Providing academic and career planning services to students is a major focus of Wisconsin schools, from culinary arts to health care, energy innovation, and fashion design.
All Wisconsin school districts will be required next year to provide academic and career services to grades 6 through 12. Students will assess interests and skills, exploring various workplace paths. They will also learn about jobs in Wisconsin's labor market, what they pay and what training and education are needed.
"The idea is to help students see more of a connection between what they're doing in the classroom and potential careers," said Sharon Wendt of the state Department of Public Instruction. The shift from academics to career planning is a change for many educators.
"It used to be you were either in academics or career and tech-ed. But it shouldn't be an either/or," said Laura Schmidt, a former consultant who helped design the career and technical education programs in New Berlin. "If all you're doing is focusing on the academics, you're not effectively preparing students for life after high school."