Entrepreneurship along with Career Development Is An Answer

Jun 10, 2012 by

Everyday at EducationViews.org dozens of articles, regarding what authors deem important are sent my desk. Many are published for the avid readers who reside in the world of education. I welcome the all of the latest research and my passion in education is about children who are the most needy; the special needs kids around the world.

However there is another population of students who need immediate attention. I, along with many of my colleagues, know that we are facing an American silent tragedy. I am writing about the 7,000 students who leave school everyday in America and simply disappear with the possibility of joining the “school to prison pipeline” which is a part of America’s “dropout nation”.

There are answers for this never-ending problem. One program that comes to mind is from Barry Stern, Senior Fellow at the Haberman Foundation called Workforce Development for Students. Following are some of the programs that could be offered. They are linked seamlessly for a transition into the workplace.

The Education and training programs:

Basic English and Math– computer-assisted tutoring program designed to raise skills from 4th grade to 8th grade level. Completers would be eligible to enter Career Readiness Program described and given an opportunity to complete their GED.

Career Readiness Program (CRP) -CRP is an intensive, 8-12 week, 6-8 hours a day program designed to advance English, math, computer, and employability skills. Success factors include the challenging cross-disciplinary curriculum, faculty teaming and small group coaching, daily feedback on class and individual performance, emphasis on time management, and the heavy use of courseware to manage instruction and reporting and to facilitate the learning of English. The curriculum features workplace problem solving, career guidance, and development of interpersonal skills and workplace ethics, all of which encourage students to learn from one another and collaborate effectively.

Core Technologies Program (CTP) – CTP is an intensive 18-20 week full-time program designed to expose students to six technologies: mechanics, hydraulics-pneumatics, thermodynamics, electronics, electricity, and computers. Entering students must have at least 9th-10th grade proficiency in English and math and be able to pass a computer literacy test. Students receive sufficient theory and practice in each technology to assist them in deciding whether to prepare for a technical career. They also receive sufficient preparation to ensure their success in higher-level technical training offered by a company, college or university.

The WDC (The Workforce Development Council (WDC) or sponsoring entity (e.g. school, college, workforce agency, business consortium, etc.) would place graduates of the Career Readiness and/or Core Technologies programs in jobs or into education and training programs of a company, college or university. Alumni would be asked to “give back” to the WDC by mentoring and giving talks to current enrollees, recruiting new students, helping new graduates find job vacancies, etc. All programs are designed for both male and female applicants.

If America continues to deny such a program that offers the promise of work, then we will be sending the “no hopers” into a world with minimal earning power, no insurance, no decent vehicle to get anywhere, no purchase of a home and this is only the beginning of a life that offers little meaning. WE CAN AND SHOULD DO BETTER BY THE CHILDREN AND YOUTH OF AMERICA. Will we do it? The jury is still out for the 7,000 a day! Jimmy Kilpatrick, Editor EducationViews.org

Dr.Barry Stern and Bill Stierle, developers and co-trainers for the Fast Break Accelerated Learning for High Schools, Career -Technical and Adult Education Programs, received a message June 6,2012, from one of the high school teachers in Fast Break Training in New Orleans who had this to say:

“This city needs something to change before New Orleans is completely destroyed by violence and left with no leaders for future generations. More teachers need Fast Break tools and techniques; nonviolent communication training has become an imminent need for the youth in our city.”

Certainly, all cities are not New Orleans. Yet issues of poor school performance, unemployment, bullying, lack of work ethic, etc. seem pervasive among urban youth. We would welcome comments from educators and colleagues on how our expertise could contribute to their solution.
Below is a summary of Fast Break.

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Fast Break Accelerated Learning for High Schools, Career-Technical and Adult Education Programs

Abstract.Fast Break is an intensive, team taught, cross-disciplinary, computer-assisted, highly experiential and applied program that simulates a high performance workplace. This 300-hour model was developed by Focus:HOPE in Detroit in 1990, replicated in Los Angeles with a National Science Foundation demonstration grant in 1995 and expanded in Michigan and Alabama in 2000 with state funding. Students typically make 2+ grade-level gains in reading and math (1-2 WorkKeys levels) in just 2-3 months, and they obtain employable skills in computer applications, as well as teamwork, customer service, time management, conflict resolution and other job readiness skills. The model has been very successful in helping young adults in Detroit, Los Angeles, Flint and other communities move ahead to career entry positions or college. Invariably the 17-25 years old out-of-school participants say that had such a program been available in high school, they would have been much more engaged and learned much faster.

