Career and technology education in the spotlight
Vocational and technical education in public schools in Arkansas is highlighted this month with events that include a showcase of students and skills from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 14 in the Capitol Rotunda. ‘State.
The day at the Capitol will feature 16 school districts and what they are doing with career and technical education.
“This is our opportunity to tell our story and advocate for our programs,” said Ross White, state director of the Division of Career and Technical Education. “We highlight what we consider to be innovative programs to meet the workforce needs of the state and their local communities.”
Student organizations such as Future Business Leaders of America, Educators Rising, and Future Farmers of America will be represented at the Little Rock event. State legislators, policy makers and others are expected.
Social media will be used throughout the month to showcase outstanding programs and students.
Regional events such as tours, receptions and special speakers are also planned.
“Our day at the Capitol is great, but sometimes I think education [about career education] needs to happen more in our own communities,” White said. “Our goal is for our schools to tell their stories to their communities and regions about what they are doing with vocational and technical education.
Pea Ridge High School, for example, will spotlight its Physician Assistant program today. Students in this new program have earned their medical assistant certification and begin clinical hours.
Other community and regional events are hosted by Caddo Hills High, February 9; Prescott High, February 10; Nettleton High, February 23; Clarksville High, February 24; and El Dorado High on February 28.
The event at Caddo Hills in Montgomery County comes as that district transitions from its seventh through twelfth grade to Caddo Academy, a conversion charter school focused on entrepreneurship and community leadership. The new charter is funded in part by a new $1.25 million grant from the Arkansas Public Schools Resource Center.
“Vocational and technical education is an opportunity for every student to excel, regardless of academic status or socioeconomic status,” Caddo School District director of vocational and technical education Justin Neel said Tuesday. Hills and charter school.
“Vocational and technical training levels the field and gives students exposure and opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have,” he said.
The charter academy will consist of nearly a dozen different career paths for students to choose from, Neel said. These will include the traditional areas of vocational and technical education in agriculture, animal science, and energy-structured metals.
“Children will be able to work on our school farm,” Neel said. “We’ve had this before, but now we’re going to focus on certifying children as veterinary technical assistants.”
Another path will focus on construction enriched by the purchase of equipment simulating the operation of bulldozers and backhoes.
Other offerings will be IT-centric, including cybersecurity training. Tourism, hospitality and marketing – including operating a store within the school – broadcasting, graphic design and a machine shop related to aerospace engineering are all in the plans for school.
In the 2020-2021 school year—the latest year for which data is available—113,868 Arkansas students in grades seven through 12 were enrolled in the 16 vocational and technical education groups or comprehensive vocational and technical education programs. Each high school is required by state accreditation standards to offer at least three different vocational and technical education programs.
Some of the clusters focus on agriculture, construction, finance, arts, education, and STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Within the 16 career groups, there are 79 “career paths” such as plant science, accounting, tourism, law enforcement, and transportation operations. Completion of courses within these clusters and pathways can lead to industry-recognized certifications or degrees.
“We prepare students for all careers, all backgrounds and all levels of education,” White said. “We have students from all walks of life, from all walks of life who complete our programs and learn the skills they need to enter the workforce – whether they continue their studies and then enter the workforce or they go to work the day they graduate from high school.”
Vocational and technical education begins in the fifth year. Middle school students participate in career exploration and develop success plans, in which they identify career interests and map courses to support those interests. These individual success plans are reviewed and adjusted annually.
“It’s amazing the amount of skills, degrees and certifications our students leave high school with that I never imagined when I was a high school student, and it continues to grow,” White said. “We keep improving and providing more opportunities.”