Eight Western Pa. school districts launch project to personalize education
By Bill Zlatos
Published: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 1:02 p.m.
Thousands of students in eight school districts will use smartphones or laptops to write career goals so teachers can better help them achieve their aspirations.
“I expect kids to be doing this beginning in middle school and working all the way through high school to create a post-secondary plan,” said Mary K. Babyak, director of initiatives for The Consortium for Public Education.
Babyak oversees the program called My Action Plan for Success initiative, or MAPS, in which Albert Gallatin, Chartiers Valley, Clairton City, Greensburg Salem, Laurel Highlands, McKeesport and Sharon City and Pittsburgh Public Schools will participate.
MAPS is designed to prompt students to think about possible career classes and grades they need, and how extracurricular activities fit into their goals. The program uses a digital tool called eMAPS that enables students to record vocational goals, outside interests and impressions of classes and activities to share with their teachers.
“We need to have a big-picture look at the whole child — how do we support those kids?” Babyak said.
Eileen Amato, superintendent of Greensburg Salem, said the high school brings graduates back and tapes their comments about what the school did well and what it could have done better.
“This is a very constructive thing to get young people thinking of plans because the days of having one or two employers over a lifetime are gone,” said Robert Strauss, professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “The economy is volatile, and we have to adapt to a world labor market.”
The Heinz Endowments, the Benedum Foundation and The Buhl Foundation contributed $600,000 over two years toward the project.
The participating school districts vary in levels of student achievement but agree on the value of helping students focus on career pursuits, officials said.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.