This study focuses on the experiences of the educators and students involved in the implementation of decision skills classes in the Junction City, Oregon. It follows the real-world experience over the past 5 years of the students, educators and administrators with using the curricula of the Decision Education Foundation (DEF). While most of the comments and quotes expressed here are anecdotal, they were overwhelmingly positive.
Junction City High School has been a long-time partner and success story with DEF. In 2015, DEF and the high school in Junction City Oregon partnered to pilot a new curriculum into their "Bridge Week" course. This is a week-long course to help 9th graders entering high school make the adjustment. DEF integrated elements from their "StrongStart" program into the course. The first group to take the course included 20 students, some of them already identified as at-risk.
From that modest start, the high school has gradually integrated more and more DEF materials into their curriculum. Today, the "Bridge Week" course has over 60 (even during the COVID pandemic) students. There is now a .25 credit awarded for taking the course. Concepts from DEF were then included in a weekly, 1 hour "home room" class for 9th graders. In 2019 the high school made "Steps For Success" a mandatory course for all students in the first trimester. This DEF class is taught in weekly 1-hour sessions by the home room teacher.
For the 2021 school year the high school has expanded the DEF training to 10th grade by adding more case studies, increased goal setting and specific exercises focused on college and career choices. The "Bridge Week" course continues with over 60 students enrolled this trimester.
Each of these classes is now a for-credit part of the school's general curriculum. Teachers in the school have also begun to integrate DEF vocabulary into other lessons.
The faculty of Junction City High School is well aware that there are many different short-term "fads" in education and that it's common to try out a course for a year or so, then move onto the next "flavor of the week." The DEF material is different. Comments from several faculty members pointed out that not only was the material relevant and exciting for the students, they themselves found they were using the material for personal decisions out of school. Dr. Nancy Golden, Chief Education Officer for the state of Oregon, Commented that the DEF training provided to her, the school board, staff and teachers was equally beneficial for adults because "Leadership is all about making good decisions."
A High School and DEF Create a 9th Grade Success Class