ACTE Techniques January 2012 : Page 31

stressed the importance of FBLA in imparting dress, networking, and written and oral communication skills to students, in addition to providing opportunities for business-related field trips and leadership development activities. One counselor reported that Azure was full of self-described “nerds.” The students we interviewed proudly con-curred, describing their strong focus on schoolwork and goals. One said, “I feel really prepared because of the workload and the different ways that we are learn-ing why we’re doing something. Not just learning the actual topic, but the reasons behind it.” College and career counseling at Azure is divided between guidance counselors, who address four-year planning and college preparation, and program area teachers, who handle career-related guid-ance in the classroom. Unique to Azure is a ninth-grade counseling cohort model, instituted by the school’s newest guid-ance counselor, that seeks to mentor and support freshmen socially and academi-cally with activities related to academic planning, goal setting, study skills, career interest inventories, and use of the state’s online career information system. East District: Blending Learning with real-World Career Experiences Located in a large city on the East Coast, more than 66 percent of East District’s students self-identify as ethnic minorities, and nearly half are eligible for free lunch. CTE in East District is a well-supported high school curricular component. East is located in a state with secondary-postsec-ondary statewide articulation agreements, assuring students a seamless transition and the opportunity to earn college credit that can be applied to an associate degree or postsecondary certificate program. Lo -cal articulation agreements also link the district and the local community college. Our treatment school, Blue Academy, is a state-of-the-art POS high school featur-ing three academies combining rigorous www.acteonline.org academics with programs in engineering, medical sciences and biotechnology, and information technology. Many of Blue’s faculty have had recent industry careers, and its CTE course sequences align with specific academic requirements and tangi -bly connect to careers in the real world. Blue Academy: Caring, high ex -pectations, and college and career preparation. Blue’s school culture helps it maintain its focus on academic and technical achievement and the promotion of CTE as a means of attending college. This culture emphasizes caring and col-laboration, high expectations, and college and career planning as part of all daily activities. Culture is communicated on multiple fronts using a variety of media, including posters in hallways, manda-tory student planners, and closed-circuit monitors in each classroom that deliver a constant stream of interesting facts, school news and inspirational quotes. Blue’s principal introduced a corporate-inspired philosophy about implementing change through personal responsibility and positive interactions with others, and students appear to buy into this philosophy. High expectations are also visible in the staff’s frequent monitoring of student progress and spon-sorship of friendly competitions to spur higher achievement. College-going and career planning are championed at Blue and suffused into classroom activities. The school also offers many college-and career-oriented assemblies and field trips that expose students to postsecondary possibilities and potential employers. with local businesses and community partners. No less importantly, POS appear to be strengthened by school cultures, organizational structures, and instructional practices that emphasize academic and technical achievement, high expectations and preparation for life after high school. endnotes 1 To learn more about our study’s design and methods, please refer to our published reports, which are available on the NRCCTE Web site at http://bit.ly/nmyFnk . 2 The names of all districts and schools are pseudonyms. Acknowledgments The work reported herein was supported under the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (PR/Award No. VO51A070003) as administered by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education or the U.S. Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Kirsten Sundell, Ph.D., is the communications director of NRCCTE. She can be contacted at kirsten.sundell@louisville.edu. Marisa Castellano, Ph.D., is a Visiting Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. She can be contacted at marisa.castellano@louisville.edu. Laura T. Overman, M.Ed., is a research assistant with the NRCCTE at the University of Louisville. She can be contacted at lauraoverman@ roadrunner.com. Oscar A. Aliaga, Ph.D., is the NRCCTE’s program director. He can be contacted at oscar.aliaga@louisville.edu. Interested in exploring this topic further? Discuss it with your colleagues on the ACTE forums at www. acteonline.org/forum.aspx . Conclusions Four years of data collection and site visits to our study schools have shown us that POS offer students rigorous, engaging instruction in academic and technical content areas. This is combined with opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to the solution of real-world problems, earn college credits, familiarize themselves with careers, and connect Januar y 2012 Techniques 31

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