If a funding source can be found, all Davis School District ninth-grade students will receive an interest inventory test and a visit to the Davis Area Vocational Center next year.
Officials hope that by giving the ninth-graders early exposure to the vocational training offerings available in the county, more students will opt to take training early in their high school programs, allowing them to make use of the vocational center's program in their 11th- and 12th-grade years.While the center specializes in providing post-high school vocational training, it is also designed to provide advanced vocational training to high school students prior to graduation. To participate, however, students need to complete elementary training programs at their respective high schools. Some 60 high school students are presently involved with programs in which part of their school day is spent at the high school and part at the vocational center.
Recently, center representatives met with ninth-grade students at nearby Kaysville Junior High School and offered them an interest inventory. The program provides students an opportunity to outline their personal interests and then visit the center to see what kinds of programs are available in their areas.
The visit was timed to coincide with the students' participation in a district-sponsored aptitude test. Center Associate Director Larry Brice said this was helpful in letting students coordinate the findings from the two tests and in seeing what vocational offerings can be available to them as they enter high school.
Wendy Marsell, center assessment coordinator, said ninth-graders were targeted because theirs is generally the age level at which students begin to think of career options. Intervention at this level also allows counselors to make students more aware of the vocational options available and to help get them involved with elementary programs in their first year of high school.
"This helps them to be prepared to take the advanced classes that we offer when they become juniors or seniors," Marsell said. "Many do not make this connection because they are not aware of these options early in their high school careers."
Marsell said many of the junior high instructors were surprised at the options available. She said this indicates there is a need to give school counselors more training in vocational areas to help them better work with students whose interests lie in areas other than college.
The orientation effort also opened eyes to the "equity" effort under way in vocational education. Marsell said many of the stereotypes associated with vocational training were discussed and students were shown that there are opportunities to train in a variety of fields and that gender is no longer a roadblock.
Marsell said the experiment with Kaysville Junior High cost the center about $1,000. She said some of that cost involved developing the program and could be trimmed as other schools are involved. She said there are about 3,600 ninth-graders in the Davis District, and she would like to see all get the opportunity to visit the Davis Area Vocational Center.
Center Director Jack Shell said a program to do just that has been designed and presented to the State Office of Education. The problem now is finding a funding source to cover the program cost. He said the state is looking at that need and he hopes some kind of proposal will be forthcoming.