ACTE Techniques October 2011 : Page 31

A 21 st Century How-to Model for Successful CTE Programs By SCoTT BuRkE H ow do you measure success in a career and technical education (CTE) pro-gram? In our work with CTE teachers and administrators across the country, we understand that success depends upon individual job responsibili -ties and pressures. From the perspective of CTE teachers, common benchmarks of success typically include strong student and parental support for CTE, thriving enrollment in CTE classes, and feeling valued despite a “college-for-all” push. Interestingly, administrators and district-level decision-makers report similar benchmarks of success—with one excep -tion: greater weight is placed on CTE’s role in fortifying standardized test scores. Many CTE teachers believe that their primary role is to offer and teach CTE classes. If so, administrators ought to be responsible for building a master sched -ule to fill the seats, provide appropriate funding, and fully support the depart -ments as they go on with business as usual. Conversely, administrators believe their teachers ought to be responsible for maintaining current, academically rigor -ous and engaging content; producing measurable results related to high stakes tests; and networking to build strong re -lationships with all stakeholders. It is rare to find administrators and teachers who are on the same page about who takes on what responsibilities. Unfortunately, if these tensions are not mediated produc-tively, much finger-pointing and blame-shifting occurs between the two groups. This is counterproductive to transform-ing quality 21st century CTE programs from good to great. Regardless of which perspective you take, we believe that both groups are right. Seven years ago, we were two teach -ers from two different content areas (CTE: Trade/Industry and Math) with seemingly irreconcilable worldviews that clashed with the perspectives of adminis-trators. When we reframed our individual perspectives by appreciating and under -standing administrator pressures, our program, Geometry in Construction, and ideas flourished. As we continue to spread our model of contextual learning, we con -stantly find ourselves balancing our needs with other stakeholders’ needs, including students, parents, administration, the community, business and industry. Over time we have developed, implemented and replicated the Geometry in Con -struction program in multiple locations. We continue to collaborate locally in the creation of the “Algebra 2 with Automo -tive” program. Additionally, during the 2011-2012 school year, we will work with Seguin Independent School District in Texas on the development of Algebra 1 coupled with “Principles of Manufac -turing.” Even if you are not a trade and industry CTE teacher, we believe that organizing principles from our model are transferable to other content areas and translatable to success in education. The Beginning of a Revolutionary Idea: Geometry in Construction With no administrative support (except the district CTE director) and trapped in a car driving to and from Denver for a conference, we started brainstorming ideas. Armed with what we gathered from the conference, we eventually decided that based on our individual skill sets and our available school facilities, we wanted to create a program that would be fun and rigorous. We spent 16 months developing the program, which success -fully launched during the 2006-2007 school year. Since that inaugural year we have achieved what many would agree is a great amount of success. Some of our key indicators of success are: • Alignment of CTE with the National Common Core Math Standards through a contextual delivery method. OCTOBER 2011 Techniques PHoTo By ISToCk.CoM www.acteonline.org 31

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