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Are your kids 'future ready'? City school system uses Naviance for college, career readiness

Rick Wagner • Nov 19, 2018 at 9:09 AM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport City Schools officials hope that the adoption of the Naviance system will help students be ready for college and/or career by starting them thinking about such things in elementary and middle school rather than high school.

Brian Cinnamon, KCS chief academic officer of secondary education, and Dobyns-Bennett High School Assistant Principal Beth Cohen on Tuesday gave the Board of Education an update on the system that started last year. They said Naviance is a comprehensive college and career readiness program that helps align student strengths and interests with postsecondary goals, improving student outcomes and connecting learning to life.

“We wanted a K-12 view of the idea of getting students future ready,” Cinnamon told the board at its regular monthly meeting.

He said the program after its first year is beginning to take off faster than the school system or Naviance officials imagined.

WHO AM I?

Cinnamon said the program helps students answer the question “Who am I?” starting in the sixth grade by assisting them in understanding what careers they might want to master and later where their strengths are. Students look at career inventories. 

In addition, he said, Naviance helps students answer “How will I get there?” once they select a path and start to apply to universities, two-year schools or technical schools.

It provides a type of virtual guidance in grades 6-12 and monitors student progress. For instance, middle school students participate in the program during Junior Tribe Time. In sixth grade, Cinnamon said, the program focuses on curriculum lessons and career awareness, while in seventh grade it builds on those areas, and in eighth grade it gets into high school course planning and career choice assessment.

Beginning career conversations in middle school makes high school course selections easier, Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse told the board.

WHAT ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL?

In students’ freshmen year, Cohen said, the benefits of the program become even more apparent. 

In ninth grade, students take a strength finder assessment. While it does not limit students’ choices, it does help them find things at which they are adept. Students also look at the career clusters in which they are interested.

In 10th grade, she said, students explore career interests, followed by college/career planning in 11th grade, including access to a search engine including information about specific colleges.

In 12th grade,  Cohen said, the focus on college/training continues with scholarship searches and a look at FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), required by the Tennessee lottery scholarship and Tennessee Promise scholarship.

“A lot of this, too, is just delivering information to students repeatedly,” Cohen said. For instance, the program can send students emails about pending FAFSA deadlines, information that might get lost in an intercom announcement on a busy day or when students are distracted by other things.

“FUTURE-READY CURRICULUM”?

The goal, Cohen said, is a “future-ready curriculum” with a pacing guide used in grades 9-12 as well as 6-8. For instance, D-B has Naviance Tuesday, during which students work on the program. School officials can tell if a student has or hasn’t completed the Naviance task for that day and can issue reminders to those who have not finished, she said.

Next school year, Cohen and Cinnamon said, the program is to expand so that it can connect to the Common App, a once-and-done single college application that many schools accept. They also said that professional learning for counselors is occurring and that plans are to add professional learning for teachers so they can help students get the most from Naviance.

WHAT ABOUT YOUNGER STUDENTS AND EVEN ADULTS?

Kingsport City Schools is holding a career fair for all fourth-graders across the system starting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Civic Auditorium. The 45 presenters are part of a plan to have “early and often” exposure to careers for students, Cohen and Cinnamon said.

In addition, they said the system’s goal is to have all elementary students visit the RCAM, Northeast State Community College’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing in the Academic Village downtown, either on a field trip or on family nights during which some adult family members can get information about Tennessee Reconnect scholarship opportunities.

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