Out of House Bill 5 passed in 2013, the idea was to make 14-year-olds decide a career path while they are in the eighth grade.
The students’ decision will be one they make, not public school, which traditionally has weighted its curriculum on academics.
And, again, the idea is if the students are interested in what they are learning, then they are more likely to graduate and succeed.
The new state education program is called the Personal Grad Plan, and Refugio High School is tackling the program for the first time this year.
Refugio High School Principal Melissa Gonzales said the program involves “clusters” of career-related paths.
Some include business and industry, science technology engineering math, public services, such as teaching, police officers and firefighters, arts and humanities and general studies.
Gonzales said the district already has Odyssey, a web-based program that helped students recover curriculum credits.
“It was used in a night program for students highly at risk for dropping out,” she said.
But Odyssey may be utilized for the Personal Grad Plan, as well, to offer courses in the various clusters.
High School counselor Britton Elliott said Personal Grad Plan gives students a taste of anything in career tracks.
“And we go from there,” Elliott said. “It makes their curriculum in high school relevant.”
Elliott will meet with students to go over the plan.
Gonzales said previously, many of the programs like Personal Grad Plan were geared toward struggling students, but Personal Grad Plan will be required of all students, beginning in the eighth grade.
“This group of freshmen are the first,” Gonzales said.
“I think it’s really exciting that we are able to talk to the kids about what they want to do,” she said.
She noted that before it was always what the public school wanted the student to do, but now the question to the students is what do they want to do?
“They will be doing something they like, enjoy and are interested in,” she said.
Gonzales said so far, not much help has come from the state, but she expects more materials in spring, such as pamphlets and brochures that will help explain the program.
Also, the Achieve Texas program was “isolated” from other helpful programs. Achieve Texas is similar in that it has career clusters, too. The idea is to meld Achieve Texas with the Personal Grad Plan to help students and parents make wise educational choices.
Gonzales said the opportunities are packaged now.
And she said the district is in the process of getting input from parents.
Planned is a evening presentation for parents that will outline career groupings.
Student will sign endorsements for the clusters they want and take it home to parents who have to sign off on the endorsements.
Gonzales said the offerings will expand with time, too.
Right now, the district has the CNA, or certified nurse aide, training agreement with Victoria College. This provides a career path to a nursing career.
The district also works with Coastal Bend College for two areas of study: the humanities and child development.
Gonzales also noted the district has the dual credit program, in which students can earn college credits and high school credits. She said the duel credit program was academically focused but now will be for the first time offering vocational opportunities.
And last but not least, Refugio High School is sharing resources with Woodsboro High School to offer other courses.
Measuring success? Gonzales plans on tracking students after they go to college or a vocational school.