Perspectives on NAF’s Work-Based Learning Tracking Tools: “A Game Changer”

Kirsten Kirby
October 31, 2022

Since the debut of the WBL Participation Tracker & Reflection Form a month ago, there has been excitement across the NAF Network. Our team has had the opportunity to see and hear this first-hand while presenting in-person training sessions and a webinar. These perspectives are invaluable and a key element of our continuing work on the WBL tracking tools.

Seeking feedback from NAF educators, academy leads, and other members of the Network has been an essential part of the WBL Participation Tracker & Reflection Form development process from the beginning. The concept for these tools began in 2018 through partnering on an AT&T Aspire Grant with Collier County Public Schools (FL). At NAF Next 2022, Courtney Stahlman, Manager, Career and Technical Education for Collier County Public Schools, summed up her multi-year experience with the tracking tools: “It’s truly been a game changer with the data we were able to collect.”

Feedback from the 6 districts who piloted the two tools from Fall 2021-Spring 2022 touched on the importance of having access to more robust WBL data in order to best support students. One participant noted, “These last two years have really shown that our students need more help in WBL and this would allow us to pinpoint where to shift to. This data would also show us why some students are getting hired and why some aren’t and could possibly help us meet the needs of the community as well.” Others focused on the practical benefits: “To keep easily accessible, centralized, shared records of our WBL participation.” Their feedback and suggestions enabled us to identify and implement new features to make the tools as user-friendly as possible.

In the past month, 111 academies have entered WBL activities attended by over 1,800 students. Having the two different tools provides “the ability to keep up with the experiences per student and determine what they have learned.” Members of the Network are already seeing the benefits of having expanded WBL data and identifying how they will use this data moving forward. One educator summed this up: “I’m excited to track the opportunities that I’m exposing students to. My students are involved in lots of great things, but I’m looking forward to using the WBL tool to track those experiences and collect data to make sure that I’m being intentional in my planning.” 

Several themes have emerged from the feedback, including the impact of having expanded WBL data to analyze and learn from in order to elevate student voice and ensure equity of opportunities. NAF educators see many advantages in having the Reflection Form tool. One educator noted, “Increased reflection is valuable for students and me. I can see what they took away from the experience and they can see personal growth.” Another emphasized how this kind of reflection empowers students and helps them feel heard: “They will like being included and asked more regularly how to shape their future and activities.” Educators recognize the importance of being able to see demographic data and trends, noting it will “be helpful to use the data to make sure the experiences are equitable.”

Launching the WBL Participation Tracker and Reflection Form was the culmination of over four years of dedicated work fueled by NAF Network feedback. Hearing the enthusiasm for these tracking tools serves as motivation for the next phases of development, where we plan to incorporate internship tracking and implement some additional features. We look forward to continuing to listen to the Network’s perspectives and providing support and resources so these tools can be a game changer for every NAF academy.

View Bio

Kirsten Kirby is the Director of Work-Based Learning at NAF. She deeply believes that everyone deserves the chance to find and have a career that is meaningful to them and where they can make a difference while also continuing to learn and grow.

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