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College and Career Exploration for 5th graders

Jordan Peterson

Lewis & Clark College



The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a nationally recognized

framework in which school counselors have the tools to support their work as well as their

students. The ASCA National Model holds three domain areas; academic, personal/social and

career development. Although each domain can be successfully implemented, elementary level

school counselors often forget the importance of having a college and career readiness program.

A typical elementary school holds grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. The current

mindset for many elementary school counselors is that college and career programs often start in

middle school and carry on to high school. This a false mindset. A college and career readiness

program is important for our young minds to be able to explore and increase their exposure to

post-secondary options. Educators have a unique opportunity to help shape fruitful minds for the

future. Career decision-making is often influenced by cultural and familial attitudes and by

family of origin experiences (Hines and Mayes, 2014). In 2012, President Barak Obama stated,

If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important that giving everyone

the best education possible-from the day they start preschool to the day the start their career.

President Obama is absolutely correct. It is not only our job as educators to foster success for all

of our students but to ensure they are successful adults in their communities after high school.

Literature Review:

College and career readiness is becoming a common goal in many districts across the

country. Top literacy experts rate college and career readiness as one of the most important

goals in education (Smith III and Williamson, 2016). New educational initiatives, including the

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, are being developed and implemented

to prepare students for success in a post-secondary education and workplace (Turner and

Danridge, 2014). If Common Core State Standards help prepare our students for post-secondary

success, it is up to school counselors to ensure a college and career program is put in place. As

part of the ASCA National Model, career development is defined as school counseling programs

to provide the foundation for the acquisition of skills, attitudes and knowledge that enable

students to make a successful transition from school to the world of work, and from job to job

across the life span (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2004). Within the career

development domain, there are three standards in which counselors need to uphold. These three

standards support the work of a school counselor because according to Jasmine L. Knight, career

development is vitally important in schools, as it creates pathways to success (Knight, 2015).

There is a dire need for training school counselors on career development at the

elementary level. In the journal article, Preparing Elementary School Counselors to Promote

Career Development: Recommendations for School Counselor Education Programs, Knight

presents research that explains the need for career development at a young age. Knight finds that

adolescents who drop out of school physically at 16 years of age actually dropped out of school

psychologically by the third grade (Knight, 2015). This piece of research is particularly

interesting due to the substantial age gap from 3rd grade to 10th grade. Therefore, introducing

career and college readiness activities in early elementary school can help students make

important connections between education and future success (Knight, 2015). In congruence to

what Jasmine Knights research entails, she also stresses the college and career readiness

exposure. Although students will not make career decisions at this level (elementary), early

career exposure fosters lifelong learning (Knight, 2015). Because elementary level gets little to

no exposure for career development, Knight finds that, elementary level is largely ignored in the

professional literature, professional practice, and in many training programs (Knight, 2015).

Although academic and personal/social support is important, elementary school counselors can

miss a beat when it comes to career development.

With our ever growing diverse population, it is important for educators to be aware of

disparities and inequities. Students who are economically disadvantage tend to need more

academic, personal/social and career development support. Title 1 schools provide a unique

perspective when it comes to funding programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education,

the definition of a Title 1 school is, provides financial assistance to local educational agencies

and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help

ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards (U.S Department of

Education, 2015).

Often times in Title 1 schools there are signs of generational poverty, as well as

identifying students who are being systemically underserved. Historically, students of color have

been underserved in education for many years. In the journal article, Accelerating the College

and Career Readiness of Diverse K-5 Literacy Learners, Jennifer Turner and Jocelyn Danridge

discuss college and career readiness for underserved populations. For children who are from

African American, Native American, and Latino backgrounds and who have been traditionally

underserved in schools, teachers can play particularly significant roles in their college and career

readiness (Turner & Danridge, 2014). Further, students from culturally-diverse backgrounds are

typically placed into low curricular tracks in school, and consequently are not well-prepared for

college or vocational training (Turner & Danridge, 2014). School counselors not only need to

know the fundamental methods and techniques for their work but also need to be able to support

diverse populations.

As a school counselor at McKinley Elementary it is one of my many duties to help

students pave a path for post-secondary success. In order to do so my question is, what is the

impact of a College and Career Readiness program on increasing student exposure to and

interest in post-secondary options for 5th grade students at McKinley Elementary?

School Profile:

McKinley Elementary is a K-5 school nestled in the Beaverton School District. The

Beaverton School District wide goal is: WE empower all students to achieve post-high school

success. Currently (2016-2017), McKinley has a total of 649 students and with over 75 certified

and classified staff. In the figure below, the demographics are displayed. With 39% of White

students and 35% of Hispanic/Latino students. McKinley also has 11% of Asian, 8% of Multi-

Racial, 6% Black/African American, and 1% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

McKinley is a Title 1 school, with over 60% of students on Free or Reduced Lunch.

