2019 California Distinguished Schools Model Program/Practices
The El Segundo High School Career Pathways
El Segundo High School has successfully developed and sustained four distinct career pathways: Biomedical Science; Business; Engineering; and Visual and Performing Arts. The courses taught within each pathway provide either college preparatory or honors credits while offering practical career training. Each teacher is fully credentialed and has experience and expertise in their respective field. The classes motivate and engage students by connecting challenging academics to demanding career and technical education. Students that participate in a pathway have the opportunity to complete three years of rigorous instruction along with a senior capstone project in which they showcase their learning in a real-world setting to a panel of experts. Internships are also offered as part of each pathway. While students receive a special distinction at graduation for participating in a four year pathway, all students may take classes to explore interests in different pathways throughout their high school years.
The development of the career pathways was the direct result of ESHS’ commitment to ensuring that graduates are college and career ready, and also a desire to help prepare students for occupations available in our immediate community. They are directly aligned to our district’s LCAP goals and school’s WASC goals. Pathways at El Segundo High School are made possible by grants, general funds, the El Segundo Education Foundation, and generous donors. Our school is unique for Los Angeles County, as we do not receive Title I or Perkins funds; therefore a majority of the expenses are covered through our school’s general funds.
The goals and outcomes for the career pathways are widespread. First and foremost, the pathways expose students to curriculum, projects, activities, and opportunities that help shape their college and career paths. Our career pathways engage students in compelling, real world challenges that help them become better communicators, collaborators, critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Students are not afraid to fail because they understand the importance of learning from failure. The hands-on activities empower students while providing knowledge and skills they can use the rest of their lives in any career path they pursue. The pathways encourage work-based learning and networking experiences. The pathways are also an opportunity for parents and the community to support our students as mentors and guest speakers. Local business partners offer field trips, job-shadowing opportunities, and the chance for students to learn practical, first-hand lessons. Lastly, the pathways benefit various subgroups and offer all students the opportunity to find a passion and success outside of the traditional academic arena.
Students who choose a pathway build group social bonds that lead to extra social-emotional support for students who are completing pathway courses together. Students in upper-level courses provide mentorship for those in lower-level courses. Students also build close rapport with their pathway mentor-teachers, as a large portion of the curriculum is delivered through project-based learning that allows teachers to interact with small groups of collaborative students in a caring and supportive environment.
Implementation & Monitoring of Model Program/Practice
A variety of data points are used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of our four career pathways. In addition to annual student, teacher, and parent surveys to gather input on our overall school program, stakeholders participate actively in groups and committees that help shape and drive our school’s course offerings, budget, and professional development. The ESHS Data Committee meets regularly to review and analyze data points that are used to revise and develop goals for next steps for both targeted and non-targeted student groups. This continual evaluation of progress helps us to adapt our programs to the existing and future needs of all students.
All of the pathways at ESHS have an individual planning committee that meets regularly throughout the school year to address the needs of the individual pathways. There is also a Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee that consists of all of the pathway teachers and a group of community members from a variety of fields that correspond to our existing pathway configurations. The committee members communicate and collaborate with their constituents to gain valuable feedback and support. This, in turn, helps our teachers and administrators to stay current with new trends allowing us to adapt and adjust our curriculum to the ever-changing needs of the evolving world.
Ongoing professional development has been a critical component of developing each of the pathways. Site professional development time has been alloted to ensure there is a common vision of college and career readiness amongst the entire staff, not just the pathway teachers. Collaboration has also lead to common practices that are now shared across departments such as the use of pre-post test data results to drive instructional practices. All teachers, regardless of subject, also support the schoolwide focus on writing.
To promote the ESHS career pathways, the principal and counseling department visit the local feeder middle school each spring to share information about high school academic requirements and extracurricular activities. The career pathways are described in detail. During freshmen registration, counselors encourage students to explore pathway courses, especially as the ninth grade schedule has the flexibility of fitting a pathway course in its schedule. In addition, the high school holds an annual Open House in the fall and campus tours in the spring for prospective students and their families. Student-led, teacher-facilitated demonstrations take place as a means to spark student interest in the various programs that are offered. Throughout the school year, ESHS showcases our pathway programs by inviting student groups to present at a variety of community events.
Results of the Model Program/Practice
Data collected over the last 4 years shows a positive correlation between the formation of career pathways and an increase in student achievement, the number of students participating in higher level classes, and an increase in the number of females and minority students participating in STEAM classes. Finally, the number of students who qualify as “Prepared” based on the College/Career Indicator reported on the California School Dashboard has also shown a gradual increase.
El Segundo High School is very proud of our academic success. We take pride in offering rigorous academics while also providing equally challenging career readiness programs. There has been a steady increase in our CAASPP scores over the last 4 years. English Language Arts scores have increased from 67% of students meeting standards to 85% of students meeting standards. In Math, there has been an increase from 48% of students meeting standards to 72% percent of students meeting standards.
The inclusion of pathway courses in the master schedule has lead to an increase in females and minority subgroups accessing advanced level courses. While there are still discrepancies, we continue to promote STEAM education and are proud that overall enrollment in the pathways is representative of the various subgroups on campus, with the exception of Engineering. With regards to Engineering, the number of students of Hispanic/Latino origin and the number of females enrolled is not representative of the school population. An effective and critical aspect of these pathways, however, is the diversity of course offerings because they attract various types of students that are able to enroll and complete their pathway.
Over time, the number of Advanced Placement and Honors classes integrated into each of the pathways has increased. The Biomedical Pathway and the Engineering Pathway both offer four Honors level classes, while the Visual And Performing Arts Pathway offers three Advanced Placement classes. Students within the Engineering Pathway also have the opportunity to earn college credit as part of the pathway. In 2017-2018, 72.3% of students at El Segundo High School successfully completed at least one AP, Honors, or pathway course.
Finally, a review of the new California Dashboard metric, the College/Career Indicator, shows that in 2017-2018, 75% of the graduating class were deemed “Prepared” for college and career. This number has increased 12 percent over the last two years.
Throughout the implementation, growth and sustainability of these pathways, ESHS has been able to steadily increase student enrollment and academic achievement in each one. This, in large part, is due to the thoughtful processes various stakeholders participate in to maintain an effective learning environment for students to master skills necessary for life after high school. With the project-based learning occurring in the pathways, the connection from teacher to student is strong and encourages that the needs of each learner are being addressed and met. With an eye on the future, ESHS’ pathways continue to utilize strong relationships with local businesses, recruit experienced staff to motivate students, and refer to data regularly to drive growth to ensure the success of all students.