Kids expected to consider career paths in eighth grade


Remember the age-old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? By the time they are in eighth grade, Texas public school kids are expected to put serious thought into to that question.

The Texas Education Agency requires that by the time they leave the eighth grade, every student and their parents must sign a high school graduation plan.

The plan is not a contract, and they are not bound to it. Still, all eighth-graders will be informed of all the academic and Career Technology Education (CTE) pathways that Mineola High School has to offer, according to Mark Parkerson, director of special programs for the Mineola Independent School District.

To help them with their decisions, the eighth-graders spend time at the high school observing older students. Also, the district conducts a special parents’ night to provide information on its pathways.

Parkerson noted that a career pathway doesn’t necessarily include CTE. Some of the paths are academic or college oriented. Certain academic programs, or “endorsements,” are geared toward STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Another offers multi-disciplinary studies. Others focus on arts and the humanities, public service or business and industry.

“When they (the eighth-graders) sign that plan, they’re saying ‘This is what I think I want to do.’ And we give them a grace year,” Parkerson explained. If a kid decides at the end of their freshman year that a pathway isn’t for them, they can switch to another, he noted.

Some kids choose an academic pathway as well as a CTE pathway.

“There’s enough room in the schedule that they can do both,” Parkerson said. In fact, if students want to take two CTE pathways they can.