In April of 2018 Former Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 2911 which requires students K-12 to complete an Individual Career Academic Plan (ICAP).
Through interactive events, classes and surveys, schools across the state have implemented the ICAP program including Shawnee Middle School.
"It's something that all students graduating from 2023 on will have to have as part of graduation requirements and this is state law," Assistant Principal, Keely Tolin said.
Shawnee Middle School has been taking part in the ICAP pilot program for the last two years with their current eighth grade students who make up the class of 2023.
According to Tolin, ICAP begins with students finding potential careers to pursue.
"We have an online program that we use from okcareerguide.org and they take Interests Assessments based on their interests and skills and it tells them different jobs that they're interested in or based on their skills that they would be good at," Tolin said.
The students take the interest surveys once in the sixth grade, twice in the seventh and eighth and three times when they enter high school.
Tolin explained as their students went through the pilot program core teachers taught career achievements lessons and the school held an event related to career development.
"Last year we did a Career Fair where we got different people from the Shawnee community to come speak to our students about their careers," Tolin said.
According to Tolin and Shawnee Public School Curriculum Coordinator, Jenny Jasper, ICAP is divided into two different levels.
In middle school they explore careers, meet people in the work force, visit schools and decide what classes to take in high school.
"So really middle school is kind of more of the exploring time. Kind of just getting them to understand what different careers are out there," Tolin said.
In high school students begin thinking about what colleges to attend, look into options that don't involve getting a degree and actually see careers in action.
"So the requirements for them to be able to graduate are they have to complete the Oklahoma Career Guide interest surveys...they have to be exposed to some type of internship or job shadowing...," Jasper said. "They are also supposed to have a post secondary plan so they work with the counselors and with teachers to figure out whether they want to go the VoTech route or the college route and based on that they figure out what classes they want to take..."
ICAP enables students to learn about colleges in and out of state, financial aid and certain degree programs.
"Really the idea is that they're exploring and then in high school they get to try some things and then by the end of high school they know what they want to do...," Tolin said.
Tolin explained since they've started the pilot program, SMS students have enjoyed engaging in the different activities and gaining new knowledge.
"They're super bought into it and they love what they're doing and they do a great job here at the middle school," Tolin said. "You can tell they've loved everything that they've done and they're really informed about it. They have a value you for it. I think it's kind of fun for them to explore."
Shawnee High School has just started the ICAP program and Jasper said students have only taken the Interest Surveys but the school is excited for next steps.
"We've started talking about the different internships that we are possibly going to start next year. We're wanting to do an in house teacher training program...," Jasper said.
The ninth graders are not as far into the program as the middle schoolers, but Jasper said they're in the beginning stages.
As part of ICAP, SMS had student led parent conferences in which the students informed their parents on what they were doing in class and in the program.
"We think it's important for parents to be informed on what their kids are doing and for the student to have the experience of presenting that material to their parents rather than it being a traditional parent teacher conference," Tolin said.
Tolin and Jasper explained the pilot program ended this semester and they are grateful their students have a head start.
Both think ICAP will benefit students and are looking forward to how it'll shape their future.
"I hope that kids come back and say 'I knew at this age this is something I wanted to do' and we gave them the tools they needed to be able to get there," Tolin said.
For Jasper ICAP is an opportunity for students to find their passion.
"I hope we really get to build the program up to a point where kids are getting to go out and actually do the job in high school," Jasper said. "My goal would be that students are fulfilled and enjoy what they're doing and I think that it'll just be more helpful for them in their life overall."