Additionally, the figure below shows 65% of students are economically disadvantaged.

In the figure below shows the programs that were put in place for the 2015-2016 school year:

With these academic and personal/social programs in place, there is a lack of college and

career exploration programs. At McKinley, the lack of a college and career readiness program

poses as an equity issue. School counselors are to provide students with academic,

personal/social and career development support. To implement a college and career readiness

program at McKinley, it is important for me to recognize why there is a lack of a program as well

as what are the needs of my students.

Proposed Solutions:

Due to the lack of a college and career readiness (CCR) program at McKinley, it is my

goal for the 2016-2017 school year to implement a CCR program through guidance lessons,

guest speakers and a college spotlight bulletin board.

College and Career based Guidance Lessons

The purpose of these college and career guidance lessons will provide 5th graders at

McKinley with support and exploration. I will collaborate with 5th grade teachers to ensure that

these guidance lessons align with current curriculum. I plan to use the ASCA National Model to

help support my implementation of guidance curriculum.

Lesson 1: Learning Styles

o Students will develop an understanding of their personal learning style and how it

can relate to college and career exploration.

Lesson 2: Career exploration
o Students will identify career paths that align with their learning style.
Lesson 3: College exploration
o College isnt a dream, its a plan lesson
o Strengthening college research skills by breaking into small groups.

After each lesson I plan to incorporate an exit ticket that ensures that my students are learning

elements about themselves and their educational pathways.

Guest Speakers

As the school counselor, it is one of my many duties to partner and collaborate with

community partners. In an effort to foster exploration of college and career options, I plan to

partner with local individuals who would be interested in being a guest speaker in 5th grade

classrooms. It is my goal to have guest speakers from local businesses talk about how their

education has helped shape them into who they are.

College Spotlight Bulletin Board

The purpose of the College Spotlight Bulletin board is to increase college exposure. I

conducted a survey at the beginning of the year to get a better understanding of where the staff of

McKinley attended college. This ties in with my program implementation because it allows

students to see the colleges teachers in the building attended. In an effort to increase the exposure

for my students, I plan to get group of 5th graders to help me decorate the bulletin board. Note:

This group will be different every month as the college spotlight changes monthly.

Data Collection:

For my proposed solutions, I plan to use three different populations for data collection.

For the sake of my students, their families and teachers, I will inform families ahead of time of

what their children will be exploring over the course of spring trimester. I will explain that

through guidance lessons, guest speakers, and college spotlight board. The goal is for 5th grade

students to show an interest in college and career pathways as they enter middle school. With this

letter, I will invite families to participate in a survey to better understand the population. This

will help guide my practice in terms of guidance lessons and guest speakers. As for teachers, I

plan to collaborate with them via email and face to face interactions. I hope to attend a 5th grade

team collaboration meeting that happens every other week. At the end, I will invite the 5th grade

team to participate in a survey that will help guide my practice and growth.

This table displays a rough data collection method I plan to use with each population.
Population: Methods:

5th grade Students: Pre-survey* will be delivered before program implementation.

o Formative/Needs Assessment--Identifying student interests

4 classes in college and career.

Evaluative Assessment--Exit Ticket activities will be delivered to
132 students
each students after each guidance lesson.
o Examples: What Stuck With You?, Reflection questions,
Temperature checkscheck for understanding
Assessing high, average, and low work
Evaluative Assessment--Post-survey* to be delivered at the end of
my college and career program implementation.
o Identify exposure and interests of colleges and careers using
scaling questions and multiple choice.
Parents/Guardians: Formative Assessment: 5 question College and Career survey.
Delivered via google survey. Paper copies will be available.
Parents of 5th grade o Collecting data to understand my student family population
Formative Question example: What is the highest
education youve received?
o Identify first generation college going students

This data will be collected to identify students who

would benefit from a first gen. group later in the
school year.
While in collaboration with McKinleys neighborhood
middle school (Five Oaks), I plan to share this data to
help them with their college and career program as
well as CIS.
5 grade Teachers: Collaboration Meetings: 5th grade teachers have collaboration every
2 weeks. This gives me an opportunity to roll out my program plan
and coordinate times to come in to do guidance lessons.
Evaluative Assessment: Post-survey to test the efficacy of my
implementation. This will be a total of 6 questions on a Strongly
Disagree to Strongly Agree scale. There will be a section for
comments. This will be delivered via google survey.
*If students and parents feel uncomfortable with filling out the surveys provided, they are more
than welcome to opt out.

