Life After Graduation

Revitalizing career and technical education programs.

GUEST COLUMN | by Jeff Lansdell

Life After GraduationWith the introduction of Common Core State Standards and the demand for 21st century learning, K-12 districts around the country are putting an increased emphasis on preparing students for life after graduation. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are committed to college and career success by providing access to a variety of educational experiences and hands-on training for every student. Recently, CTE made headlines when President Obama promoted the advancement of career and technical training in middle schools, high schools and colleges in his fifth State of the Union Address. With a rising national commitment to graduating more students, many states are looking to advance their CTE programs to help students thrive in a global economy.

Through the platform’s career exploration curriculum, FISD helped 8th-graders choose an endorsement area with in-depth industry information, such as virtual job descriptions and customized career videos. 

School districts nationwide are implementing initiatives to provide students with real-world experiences that enhance traditional learning. In 2013, Texas passed House Bill 5 (HB5), which requires students to choose an endorsement area of study before entering high school. Just one year earlier, Kansas sought to stimulate interest in CTE programs by offering tuition reimbursement for high school students enrolled in college-level career and technical coursework. The Alabama Department of Education has also adopted CTE programs of study, and Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Arizona are among the many states investing in CTE by drafting and building comprehensive guidelines to promote the development of a career pathways system.

Districts can prepare for career education initiatives by providing teachers with CTE-related curriculum that helps students make well-informed decisions about postsecondary education and future career plans. Just last month, Frenship Independent School District (FISD) in Texas announced a pilot program that would help the district implement HB5. Looking for a way to assist both teachers and students in the transition, FISD turned to online learning platform, iCEV. Through the platform’s career exploration curriculum, FISD was able to help eighth graders choose an endorsement area with in-depth industry information, such as virtual job descriptions and customized career videos. This blended CTE curriculum model not only assists students in making informed decisions about their areas of interest, but also provides a tailored educational experience that meets both college and career readiness standards.

Like HB5, which requires students to choose an endorsement area in eighth grade, CTE exploration can begin as early as middle school with high-quality courses in specialized career pathways. Early implementation strategies can help students explore their interests, gain experience and receive exposure to relevant industry skills. CTE courses integrate academic and technical education to better meet student abilities and provide real-world context to subject areas like math and science. And like many college majors, a career pathway is not set in stone, as CTE programs provide the flexibility to accommodate students’ changing interests.

Although many states are beginning to employ career and technical training strategies, CTE programs still face some implementation challenges, such as a shortage of CTE educators and the need for strong postsecondary and industry partnerships. Despite these challenges, CTE has become a viable option for schools looking to prepare students for college and career success. CTE programs offer technical and employability skills that not only help students reach their full potential, but also advance a district’s ability to transition students to their next education or career opportunity.

Jeff Lansdell is the president of CEV Multimedia. With a deeply rooted Career and Technical Education background, Lansdell takes great pride in providing educational solutions for teachers, along with instructive and engaging curriculum for students. Currently, Lansdell is a member of the National FFA Sponsors Board, serves as the Secretary of the National Ranching Heritage Endowment Board and is an annual member of the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Barons Ball Committee. 

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