Special Task Force Studying Educational Needs of the 21st Century
November 6, 2000, Richmond
Career and Technical Education
The delivery of career and technical education in Virginia public schools has been organized to reflect "career families"; occupations are grouped according to common knowledge and skills to achieve "an economy-driven industry and occupational framework for organizing careers." Within career families are "career areas," offering specificity sufficient to "provide real life occupational context." At the top of this career family model is the "career role," which reflects Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes and titles.
Within this career family structure, students in their early years of education may build foundational skills in rigorous academic courses. Intermediate education levels provide opportunity for students to refine their course selections toward a "career family." At the secondary school level, these choices are again refined to incorporate studies in a "career area." Finally, whether at the secondary or postsecondary (including two- or four-year institutions and graduate school) level, students may focus on a "career role."
The Standards of Quality direct the infusion of career education in the K-12 curricula; at the elementary school level, this directive provides the basis for "career awareness" activities. In middle school, school boards may include "career exploration opportunities." In high school, students may obtain a Board of Education's Career and Technical Seal for (i) earning a Standard or Advanced Studies diploma, completing a prescribed sequence of courses in vocational concentration of courses, and maintaining at least a "B" average in those courses; (ii) passing an examination conferring certification from a recognized trade or professional association; or (iii) obtaining a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth.
Board of Education
On September 28, 2000, the Board of Education agreed by resolution that eligible certification examinations must be (i) in a career and technical education field that "confers a certification for a recognized industry, trade, or professional association"; (ii) standardized and graded independently of the school or school division enrolling the particular student; (iii) knowledge-based; (iv) administered on a multi-state or international basis; and (v) arise from a course of study "designed to prepare the student for an occupation or occupational area." The board identified and formally approved certifications for a range of occupations, including air conditioning technician careers, various webmaster careers, certified dental technician, and certified networking associate positions.
Also available to high school students is the Board of Education's Seal of Advanced Mathematics and Technology, to be awarded to students who earn either a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma and (a) satisfy all of the mathematics requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma with a "B" average or better and (b) either (i) pass an examination in a career and technical education field that confers certification from a recognized industry, or trade or professional association; (ii) acquire a professional license in a career and technical education field from the Commonwealth; or (iii) pass an examination approved by the board that confers college-level credit in a technology or computer science area.
Again by resolution adopted on September 28, 2000, the Board of Education set requirements for the particular licenses and certifications pertaining to this seal. Similar to the criteria for the Career and Technical Seal exams, examinations for this seal must be standardized, independently graded, and knowledge-based. In addition, the examinations must be (i) in a career and technical education field that "confers a certification for a recognized industry, trade, or professional association" or a college-level credit in a technology or computer science area; (ii) administered on a multi-state or international basis; and (iii) arise from a course of study "designed to prepare the student for an occupation or occupational area" that is "technology driven." The board again identified specific certifications and examinations qualifying for this seal, and also approved specific passing scores on certain Advanced Placement Computer Science tests and the College Level Examination (CLEP) Information Systems and Computer Applications.
The Linkage System is based on research conducted by the Vocational-Technical Consortium of States (V-TECS). This initiative targets the "link" between curriculum and "real world" work requirements and compares state academic content standards, such as Virginia's Standards of Learning, to V-TECS' Academic Skills Taxonomy, which identifies "related/required academic skills" for particular occupations. A "crosswalk" may be devised to ensure greater linkage between the classroom curriculum and workplace challenges; to date, a "crosswalk" between the V-TECS standards and the SOLs for English, math, and science has been created. Having linked occupational skills and academic content standards, validation of course sequences is necessary to further enhance the effectiveness of vocational-technical programs in Virginia.
A new statewide partnership with the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association allows local dealerships to become involved in automotive technology education in public schools. Internship programs will be developed and assistance for training programs to achieve certification from the National Automotive Technicians Educational Foundation (NATEF). Another statewide initiative involves the Department of Education, Virginia Community College System, JOBS+, and CompTia. This latter initiative contemplates an 18-month membership for high schools and community colleges, with benefits such as internship and mentoring materials, A+, Network+, and iNet+ certification vouchers for full-time teachers providing instruction leading to certification, and discounted vouchers for students.
The task force heard from the executive director of New Horizons School in Hampton. New Horizons offers a variety of programs, including the Governor's School for Science and Technology, Career-Technical Education, Special Education, and the Point Option/New Summits program. Also offered is an Adult Continuing Education and Apprenticeship program. Serving the school divisions of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York County, Gloucester County, and James City/Williamsburg, New Horizons is comprised of three campuses in two different cities.
Among the initiatives available at New Horizons are a 2+2+2 program, incorporating high school training, community college, and, ultimately, a degree from Old Dominion University. Articulation agreements also exist for law-enforcement studies through Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) and Christopher Newport University; practical nursing at TNCC, Tidewater Community College, and Norfolk State University; and programs such as electronics and medical/legal systems administration at TNCC.
Also receiving focus at New Horizons is Integrated Systems Technology, developed in response to area employers Canon, Siemens, and Newport News Shipbuilding. Balancing strong academic as well as technical skills in the New Horizons School is a challenge, and updated equipment in various technical programs in the public schools is needed.