Groveport Madison High School students could soon be able to choose among several career pathways if Principal Aric Thomas' plan is approved.

Groveport Madison High School students could soon be able to choose among several career pathways if Principal Aric Thomas' plan is approved.

Thomas presented his plan to the school board in May. He said the goal is to move the majority of students "into the competitive post-secondary college and career-readiness market with the necessary skills and academic requirements."

The proposed new career pathways include tactical and criminal justice; performing and visual arts; health and human services; and business and information technology.

Thomas' proposal includes continuing with an early college and career pathway already in place that is focused on transitioning students into post-secondary education.

By offering these pathways and by rebranding the Groveport school district as one that prepares students for careers, not just jobs, Thomas said the district can help graduating students move into careers that offer growth beyond minimum wage, manual labor positions.

In addition, he said, the rebranding effort could help stem the number of students who opt to leave for charter schools.

The structure of the career pathways would be similar to those currently in place in Whitehall and Reynoldsburg.

Thomas said officials from both those districts have indicated they are willing to allow Groveport Madison staff members to observe their programs and learn best practices from them at no charge.

If the school board agrees to implement the new pathways, students in eighth grade will begin filtering into a career pathway by completing an interest inventory survey. In ninth grade, students will enter their selected career academy. By the time they are sophomores, Thomas said, students in their career academies will follow a project-based learning strategy.

Finally, by the time students are juniors and seniors, he said, they will participate in outside internships and complete capstone projects.

School board members asked if there were concerns over students being held back if they opt to switch pathways partway through the program. Thomas said the programs are designed to use the same set of core standards, which makes most of the coursework interchangeable.

"The core coursework is what every kid will learn and so there will be overlap and the electives won't be exclusive to one team," he said. "They may be behind a little but won't be hurt by switching.

"Currently, students need 20 credits to graduate but have 28 credits they actually take," Thomas said.

Superintendent Bruce Hoover said planning is still continuing on the career pathways program, and work needs to be done to include the community to help develop potential internship and capstone options.

He said he hopes the initial program can be available by the 2015-2016 school year and then expanded to include more career pathways the following school year.