The Georgia Department of Education recently developed foundational courses for its career clusters/pathways, a new high-school model that will begin with this fall’s freshman class.
The courses are part of a law passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2011, authorizing Georgia to follow the Career Clusters Framework. Under the new model, students — with the help of parents, teachers and guidance counselors — choose a pathway in one of 17 career clusters or in the areas of advanced academics, fine arts and world languages.
Students select their pathway based on what they want to do after graduation and take core classes coupled with electives based on their chosen field. They have the freedom to switch pathways. Students can choose pathways that lead to two-year or four-year colleges, technical colleges or directly into careers.
“Too many students drop out of school because they can’t make the connection between what they’re doing in class and what they want to do after graduation. We have to make high school relevant for students,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. “Our new career pathways will keep students engaged and on the road to graduation.”
Joseph Harrison, a culinary-arts student at The Newton College and Career Academy, thought about dropping out of high school until he found his passion.
“Attending The Newton College and Career Academy this year was an eye-opening experience for me,” Harrison said. “Prior to attending NCCA, I had a very dim outlook on the world of academia. School seemed somewhat pointless to me, and I had no drive or goals. I found my passion when I was given the opportunity to work with my hands and truly exploit my talents. I found something I truly love to do and am utterly excited for the future now that I have discovered this passion.”
The state board of education finalized the foundational courses for career clusters/pathways at a meeting in May. The courses were developed after months of research and input from businesses — led by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — and higher-education leaders in Georgia. The GaDOE also is developing the elective courses for each cluster, which will go before the board in coming months.
“The career clusters/pathways model gives students the chance to find a career path that will keep them engaged and more likely to complete high school prepared for jobs or further education and training,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud Superintendent Barge for his willingness to involve the business community in this process and look forward to continuing to support this important initiative.”