Secondary schools around the nation are involved at various stages in high school redesign initiatives. This reform is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education to ensure that all students graduating from high school are prepared to continue postsecondary education and have the competencies to enter the workforce. Today’s educational environment is heavily focused on accountability, standards and assessment. At the same time, industry is seeking assurances that job seekers have the skills required to fill their openings.
At the local, state and federal levels, CTE programs are being tasked with providing students with credentials and certifications which are recognized and valued by our business and industry partners. Having a strong connection to industry, career and technical education has long understood the importance of industry recognized credentials and certifications.
In Brevard Public Schools, Secondary Schools of National Prominence
(SSNP) was developed to address Brevard Public Schools vision for secondary
school redesign. Brevard’s aspirations for our students are ambitious
and the SSNP component, Increased Course Requirements surpasses the requirements
of both the A++ legislation as well as those of the national secondary
school reform. To ensure every BPS graduate is postsecondary and/or workforce
ready, students are required to complete a program of study which includes
a minimum of 3 credits in one of the following areas:
The BPS strategic plan includes the Key Performance Indicator – (KPI) 1.2.5: By 2013, 90% of all high school graduates completing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program of study will be eligible for an industry certification. The CTE department has identified student industry credentials that meet the rigorous course requirements and this key performance indicator.
At the state level, Florida Statutes require that career and professional academies be coordinated with the appropriate industry indicating that all components of the program are relevant and appropriate to prepare the student for further education and for employment in that industry. Florida Statutes further define that the State Board of Education together with Workforce Florida, Inc. will develop and adopt rules for implementing an industry certification process, based upon the highest available national standards for specific industry certification, to ensure student skill proficiency and to address emerging labor market and industry trends.
Starting with SY 2009-10, Florida Statutes require a portion of the high school grade be determined by students’ participation and performance in industry certifications, along with AP, IB, AICE and dual enrollment. Florida Statues further expand the requirements for CTE industry certification by including student attainment of CTE industry certifications as one of the four Standard High School Diploma Designations.
At the federal level, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was reauthorized in 2006 and requires student attainment of career and technical skill proficiencies, including student achievement on technical assessments, that are aligned with industry-recognized standards. They are designed to measure the extent CTE concentrators (3 credits in the same CTE program) are leaving high school with validated technical skills. The Florida DOE approves the Technical Skill Attainment List using the following criteria: requires a minimum of 150 hours instruction, is occupationally specific, is a State or federally regulated professional license, and the certifying agency is accredited.
In response to the federal requirements, future district Perkins funding to BPS includes performance measures, targets and potential sanctions regarding Technical Skill Attainment for program concentrators. The SY 2010-11 target for BPS, set by the Florida DOE, is 76%.
In addition to the local, state and federal requirements for student industry certification, teachers and administrators can use assessment results to learn about student’s skills as well as learn about the effectiveness of instruction and then apply that to instructional improvements. Assessment can be one of the most effective tools for increasing student achievement. By using assessment data for instructional purposes, teachers can improve program curriculum, identify instructional needs and maintain a continuous improvement process.
Focused on the new vision of Career and Technical Education, assessments are to be utilized for CTE students as they complete their technical program of study. Assessments, while required at the federal, state and district levels, measure student understanding of both the knowledge and skills that are the foundation of the CTE program.
It is imperative that teachers and administrators maintain a positive
perception of the value of technical skill attainment. Not only does
it meet new local, state and federal requirements for CTE programs, assessments
can provide a continuous improvement model for CTE instruction. Industry
certifications can also provide business and industry with the assurance
that CTE concentrators have the skills required to fill their openings;
a win-win situation for all.