Why Providing Proof of Skills is Critical for Future Student Success — THE Journal

Expert point of view

Why providing proof of skills is essential for future student success

I cringe when high school students are asked to write a CV. They enter their name and contact details at the top. There is always a conversation about including a more “appropriate” email address or social media ID. Students formulate their objective statement (who has already been hired because of the objective they wrote?). Students list high school attended and GPA under education, and then – well, it becomes a struggle.

Some students may list part-time employment or volunteer work. Others might offer specific interests or extracurricular activities. Most of the time, the high school student’s resume is blank, regardless of the student’s level of achievement. Resumes are generally expected to indicate jobs and related responsibilities. Secondary students have little or none.

Transcripts also provide little support. A B+ in World Geography or even an A- in AutoCad does little to convey the tangible skills and abilities mastered throughout the course.

For example: in the World Geography class, student Susan constructs a pivot table in the spreadsheet to display the population, resources, and government systems in regions below the equator. The ability to build a pivot table makes Susan a competitive candidate for the Data Analyst position. The skill of building pivot tables does not appear on any typical transcript. The potential employer, even though he has chosen on a whim to look at the transcript, does not know that the skill is practiced in Susan’s World Geography course. Therefore, his grade of “A” in the course has little immediate or apparent relevance.

To expand the example further, perhaps Susan has to leave high school in the 11th grade due to conditions beyond her control. Now he lacks a degree. And even though Susan learned some valuable skills when she enrolled, Susan’s transcript makes her appear like a failure by society’s standards – and a blank resume only reinforces the perception that she’s not ready for the labor market.

There is a significant mismatch between the vehicles through which students communicate what they know and can do and the opportunities available in the labor market. Skills tracking is key to solving the problem, for both students and employers.

The critical initiation of skill tracking begins with the K-12 educational environment. The trajectory is in place; it began with the standards movement of the early 1980s. Rather than ensuring that all students reached page 97 together, the standards movement empowered educators to help students achieve proficiency when , where and how it best fits the student and the learning environment. Carnegie units and required siege time began to fade. The next phase should be a shift from courses and grades to skills and evidence.

The competency-based education movement—along with personalized learning, mastery, and deepening initiatives—shows a significant shift in the direction of competencies and evidence, but report cards and transcripts are at the train. Meanwhile, job postings increasingly identify desired skills, just as job boards increasingly offer opportunities for candidates to display their skills through badges and job information. identification. This is certainly progress, but it is still insufficient.

Until there are universal definitions of skills and universally accepted demarcations of skills, evidence is needed.

The pivot table that Susan built by bringing together various sets of data shows a level of skill far beyond that of the student who claims mastery after only manipulating a pre-made table to answer a few multiple-choice questions.

Mastering a foreign language is very different if it is practiced only in the classroom compared to immersion in a mother tongue community. Problem solving is very different if practiced in a math class than if developed in a field experience against soil erosion. Etc.

From a macro perspective, we see employers and K-12 education coming to similar conclusions about the need to identify and champion skills. Much of this work has been done independently of each other, but that too is changing.

As labor demands increase, employers are investing more time, direction, and resources in K-12 to improve alignment. From serving on advisory boards to leading the development of K-12 career academies, employers are accessing the language to better communicate their needs to the K-12 environment. 12th year. In turn, education officials can ensure that students have evidence of the essential skills now made explicit in the courses offered and the experiences provided.

Current conditions are indeed soft. Teachers are empowered to make the skills in their courses more identifiable to students. Students can keep pushing for such clarity with the age-old question, “Why do I need to know this?” The list of skills on a CV – or via a digital profile – offers some credibility, although employers expect evidence to prove authenticity. And none of this, in its current form, can be as effective as a test score, GPA threshold, or minimum years of experience for an HR department to screen from a stack of 250 applications. .

Yet it is our duty, as educators and employers who were at one time students ourselves, to promote the value of skills and evidence. While arguably not as effective, skills and evidence will be much more effective in identifying, developing, and supporting an ever-wider range of capable and eager learners.

About the Author

As Territorium’s Vice President of Equity and Innovation, Keith Look, Ed.D., guides development that secures and expands learners’ ability to show what they know and are able to do. Prior to joining Territorium, he served as a director and superintendent in districts large and small, urban and rural, poor and resourced.

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