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When did we shift our focus to the new 3Rs ?

With recess becoming a thing of the past in many states, a federal push for year round school and extended school days,  workforce readiness data badges starting in preschool, and children having to choose college or career paths before many even go to their first boy-girl dance, what are we doing to our children?  Can we even call them Our Children?  They have become the workforce product that business insiders see as human capitol for a global economy.

Where has childhood gone?

workforce every state

(Click this link for an interactive webpage to see YOUR STATE workforce initiatives such as ICAP, aligning standards, social-emotional behavioral metrics, Career Pathways, and Engagement metrics.)

 If your state seems to be RUSHING to welcome school children into the workforce- you may be one of the *lucky*  CCSSO states who joined a CCSSO workforce pathways allianceThe 17 CCSSO Workforce states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. CCSSO launched its Career Readiness Task Force in the Spring of 2014 to increase the rigor in career education to meet expectations of the current labor market.

Workforce Readiness in grade school
While of course every parent wants their child to have a successful future and begin thinking about, exploring options before graduating high school, the push for children to begin a workforce or college pathway has never been greater.  This pressure for a child to decide his or her workforce future has literally transformed education. Nearly every state is in lock step, passing legislation, creating and aligning workforce-education pathways.  Why is that? Well, it has A LOT to do with data and it is part of a well-planned, multi-year progression. Remember Marc Tucker? Marc was the mastermind of the “wholly restructured school system”.  Creating national standards for academics and standards for workforce (and national assessments for both), turning schools into workforce apprenticeship training programs,  and combining community college and high school, were all part of Marc’s plan.
What is an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) and how does it fit with workforce pathways?
ICAP, or similarly named in other states, is a plan to guide students in grades 9-12, (or younger), as they explore the postsecondary career and educational opportunities available to them, aligning course work and curriculum, applying to postsecondary education institutions, securing financial aid, and ultimately entering the workforce.  ICAP includes career planning, guidance and tracking component and portfolio that reflects required classes and tracks the student’s progress toward securing scholarships, work-study, student loans and grants.  A student and parent, with the help of a counselor, chooses credits and courses to align with his/her chosen career or college path. This sounds innocuous, except, HOW does a child choose a career path at such an early age?  What if the child changes his mind a few years down the road? (Honestly, did YOU know what you wanted to be when you grew up? How many times did you / are you still changing your mind?)
Many schools ask  students to enter their ICAP data into a database, contracted through an outside vendor. For example, districts in Colorado use Naviance  (owned by Hobsons) to manage their students’ ICAP data and etranscripts.   (We will focus on this vendor, but if your state uses another, feel free to let us know and we can include their information.)
It seems there is actually a strong push for buy-in, to get student and parents and schools to use this Naviance program.
While having an online platform to manage all your information sounds convenient, consider what information is being uploaded and who has access to this sensitive data.  Remember, under the weakened privacy law FERPA, personal data can be shared.  Also remember, the Federal Learning Registry partners with vendors who share student data they have gathered.
naviance 3rd parties
Naviance and ICAP data
Naviance offers many tools, handled by “third party experts“, including personality surveys. 
One of the Naviance tools is the Career Interest Profiler, which matches students to careers based on a questionnaire that determines their strongest interests. Some parents have expressed concern that their child’s career profile doesn’t match what their child likes or really wants to do when they graduate.   “As the assessments are completed, career pathways will be suggested that match the students’ personality types and interests.”  (To read about the accuracy of student career assessments, read here and here and here.)  Naviance’s Roadtrip Nation also offers the “What’s Your Road?” self-guided experience in which students answer self-assessment questions about their interests and personal attributes. The results match them with leaders in the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive who share students’ interests. Naviance’s other “third party experts” offer SuperMatch college search, scattergrams, and PrepMe which offers ACT/SAT test prep. Naviance also offers ACT test prep by allowing the students to practice tests online, through a program called WorkKeys.
personality test naviance
Students complete online personality tests, and can also enter what they do outside of school (hobbies, community engagement, summer jobs, life events, ambitions, career or college goals, what type of college they like (city vs rural, big vs small, major, minor etc) , family income for grant applications, scholarships, college applications. Naviance can take all of the student’s information and build a resume, using work history, hobbies etc.
Naviance partners with the Common Application, for creating college applications. The Common App apparently encourages students to forego their FERPA rights, through a FERPA waiver   Let that sink in.
Interestingly, in the seemingly endless linkage of student data and vendors, The Common App also partners with The Dell Foundation, via Scholar Snapp, to connect the student’s data to scholarship applications.
Just when you think you are done…
naviance end of year survey
 There has also been concern expressed over an unseen, mandatory ABOUT ME  online survey sent directly to students.  Strangely, at the end of  12th grade, every student must take this Naviance survey, entitled ABOUT ME, or they won’t be allowed to graduate.  If this seems to you like businesses and vendors are incredibly interested in learning about your child, you are not alone.  Roles have been reversed.

Rather than businesses showing children the opportunities, exposing all options, allowing children to experiment… with the intense focus on data collection, are we exposing children and allowing businesses to experiment on and research our children?



white house budget on data wfdq
Aligning student data bases and workforce pathways is also in line with the US Department of Labor-Workforce Data Quality Initiative which plans to use personal information from each student, starting in pre-school, using the states’ SLDS data system. 
gov wdqi
To fully comprehend the breadth of this National Workforce Plan, states should look through this Colorado Education and Workforce Alignment Pathways Blueprint. The blueprint sets the stage for badges while aligning all data systems to be interoperable, share personal identifiable information starting from preschool.
align via blueprint
Explained very simply here aligning workforce pathways will: “expand the use of the Longitudinal Database System, which tracks academic and employment history for students, to better support planning; the state also created a longitudinal data system to link and leverage data across the state’s multiple education and workforce programs.”


Education has become a talent pipeline for the global economy.  How this will affect your child’s future, what opportunities are lost based on data,  is largely unknown.  Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that employers today are cherry-picking job applicants after hiring data brokers to determine who will be a risk for sick days, pregnancy, insurance costs. What is your child’s lifelong supply of data going to say about him or her?  As this news story reports, student data is being swapped and shared.

schools tracking sharing data

“What you think is just between you and the teacher and the school, that’s no longer the case,”  “Be a little more wary of what you fill out, and really read through the documents that you’re signing at school.”

  • For a shareable, interactive link to the large organizations promoting alignment of education and workforce pathways and data badges, please click here.


Cheri Kiesecker