Working with the Common Core Standards: The Career Counseling Approach

By Edgar Hobbs Jr

According to the Common Core Standards Initiative (August 24, 2016), the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide clear guidelines to standardize learning expectations for student success. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that young people need for success in college and careers. CCSS is adaptable for each state. With the implementation of the CCSS, students will be appropriately prepared for the future and better positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

CCSSs focus primarily on two major subject areas: English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. In the developmental period, the standards were divided into two categories: college and career readiness from elementary through high school.

Career Counseling Approach to the Standards
Educators set high expectations, such as preparing students for college and careers. Students are provided with instruction in ELA and Mathematics as well other subject areas from enrollment to departure. The ELA and Mathematics shifts are incorporated daily and instructional goals are implemented on individualized basis through various class assignments and school tasks.

Career counselors are a vital part of implementing the CCSS. They assess students’ career interests, develop career goals, and prepare students for postsecondary options. Career counselors incorporate the Social Emotional Learning Standards (SELS) to help students manage their emotions and interact appropriately with peers and adults. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (August 25, 2016), SEL is defined as the process through which students learn to recognize and manage emotions as well as behaviors. SEL is the process through which students enhance their ability to integrate thoughts, feeling, and behavior in order to achieve important life tasks. According to SEL, five components are well linked to successful career development: Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Counselors Working with the Standards
Counselors recognize students have needs they desire to fulfill which is synonymous with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As Maslow suggested, people are motivated to fulfill basic needs. Once those needs are fulfilled, people move to the next level (Cherry, K., n.d.). For students to progressively develop, they must have their needs met at each stage of development. For example, students must show mastery in basic mathematical computations before they move on to advance mathematical formulas. If students are unable to fulfill their basic needs; they may not progress in a timely manner towards mastery of standards necessary to be college and career ready as indicated in the CCSS.

Counselors incorporate SELS into the CCSS. Initial steps are taken to inform students of their inappropriate behavior in and out of the classroom. Counselors help students process and regulate their emotions. Students are taught to recognize the causes of their behavior and monitor their actions. Students are able to recognize the functions of these behaviors and begin to self-regulate and transition to the next step, which is helping their peers to self regulate. As a result, students begin to build peer relationships. Students who can self-regulate are also able to simultaneously teach the self-regulating techniques they have mastered to their peers. In the end, students develop self-management skills. Once they demonstrate the ability to manage their behavior, they can focus on the academic standards and make progress towards college and career.

Implementing the Standards: Career Counselors’ Role
It is important for career counselors to develop a plan for the implementation of these standards and plan them in phrases. These phases are: Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills.
1. Awareness- In elementary schools, career counselors introduce the concept of colleges and careers.
2. Knowledge- In late elementary grades through middle school, career counselors provide students information with regard to various colleges and careers and the knowledge needed to be successful in colleges and careers.
3. Skills-Throughout high school, counselors assess and develop students’ skill sets that are paramount in colleges and careers.

Career counselors should implement the standards and a multi-tiered action plan to help students become college and career ready. The plan should entail benchmarks for students and educators from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Career counselors should monitor and evaluate students’ progress. The well executed standards and plan should strengthen students’ academic and social and emotional development, hence ensure their college and career success.

References and Resources
Cherry, K. Hierarchy of Needs: The Five Levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. About.com Psychology. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds.htm

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Retrieved from http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/

Common Core Standard Initiative: Implementing the common core state standards. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/



Edgar Hobbs Jr Dr. Edgar Hobbs Jr is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed School Building Leader, Certified as a Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Trainer, and Career Development Facilitator for the NYC Department of Education in District 75. He is also an Educational Consultant.  He teaches college courses in research and college and career readiness. He has received several community service awards from elected officials in New York.  In 2011, he received a Guidance Counselor Recognition Award for his outstanding service to students and families.  Dr. Edgar Hobbs Jr. can be reached @ Dredgarhobbsjr@gmail.com

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