South Carolina Legislation Calls for Enhanced K-12 Career Guidance, CDF Certification

by Ray Davis

What is the true purpose of education for the student and for society? How do we motivate students to do their best? How can a small state like South Carolina compete in a global, technology-based economy? What role does K-12 career guidance play in education and economic development reform?

These are just a few of the tough questions that were answered in the landmark "South Carolina Education and Economic Development Act" introduced in March 2003 to the South Carolina State Legislature. With this legislation, the Palmetto State seeks to recognize what should have been obvious- that education is an essential part of economic development and that high-achieving students and excellent schools are the foundation of South Carolina's present and future prosperity. This commitment to every student's achievement complemented the new federal government focus embodied in the No Child Left Behind Act. Included as one of the nine strategic recommendations of this legislation was a call for revitalized career guidance and counseling.

In March 2002, Governor Jim Hodges named the Governor's Workforce Education Interim Planning Committee. The result was a practical action plan to turn the Pathways recommendations into reality. Following a year of work the committee released a report called "Steps to Prosperity: How to Ensure Success for Every Student in the 21st-Century Economy." In turn, this report was transformed into legislation entitled the "South Carolina Education and Economic Development Act."

Currently pending in the state legislature and bolstered by bipartisan support, this Act calls for the state to adopt a new career development paradigm in the years ahead. Career development highlights of this legislation include the following:

  • A foundation for the career clusters of study system in elementary, middle, and high school, preparing students for a seamless transition to relevant employment, further training, or postsecondary study.
  • Implemention of the K-12 South Carolina Career Guidance Model in all schools.
  • Adoption of sixteen career clusters with curricula organized around clusters of study and cluster majors.
  • A professional development plan for educational professionals in career guidance that provides awareness, training, release time, and preparatory instruction, and that includes strategies for counselors to effectively involve parents in the career guidance process and in the development of the individual graduation plans of their children.
  • Career awareness and exploration activities integrated in the curricula for all students in the first through fifth grades including exposure to career options. Also, career programming and career assessments in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades to guide students in the career decision-making process. By the eighth grade, all students would have selected their preferred career cluster of study and developed individual graduation plans.
  • Reduction of the ratio requirement of students to guidance personnel in middle schools and high schools to three hundred to one.
  • Counseling during the ninth and tenth grades to help students further define their career goals and plans leading to declared majors within career clusters of study by the end of the tenth grade.
  • Every student will have an individual graduation plan detailing the courses necessary for the student to prepare for graduation and to successfully transition into the workforce or other post secondary educational experiences.
  • Beginning with students in the sixth grade and continuing through high school, school districts requiring annual parent counseling conferences so that parents assist their children in making career choices and plans as they progress through this system.
  • Twelve regional education service centers coordinating and facilitating the delivery of career-oriented learning and professional development via a Career Development Facilitator, certified and recognized by the National Career Development Association.
  • Requirements for South Carolina's Colleges of Education to include content in career guidance, the use of the cluster of study curriculum framework and individual graduation plans, learning styles, the elements of the Career Guidance Model of the South Carolina Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program Model, contextual teaching, cooperative learning, and character education in their educator preparation programs.

President of pharmaceutical giant, Roche Carolina, and co chair of the Governor's Workforce Interim Planning Committee, Don Herriot said, "The Education and Economic Development Act sends a message that South Carolina education recognizes the need for change and is ready to do what's best to ensure that each and every student who graduates is fully prepared for personal and professional success."

Dr. Bob Couch, Director of the Office of Career and Technology Education in the State Department of Education, affirmed, "When these tenets calling for educational reform are successfully implemented, South Carolina students will know why they are in school - not because it is required by law, but because their studies are getting essential preparation for achieving their personal and career goals. Parents will view their involvement in education not as passive, but as one of their most important family responsibilities. Business will have new roles and responsibilities in preparing all young people for success."

The challenge in front of career educators in South Carolina now is to systematically spread these innovations throughout the state so that all South Carolina families, schools, communities, and economies benefit.



In honor of NCDA's 100th anniversary, Career Convergence is publishing articles of historical significance. This article and bio are reprinted from our debut issue in 2003.


Education Associate, Career Guidance

A native son of the Palmetto State, Ray is the Education Associate for Career Guidance in the Office of Career and Technology Education in the South Carolina Department of Education. He served as Program Manager for the USC Career Center from 1986-2000. He served as the national chair of the Commission for Career Development of the American College Personnel Association and as chair of its Liberal Arts Task Force. He recently directed the writing of the South Carolina Career Guidance Model, a document contributed to by over fifty career professionals in South Carolina. He has a private practice in career counseling located in Irmo, SC. He may be reached at rbdavis@sde.state.sc.us

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