf]) The back of the certificate can have locally determined participation, results and accomplishments to make it “portable” to   employers who might not be aware of the program.

5.  Why are the guidelines of the Career Prep Certificate determined locally?

One key message is flexibility, allowing communities to development a program to meet local needs.  There are numerous educational  programs and initiatives that have been implemented in Missouri schools.  Some have similar goals or structures and could be packaged with components of this program. When developing a program, incorporate resources from existing programs and initiatives whenever possible. By capitalizing on existing resources, the amount of new components (requiring additional resources) can be limited.

There are also a number of national credentials (academic, occupational licenses, professional-skill certificates) are already in use in Missouri. A number of these credentials are positioned to have great impact in certifying that individuals possess the skills sought by employers.

6.  How can a school guarantee that a student is “ready to work”?

Incorporating a guarantee into the program can be a useful tool that assures stakeholders of a specific outcome. Schools can strengthen an existing partnership with employers by defining and identifying components of a guarantee, which at a minimum is limited to the documented assessment of knowledge and skills. (See planning guide [pdf] appendix, pp. A3-A14.)

Schools may use standardized assessment results to document mastery of specific academic and work readiness skills. Both criterion- and norm-referenced assessments provide valuable information related to individual knowledge and skill levels. However, the retention of knowledge and the application of skills may or may not be transferable to the workplace.  It is important for employers and schools to pay careful attention to the duration of any guarantee of performance beyond the time that skills are assessed.

7.  How do I market and promote this program?

The process will be more successful by involving stakeholders throughout the planning and development of the program. Establishing an effective partnership takes patience, commitment, open communication, and an investment of time. An existing partnership can be strengthened by building an environment where businesses and schools collaborate and share resources.

Program promotion starts with increasing awareness throughout the community.  In developing a demand-driven system, it is critical to determine strategies to increase awareness and encourage interest in the benefits of the program. Focused efforts to target audiences are recommended.

For additional information, contact Steve Coffman, Director of Employment Training, at 573-522-6545.