Question – Does Career Discovery, a career and college ready middle school curriculum achieve increased academic performance in participating 7th grade students?
FMA’s qualitative analysis revealed five themes of change. Twenty-nine students were interviewed before and after the Career Discovery after-school program, funded by CASE. Parents, volunteers and faculty were also interviewed regarding the changes they observed in the Patrick Henry Middle School 7th grade students. In the course of five months, the students:
- Changed their employment focus from wanting physical jobs to thinking careers.
- Expressed a desire to not only attend college but to obtain a post-secondary education with the corresponding benefits of having career options.
- Expressed a desire to use individual and future financial success to help others.
- Were observed by parents, faculty and volunteers to take on more responsibility and initiative in school and at home.
- Are evolving their culture, as they focused on planning, seeking higher grades, reading, research, and having careers and a future different than their current environment.
FMA’s quantitative research provides the foundation for future research. FMA had originally planned to have 300 students in this program. Due to administrative scheduling challenges, FMA was able to include 101 students in the research, with 68 offered the after-school program and 40 participating. Challenges to participation were after-school activities such as sports and band, students having to work, or attend tutorials.
Did academic performance increase? Initial research results compared December 2014 report card grades in math, science and English to May 2015 report card grades. Students who attended the majority of the lessons increased their grades by 4.53%. Students in the control group increased their grades by 1.53% and those in the intervention, who elected to participate in different after-school activities had grades decrease by 2.67%.
What does this mean? The qualitative data demonstrates strong behavioral change with a future focus. This is meaningful for the student and the economy of Texas. Because of the sample size, we cannot draw quantitative conclusions. We have asked the right questions, and established the research methodology that can be applied to future research.
Congratulations to FMA’s research team Lorraine Decker, Dr. Harold Lopez, Brittany Johnson, and Pam Stroud, with assistance by FMA Board Members Christina Zimmer, Ken Decker, Mark Proegler, Brian Smith, Naren Salem, Jessica Davis, Tom Kajander and former Board Member Dr. Jacqueline Hawkins.