The Bridge Between Elementary School and High School - Middle School Career Education

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Middle School is a bridge and threshold between Elementary School and High School, a time of transition.

Need for Middle School Career Education

Middle school career education lays the groundwork for future career development by helping students achieve the following goals:

  • Knowledge of personal characteristics, interests, aptitudes, and skills
  • Awareness of and respect for the diversity of the world of work
  • Understanding of the relationship between school performance and future choices
  • Development of a positive attitude toward work (Developmental Career Programs 1998)


Without Middle School Career Education, students fail to build a foundation and the connection between high school academic subjects, potential careers, world of work, and post-secondary training. As a result, students have poor self concepts, possess poor intrinsic motivation, lack self awareness, and make limited career choices.

Eventually, some of the students who fail to participate in a career education program drop out of school.

Benefits of Middle School Career Education

Middle School Students who complete career education programs have the following positive outcomes -

  • Enhanced understanding of the world of work leading to an openness to an increased number potential careers
  • Improved skills to make informed decisions and complex career information problem solving
  • Enhanced academic, personal, and teamwork skill development
  • Increased career awareness, self-esteem, clearly defined goals, a sense of direction, and motivation to persist and attain a post secondary education and training


National Career Development Guidelines - Career Education Model

Teachers and counselors use the National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG) to create middle school career education resources, career self assessment tests and tools. Career knowledge, skills, and decision-making processes use the NCDG Guidelines.

The NCDG Guidelines have three domains, goals, and indicators of mastery under each career development goal.

The three domains are:

  • Personal Social Development (PS)
  • Educational Achievement and Lifelong Learning (ED)
  • Career Management (CM)


The learning competency stages are:

  • Knowledge Acquisition (K). Middle school students at the knowledge acquisition stage expand knowledge awareness and build comprehension. They recall, recognize, describe, identify, clarify, discuss, explain, summarize, query, investigate and compile new information about the knowledge.
  • Application (A). Middle school students at the application stage apply acquired knowledge to situations and to self. They seek out ways to use the knowledge. For example, they demonstrate, employ, perform, illustrate and solve problems related to the knowledge.
  • Reflection (R). Middle school students at the reflection stage analyze, synthesize, judge, assess and evaluate knowledge in accord with their own goals, values and beliefs. They decide whether or not to integrate the acquired knowledge into their ongoing response to situations and adjust their behavior accordingly.


An example of the Personal Social Development domain are:

  • PS1.K2 Identified your abilities, strengths, skills, and talents.
  • PS1.A2 Demonstrated use of your abilities, strengths, skills, and talents.
  • PS1.R2 Assessed the impact of your abilities, strengths, skills, and talents on your career development.
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