Henley, Lost River, Chiloquin pilot new aptitude test for Oregon Department of Education
Eighth-grader Lillian Beegle considers herself artistic. She likes to write and she has an interest in the digital arts. So when an aptitude test pointed her in a different direction, she was surprised.
“I was like ‘Wait, these are my aptitudes?’ I didn’t expect to be connected to the medical field.”
Beegle is among eighth-graders at Henley Middle School who piloted a new aptitude test this year that aims to connect their strengths and skills to future careers.
After students completed the tests, Henley High School counselors, teachers, and administrators visited with the students, connecting their individual results to the high school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and other electives. The YouScience aptitude test offers seven different brain challenges that measure individual strengths, pointing students to career cluster options.
The goal is for incoming ninth-graders to be able to make more informed choices on classes or education pathways they can pursue in high school, said Adam Randall, Henley High School math teacher and CTE coordinator.
“Most career-related activities are interest-based, and students are matched up to careers based on what they are interested in,” Randall said. “The problem with that approach is that 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds haven’t had enough life experience to know what they could or should be interested in. This program connects students with careers they might never have heard of but fit their individual strengths.”
Beegle said her results impacted the way she is looking at high school elective options.
“I still want to pursue creative things,” she said, “but after learning I might be good in other fields like agricultural and health, maybe I’ll try those out, too.”
The Klamath County School District worked with Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD) as part of the YouScience pilot for the Oregon Department of Education. In all, 20 districts around the state participated. All KCSD high schools offer CTE programs, dual credit classes, and other electives. Lost River, Henley, and Chiloquin participated in the pilot.
Last month, the SOESD presented the results of the Henley pilot at the Oregon CTE Conference. Brian Robin, CTE Regional Coordinator Region 8 for SOESD, said the region’s approach is unique from the rest of the state because the plan includes supporting the program by organizing tours of regional businesses and industries. This not only makes careers more relevant for students, but encourages local businesses to become active in local schools, he said.
“Though we are utilizing students’ feedback from the brain games to link students with CTE programs at their high schools, the YouScience platform also provides suggestions for almost any career field where a student shows a talent and interest,” Robin said.
Henley High School currently has five CTE pathways: agriculture science, business, health occupations, engineering, and agriculture mechanics. Next year, the school plans to add pathways in digital arts and teaching/education. In pathway programs, students are able to receive college credit for some courses.
“We promote a multitude of paths — trade school, apprenticeships, and two-year or four-year college programs,” Randall said. “We are connecting with eighth-graders this year, showing them what we offer at Henley and how that matches up with their strengths and aptitudes. We’re hoping it’s going to help them more accurately pick the right pathway on their way to high-demand, high-wage jobs.”
Henley Middle School Principal Kristy Creed said the new test will help provide a continuum of services between the middle school and high school.
“Our eighth graders are now one step ahead. They know where their aptitude lies, and we can guide them in a way that is informed. That’s really the goal: to provide clear guidelines based on information besides just wants and desires.”