Two Developments in Middle Grade Career Exploration 

Key Points

  • Two-thirds of current high schoolers and graduates say they would have benefited from more career exploration in middle or high school according to ASA research. 

  • Here are two innovative approaches to addressing this guidance gap.

Evolve Me by ASA

Two-thirds of current high schoolers and graduates say they would have benefited from more career exploration in middle or high school according to ASA research. We recently spotted two innovative approaches to addressing this guidance gap: EvolveMe, a direct-to-youth platform from ASA, and a middle grade course from Education Opens Doors

“We’ve invested a lot of time and energy to learn what really works in terms of getting kids to play an active role in planning their future,” said ASA CEO Jean Eddy. “And one thing that consistently comes back is the reality that kids need to be engaged in their own spaces and on their own terms. Importantly, they need to have agency and be able to make informed choices,” she added. 

The ASA team assembled a mobile-first free suite of products and resources to build durable skills and prepare young people for their career journey and life after high school. The EvolveMe platform encourages the exploration of possible futures and offers incentives for completed tasks along the way. 

EvolveMe features 26 career experimentation and skills-building activities from 15 innovative partners that serve millions of teens. Partners include:

  • DeBruce Foundation’s Agile Work Profiler, which helps kids understand their own strengths and interests and how they relate to careers,
  • UStrive, which enables teens to sign up, find, and meet with a mentor,
  • Tyto/Immersed Games, which offers five games across in-demand issues where kids can build knowledge and skills and try on jobs,
  • Talk Hiring, which helps kids learn to interview with confidence by doing realistic yet automated mock interviews and getting instant feedback,
  • Create & Learn, which helps young people to learn Scratch and Python coding through online courses with real professionals, practice core coding concepts, and build an impressive project,
  • Work Simplr, a platform that breaks real-world deliverables down into projects for kids to complete and earn money,
  • Science Near Me, which allows youth to search for activities and experiences in science,
  • CareerVillage, an online platform democratizing access to career information and advice by providing a supportive community of real professionals ready to answer any question about any career,
  • Skillsline, a platform that teaches durable human skills, with the goal of giving every student the tools they need to navigate the complexities of the modern world — in school, at work, and in life,
  • ProjectSet, an online platform for virtual work-based learning opportunities that help kids and university students to develop workplace skills and become career ready,
  • Bloom Learning/Ender, which is on a mission to make kids employable before they graduate high school by building a competition platform where they win prizes by completing projects and gaining skills,
  • School of Thought, which is a nonprofit dedicated to teaching critical thinking and reasoning skills,
  • FitMoney, which provides a free certificate course that allows kids to build knowledge and confidence around financial literacy topics,
  • Aha Media, which connects teens and emerging talent to immersive virtual internships in animation production from the comfort of their own communities,
  • Cirkled In, a modern, engaging, Gen-Z-focused professional profile platform that empowers K-16 students to showcase their holistic achievements, strengths, and talents, connecting them to their best-fit educational and employment opportunities, from college and scholarships to jobs and internships.

For the last two months, ASA has been reaching out through social media inviting teens onto the platform. Tens of thousands of learners are engaging and earning rewards while developing  

“We’re excited about this launch and about any initiative that promises to get kids feeling a sense of ownership over their education, work experience, and future,” said Eddy.  

EvolveMe features 26 career experimentation and skills-building activities from 15 innovative partners that serve millions of teens.

Getting Smart Staff

New Class Boosts High School and Career Readiness 

Education Opens Doors (EOD) provides a middle school course that builds skills and supports thoughtful high school choices. It is used by the 43 middle schools in Dallas ISD and gaining national attention.    

“We partner with middle schools across the country, training teachers to equip their students with the college and career knowledge and skills they need for long-term success,” said EOD CEO Roscoe Compton-Kelly.

The two-part college and career readiness curriculum can be offered as a middle grade class or in units of study in an advisory period.  

The first program includes six units designed to introduce students to key college information and soft skills. Topics covered include measures of success (GPA, class rank) types of high schools, resume and interviewing, reasons to attend college and financial aid.

The second program includes growth mindset, internships and jobs, mock interviews, choosing a major, financial literacy and applying to college.

In terms of outcomes, Roscoe sees high levels of student and teacher engagement, digital citizenship skills, a sense of belonging, and more informed high school choices.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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