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Will career-ready diploma seals give high-school grads 'a leg up'?

Cary Ashby • Mar 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The state is in the beginning stages of attempting to give an advantage to new high-school graduates who will go straight into a job.

Norwalk City Schools is in the process of implementing an OhioMeansJobs readiness seal, which will go on qualifying graduates’ diplomas. Norwalk High School counselor Sandi Stewart said the hope is that having the seals on a graduate’s diploma will give him or her “a leg up” in the work world.

“We rolled this out to students in January,” said Stewart when presenting information to the school board.

After speaking to several social studies classes, about a dozen students talked to her initially. Stewart said there are less six who have applied and/or are taking the process seriously.

Stewart said a key element is having the students connect with three mentors — from school, the community and work — who will check off that these teenagers are proficient in 15 career-ready skills. The counselor said employers find that two of the most important ones are showing up at work consistently and passing a drug screen.

For Stewart, it’s crucial to speak with and screen each selected mentor to make sure they take it seriously and aren’t going to simply sign off on the list. She also said it’s important for students to have people from different aspects of their life to be their mentors.

“I think that’s a key piece,” she added.

Superintendent George Fisk said “educators had no voice in this.”

“That’s what we got — it sounds good and it’s an out,” he told the board.

Board vice president John Lendrum was skeptical on the effectiveness of the initiative.

“Only a committee could put this together,” he said. “I think we’d be hard pressed to find employers who will put any credence in this.” 

Lendrum said he is most concerned about the future of “the bottom third of the class,” those graduates who won’t be attending college, a technical school or going into the military, but are going straight into a job.

“I don’t think this helps them,” he added. “This won’t do one thing for them.”

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