February 14, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Colorado educators, working with nonprofits America Achieves and mindSpark Learning and industry leaders, have developed and piloted a suite of Career-Ready Performance Tasks—industry-aligned, project-based learning experiences and corresponding resources to help students explore in-demand careers and develop and demonstrate learning of essential, in-demand skills.
Across the country, states and districts are increasingly focused on improving career readiness, including creating greater accountability for schools to provide more effective paths to high-opportunity careers and greater evidence of student progress—from completion of pathways and earning of industry-based credentials and dual enrollment credits to portfolio assessments and capstone projects.
In response, Colorado Educator Fellows created a suite of valuable resources to serve as a foundation to help teachers better meet these demands and support career-readiness in new and engaging ways. The newly-released Career-Ready Performance Tasks apply principles of effective project-based learning, with an emphasis on equity and authenticity of tasks to the world of work, and engage students in meaningful learning in four major industries: health sciences, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and architecture and construction. They leverage a variety of professional standards and processes, including the engineering design process, principles of agile design, and effective computer-aided design, as well as authentic field experiences and work with local experts. Importantly, the tasks include a host of student and teacher resources, including project overviews, implementation guides, and sample rubrics and specify targeted core academic, career-specific, and cross-sector (e.g., collaboration, communication) competencies to better focus and support teacher planning and help students take on new challenges.
“Given all the demands on educators, we wanted to provide teachers with a starting point for engaging students in more meaningful career readiness work. The project-based learning tasks engage students in challenging content, have them working collaboratively and include a variety of scaffolds so both teachers and students can be successful,” said Heidi Ramírez, Chief Program Design Officer at America Achieves.
Tasks are designed for high school students (grades 9-12) but can be adapted for middle grades. The tasks can be incorporated into specific subject areas, last between six weeks and semester-long and can serve as students’ graduation capstone projects. “These performance tasks enable my students to study something not typically related to their school day and get them engaged with their community,” said Ashley Martinez-Doublin, a Colorado educator who field-tested the tasks in late 2019.
These resources are all openly available for free; all tasks can be implemented as they are or adapted to fit local needs and classroom contexts. The tasks, which can be powerful levers in helping drive a school’s broader career readiness strategy and meeting new expectations for state and local accountability, are now available to schools nationwide.
The tasks are offered at www.americaachievesednetworks.org.
ABOUT AMERICA ACHIEVES:
America Achieves helps people from every background access educational pathways resulting in rewarding careers and economic mobility. Learn more at americaachieves.org.
ABOUT MINDSPARK LEARNING:
mindSpark Learning empowers educators with industry-oriented professional learning experiences, resulting in more students prepared for the modern workforce. Learn more at mymindsparklearning.org.