The results of career-field related questions were categorized and color-coded. Other tabs can be found at the bottom of the spreadsheet which feature keys and some visuals to explain the categorization. Some careers fit into multiple categories, or are listed by the student alongside secondary aspirations. In these cases, additionally boxes were colored in adjacent to their desired career.

 

The results were “cleaned up” slightly to remove responses that were obviously off-task or inappropriate: references to popular culture or memes, needlessly inflammatory remarks, “trolling” behavior, etc. These responses are still viewable when double-clicked, but for the purpose of data analysis have been blacked-out and hidden on the spreadsheet.

To view the complete results, click here

Analysis: Slight deviations in grade level are likely due to students being absent, or uneven enrollment due to students transferring out during the year. Otherwise, Thorp Academy does have three sections per grade, with a required enrollment of 29 per section.

Analysis: Our students love to study math and participate in P.E. and Music class.

Our students perceive mathematics to be overwhelmingly useful, with almost half selecting the subject on the survey. Literacy was the second most highly ranked in usefulness, with almost a quarter. This tells us one of two things: either they really see the importance of the core content areas, or they are existing in the culture of the school (and society at large) which treats those two subjects as the central focus of education.

Analysis: Obviously, middle school should do all three of these things to a degree. But the students were challenged to pick just one.

Analysis: Entrepreneurship is currently more appealing than both military and trade school combined. "Taking time off" in this case meant "for the purposes of travel or pursuit of a hobby" such as the Gap Year concept.

 

Students were encouraged here to check all that apply. The traditional four year university is still the most common goal among our students, even moreso at this time than starting a family.

Start a business

Trade School

Community College

4-year university

Military

Take time off

Start a family

Compare this chart to the one above. 4-year college is the most frequently selected here. But of the three roles of middle school education, college preparedness ranks the lowest in importance. This is an important disparity because it may suggest that what the students want and what they need to be ready are two different things. It can be inferred that perhaps they see middle school as low-importance in terms of their education and lives.

Analysis: This is a balanced bell-curve. Students overall seem to appreciate work-life balance, with some outliers distributed equally.

1 was described as "who cares if I have money, as long as I do what I love"

5 was described as "who cares what the job is like, as long as it earns a lot of money"

This is the video with Principal Efren Toledo where he shares some insight on the topic of career education. 

Most insightful here was the comment that "it isn't money that stands in the way of changing curriculum, it is mindset."

There were several takeaways from the research results above. First, students are very interested in STEM fields and jobs that provide care. Of 339 responses there were 42 mentions of STEM as desired career field which is 12.3% of the population sampled. Based on this information, it is no surprise that coding and other computing classes are in high demand, as students see themselves working with computers or other technology. Students interested in care-based fields (medicine and veterinary) were represented by 80 mentions of desired career field, or 23.6% of the entire group. Students also frequently requested access to foreign language education beyond Spanish, with at least 33 mentions; and life skills, in particularly cooking which received 15 mentions.

 

A substantial portion of students still identify desires to pursue "fantasy" careers, especially in the younger grades. These can be defined as those career paths that either do not exist, are not profitable or sustainable, or have such a tremendous level of competition and so few jobs that they simply are not a realistic option. These include jobs like Professional Athlete (65 mentions) or celebrity performers whose profit comes from unique and exceedingly rare talents. Nevertheless, this was expected and is normal for children of this age to have these aspirations. 

Findings