To try to hasten the integration of higher-level academics into traditionally hands-on career and technical education courses, the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices is sending five states back to school.
The association announced last month that Arizona, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, and Oklahoma will take part in what it’s calling a Career and Technical Education Policy Academy—a yearlong series of working field trips and self-evaluation sessions meant to help policymakers establish and work toward research-based standards for rigorous, modern CTE courses.
Alex Harris, a program director of the NGA center, said the academy, which also involves the Washington-based American Youth Policy Forum, is meant “to accelerate the shift from the old vo-tech to the new CTE.”
Mr. Harris said the academy is intended to show state leaders successful examples of CTE classes that have integrated disciplines such as geometry into classes such as construction. Those leaders can then answer criticism they have recently faced from CTE educators concerned that the hands-on aspects of their curriculum will be squeezed out, he added.
The first stop this month on the academy’s itinerary, which is financed by the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the latter also underwrites some Education Week projects), is Sacramento, Calif., where small teams representing each state’s education, government, workforce, and business institutions will visit high schools that have successfully melded CTE and academics.
“I think there are more and more high schools that are seeking to connect both academic and career and technical education in a comprehensive program,” said Gary Hoachlander, the president of ConnectEd: California Center for College and Careers, a Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit organization. But, he noted, CTE courses shouldn’t be the only ones changing. “It’s also equally important to infuse application into the academic courses.”
A version of this article appeared in the November 12, 2008 edition of Education Week