Learning From the Field: Updates From a Decision Education Incubator School

May 13th, 2024

Students face one of the most significant decisions of their lives when they consider what comes after high school, whether they pursue higher education, vocational training, or enter the workforce directly. These choices are the focus of the Alliance’s College and Career Decision-Making Incubator program. This past school year, five schools across the country received funding to design and pilot Decision Education instructional models aimed at supporting students as they explore these options and make crucial decisions for their future.

One such school is Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College High School in Concord, North Carolina. They designed a seminar course to help students navigate these important decisions.

“Our approach was to build out an entire block class around college and career decision-making, giving our freshman and sophomore students a solid head start for the decisions that come in their junior and senior years,” said Joshua Trujillo, chemistry and seminar teacher at Cabarrus-Kannapolis. The team chose to concentrate on early high school students, after discovering that numerous students come to realize by the time they reach their junior or senior years that their options are restricted because of factors like grades and course choices.

With guidance and ongoing professional development from the Alliance, the Cabarrus-Kannapolis team developed their specific approach and curriculum. Andrew Rowe, a social studies teacher and Incubator team lead at Cabarrus-Kannapolis, acknowledges the Alliance’s support in refining their program. “The Alliance has been instrumental in guiding us through the process, offering valuable feedback and direction as we developed our program,” said Rowe. “They are supportive of our vision but also gently questioned and helped us scale back when needed.”

Teachers Joshua Trujillo (L) and Andrew Rowe (R)

Teachers Joshua Trujillo (Left) and Andrew Rowe (Right), Decision Education Incubator participants.

The Alliance believes Decision Education extends beyond college and career choices. It helps students assess their values, set goals, and evaluate outcomes. Teachers at Cabarrus-Kannapolis stress that these skills are applicable not just in academics but also in real-life situations. Rowe, Trujillo, and other members of the team emphasize the importance of understanding various aspects of choosing a school or career and helping students rank and prioritize various factors to make informed decisions that align with their individual goals and circumstances well after graduation.

“I believe these skills extend beyond high school. When designing scenarios for quizzes and discussions, I emphasize real-world examples, aiming to highlight that these skills are valuable not just in academic settings but also in various aspects of life,” said Trujillo. “This approach helps students recognize the applicability of decision-making skills beyond the classroom.”

The Alliance plans to help more schools adopt and scale these efforts to equip more students with the skills needed to make informed decisions throughout their lives.

Learn more about the Alliance and our Incubator program here.

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