While students in Oklahoma’s career and technical education programs are mostly juniors and seniors, the effort to interest students in careers begins much earlier.
Not every Oklahoma high school junior and senior will end up in a career and technical (CTE) program, but every high school graduate will be expected to join the workforce, usually after getting additional education at a two-year community college or a four-year college or university.
As a result, students really should start thinking about careers before they are in their final two years of high school, preferably even before they begin their freshman year.
At a pre-tour briefing last week, Francis Tuttle Technology officials told visitors from Grand Island that eighth-graders in the 10 school districts it serves take the EXPLORE test.
Students are tested in English, math, reading and science. The EXPLORE test score will show a young person and his parents how his test scores compare to students’ scores across the nation.
EXPLORE also is able to give students insights about “educational and career plans, interests, high school coursework plans, and the amount of help you think you need in seven areas,” according to an ACT website explaining EXPLORE.
In addition, it is supposed to give students insights about planning for their future, including high school courses they might take, and perhaps, a college education.
Sophomores in the 10 Francis Tuttle home high schools take the PLAN test, which shows whether they are ready to take the more rigorous courses needed to prepare for admission to a four-year college.
As part of the early start on getting students to think about career and technical education, Francis Tuttle officials said they will be visiting sophomores in all 10 high schools this week to talk to them about the center at Tech Fairs.
In January, sophomores and their parents will be invited to visit Francis Tuttle. Sophomores are asked to submit applications from mid March to mid April. Sophomores also will interview with counselors, according to Ken Koch, Francis Tuttle director of marketing.
Officials will review how many juniors are returning as seniors to determine how many new students can be accepted.
Admissions then are determined by recommendations from home school counselors and/or teachers, as well as how well a student’s abilities and interests fit a particular career and technical education program at Francis Tuttle, Koch said.
Officials at both Francis Tuttle and Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater said that cosmetology is one of the most popular programs for students, which makes it a program where a waiting list can develop.
However, Francis Tuttle officials said cosmetology is a more technical field than many high school students realize, so efforts are made to let students know how much knowledge they may need about human anatomy and physiology, as well as chemistry. That helps eliminate some students who might not actually be a good fit for the program.
While Grand Island is just embarking on starting a career and technical education program for juniors and seniors, GIPS eighth-graders began taking the EXPLORE test and sophomores began taking the PLAN test during the 2010-11 school year.