article banner

New College and Career Advising Workshop Series

By V. Scott Solberg, Ph.D. and Lisa Harney, M.Ed. | January 2019

Massachusetts School Counseling Association (MASCA) is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) in the design and implementation of a three-day professional development workshop series for a new College and Career Advising (CCA) program. Funded by the Council of Chief States School Officers as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative, 80 schools are currently participating and there is an expectation of another 80 high schools participating next year. 
Massachusetts legislators passed a bill in 2015 requiring the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to commission a cross-sector advisory committee to study and report on the nature and promise of ILPs in Massachusetts. That group’s work culminated in in a legislative report titled “Helping Youth Become the Drivers of Their Own College and Career Readiness Success: Nature, Promise, and Implementation Recommendations for Supporting Districts to Adopt Individual Learning Plans” (MA Executive Office of Education, 2016).
While the ILP advisory committee was developing its report, MA DESE obtained a major national grant called New Skills for Youth (NSFY), which included funding for a significant training opportunity for high schools across the state. Following the legislative report, MASCA and the Executive Office of Education co-chair a steering committee to oversee the implementation of the report’s recommendations. The committee also includes school counselors, community advocates and officials from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and MA DESE.  Notable accomplishments of these meetings include:
  1. Renaming of ILPs as My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP)
  2. Creation of a framework for CCA
  3. Development of a four-year scope and sequence of learning activities that includes the use of MyCAP as a process and an instrument for implementation of the CCA Framework
The College and Career Advising Program is a robust program that prepares students for post-secondary success. It is a whole-school program led by counselors, supported by administrators and implemented by teachers throughout the school and across content areas. MyCAP refers to the process whereby students identify their talents and skills; identify postsecondary options, career goals and life goals; and actively design their own academic and postsecondary plans aligned to personal needs and goals. MyCAP also consists of a document – an ePortfolio – where students can track their career development activities and experiences.
The three-workshop series is designed for school teams consisting of a school counselor, administrator, teacher and one other staff person (another counselor, special education teacher, etc.). Fall 2018 was the official launch of the professional development workshops.   
Workshop 1 offered an orientation to the nature and promise of engaging in college and career advising and MyCAP.  School teams learned how to alternate between classroom and technology-related activities that focused on key career development skills areas: self-exploration and social/emotional learning, career awareness, career exploration, work-based learning (career immersion), academic planning, career planning and postsecondary education planning. Teams also received orientation and time to explore their schools’ online career information system – MassCIS, MEFA Pathway, Career Cruising and Naviance.
Workshop 2 focuses on identifying grade-level learning objectives and a sequence of college and career advising lessons. School teams are being encouraged to focus on one grade level for initial implementation, and therefore will focus on designing a scope and sequence of college and career advising and MyCAP activities for one grade level but in each of the domains identified in Massachusetts as necessary for college and career readiness – personal/social; career development education; and academic, college, and career advising.
Workshop 3 is focused on implementation. School teams will determine how many college and career advising lessons they will implement and how the implementation will occur. Teams will also identify the communication materials they need to explain the nature and value of college and career advising and MyCAPs to a wide range of stakeholders. Finally, teams will outline a strategy for evaluating the impact of their college and career advising program.
Initial feedback from workshop 1 of the series has been positive. Workshop 1 attendees reported more confidence in identifying the components of designing a college and career advising and MyCAP program, identifying current college and career advising practices in their school, and using data to inform the design of their college and career advising program.