The proposed solutions and data collection were able to be implemented to an extent. The

table below displays the timeline implementation of the project as well as the effort and budget.

Timeline Implementation:

Timeline: Activity Effort Budget (Time and

October 2016 Meeting with Principal to align Ensuring that Principal Professional Goal
Professional Goal with Action and I had a meaningful meeting (30 mins.)
Research Project. discussion on what this N/A expenses
looks like.
November Meeting with counseling colleague Setting a weekly Monday meetings (30

2016 to discuss implementation and Counseling Monday mins.)

resources. meeting time from 4:00 N/A expenses
pm-4:30 pm.
January 2017 (2) 5th grade students to help update Reaching out to 5th grade Update College Board
College Spotlight Board. teachers to select (30 mins.)
Attending AVID Training. students to help update AVID Training (1.5
college board via email. hours)
Coordinating with N/A expenses
district employees to
attend AVID training,
while also advocating for
myself to attend.
February Gathering Lesson Plans Utilizing already made Gathering Lesson
2017 Mid-year Goal check-in with lesson plans while also Plans (30 mins. a
Principal. exploring Teachers Pay week)
Teachers for Mid-year Goal check-
College/Career in (30 mins.)
Exploration Lessons. After Principal
Asking my Principal for meeting, no necessary
support on my expenses for
Professional Goal and implementation.
discussing budget.
March 2017 Collaborating and prepping the Creating my own 5th grade collaboration
College and Career exploration personal agenda for every Wednesday (1.0
lessons with 5th grade teachers. things to address. hour per week)
o Ensuring that this aligns o AVID and Preparing survey and
with BizTown field trip in College/Career monitoring data (1.0
April. Lessons hour)
Creating and implementing the 5th Taking the time to N/A expenses
grade College and Career Parent understand my student
Survey. population to know what
questions to ask their
parents in the survey.
April 2017 Preparing the 5th grade College and Figuring out whether or Preparing the student
Career Student Survey not to have the same survey (30 mins.)
Collaborating with Technology questions as the 5th grade Review student
teacher to implement student Parent Survey. survey data (10 mins.
survey during students tech class. Collection and reviewing a day)
Attending 5th grade PYP Data from 5th grade Prepping/printing/typi
collaboration (teachers) to ask for student survey. ng lesson (1.5 hour)
feedback on implementing guest Making effort to attend Coordinating with
speakers. the 5th grade PYP Staff (30 mins. +
Implementation of Learning Styles collaboration. PYP Collaboration
and Career Exploration Lesson Prepping for lessons and 40 mins.)

Guest Speakers (after AR is due) coordinating times to Emailing potential

implement lessons. guest speakers (30
Collaborating with mins. a week)
outside community N/A expenses
partners (guest speakers)
to coordinate times to
come into the school.
May 2017 College isnt a dream, its a plan Has not been N/A expenses
Lesson implemented
Personal reflection of
College/Career implementation
Student reflections: What Stuck
With You? Evaluating their
June 2017 Reflection on Professional Goal Has not been N/A expenses

Data Outcomes and Instruments:

The instruments used were two online surveys. The surveys were created by me (Jordan

Peterson) through an online tool, Survey Monkey. Two 5th grade parent surveys were created, one

in English and Spanish. Each parent survey was 5 questions long. One 5th grade student survey

was created and offered to 3 out of 4 5th grade classrooms. As stated in the proposed solutions,

Lesson 1: Learning Styles and Lesson 2: Career Exploration were both conducted in 3 out of the

4 5th grade classrooms. A learning styles survey was conducted to educate students on their

particular learning styles while also aligning their learning style with career options. Data

collection from the learning styles survey was given to the 5th grade teachers to enlighten future

teaching style.

5th grade student survey:

Data collection process is on-going and the most current results are:
o 77 students out of 120 have completed the 5th grade Student Survey.
In the survey, I asked a total of 10 questions. I am particularly interested in questions 3, 5,
6, 9 and 10. (Please see below).

Question 3:

When evaluating student interest in exploring college and careers, the survey data

highlights that on a scale of 1-10 (1 being no way and 10 being a lot), students rated their interest

in learning about college and careers on average 7 out of 10.

Question 5:

From Question 5 of the survey, I inferred that the majority of the 5th grade students at

McKinley Elementary see college as an important part of their academic life plan. This data

point will drive lesson 3 in my proposed solutions.

Question 6:

Question 6 was posed to both students and parents. The results highlight the discrepancy

between parent and student perception of their college and career conversations outside of


Student Parent

A proposed solution for the discrepancy between the two surveys would be to host a

college and career morning and night session for parents and students to attend. This will

increase conversations revolving around college and career options.

