Exemplary career development practices of Virginia's middle schools

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Virginia Tech


The National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC) ( 1989) has defined career development guidelines for all groups from elementary school students through adulthood. These guidelines have been adopted by over 40 states. Virginia has chosen not to adopt them and currently does not have state standards against which to identify or assess exemplary career development practices in middle schools. Such identification procedures would serve to (a) provide guidelines for program development and expansion, (b) provide a means of accountability, ( c) provide a standard of performance, ( d) provide consistency among middle schools, and ( e) showcase exemplary programs.

This study examined exemplary career development practices at 43 middle schools in Virginia during the Fall of 1996. The researcher identified these schools by asking for recommendations from State Department of Education Field Representatives, university faculty with expertise in the fields of counseling, middle school education or both, and current and most recent past officers of the Virginia Counselors Association and the Virginia School Counselor Association.

A survey method was used to identify general curriculum design, physical facilities, technological capabilities, activities and strategies used to incorporate career development into the curricula of the identified middle school. Three site visits and one in-depth telephone interview were conducted by the researcher to verify exemplary career development practices.

The following common themes were found concerning exemplary career development practices:

  1. There were teacher-advisory programs in which a variety of career development activities took place in the academic classrooms.
  2. There were middle school teams in which groups of teachers worked together on career development activities which were integrated into the core curriculum through these teaming efforts.
  3. There were curriculum design efforts in which career development exploratory classes were offered on either a 6, 9, 12, or 18 week rotation.
  4. There were special interest clubs, many of which directly related to career development.
  5. There were classroom guidance activities conducted by counselors related to career development.

Evaluations of the Survey findings, recommendations and conclusions of this study were reported in the hope that middle school career development programs in Virginia's middle schools will strive for exemplary practices for the benefit of their own students.



exemplary, career development, middle school