The LINKS advising program teaches students to be responsible, productive, ethical and healthy citizens. They learn to think creatively, reason critically, communicate effectively and understand that learning is a lifelong process in order to have a productive life in the 21st century.
In the changing work-place of the 21st century, students need more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. They must be able to solve problems, think critically, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively. If students are to learn the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life, administrators, teachers, counselors, parents, and business community must all be involved. Research shows that when students have a relationship with a caring teacher, chances of success in life increase dramatically.
Students must develop a sense of belonging to their school and community and understand our expanding global community. In addition to learning academic content, students need to know the value of lifelong learning. They need to have the skills to work, live, and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities.
Students perform better in school when they see the relevance of what they are learning. An advising program assists students in career planning and goal setting by helping them better understand themselves and their abilities.
LINKS Program Goals
1) Provide a consistent advocate for each student in the school.
2) Promote collaboration and cooperation among all staff members to help students with academic, career and personal/social needs.
3) Help each student identify and address his/her unique academic, career and personal/social needs.
4) Address specific school needs to help promote a positive and safe school climate.
5) Help each student feel connected to school and the community.
6) Develop a team of stakeholders who encourage each student to progress and succeed.
7) Provide a way to consistently deliver content standards and guidance curriculum for every student.
The purpose of the LINKS Advising Program is to advance student learning and development in a proactive, deliberate manner. LINKS supports individual student success by providing resources and knowledge through a caring adult advocate.
Creating our West Virginia Advisory Model
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills developed a unified, collective vision for Global 21 learning that is being used to strengthen education in West Virginia and throughout America. The West Virginia Department of Education is working deliberately to align all educational programs with the Global 21 Framework by providing all county leadership teams and staff with ongoing professional development to help transform schools. Several High Schools That Work (HSTW) sites were selected and provided additional funding to create successful Global 21 model programs that other schools throughout the state can emulate. These schools have worked to enhance key HSTW practices, as well as the Global 21 framework and Southern Regional Education Board goals. According to each of these initiatives, the "Guidance and Advisement" program is essential to each school's mission to increase student success. Research shows that student advisement programs are paramount to each student's success and can be effective in reducing retention rates, decreasing truancy and behavioral issues, and improving test scores and graduation rates.
The new West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE) Policy 2510 requires all students to have in-depth opportunities for career exploration and decision-making in grades 9 – 12. They Students are required to meet annually with parents and a counselor and/or advisor to develop or revise their Individual Student Transition Plan (ISTP). The LINKS Program provides a standardized process for this mandate occur in a meaningful way.
In response to concurrent Resolution 42 the 2006 Senate commissioned a study called Taking Career and Technical Education to the Next Level in West Virginia. This 2007 Pawley's Group Report recommended that West Virginia develop a systematic way to help students with career exploration. Recommendation # 6 was to "Enhance seamless alignment and rigor by developing Career Pathways.” This report also stresses that accepting the status quo or making small, incremental changes will fall short of preparing West Virginia and its citizens to compete effectively in the global marketplace. The development of the LINKS student advising program began as a way to provide this structured system of assuring that all students in grades 9 – 12 are prepared in all pathways for seamless entry into post-secondary education and the workforce.
Barbara Ashcraft, WVDE School Counseling Coordinator with the Division of Adult and Technical Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, Special Programs and Support Services, spearheaded a collaborative effort to develop a statewide model that resulted in the creation of the LINKS Program.