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Career majors proposed for Berkeley schools

December 09, 1997

Career majors proposed for Berkeley schools

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Beginning with the Class of 2002, Berkeley County high school students will be required to take four courses in a career major to earn a diploma, if a proposed policy is adopted.

The Berkeley County Board of Education Monday night approved sending out the proposed graduation requirements policy for a month-long period of comment and review.

The policy, if adopted, will bring the system in line with state law based on the national School to Career Program.

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The new policy would include a "work-based learning component" as a requirement, though students would not receive any credit toward graduation, according to Frank Aliveto, assistant superintendent for instruction.

The aim is to give students the "knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be a successful, functioning member of society," according to the policy.

The new requirements will apply to those students entering high school next year, Aliveto said.

"At the end of their 10th-grade year, they'll choose a major," he said.

Students will have a list of eight or 10 courses in any particular major from which they would choose at least four. Someone interested in medicine, for example, might pick from a list including anatomy, chemistry, biology and Latin, Aliveto said.

Students also could pick from a wide range of electives for four more credits. Some of those could be from "pathway supportive courses," which the policy describes as "a group of highly recommended courses that are related to a chosen major."

"The work-based learning component will not be completed until this time next year," Aliveto said. He said it will be developed by a committee of teachers, counselors and citizens.

For the work-based learning requirement, Aliveto said a student's summer or after-school job might apply in some cases. For others, public or community service might be applicable, although he stressed there will be no community service requirement like Maryland has.

"Job shadowing" is another option, through which students would be placed in offices or other workplaces to learn about occupations.

Schools also will have classroom options for work place experience. Aliveto said computer software has been purchased "for some jobs we can simulate in the classroom."

An example he cited was a bank teller, with the interactive software allowing a student to experience a range of transactions, discussions and scenarios with video customers.

"There is a lot of flexibility in their elective courses and students can change their majors anytime with the permission of their parents," Aliveto said.

Students may enter college with a better knowledge of the career they wish to pursue, Aliveto said, and they also might discover what jobs they don't want to pursue.

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