Developing future-ready students in the Pewaukee School District

By: Mike Cady, PhD, superintendent of the Pewaukee School District

This article originally appeared in our October 2018 Accelerate Waukesha County magazine.

Over the past year the Pewaukee School District (PSD) has been able to successfully implement Academic Career Planning (ACP) practices with our students at the middle and high school levels.

The full ACP implementation was preceded by two years of preparation in which PSD was one of 25 districts in Wisconsin to participate in the statewide ACP pilot program in 2015-16, followed by a limited early deployment in 2016-17 at Pewaukee High School.

The early implementation provided the district the opportunity to learn and iron out details to support the full rollout in 2017-18. Highlights from year one included the opportunity for students to explore careers of interest and develop more informed plans related to coursework and experiences outside of the classroom. This process included one-on-one ACP conferences involving the student, ACP advisor and parents.

The ACP process is very valuable for students and has been well received by our parents. Students are engaged in thinking ahead about their interests and the elements of ACP lead them to investigate potential careers earlier, and in greater detail, than was common in the past. When students have a better sense of what they are working toward, school work becomes more engaging and meaningful.

In addition, students are prone to making more strategic decisions when selecting elective coursework that may be more aligned to future goals. This has the added benefit of improving our school system’s ability to meet the demands of the labor market as students are more aware of the fields and occupations that are in demand.

Looking at future workforce needs may be more important than ever before considering the dramatic shifts already underway in relation to the emergence of more sophisticated technologies and greater globalization. ACP helps our student become more aware of these factors when making decisions on future career pathways.

In the Pewaukee School District, we are very focused on supporting the development of future-ready students and have developed a graduate profile that endeavors to articulate the kinds of knowledge, skills and dispositions our graduates will need to be successful. The ACP process has proven to be an important and complementary component of this work for our students.