Wood County Board of Education members decided this week to implement in 2014-15 a program that, in theory, will provide Personalized Education Plans to every student in the county. That is more than 13,000 kids, which means, right from the start, there will be a great many similarities among the “personalized” plans. In fact, each student is expected to be presented with five available concentrations, determined by the type of employment the student plans to seek.
Each plan can be further customized, of course, and is to be reviewed annually for each student. But the enormity of the task, and the burden it will place on counselors and administrators means there will almost necessarily be a certain “template” aspect to the plans.
According to Cathy Grewe, a counselor for Wood County Schools, the plans will be set in motion for eighth graders, and will guide those students toward their future career goals by fine-tuning their educations to set them on their chosen career paths.
Very few eighth graders know the career path they want to – or should – take. For that matter, many college sophomores do not know. And that is not necessarily a problem. Young people explore the world, sometimes by taking a wide variety of classes, in order to help them make that decision. What could be a problem is the potential for rubber stamping a child into, for example, a math/science plan, when doing so might stop that student from taking the senior-year literature elective that helps him discover the talent that would propel him to an extraordinary writing career.
If Wood County Schools officials are serious about using these plans to give students a foundation on which they can build for the rest of their lives, they must also be serious about giving each and every student the time and attention that will be required to create truly personal plans – a potentially overwhelming task. And plans must include the flexibility to radically change during the years in which kids are only beginning to understand who they are.