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Career advisement pilot program called 'No Graduate Left Behind

January 27, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The most popular college major among freshman is uncommitted, and about 40 percent of those students don't make it to their sophomore year.

To help freshmen of the future make up their minds, Chambersburg Area Senior High School has started a pilot Career and Academic Advisement Program.

"No Graduate Left Behind" is how Assistant Principal Brad Ocker described the program, which is aimed at assisting high school students with career exploration and academic planning. With the program just beginning, it will include all 1,600 students at the high school in grades 10 through 12.

Chambersburg students attending the Franklin County Career and Technology Center will not be included in the pilot program, but could be added later, Ocker said.

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It also will involve all 108 teachers at the school, with each becoming a career and academic adviser, Ocker told the Chambersburg School Board Wednesday. That works out to one teacher for about every 16 students, he said.

Those students and advisers would meet several times during the year, and parents would meet with their child's adviser annually, Ocker told the board.

Advisers would help students develop an academic plan, career awareness and employment readiness, Ocker said. Throughout high school, they will build a portfolio that includes a rsum, information about career-oriented courses, training, job experience and other information of interest to potential employers, colleges or technical schools.

Guidance counselors will serve as consultants and as a resource for the advisers, Ocker said.

The junior research paper that students now have to complete as a graduation requirement would be replaced by a more individualized and career-oriented senior project, Ocker said.

"I've wanted a change in the senior project," board member Lori Leedy said. "This is a lot more meaningful."

Ocker cited some other statistics that show that more career counseling is in order.

· About half of college graduates cannot find work in their field of study.

· A third of graduates cannot find college-level employment.

· The percent of skilled occupations in the job market has risen from 20 percent in 1950 to 70 percent now.

"Unskilled occupations are moving out of the U.S. to Third World countries," Ocker said. Education and training are increasingly important to finding a decent job, he said.

"It's got a great opportunity to get the buy in it deserves," Board President Tom Orndorf said.

Ocker said the program also will work with the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce to get businesses involved with job shadowing and other career-developing services.

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