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Career Exploration | Texas | Middle School

What Is Career and College Exploration and How Do I Meet TEKS Standards?

July 5th, 2023 | 8 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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As a middle school teacher in Texas, you'll likely be asked to cover a course in Career and College Exploration. Because Career and College Exploration is a brand new course for the 2023-2024 school year, you could feel overwhelmed and unsure about the content you’re supposed to teach.

What exactly is this course? Which students will take the class, and how do you go about meeting your Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements?

In this article, you'll discover more about the Texas Career and College Exploration course. You will also learn about the specific TEKS you'll need to cover for your students to be successful.

After reading, you should know more about the purpose of the Career and College Exploration course so you're prepared to meet your standards in the classroom.

What Is Career and College Exploration?

Career and College Exploration is an introductory Career and Technical Education (CTE) course. It replaces the TEKS requirements for two previous courses: Investigating Careers and College and Career Readiness.

As part of the career development requirements for Texas students, the course intends to help students discover their individual interests and skills and the career pathways that best fit their abilities.

The objective of the course is to help each learner create a "Flight Plan," a unique route to personal career success.

Throughout the course, students:

  • Learn about themselves through aptitude and interest inventory assessments.
  • Investigate a range of career paths.
  • Discover the education and training required to pursue their career goals.
  • Review the Texas CTE career clusters.
  • Find out about other learning opportunities, such as getting involved in a career and technical student organization.

Ultimately, Career and College Exploration is an early step on each student's journey toward selecting and pursuing a satisfying and rewarding career.

Which Students Take Career and College Exploration?

Like many career readiness courses, Career and College Exploration is a general education requirement. This means all students in Texas will be required to take the course as part of their educational journey.

There is some flexibility about when schools must include the class in their programs, but it is recommended for students in grades 7 and 8.

By taking this career preparation course in middle school, learners will be more aware of the education and career options available so they can make an informed choice of a career pathway during high school.

What Are the Career and College Exploration TEKS Requirements?

Now that you've learned the basics of the Career and College Exploration course, the next step is to understand the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) associated with it.

Each of the Career and College Exploration TEKS is composed of two sections:

  • Knowledge statements refer to the overarching concepts students must learn.
  • Skills statements are the specific objectives students are expected to meet when taking the class.

In total, the Career and College Exploration TEKS include eight knowledge statements:

  1. The student takes one or more career interest surveys, aptitude tests, or career assessments and explores various college and career options.
  2. The student investigates educational and training requirements for career and education pathways in one or more of the career clusters.
  3. The student analyzes educational and career opportunities.
  4. The student develops skills for personal success.
  5. The student investigates labor market information and recognizes the impact of college and career choices on personal lifestyle.
  6. The student investigates job-seeking skills.
  7. The student creates professional documents required for employment.
  8. The student creates an individual career and academic plan.

In the following sections, you’ll learn more about each of these knowledge statements and the skills statements that clarify each concept.

TEKS Requirement 1: Career Assessments

The first TEKS standard directs students to take career assessments and interest surveys and investigate college and career choices.

Learners are specifically expected to:

  1. Analyze and discuss the initial results of the assessments.
  2. Explore and describe the CTE career clusters.
  3. Identify various career opportunities within one or more career clusters.
  4. Research and evaluate emerging occupations related to career interest areas.

The career assessment requirement helps ensure students are aware of their personal strengths and future opportunities that align with these interests and abilities.

TEKS Requirement 2: Educational and Training Requirements

The second TEKS requirement instructs learners to explore the education and career training necessary to pursue various careers.

Students will need to:

  1. Research and describe applicable academic, technical, certification, and training requirements for one or more of the careers in an identified career cluster.
  2. Use available resources to research and evaluate educational and training options for one or more of the careers in an identified career cluster.

By completing research related to different careers, students will be better informed about the steps required to pursue a career of their choice. 

TEKS Requirement 3: Educational and Career Opportunities

Many steps are involved in transitioning from school to advanced education and career opportunities. The third TEKS requirement addresses these requirements in detail.

