Last year, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) rolled out a new College and Career Advising Program (CCA) as well as a personal planning tool called My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP). Together, CCA and MyCAP ensure students will be prepared for college, career, and active and informed citizenship.

CCA is a whole-school, four-year program led by counselors, supported by administrators, and implemented by counselors and teachers throughout the school and across content areas. CCA makes post-secondary preparation and planning a whole school mission.

MyCAP refers to an electronic process that allows students to identify their talents and skills, identify post-secondary options and career and life goals, and actively design their own academic pathway aligned to those plans and goals. MyCAP also consists of a document—an ePortfolio—where students can document their learning and track their career development activities and experiences.

Students and educators can utilize MEFA Pathway to ensure that the 3 domains of MyCAP (academic planning, personal/social growth, and career development) are developed. MEFA Pathway is a comprehensive, free online platform that allows students the ability to take ownership of their own future. Within the student platform, students can develop a course plan, keep track of completed courses and grades earned, engage in a variety of fun quizzes that lead to identifying areas of interest, search careers and specific jobs, search and compare colleges, create a resume, track out-of-school activities, and much, much more.

MEFA Pathways allows students to construct a personalized digital picture of who they are and where they want to go based on their individual needs and goals. MEFA Pathway’s Counselor Portal provides a feature specific to MyCAP that allows educators to track their students’ plan development. It incorporates data-driven fields such as IEP or 504 Plan along with educator’s additions, such as supports or interventions a student is receiving. Finally, the platform also has access to the Common Application for college bound students.

There is growing evidence that MyCAP may improve student engagement, help students understand the connection between what they do now and future success, give students a voice for post-secondary planning, and provide opportunities for better communication among schools, students, and parents/guardians.

DESE offers districts and schools a three-workshop professional development series to create and implement a CCA/MyCAP program in their school. This link will bring you to the registration page for the series where you can find more information.

Lisa Harney is an Education Specialist at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) working in the College, Career, and Technical Education unit. Her priority projects include alternative education, at-risk youth and dropout prevention and re-engagement, and promotion of My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP), a four-year individual planning tool for ALL students. Prior to working at the Department Lisa was the director of an alternative high school for pregnant and parenting teens operated under the guidance of the South Shore Educational Collaborative. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Boston College and a Master in Education degree from UMass/Boston.