Identifying and Using Clusters of Competencies

As you review the student competencies in the National Standards, look for commonalities, similar skills that cluster together.  We identified several and gave them the following names: Learning about Self, Learn More about the Jobs that Interest MeLearning Employability Skills, and Learning How to Become Informed. Look for other clusters and groupings.

To see how these clusters can help you, let's take a look at another cluster we identified:  "Learning and Using Effective Decision-Making Skills."  First, read over these competencies:

  1. Academic:
    • Use problem-solving and decision-making skills to assess progress toward educational goals.
    • Learn and apply critical thinking skills.
  2. Career:
    • Learn to make decisions.
    • Understand the importance of planning.
    • Select course work that is related to career interests.
    • Apply decision-making skills to career planning, course selection, and career transitions
  3. Personal/Social
    • Use a decision-making and problem-solving model
    • Understand consequences of decisions and choices
    • Identify alternative solutions to a problem
    • Identify long- and short-term goals
    • Develop an action plan to set and achieve realistic goals
    • Apply effective problem-solving and decision-making skills to make safe and healthy choices

Notice that focusing on decision-making skills gives you several powerful advantages. You will:

  1. Cover numerous student competencies, giving you the opportunity to do more with less.
  2. Consider how these competencies relate to each other -- how you and your team can organize learning and work together most effectively.
  3. Have a coherent theme that everyone can understand and support -- teachers, administrators, parents, and students. As an added bonus, in The Career Key you have a decision-making model that is simple, practical, and strongly supported by research. And, Decision-Making is one of the 17 Foundation Skills described at the website.
  4. Relate your program to the school's academic goals and to teachers' learning objectives – obviously important in today's schools. In addition, with your initial support, teachers can learn how to teach the ACIP decision-making model and help students use it in making important academic, career, and personal decisions.