Questions 9 and 10:

Question 9 asked students, Do you know what career you want when you are older? If

students answered yes, they were prompted to provide their career aspirations. These

data points will guide the implementation of particular guest speakers for classroom


5th grade parent survey:

5th grade parent survey was offered online in English and Spanish. There were a total of 5

questions. I was only able to obtain 20 English responses and 3 Spanish responses from 5th grade

parents. After conducting the survey there were limitations to be considered. A proposed solution

would be to offer the survey during a family college and career morning and night session to

ensure maximum outcome.

The pie charts below display the results of educational level of 5th grade parents.

English Spanish

The desired outcome data changed during the implementation of the project. Instead of

collecting data on identifying first generation college students, I wanted to gather information on

parents highest level of education attended. The change was guided by realizing that students

may not know their parents highest education level attended. Although it was a proposed

method of data dissemination, this survey was not shared with counseling staff at Five Oaks

middle school because identifying first generation students was no longer a goal for data


Advisory Committee:

The advisory committee included the Principal, 5th grade teachers and counseling

colleague. We did not get a chance to meet all together as a committee, but I was able to have

meaningful conversations with the members in terms of my implementation. My action research

project aligns with my professional goal for the year and I must meet with the Principal to

discuss my action plan. I met with the Principal twice to ensure that I was on the right track in

terms of implementation. I had the opportunity to meet with the 5th grade team weekly to speak

about my action plan and receive meaningful feedback. I also consulted with my counseling

colleague every Monday to talk about various issues. I make it a point every Monday to ask for

advice on particular action steps. Lastly, my advisory committee for this project was not the

typical committee but I did make it a point to communicate and collaborate with them on a

weekly basis.

Discussion and Limitations:

With the ever changing environment at McKinley Elementary, there were many

discussion and limitations that needed to be addressed. The first limitation to be considered was

the start month for the actual implementation of the project. 5th grade students participate in

BizTown during the month of April. BizTown is an opportunity for students to learn about

different jobs within society, while also enlightening students on the importance of maintaining a

budget. During the month of April, 5th grade teachers were aligning their curriculum with careers,

money management, and societal contribution. This was a primal time for me to implement my

proposed solutions for my project. I conducted a 5th grade student survey that aligned with what

they were already learning. The data collection allowed me to reflect on my current efforts to

make an impact. For example, Question 8 in the 5th grade student survey asked, Have you

noticed the College Spotlight Board in the 1st grade hallway? 50 out of 77 students replied No.

This brought about the discussion of location the College Spotlight Board. With limited wall

space I will have to consider a more effective place to showcase different colleges.

Question 7, Have you visited a college campus? from the student survey also raises a

discussion point. 52 out of 77 students replied, No. Visiting a college campus could become a

proposed solution in increasing student interests and exposure to college and career options. As

the academic year progresses, I do plan to implement the last half of the project. Obtaining the

guest speakers will pose a challenge but I remain optimistic in getting a meaningful panel for 5th

grade students of McKinley. I will continue with conducting a post-survey for the 5th grade

students to receive feedback on the efficacy of my program.

Lastly, research proves that college and career readiness is an essential part of a students

academic journey. As part of the ASCA National Model, college and career development is to be

established at all grade levels. With the lack of a college and career program at McKinley

elementary, I will continue to find new things to incorporate to increase student interest and


College and career readiness" is the umbrella under which many education and workforce
policies, programs and initiatives thrive. From high-quality early education and strong,
foundational standards in elementary school to rigorous career and technical education
programs and college completion goals, college and career readiness is the unifying agenda
across the P-20 education pipeline. www.Achieve.com


American School Counselor Association (2004). ASCA National Standards for Students.

Alexandria, VA: Author.

Knight, J. L. (2014). Preparing Elementary School Counselors to Promote Career Development:

Recommendations for School Counselor Education Programs. Journal of Career

Development, 42(2), 75-85. doi:10.1177/0894845314533745

Mayes, R. D., & Hines, E. M. (2014). College and Career Readiness for Gifted African

American Girls: A Call to School Counselors. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and

Learning, 4(1), 34. Retrieved November 16, 2016.

Oregon Department of Education (2015). McKinley Elementary School Report Card.


Smith III, M., & Williamson, G. L. (2016, January). Aligning the K-12 Academic Journey with a

Postsecondary Destination. National Association of State Boards of Education. State

Education Standard, v16 n1 p14-18.

Title I, Part A Program. (2015, October 5). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from


Turner, J. D., & Danridge, J. C. (2014). Accelerating the College and Career Readiness of

Diverse K5 Literacy Learners. Theory Into Practice, 53(3), 212-219.


Student Survey Questions: Parent Survey Questions:



Learning Styles Survey: