Giving Compass' Take:

• Ignite My Future in School is a career planning program for middle schoolers that showcases videos of professionals discussing career paths. 

• How realistic is it for middle schoolers to start thinking about career paths without any integrated work experience to contextualize the planning process? 

• Read about college and career readiness under ESSA. 

Nathaniel Wallace believes real-world lessons can boost his students' future career paths, he wrote in an eSchoolNews post. That’s one reason he gives lessons on computational thinking to the K-8 students where he teaches in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland.

Wallace said his district uses a program called Ignite My Future in School which shows pupils short videos with professionals who talk about different classes they loved as students, and how that interest led to their current careers.

High school is the traditional time to get students thinking about career options. But middle schools are also increasingly focusing on ways to engage children in that process even earlier.

Getting students thinking about future career paths earlier can also ensure they take prerequisites needed for college when they're in high school. Students who hope to apply for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college majors, for example, will need certain advanced technical, math and science courses by the time they graduate. Student achievement in middle school can also impact how well they perform in similar classes in high school.

Indeed, the academic achievement of 8th graders is something middle school administrators and educators will want to monitor as it “…is the best predictor of college and career readiness by high school graduation,” according to a report from the ACT.

"This means that 8th-grade achievement is the best predictor of students’ ultimate level of college and career readiness by high school graduation—even more than students’ family background, high school coursework or high school grade point average,” they wrote in a research study, “The Forgotten Middle.”

Read the full article about career planning for middle schoolers by Lauren Barack at Education Dive