CASE STUDY – Certified School Passport Administrator (CSPA) – A Virtual Internship Program by GG4L
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was seeking an opportunity to provide career readiness programming to their students. They accepted applications from students and selected students to complete a virtual internship offered by Global Grid for Learning (GG4L).
It is difficult for high schools to provide enriching career readiness opportunities to their students that don’t require students to leave the campus and don’t cost an exorbitant amount of money. Yet studies have proven that career readiness programs give students the tools they need to succeed both in college and in the workforce. High schools seek work-based learning opportunities for their students and there are not many options available.
As a public benefit corporation, GG4L maintains significant mission-focused initiatives to support students and schools around the world. Our primary initiative today is developing career readiness for students, beginning in their high school years. One of our career readiness initiatives is the CSPA Virtual Internship Program. This unique program introduces high school students to the enterprise-level information technology environment. It focuses primarily on data integration and user authentication and access which is what GG4L knows best.
In this program, titled The Certified School Passport Administrator (CSPA) Virtual Internship, students are provided with online course content via Coursera. This is coupled with virtual meetings, discussion groups, and “sandbox” type real-life hands-on work-related experiences. Within one semester, the program offers 90 hours of content and it concludes with providing the student with a Certificate of Completion.
Fifteen students from Chicago Public Schools were selected to enter the program. Of that number, 14 were awarded the CSPA certification. The success of this program can be attributed to two factors: mentoring and monitoring. Both GG4L and Chicago Public Schools jointly provided mentoring to the students to shepherd them through the program in an organized and sequential manner.
“The CSPA Coursera content sparked genuine curiosity and interest among my students. They explored real-world data management and related topics with enthusiasm, some even conducting their own research about tangential concepts that align with their career goals. GG4L’s ongoing support and communication made it a smooth and enriching experience for all of us, and I hope to have many more students in CPS go through their CSPA certification course,” said Jay Fox from the CTE department at Chicago Public Schools.
Fox represented Chicago Public Schools as a CTE leader in this effort and worked with different cohort groups of students on an ongoing basis. His efforts were critical to keeping the interns on track throughout the virtual internship.
Working as a team, mentors from both Chicago Public Schools and GG4L demonstrated how mentoring and monitoring can affect a best practice for ensuring the success of virtual internships. The program was broken into six checkpoints, and at each checkpoint, mentors monitored the progress of interns. Weekly meetings of cohort groups were held to review the prior week’s activity. These checkpoints allowed mentors to focus in on those interns that were falling somewhat behind and provide additional support to bring them up to date.
“Students gain transferrable skills and knowledge from the CSPA Virtual Internship which may be applied across multiple industries, where data integration and user authentication and access are part of the enterprise organization’s processes,” said Wally Reeves, SVP, Client Operations for GG4L and creator of the CSPA program.
Several districts are participating in GG4L’s CSPA Virtual Internship program. GG4L was awarded a grant by The Catalyze Challenge to support scaling the program, allowing us to reach more students and school districts, including districts such as Los Angeles Unified School District, Cobb County Schools, Denver Public Schools, and more. The grant also allowed us to scale the program and publish an open playbook describing our approach in detail so that any district or employer can adopt it. CTE leaders can request information now on the program for their students for the fall semester.