To meet this requirement, learners should be able to:

  1. Describe academic requirements for transitioning from middle school to high school and from high school to career or postsecondary education.
  2. Explore and list opportunities for earning college credit in high school, such as Advanced Placement examinations, International Baccalaureate examinations, dual credit courses, and local and statewide articulated credit courses.
  3. Investigate and describe various methods available to pay for college and other postsecondary training, including financial aid, scholarships, college savings, employee benefits, and other sources of income.
  4. Discuss the impact of effective college and career planning.
  5. Identify how performance on assessments such as the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, ACT, ASVAB, and Texas Success Initiative (TSI) impact personal academic and career goals.
  6. Investigate and describe the importance of co-curricular, extracurricular, career preparation, and extended learning experiences in developing college applications or resumes.
  7. Investigate and report on the steps required to participate or enroll in a variety of career and educational opportunities, including entry-level employment, military service, apprenticeships, community and technical colleges, and universities, as applicable to the career.
  8. Identify professional associations affiliated with a particular career pathway.
  9. Define entrepreneurship and identify entrepreneurial opportunities within a field of personal interest.

While many steps are involved in moving from middle to high school and into a chosen career, students will be better prepared to take these steps after completing the Career and College Exploration course.

TEKS Requirement 4: Skills for Personal Success

The fourth TEKS standard for College and Career Exploration concerns general skills students should develop that will help them in any field of work.

Students should develop a variety of professional attributes, including:

  1. Demonstrate effective time-management and goal-setting strategies.
  2. Identify skills that can be transferable among a variety of careers.
  3. Give oral professional presentations on a topic related to career and college exploration using appropriate technology.
  4. Apply core academic skills to meet personal, academic, and career goals.
  5. Explain the value of community service and volunteerism.
  6. Define and identify examples in the workplace of characteristics required for personal and professional success, such as work ethic, integrity, dedication, and perseverance.

Regardless of where and how they pursue employment, universal principles like professionalism and public speaking will help each individual succeed.

TEKS Requirement 5: Labor Market Information and Personal Lifestyle

Developments in the labor market and the relative demand of a chosen career can directly impact a student’s lifestyle. For this standard, learners will explore this relationship in the context of personal career interests.

Students specifically will:

  1. Analyze labor market trends related to a career of interest.
  2. Classify evidence of high-skill, high-wage, or high-demand occupations based on analysis of labor market information.
  3. Analyze the effects of changing employment trends, societal needs, and economic conditions on career choices.
  4. Prepare a personal budget reflecting the student's desired lifestyle.
  5. Use resources to compare salaries of at least three careers in the student's interest area.

Because job opportunities and income can vary based on the demand for a given occupation, students must understand how choosing a specific career will impact their lifestyle.

TEKS Requirement 6: Job-Seeking Skills

Applying and interviewing for a job are critical steps toward securing employment.

For this TEKS requirement, students will practice these essential aspects of a job search:

  1. Identify the steps of an effective job search.
  2. Describe appropriate appearance for an interview.
  3. Participate in a mock interview.

Through taking job interview lessons during middle school, learners will be more aware of the steps involved in applying for future jobs.

TEKS Requirement 7: Professional Documents

Not only do students need to be ready for job interviews, but they’ll also need to practice creating professional documents to use in the job search process.

For this TEKS standard, learners should know how to:

  1. Write a resume.
  2. Write appropriate business correspondence such as a cover letter and a thank you letter.
  3. Complete sample job applications.
  4. Explain protocol for selecting and using references. 

Learning when and how to use professional business correspondence will go a long way when students apply to employment openings.

TEKS Requirement 8: Individual Career and Academic Plans

As a culminating project for the Career and College Exploration course, students create their own “flight plans” for the careers of their choice.

Creating a plan involves these required steps:

  1. Select a career pathway in a desired field, such as military service, entrepreneurship, or industry.
  2. Document high school courses and postsecondary educational requirements for that career pathway.
  3. Write a plan for starting one's career after the completion of high school and any postsecondary education.

By completing a career plan in their Career and College Exploration class, students will have an individualized path to follow as they take steps in high school to prepare for future employment.

Meet TEKS Requirements for Career and College Exploration

As an educator in Texas, you're eager to ensure your students have the information they need to make informed career decisions. After all, you'll want to ensure they're receiving the proper content that helps them investigate the wide range of opportunities available.

In this post, you've learned more about the Career and College Exploration course, the type of students taking the class, and the specific TEKS statements you'll need to meet in the classroom. With this information, you should be more prepared for success in satisfying your standards and helping students excel.

But Career and College Exploration isn't the only career readiness course you’ll have to teach. To cover every class in the sequence and meet your TEKS requirements, consider a comprehensive middle school career exploration curriculum, such as iCEV.

iCEV offers an extensive TEKS-aligned curriculum with ready-to-use lesson plans, interactive coursework, and engaging activities to excite your students about future possibilities.

To discover if iCEV suits your program, sign up for a free trial. You'll gain full access to the curriculum to determine if it's right for your students:

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