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LINKS
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Mission Statement

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.

Rationale

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.

  • Give each student the opportunity to develop a relationship with an interested adult.
  • Provide a caring adult to monitor and communicate with each student, parents, and appropriate staff (Student Assistance Team members, counselor, support services) about attendance, behavior, and academic issues.

2) Promote collaboration and cooperation among all staff members to help students with academic, career and personal/social needs.

  • Educate faculty about resources within the school, community and nation.
  • Promote programs and activities within the school, community and nation.
  • Promote research-based instructional methods to reach all students.

3) Help each student identify and address his/her unique academic, career and personal/social needs.

  • Link student needs to individualized assessment results.
  • Facilitate the development of individualized student transition plans (ISTP).
  • Assist in interpreting and understanding standardized test results related to curriculum and post-secondary choices.
  • Help students investigate the world of work in order to make informed career decisions.

4) Address specific school needs to help promote a positive and safe school climate.

  • Promote individual rights and responsibilities of all persons, regardless of alternative points of view or individual ethnic and cultural differences.
  • Help students develop effective communication skills.
  • Promote a positive and safe school climate.

5) Help each student feel connected to school and the community.

  • Support each student during the transitional period for each grade level.
  • Help each student become an active participant in co-curricular, extracurricular and community activities.
  • Help students become responsible, make ethical decisions, take ownership and develop a sense of belonging to their school and the community.
  • Provide an opportunity for community members to participate in the LINKS Program.

6) Develop a team of stakeholders who encourage each student to progress and succeed.

  • Support opportunities for school, students, parents, the community and other educational stakeholders to collaborate.
  • Provide opportunities for parent involvement in developing the individualized student transition plan (ISTP).
  • Offer ways to systematically deliver other school-wide initiatives to every student in a consistent manner.
  • Provide support for students who are challenged acdemically.

7) Provide a way to consistently deliver content standards and guidance curriculum for every student.

  • Assist each student in gaining understanding and acceptance of self and others.
  • Facilitate the identification of student gifts, talents, and skills, and how to share them with the community.
  • Help each student develop study skills, time management skills, and successful habits that advance achievement.
Purpose

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.

Expected Outcomes
  • Faculty are informed and prepared to work with all students
  • Students who are satisfied with their high school experience
  • High school experiences that support success in the adult world
  • School attendance is improved
  • Behavior problems are reduced
  • More students successfully transition from grade to grade
  • Achievement (measured by grades and test scores) is improved
  • Drop-out rates are lower
  • Graduation rates are improved
  • Career planning is facilitated
  • Interpersonal skills are strenghtened
  • Students are better prepared for the workforce and global workplace
  • More students enter relevant and appropriate post-secondary institutions
  • More students complete post-secondary education programs
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.