Target groups:

  • 9th graders who are not ready academically or emotionally for high school;
  • 11th-12th graders who need to catch up in order to graduate and get ready for the workplace, college or career-technical training;
  • Career-tech students and out-of-school youth needing better math, reading and computer skills to begin technical training at a higher level and thus improve subsequent employability;
  • Over-age under-credited students who need to rapidly skill up and earn credits in order to graduate;
  • Summer school or alternative high school students who do not respond to well to traditional instructional methods;
  • Dropouts who would return to school or college if the educational model were engaging and led to an outcome they valued such as accelerated academic credit, a career-related job, or entry into college without needing remedial courses.
  • Displaced workers and homemakers who wish to enter the workforce or college with the basic skills and habits of mind to succeed

Key Features. In only 2-3 months Fast Break typically produces 2+ grade-level gains in reading and math while equipping students with computer application and employability skills. The program achieves these high learning rates through a combination of strategies:

  • Intensive time on task. Concentrated, 4-8 hours-a-day program that lasts 8-16 weeks provides sufficient time on task to produce good learning habits (and unlearn bad ones) and prevents forgetting.
  • Curricular integration. Instructors co-teach and fully integrate the teaching of reading, math, communications (oral and written), computer applications, career selection and employability skills. This curricular integration motivates students as they experience how basic skills are applied to solving problems in the workplace.
  • Team teaching and continual accessibility of staff. All 2-4 instructors with different specialties stay with the same group of 25-50 students for most/all of the instructional day, modeling the kinds of teamwork and collaboration seen in the best companies.
  • Computer-assisted small group instruction. Courseware, online testing and small group instruction facilitates teaching students of different ability levels at the same time. Students spend 50-60% of their time on reading, writing and math skills, including the use of courseware which reinforces and deepens what students are able to learn in classroom/small group activities. Both classroom instruction and courseware reinforce the kinds of problem-solving and higher order thinking skills that engage long-term memory and thus prevent forgetting.
  • Experiential methods and interpersonal skills. Highly engaging curriculum is experiential, team-oriented, and project-based, and it integrates soft skills like teamwork, customer service, time management and conflict resolution into the teaching of academic skills. These features also motivate students and engage long-term memory.
  • Thinking styles and emotional intelligence. Both students and instructors learn thinking-style based methods to accelerate learning, understand others and build effective teams. Thus, instructors can differentiate instruction by teaching students to use their preferred thinking style in the course of strengthening non-preferred styles that might be essential to solve a problem– that is, to build on strengths in the course of overcoming weaknesses. Students also learn needs-based communication strategies to improve interpersonal relations and resolve conflicts.
  • Strong incentives (social contract). Students who meet Fast Break’s Achievement, Attendance and Attitudinal requirements (the “3 A’s”) are rewarded with assistance in obtaining an outcome they value, such as a career entry job, college admission, or accelerated academic credit leading to the next grade-level promotion or enrollment in advanced academic or technical training.

Factory model obsolete and becoming moreso. Fast Break has little in common with the traditional factory model design where students change what they do and with whom every 45-90 minutes. Our research, and that of other groups such as the National Center for Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), suggests the traditional model is unlikely to do much better than it has in equipping students with the skills they will need in college, work, or life. Too many low-income urban students have an emotional-psychological mind-set that will not allow them to learn. In Fast Break the same group of students and faculty stays together for sufficient time to establish nurturing relationships that enable students to establish in their minds a compelling vision of success.

Results. Employers and post-secondary institutions have been enthusiastic customers of Fast Break, since it produces job and college entrants with decent basic skills, computer savvy, a solid work ethic, and the ability to function effectively on teams. The model typically achieves 2+ grade-level gains in math and reading (1-2 WorkKeys levels) in just 2-3 months and places 80% of graduates in jobs or college within six weeks. Employers and colleges say the graduates are the kind of entrants they want — self-starters who collaborate effectively within and across work groups, companies, and countries. Colleges want the graduates because they rarely need remedial English or math.

Additionally, the program addresses the issues that make too many schools and training programs irrelevant to the modern workplace (see Dr. Martin Haberman’s article, Unemployment Training (The Ideology of Non-Work Learned in Urban Schools), and which make it difficult for organizations to make breakthrough academic gains despite the continual infusion of new funds and various enrichment/expanded/after school learning opportunities. Another reason for migrating from the factory model is that it is no longer financially sustainable given the dismal economic climate which economists say is likely to last for years.

The Haberman Foundationis known for its research-based protocols for selecting teachers and principals who are likely to persist and succeed in schools with a large proportion of students from low income backgrounds. Since 1996 these protocols have been used by some 300 school districts and charter school management organizations (e.g. KIPP, Green Dot, Edison). Fast Break is the only program the Foundation has endorsed. Our fees to help districts implement the program are modest, particularly if more than one school/organization were to implement it (almost the same price for 3-4 schools as for one if they begin at the same time).

Dr. Martin Haberman, 2009 recipient of the American Education Research Association’s Legacy Award and who trained over a 50-year career more teachers for urban districts than anyone, states “I think Fast Break is the kind of program our nation’s urban youth need to dramatically improve their academic achievement, morale and interest in school. Traditional school and course designs simply no longer work for this population that is so demographically different than previous generations. Fast Break seems to be in sync with the way these kids are, what they value, how they learn and like to be treated.

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