West Aurora High School, EAA Finalist, steadily incorporated CCLR into a jam-packed curriculum
Most high schools make use of every hour in the day. When they try to add new content to the curriculum, such as Career College and Life Readiness (CCLR) learning, they must navigate competing priorities and educational trade-offs.
Thanks to a collaborative approach among administrators, counselors, and teachers, West Aurora, a finalist for the 2021 Hobsons Education Advances Award, has embedded CCLR learning into its existing course curriculum with great success.
In 2015, administrators at West Aurora High School realized that students in the senior class didn’t have a good understanding of their post-secondary options and opportunities. They saw the need to weave more CCLR into the curriculum, according to Sue Fowler, College & Career Readiness Coordinator. At the same time, state and federal accountability measures prompted a reevaluation of the school’s CCLR programming. The school set out to develop its own CCLR framework by defining student learning targets and supports at each grade level.
Building a CCLR framework step-by-step
First, West Aurora High School conducted an audit of existing CCLR practices by gathering input from counselors and administrators. Next, they researched the best practices of schools with successful CCLR program and guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). They also used standards from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the state of Illinois’ Post-secondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework as building blocks.
When it came time to implement their CCLR plan, West Aurora High School integrated the lessons into their existing curriculum by working directly with the teachers.
Our administrators empowered us to identify and work with specific grade level teachers of core curriculum, as well as provide professional development opportunities, designed to both increase awareness of the importance of post-secondary planning and incorporating the usage of our valued Naviance tool into their specific curriculum.Sue Fowler, College & Career Readiness Coordinator
Using Naviance as the central tool, Fowler and her colleagues developed themes for each grade level with activities centered on its College & Career Curriculum.
West Aurora High School students consistently use the Naviance platform for:
- Identifying and exploring career interests
- Expanding career knowledge with Road Trip Nation
- Researching colleges and developing a best-fit college list
- Meeting with admissions reps through Rep Visits
- Locating and applying for scholarships
- Building a resume and requesting transcripts
Familiarizing students with CCLR at a younger age
Two years ago the district added their eighth grade students to the Naviance CCLR program. The students take Naviance’s Career Cluster Finder Assessment to identify pathways of interest. The assessment also guides eighth graders and their counselors in selecting elective courses for high school.
This school year the district expanded the Naviance CCLR program to sixth and seventh graders, familiarizing students with CCLR concepts at a younger age and positioning students for greater post-secondary success.
As the school continues to expand its College & Career Curriculum, they’ve made adjustments based on student needs and state and federal mandates. The College & Career Readiness Team meet regularly to reflect and make changes to help students identify, develop, and reach their post-secondary goals.
Congratulations to West Aurora High School for becoming an EAA finalist, effectively integrating CCLR into the school curriculum, and increasing awareness of post-secondary opportunities among their students.