District launches career success program for students

Aug. 18, 2022 – Problem solving. Communication. Ability to work on teams. Professionalism.

According to local and national employers, these are the skills that set high school graduates up for success as they embark on their career journey.

Looking to the long-term success of its students, Duval County Public Schools is embedding these skills into middle and high schools through a new workforce readiness program. Students will be able to document their mastery of these skills and show both employers and colleges that they are prepared to add value to any business or organization.

“Our schools have done an amazing job increasing the number of students who graduate,” said School Board Chairman Darryl Willie. “Now we want business and industry to know that our students are among the best prepared high school graduates in America.”

The program is called Duval Ready. It begins in eighth grade with students engaging in more concentrated exploration of careers; making connections with working adults in careers of interest; and understanding the link between high school education, postsecondary education and career fields.

“The point is not to lock children into a pathway, but rather to show them how pathways to success can work,” said Corey Wright, Assistant Superintendent of Accountability and Assessment, and one of the architects of the new program. “When students begin to form a realistic future vision and develop personal goals, they tend to commit and succeed at higher levels.”

Throughout high school, students will experience the “Florida Ready to Work” curriculum focusing on problem solving, communication, teamwork and professionalism.

The skills and the curriculum will be embedded in courses students are already required to take. Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in these skills through “Florida Ready to Work” assessments and the completion of a capstone project. The capstone project will enable students to sharpen their skills through a menu of options including internships and apprenticeships; clinical hours and work experience programs; employer and college visits; membership in student professional, career or technical organizations; and other school-based career centered projects.

Students who complete the coursework, pass their assessments, and complete the capstone experience will receive a special Duval Ready designation on their high school diploma, a designation that will have special meaning for employers.

The Duval County Public School Board developed the vision for the program from its community outreach work while constructing its strategic plan last year.

The program was piloted on a limited basis with last year’s seniors. Of the 202 students that participated, 96.5% mastered the Florida Ready to Work Certificates. The program will be fully deployed this school year.

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