ACTE Techniques January 2012 : Page 29

School culture in Improving Student Achievement in PoS cohorts of students from the Class of 2012 in two large, urban school districts that offer POS. 1 Each year, we collect student outcome data and conduct site visits to treatment and control or comparison schools; we observe academic and CTE classes and interview students, teachers, counselors and administrators in order to get a better sense of the experiences of students attending POS compared to students not attending POS. At this point in our study, we have acquired and analyzed ninth-and tenth-grade student outcome data (e.g., grade point averages, test scores, technical skills assessments, and other measures) and site visit data. (By the time this issue of Techniques appears in print, we will be in the process of analyzing our students’ eleventh-grade outcome data, which will not be available until fall-winter 2011-2012.) Our ninth-and tenth-grade results have been published in a series of reports, journal articles and conference presenta-tions available on the NRCCTE Web site. This article describes our two districts and study schools and summarizes what we have learned about how district and school policies, practices and cultures support the implementation of POS and promote student success in preparing for life after high school. BY KIRSTEN SUNDELL, MARISA CASTELLANO, LAURA T. OVERMAN, AND OSCAR A. ALIAGA O ver the past five years, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) has sponsored five research studies of Programs of Study (POS)—including three ongoing longitudinal projects—with the goal of informing the field about how and under what conditions POS impact student engagement, achievement, and transition to postsecondary education and employment. POS, mandated under Per-kins IV, increase program accountability in the areas of academic achievement, technical skills achievement and align-ment with postsecondary education. Our longitudinal study, Rigorous Tests of Student Outcomes in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs of Study , was designed to estimate the impact of POS on high school students’ academic and technical achievement outcomes through the completion of high school. For the past four years, we have followed two The Role of West District: a Commitment to Cutting-Edge CTE 2 Located in a large city in a western state, West District serves an urban-suburban student population, 64 percent of whom self-identify as ethnic minorities, and more than 40 percent of whom are eligible for free lunch. Three POS high schools are participating in our study. Navy is a new high school in which CTE and academic programs are housed together in modular units customized by teachers and business community partners. It was designed around the “best practices” principles of learning Januar y 2012 Techniques ILLUSTRATION By ISTOCK.COM www.acteonline.org 29

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