Through our supportive consortium membership and Middle School Career Interest Development Summit, CTECS brings forth a new way to cultivate and develop career interests in middle school students. Our standards, descriptors,  associated vocabulary exercises, and concise, problem-based learning activities allow students to apply social-emotional learning fundamentals as they begin to explore career possibilities. This is the crucial foundation that students will build upon throughout their professions and lives.

      • Introduces workplace language and behaviors
      • Teaches citizenship, equity, and global awareness
      • Unifies stakeholder communities: CTE, SEL, PBL, and academics

Key Links:

Talent Pipeline Development Video:

Middle School Course Philosophy/Overview Video:

Course Outline:

Middle School Course Flyer

Sample Activity:

Quick Start Guide: Begin Teaching the Course


This lightbulb represents ideas

Live Course Launch: March 26, 2021

Click here: for a great background video on the origins of the middle school course design

Our re-energized course orientation video with testimonies from some of our strongest supporters 12/10/2020.

Please contact us to let us know if you are interested in joining the pilot or would just like more information on the course.


Click here: for the Help and Issues Log

Click here for Help & Support.

Standards & Descriptors

1. Self-Awareness: a confident learner who can assess current and potential interests and talents

independent, self-reliant, mindful, self-regulated, balanced, health-, safety- and wellness-aware, culturally-aware, self-managed, self-advocating


2. Creativity: an explorer

curious, imaginative, inventive, confident, innovative, divergent, resourceful 


3. Problem Solving: a critical investigator, a strategic searcher and evidence gatherer

logical, informed, analytical, discerning, flexible, adaptable, decisive


4. Honesty and Ethics: a moral person with integrity

fair, equitable, helpful, dependable, accountable, inclusive, courageous, trustworthy, principled, reflective

5. Motivation: a goal setter who demonstrates self-efficacy

disciplined, positive, confident, self-determined, resilient, collaborative, competitive, driven, focused, intentional, purposeful


6. Communication: a team and relationship builder, a conflict manager, a considerate social media participant

clear, organized, articulate, considerate, empathetic, persuasive, audience-aware, self-representational, information and media literate


7. Career Exploration: an experiential learner, an explorer of potential talents, career identity, and cultural expectations

career-minded, career-connected, open to current and upcoming opportunities and pathways, pro-active


Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and emotional standards and values are a fundamental link between the adolescent and career choices, and yet these skills are not often taught in schools at this crucial stage in human development. If they are addressed, they are not often taught evenly or adequately. These are the traits that are most closely tied to identity and most useful in successfully determining a pathway to and through a career. SEL skills are always required, but learners must strengthen them throughout their lives.


Benefits include the promotion of career interest, especially in areas that students were not exposed to before. The middle school program also hopes to raise enrollment in secondary CTE programs and form a natural bridge between the stages of development. If middle school focuses on essential SEL standards and a macro-approach to career exploration, high school should add complexity to those SEL skills while drilling down into the technical training they need to prepare them successfully for the next step.


To support instruction, we offer modules through an LMS that teachers can use to deliver activities and vocabulary, linking them to informational resources, videos and games when appropriate. Activities were created with ease of use in mind. They should be infused into any middle school classroom, regardless of discipline, to thoroughly enrich a student’s perspective of career exploration.

A great option for distance learning.

Age-Appropriate Activities

Perkins V legislation emphasizes the enhancement of CTE at the middle level. If implemented, this program would ensure Perkins funding requirements are easily and thoroughly met. The middle school program cannot simply be a shadow of the high school programs. Different learners at different stages of their development require different strategies. Therefore, program standards and activities are meant to be infused into existing curriculum or may stand alone. Each activity is kept brief, age-specific, and accessible, and offers multiple ways for instructors to pre- and post-evaluate, as well as for students to self-reflect on their learning. Through problem-based tasks, students will gain universal characteristics of effective employees and life-long learners regardless of career path. This program values awareness and exposure over competency or technical proficiency.

CTECS Mission

CTECS relies on its successful approach to workplace readiness skills instruction and assessment at the secondary level to inform its instructional resources at the middle school level.

CTECS provides industry-based resources and services for the improvement of career technical education and workforce development instruction, assessment, certification, and delivery.

Workplace Readiness Skills

Collaboration and Support

The Middle School Career Interest Development program represents the best theory and practice in the industry.

  • CTECS Board members and leadership
  • Middle School Career Interest Development Steering Committee and 2020 Summit
  • Research and key organizations that support the standards, including
    • CASEL–Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
    • The Wallace Foundation
    • ASCA–American School Counselors Association, Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success
    • NAPE–National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity
    • Advance CTE
    • ACTE–Association for Career and Technical Education