How to elevate career awareness in elementary school

Younger students are learning about the cost of living, postsecondary education and new job opportunities
By: | Issue: May 2020
April 15, 2020
MEASURES OF SUCCESS—Students at Powell Valley Elementary School in Oregon's Gresham-Barlow School District, work on a career-oriented project that educators designed with an eye toward the skills learners will need after high school graduation.

Educators don’t expect elementary school students to know exactly what they want to be when they grow up.

But to raise students’ aspirations and introduce them to factors that go into that big decision, some districts are adding career awareness in the early grades.

Elementary students are learning concepts such as the cost of living and the various levels of postsecondary education.

“We’re helping students dream big,” says Melissa Miller Kincart, director of strategic partnerships and college and career readiness at Rapid City Area Schools.


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The South Dakota district recently launched a wide-ranging K-12 college and career readiness initiative.

“We’re planting ideas around why they’re in school,” Kincart says. “The things they like and are studying can lead to what they do in their future.”

Snapshots of CTE in elementary schools

Here’s how Rapid City and a few other districts are elevating CTE in the early grades: