Merging Career Tech with College Prep: Why It’s Succeeding

This new approach, often called career and technical education (CTE), “represents the first substantive change in high schools since they were first created in the late 1800s,” observes Nancy Farnan, director of the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. Traditional high schools, with separate departments for each academic subject, have been around since 1893, when a task force known as the Committee of Ten, appointed by the National Education Association, released its report recommending how to standardize American high schools.

CTE is almost diametrically opposite in its approach. It’s all about fusion and collaboration; transforming the 3 R’s from reading, writing and arithmetic, to rigor, relevancy and relationships — among students, teachers and industry. Teachers work collaboratively to create a seamless curriculum that infuses English, math, science, and history with career skills in everything from green energy to health sciences. Students get to apply their course work in the real world through internships and apprenticeships — and are more likely to graduate.

The two most prominent efforts to support CTE in California are the California Partnership Academies funded by the State Department of Education, and Linked Learning, managed by ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, that’s funded by the Irvine Foundation (which also provided funding for this installment of “Schools That Work”). These programs combine rigorous academics with hands-on learning in a specific business or industry.

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