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School study gets 50-year follow-up

CHULA VISTA- Roughly 440,000 high school students across the United States — including several at Chula Vista High School — who took part in a study 50 years ago are being asked to update their stories in a follow-up report.

This weekend at their 50-year reunion, some Chula Vista High grads from the class of 1961 who participated will provide that information to study representatives.

The original study, called Project Talent, was conducted in March of 1960 by the American Institutes for Research and the U.S. Department of Education and involved ninth through 12th grade students from more than 1,300 schools. Tests were given by the students’ teachers at their school sites. Every state in the U.S. took part except for Alaska.

Participants were tested on everything from their aptitude in reading, math, and science; the arts; mechanics; social studies, and home economics. They were also asked about their hobbies, their health, the careers they were interested in and their family background, including whether their mother’s worked, how much money their parents made, and how big their homes were.

“The goal was to look at the education system, whether or not students were being steered into the careers where they would be most satisfied as well as most successful,” said Melissa Wentzel, research associate for AIR. “They wanted to make sure that the guidance programs in the school systems were getting kids into the right classes as well as getting them into the right training programs after school, or into college.”

Wentzel said students were also given personality tests. “It was pretty new back then, testing personalities to try to figure out how that affects other parts of your life,” she said.

Participants were contacted again one year, five years and 11 years after their high school graduation.

Now, AIR is developing a follow-up to the study that will focus on retirement planning, health, well being, financial status, career satisfaction and family life, Wentzel said.

“What we’re hoping to do is draw some comparisons and some connections between the early life experiences that we collected information on and their later life outcome and see if we can identify any trends or patterns,” she said. “The data from 1960 becomes more valuable if we can put it together with information 50 years later.”

Brian Wages is a graduate from the Chula Vista High class of 1961 and a study participant. His original test results show that he scored 100 percent in aeronautics and space, mechanics, and math 1 (arithmetic reasoning) among other categories.

“According to my wife, I did wind up on one of the more likely career trajectories suggested by the test results: aviation,” said Wages, who had a long career as a military pilot.

Wages was quick to add, however, that he initiated the application process for the Air Force Academy by the beginning of his junior year, well before the Project Talent tests were given, so the tests “had no influence whatsoever on my post-high school plans.”

He said he’s nonetheless interested to see a macro overview of test results related to career paths taken for a large population of people.

“And equally interesting, if not more so, to see whether folks wound up being happy on whatever path they pursued, whether or not it was indicated by test results.”

[email protected] (619) 293-1859

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From: Sign On San Diego | Read Original Article