Webinar: Exploring Endorsements with Families

Posted by Allison Rizzolo, Texas OnCourse on Dec 14, 2020 6:17:11 PM

Endorsements have been around for a few years now, but they can still be a challenging concept to explain to students and their families. Fortunately, there are lots of resources on endorsements and academic planning to help you!

In this webinar, we cover the many tools available to support your work with parents and guardians on endorsement education. We also hear best practices from Houston ISD on endorsement events and programs to help educate their families on this topic. Participants also shared their own ideas during the session. We summarize key takeaways below.

Thanks to our guest speakers, Major Jones from the Texas Workforce Commission and Matthew Esqueda, an advisor with Houston ISD’s Project Explore and a Texas OnCourse leader fellow. Thanks as well to the over 400 educators who registered to attend this webinar!

Don’t miss a key resource from the webinar – our endorsement toolkit. It includes a simple two-pager for students and their families, an activity sheet for using MapMyGrad with students, lesson plans, and much, much more.

Download endorsement toolkit

Download webinar slides.

Below, we summarize key sections of the webinar.

Key concepts to communicate

Endorsements can feel complicated and overwhelming, but they don’t need to be. It’s important to keep your communication simple when talking to students and their families. Educators on the call shared some of the key themes they see as important to communicate. Among them:

  • You can change your mind. Perhaps most important, emphasize to students and families that students can change their endorsement. Picking an endorsement in high school also doesn’t mean they can’t choose to study something different later.
  • You can choose more than one. Students also have the option to earn more than one endorsement.
  • Start with career goals and work backward. Students should think about the sorts of careers they’re interested in first and then see what endorsement that career aligns with. Sometimes students can be surprised that, for example, nursing falls under the Public Service endorsement, not the STEM endorsement.
  • Endorsements provide direction. Endorsements are meant to provide students with a pathway for a graduation plan. It’s important for students and families to understand that the endorsement they choose will affect the classes they take in high school.

Resources from Texas OnCourse

When it comes to talking to students and families about endorsements, start with our endorsements toolkit! This comprehensive PDF resource includes the following:

  • A guide to the modules in the Texas OnCourse Academy that provide you with content knowledge on endorsements and graduation planning.
  • An endorsement booklet to share with students and families, putting endorsements into plain language.
  • A two-pager on MapMyGrad to share with families. If you haven’t used MapMyGrad yet, this interactive website provides students with a virtual introduction to endorsements. It also serves as something of a TurboTax for graduation planning and course selection.
  • A MapMyGrad activity sheet to get your students using the website immediately.
  • Suggested lesson plans from our College and Career Readiness Curriculum.
  • A pair of games to make endorsement selection fun. The analog version is a Choose- Your-Own-Adventure-style game. The digital version is a career quiz based on movie characters.

We also recommend a few additional graphics that you can provide directly to your students:

Career Clusters and Careers: Career clusters are an important part of the college and career planning process. For many students, the clusters are the foundation of the career exploration experience. Each career cluster leads students in discovering their interests and passions, and it empowers them to choose the educational pathway that is right for them. As students begin to explore career clusters, it is essential that they understand the types of careers available within each cluster. This PDF includes a few examples of how careers and career clusters relate to one another.

Public Service Endorsement, Career Clusters, and Pathways: When advising students and their families, it may be difficult for them to make the connection between an endorsement, a career cluster, and a career pathway. To help students and families make this connection, consider sharing this infographic. It displays how the Public Service endorsement relates to career clusters and pathways.

Finally, don’t miss the Texas OnCourse Family Guide, Quest for Your Student’s Success. This guide accompanies the College and Career Readiness Curriculum. It’s a great way for you to communicate with students and families. It includes comprehensive information about endorsements, conversation starters, action steps, and discussion ideas for conversations with students. Like MapMyGrad, the Family Guide is available in English and Spanish.

New endorsement publications from TWC

The Texas Workforce Commission is introducing a new set of bulletins on endorsements and the Foundation High School graduation plan. The bulletins will be available in spring 2021. Each endorsement will have an individual, 12-page bulletin dedicated to it.

These improved bulletins more directly link endorsements to a broader variety of Texas careers. They are also more visually compelling than previous versions and have fewer words for better student attention and comprehension. 

Each bulletin will:

  • Provide general information on endorsements and the Foundation High School graduation plan.
  • Tie endorsements directly to career clusters.
  • Provide a variety of occupations and career titles linked to each endorsement, broken down into categories so students can see the diversity of options available within each endorsement.
  • Reference Texas AutoCoder, a website that enables students to enter a job title or description and brings up occupational information, including a broader list of associated job titles and detailed job responsibilities.
  • Include graphics with labor market data.
  • Provide the course options available to students, aligned with HB5, as well as the additional credits needed for the Distinguished Level of Achievement.
  • Explain performance acknowledgments.

These bulletins will be available for download on the TWC website. You can also order physical copies of the bulletins. To do so, download an order form from the TWC website or email the team at CareerInformation@twc.state.tx.us. Once you have completed your order form, mail it to:

101 East 15th Street, ​

Annex, Room 0252​

Austin, TX 78778-0001​

You can also fax your order form to: 512-936-3204.

How Houston ISD engages students on endorsements

Matthew Esqueda is an advisor with Project Explore, an initiative from Houston ISD. He is also a Texas OnCourse leader fellow on the Houston district team. Matthew shared some of the ways Houston ISD and Project Explore engage students and families on endorsements.

Project Explore launched three years ago. Its mission is to equip middle school students with the experiences and skills needed for secondary, postsecondary, and career success. Twenty-eight schools currently use the Project Explore curriculum. The curriculum includes three lessons in seventh grade and four lessons in eighth grade.

Their curriculum approach provides good guidance for what to focus on at what age. In seventh grade, the Project Explore lessons focus mainly on exploration. They cover career clusters and how they align with endorsements. They also cover the broad variety of postsecondary options. In eighth grade, they focus on career assessments. They also dig into the details in eighth grade, including GPAs and how they can affect a student’s postsecondary plans, personal graduation plans, and the Distinguished Level of Achievement.

Additional tools and engagements that Project Explore uses and Matthew recommends are:

  • Opportunities to visit colleges and industries.
  • Presentations from industry professionals.
  • Endorsement charts like this one, which are tailored to students’ interests and show which careers are aligned with which endorsements.
  • Short video content detailing each endorsement. Matthew produced an eight-minute version with his team over the summer.
  • The MapMyGrad quiz, which Matthew describes as short and very current. He has his students complete the quiz once they have gone through their classroom endorsement lessons.
  • Texas OnCourse’s endorsement timeline. Matthew likes this PDF because it emphasizes how the endorsement a student chooses will affect the classes they take in high school.

Ideas from your colleagues

We also asked educators on the webinar how they share endorsement information with families. Here are the responses they provided. Hopefully these give you some new ideas to work with!

  • Providing info via course selection guides or toolkits.
  • Coffee with the counselor – a great way to brand one-on-one meetings with parents or students.
  • Presentations to students.
  • School websites or learning management software.
  • 504 meetings.
  • Eighth grade invasions – a great way to brand presentations to students!
  • College and career readiness courses.
  • Using an interest survey in Xello.

We hope this information gives you some great ideas and resources for engaging families on endorsements! Don’t forget to download our endorsement toolkit and check out other webinars from Texas OnCourse.

Download endorsement toolkit

Topics: Middle School, Webinar, Endorsements, Educators, Students and Families, College and Career Readiness Resources