Standard 1


Every school makes WBL available as part of a program of study leading to career and college readiness.

  • All state approved secondary schools strive to make WBL activities available to all students.
  • For secondary students with special needs, WBL activities are integrated with their IEP/504/transition plans.

INDICATOR: Each school has identified which WBL activities are offered.


Schools have a responsibility for hiring a dedicated professional to coordinate work-based learning activities, either internally or externally by working with an outside organization. School administrators play an important role in cultivating a culture that embraces WBL activities as part of curriculum and standard practice. This includes orienting guidance counselors, teachers, and school board members to understand the importance and benefits of WBL to the school. This also includes providing WBL as an option for students to earn credit. Without strong administrative, teacher and counselor support, it is impossible to truly integrate WBL into the education system. Schools are responsible for successful outcomes in the following ways:

  • Identifying which academic standards can be met effectively through work-based learning;
  • Identifying how work-based learning fits into sequence of career development for its students;
  • Providing the physical space within which WBL activities take place; 
  • Providing internal staff dedicated to facilitating WBL activities or work with external organization to provide WBL activities to students;
  • Providing professional development opportunities for all staff that are involved in WBL activities;
  • Developing a budget and identify funds and other resources to support WBL activities;
  • Making students, parents and staff aware of WBL activities and benefits;
  • Assigning students credit for successfully completing and demonstrating proficiency through WBL activities;
  • Integrating WBL activities into the school culture, including keeping parents engaged and informed;
  • Ensuring that WBL coordinators work closely with special educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

Parents can be either enthusiastic supporters or suspicious opponents of school-to-work activities. Work-based learning without parental involvement may not be focused on student needs; planners should heed parents' concerns. Select engagement strategies that match your district's current status with school-to-work activities and build from that point. Strategies for working successfully with parents include:

  • Ask parents their concerns, and respond to them. Be ready to respond to typical concerns of parents, such as: Is school-to-work another form of tracking? Will college options still be open to my child? Will my child be forced into making a career choice too early? What sort of job will he or she be doing? Will transportation be made available between the school and the workplace? Is my child still getting the basics?

  • Involve parents in work-based learning design and ongoing operations. Parent-teacher organizations can be a good venue for recruitment and orientation.

  • Invite parents to visit the people and institutions connected with work-based learning opportunities. Making it possible for parents to visit the school as well as businesses and organizations where their children will be learning can help them better understand the nature of work-based learning experiences. Providing opportunities for parents to meet the supervisors and teachers on an informal basis gives them the chance to discuss their concerns and interests with the people who will be working with their children.

  • Have parents sign a mutual expectations agreement. Being party to an agreement with employers, teachers and their child can enlist parents in reinforcing their child's learning.

  • Stress the guidance and career planning components of school-to-work when marketing to parents. Students often complain that no one at school cares about them as individuals. Stressing to parents that special supports will be provided to help students negotiate the demands of work-based learning and make decisions about future education and career goals will help demonstrate to parents that your efforts are not business as usual. Help parents see the long term benefits that thoughtful, coordinated planning will provide for their children.

  • Begin early. Parents are usually enthusiastic about career awareness and job-shadowing opportunities at the elementary or junior high school levels. Starting all children in career- focused activities early on can lessen the chance that work-based learning activities will be labeled by parents as unnecessary or ancillary once students reach the high school level.

  • Work with community-based organizations. Community-based organizations are often a voice and advocate for parents. Working with these organizations can be a vehicle for parent communication.

School Staff
Orientation and ongoing staff development activities empower teachers and counselors to adopt new practices that connect school and work. The goals of orientation and staff development activities are to help teachers and counselors become WBL advocates. This also builds a supportive peer network through which school staff can work together to develop new teaching materials and strategies and reinforce each others' efforts.

  • Provide a formal orientation and resources. A formal introduction to work-based learning will help articulate goals, expectations, support structures, and teacher and counselor roles and responsibilities, and provide an opportunity to address staff concerns.

  • Bring teachers and counselors into the design process. Unless they have an opportunity to influence the design process, it is unlikely that they will be WBL advocates.

  • Link goals to concerns that teachers and counselors have identified. Make it clear that the goals are consistent with concerns raised by staff about student performance, efficient operation of the school, professional development and support, and preparing students for the world at large.

  • Educate teachers and counselors about the changing demands of the workplace and the range of post secondary options. Help them better understand the academic, social, and technical demands of modern work and the range of career and learning opportunities in the community by providing opportunities to visit the workplace and meet with work site staff.

  • Enlist current participants from other schools. Teachers and counselors often become more interested when they hear the enthusiasm of their peers and their students.

  • Provide staff support. Staff involvement can be supported by arranging visits to other schools that have implemented WBL activities; supporting attendance at career development or related conferences; providing time for teachers and counselors to meet with peers on issues of curriculum for work-based learning; and supplying concrete examples and results of integrating school-based and work-based learning.

  • Consider developing summer internships and job-shadowing days in industry for school staff. Employer sponsored internships are a popular and proven technique for giving firsthand exposure to academic, social, and technical demands of today's workplace. Utilize existing Vermont models such as the Upper Valley Business & Education Partnership's Summer Externship Program. 
* Adapted from Business/Employer Partnerships - "Connecting Youth to Work-Based Learning," MN DCFL, 2003.

Schools that assume these responsibilities are far more likely to have students successfully experience the full benefits of engaging in WBL. The benefits are considerable and include:

  • Providing a way for students to gain career and college readiness skills;
  • Enhancing the ability to meet the needs of diverse student populations;
  • Providing opportunities for individualized curriculum and student-led learning;
  • Strengthening school's relationship with the community;
  • Contributing to staff professional development;
  • Making education more relevant and valuable for students;
  • Enhancing student retention; and
  • Increasing student motivation to learn by developing their talent and interest areas.


Jay Ramsey at or (802) 479-1343

Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014