CareerStart lessons: Grade eight

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Essential question: What is the correlation between education level and long-term financial benefit?

Lesson overview

Students will graph a scatter plot and manually approximate the line of best fit. Students will be provided the opportunity to confirm their scatter plot and line of best fit using their graphing calculator. Students will explain the meaning of the line and make reasonable predictions based on the data.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

Time required

One class period


As a guidance counselor in a high school, you advise and encourage students to set goals for their futures that involve educational levels that include a high school diploma, or additional studies and training beyond high school. Financial gain is only one of many considerations, but it is a powerful one for young adults. You will work with individual students to help them make decisions about their futures.


  1. Read students the scenario and share with them information about guidance counselors. (See “Career Information” below.)
  2. Hand out the “Big Payoff” article and the scatter plot worksheet. Give students some background information about the article: In the U.S. Census article “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings,” the authors discuss the economic value of an education. It includes statistics from the U.S. Census analyzing a variety of age, ethnic, and gender groups in relation to their educational level attained and to their average annual salaries.
  3. Have students go to page six of the article and use it to fill in the table on the worksheet about work-life earnings estimates. Have students complete the worksheet, which asks them to make a scatter plot based on the data from the article, to approximate a line of best fit, and to check their work using the graphing calculator.

Career information: Guidance counselors

Career information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Nature of the work

A master’s degree generally is required to become a licensed counselor.
Job opportunities for counselors should be very good because job openings are expected to exceed the number of graduates from counseling programs.
The health care and social assistance industry employs about 47 percent of counselors, and state and local government employ about 11 percent.

School counselors work with students of all ages. They help students find their personal strengths, talents and abilities. They help them deal with problems and special needs. They help students develop academic and career goals.

Training, qualifications

Counselors must meet the licensure requirements of the state they work in. Most states require the completion of a master’s degree. They should have an interest in working with people, and should have the ability to inspire trust, respect and confidence.


The median annual salary for educational, vocational and school counselors in 2006 was $47,530. Their normal work year is the same as teachers.

Job outlook

Employment opportunities for counselors are expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2016.

Additional information

For information on school counselors, see the American School Counselors Association.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 8

  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and use graphs and data analysis.
    • Objective 4.01: Collect, organize, analyze, and display data (including scatterplots) to solve problems.
    • Objective 4.02: Approximate a line of best fit for a given scatterplot; explain the meaning of the line as it relates to the problem and make predictions.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 8

        • Statistics & Probability
          • 8.SP.1Construct and interpret scatter plots for bivariate measurement data to investigate patterns of association between two quantities. Describe patterns such as clustering, outliers, positive or negative association, linear association, and nonlinear association.
          • 8.SP.2Know that straight lines are widely used to model relationships between two quantitative variables. For scatter plots that suggest a linear association, informally fit a straight line, and informally assess the model fit by judging the closeness of the...

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Progressing

        • P.CR.3 Understand the relationship among personal and academic decisions, career expectations, and future life decisions. P.CR.3.1 Describe the effect of work on lifestyle. P.CR.3.2 Explain how work can help to achieve personal success and satisfaction.