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Mapping out career paths
Electronic portfolio to help student's career research
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 Kids dream about what they want to be when they grow up, but soon Rockdale students will be able to map out a tangible career path well before they graduate using an electronic portfolio.

Rockdale County Public Schools is putting a new emphasis on the Georgia Career Information System(GCIS). The program provides each student with an electronic portfolio that will aid them in career research, requirements and financial aid information, to name a few of its components.

"The important aspect of GCIS is that the student takes an active role in the process," said Garrett Brundage, director of Support Services, at the Jan. 14 Board of Education meeting.

A key element of the GCIS program enlists teachers as advisors. Each teacher will be assigned 15-20 students that they mentor during the course of the student's high school career. Along with the electronic portfolios, this individualized attention assists students in test-taking, SAT/ACT awareness, credit and graduation checklists as well as advising on goal-setting and peer pressure issues.
 Board member Jeff Dugan said, "This is a tool that will help us work with the students, parents and teachers to develop a roadmap to get them where they want to go which ultimately fulfills our mission to help students reach their aspirations."

Chief Academic Officer Rich Autry added, "Put aside the technical components...this is really about building personal bonds with students and families."

GCIS is already in place in the middle schools to help with the transition to high school and even fifth graders will be able to set up accounts and pass codes to prepare them for middle school. GCIS will be rolled out in the high schools on a small scale this semester and fully operational by the start of the 2010-11 school year.

In other BOE business:

Autry announced the formation of the Standards Based Vision Team, a group of 30 teachers, counselors and principals from all the district's elementary schools, which will develop cornerstone assessments for grades K-5. These will be used to score students to make sure all are meeting the same expectations. Providing structure and consistency, "the nuts and bolts", throughout the district is the goal said Autry.

These will give a "snapshot along the way to let us know how schools, grade levels and individuals are doing. The chance for intervention is gone once they take the CRCT and ECOT exams. From a district level, benchmark results direct our work," said Autry. Over the next two years, standards will also be developed for the middle and high school levels.

- On Jan. 9, Conyers Middle School hosted a Social Studies fair for all four middle schools with 37 participants and 14 projects earning First Place Best in Fair status. These projects will compete at the East Metro Fair at Memorial High School on Feb. 6. The Education 2020 program gave a $1500 grant to be used between the two fairs.

- Four schools are seeking status as model programs with the American School Counselors Association. Counselors Tanya Hunt, Melissa Keffer, and Roxanne Dukes from Honey Creek, Shoal Creek and Lorraine Elementary, respectively, attended the meeting to get the board's approval for the quest. Marcia Spivery and Zandra Hunter with Conyers Middle School are also seeking model program status.