Where to Find College and Career Readiness Curriculum
Hundreds of CTE and elective teachers in secondary schools come to us here at Applied Educational Systems and ask us a simple question: Where can I find college and career lesson plans? A great question indeed and an important one, too, for any teacher who struggles to find engaging, sequential, and useful college and career readiness curriculum that will stand the test of time.
Plus, teachers are busy! You need help in locating possible curriculum resources to use for this important topic for all students. Of course, for every teacher it depends and some will opt for developing their own lessons, projects, and rubrics.
Here's what teachers just like you tell us when they are looking for college and career readiness curriculum:
"I am facilitating a college and career readiness class for 11th grade students. I am always looking for current resources to enliven my instruction."
"Trying to find engaging activities to teach soft skills to high schoolers."
"I work in an alternative school and we have a strong need for teaching career readiness skills and digital literacy and use skills to prepare students for returning to a regular school and/or work."
"I am looking for sequential, purposeful curriculum for 9-12 grade students in the area of career readiness. We have an advisory period 18 times during the year and I create the curriculum myself and don't feel that it is as sequential and purposeful as it should be."
The Challenge of College & Career Readiness Curriculum
Why is it such a challenge to find good college and career readiness skills curriculum? Because developing curriculum takes time! I famously asked a teacher friend of mine about how long it takes to develop lesson plans. Her response:
We know it takes time. Precious time that teachers have so very little of between working with students, parents, administrators, grading student work, and submitting grades. Finding effective college and career readiness curriculum that is a great fit for your classroom can certainly alleviate your schedule and allow you to focus on other things that demand your time.
You want to know how long it takes us? It takes us many hours by many people and lots of dollars (approximately $10k) to develop ONE curriculum hour of content. And we aren’t even teaching classes, grading papers, working on professional development, etc., at the same time. And that’s just one curriculum hour, based on just one or two standards or outcomes. Multiply that times 90 or 180 hours or the number of standards that need to be covered and it seems an impossible task for one teacher.
Finding Career and College Readiness Resources
The good news is that you have some really great options for college and career readiness curriculum. And these options don’t require hours of time spent developing curriculum and writing lesson plans.
Check out SkillsUSA. “SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel. We provide educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms.”
The state of Washington has a very popular page on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). There are complete lesson plans, quizzes and materials here for 7th through 12th grade students.
For some free lesson plans for professionalism and soft skills, take a look at this great resource from the US Department of Labor. I love the title: “Soft Skills to Pay the Bills.”
Looking for something more in-depth and comprehensive? Business&ITCenter21 will provide you with engaging, interactive, age-appropriate and up-to-date curriculum. Students go through the curriculum and then take quizzes.
Later, module tests verify their achievement in the content areas. And not only is the curriculum provided, the grade book helps you gauge how well your students are learning and understanding the content.
This is more than a digitized textbook thrown online. That’s been done. What I’m talking about here is a value perception. This is a fully developed tool that includes many resources that follow “Understanding By Design” techniques, starting with what students need to understand and then designing curriculum that will bring students to that end regarding workplace readiness.
Another option is Naviance. This one is new to me. But looked interesting. Their site says, "Naviance is a comprehensive college and career readiness solution for middle and high schools that helps align student strengths and interests to post-secondary goals, and improve student outcomes."
Evaluating College and Career Curriculum
How do you know which resources are right for you?
I recently posted some tips for evaluating curriculum. Here are some guidelines for you...
You will still need to spend time reviewing lessons to understand what students will experience and grading student work projects. And evaluating digital curriculum can also take time. Here are some tips to help you make sure that you select the best digital curriculum for your school and students:
- Sign up for a free trial and review lessons as a student. Make sure you understand what they will see.
- Try a few lessons & quizzes with your students to get a feel for how the automatic grading works.
- Review the catalog to understand which of your topics are covered. Make sure you have plans to cover subjects not included in the curriculum.
- Make sure the content is age-appropriate for your students. Some publishers will repackage content for adults into K12 curriculum.
- Make sure the curriculum is up-to-date. Digital publishers have the option to release regular updates, but not everyone does.
- Contact the publisher’s technical support to make sure they provide a fast & helpful response.
- Check for references – Are there other teachers in your area using the curriculum?
- Make sure that pricing is simple and easy to understand. You don’t want any surprises for your principal.
College and Career Readiness Curriculum Resources
The bottom line? You don't have to reinvent the wheel. And depending on your needs and your budget, you may end up with an entire luxury motor home of resources. There are all sorts of college and career readiness curriculum resources out there. There's something for you!