Marietta students take the YouScience test in 2015. Georgia subsequently surveyed students and found “meaningful” increases in career interest as a result of the experience. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Career predictor proves “meaningful” and may expand to more schools

Georgia education officials say a year-long trial of a new online career-aptitude test produced statistically significant positive results, and now a key lawmaker wants the state to gradually expand access to schools.

The YouScience tool uses a game-like online test to measure interests and aptitudes, then maps the results onto the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET database. This produces a list of career matches — as specific as aerospace engineer or camera operator.

But does it work?

The state paid $120,000 for access for 20,000 students at 51 high schools, and it could take a decade or more for them to figure out whether the recommendations fit. But surveys of 3,068 of the students indicate that the tool did broaden their horizons and get them thinking about different career paths.

The students, especially girls and those from low-income households, “express relatively small, yet meaningful, attitudinal gains,” says the July report from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, which was tasked with overseeing implementation.

Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, has been pushing the program since seeing it in action in the Marietta City Schools. It gives kids information about themselves and the world that could save them time and money on “educational misfires” after high school, he said. “I’m sold on the concept.”

That means the program could be expanded to other schools. Tippins is the chairman of the Senate Education & Youth Committee and said he’ll push for broader access to the program during the state appropriations process.

He doesn’t intend to make schools use it. But, he said, “I’d like to see the state make funds available to those schools that want to use it.”

Read more about the YouScience program here and about the science behind it here.

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