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Career Pathways picking up steam in Richfield School District

Reprinted from Sun Current Newspaper, Jan. 9, 2019
Written By Raymond T. Rivard

Entering the second phase of its Career Pathways program implementation, Richfield High School Principal Latanya Daniels told the Richfield School Board that those involved are “working intently on transforming” the high school experience.

The end goal is to provide “options that will allow participating students to successfully transition into a living wage career and/or earn credit toward a higher education program, as their interests dictate,” Daniels explained.

Career pathways, by definition, are small groups of occupations within an identified career cluster. Those working within those occupations that are part of a pathway share common skills, knowledge, and interests.

In her presentation, Daniels outlined how the program was established and what lies ahead for student involvement. “The end goals – it’s all about improving engagement, achievement and retaining students,” she said. To do that, she laid out a timeline for the next three years, starting with the current year.

The district is currently identifying the first wave of career pathways and starting a plan for implementation.

That first wave will include the programs of culinary arts, auto technology and computer science, according to Daniels.

In the 2020-21 school year, the plan is to improve and expand upon existing career pathways, assess the program, make adjustments and consider additional career streams. “We will see what is working and make adjustments,” Daniels said.

This school year, in addition to identifying the first wave of pathways, the district is also developing partnerships with businesses and higher education institutions. In addition, the first wave of pathways will be incorporated into the student course catalog for next year.

With that underway, the district will also be identifying students for participation, continuing to solidify its business relationships, and beginning to consider the impact on staffing needs. Once all those goals have been reached, the district will roll out the program and courses for students next fall.

  • What do they expect to be the outcomes of this early work? Daniels offered the following list:
  • Increased engagement and satisfaction rates for participating students and their families;
  • Increased engagement and satisfaction among community partners;
  • Higher attendance rates for participating students;
  • Improved academics/achievement rates/graduation rates for participating students;
  • Higher retention of sixth-graders and ninth-graders (transition years); and
  • Increased enrollment at the middle and high school.

How did the district select the current pathways? Daniels said they used data and looked at resources currently available in identifying the pathways to hone in on initially.

They also considered student interests, with the goal being establishing options that will give them a living wage career potential and/or the potential for certification or credit for continuing education.

Daniels said it was also important to consider the staffing implications, funding opportunities, and the potential for developing partnerships.

In implementing the auto technology pathway, for example, Daniels said all participating students would eventually get the opportunity to attend Hennepin Technical College-Eden Prairie, with transportation from the high school provided. Coordination with area auto businesses would also be coordinated through the course of the program.

“This is our way to how we plan to continue our work to offer a challenging, engaging, and relevant learning experience for our students,” Daniels said in summing up her presentation.

Latayna Daniels, Prinicipal Richfield High School