Career Education’s Popularity Growing

Career and technology education programs in area school districts have grown in popularity among students, despite possible scheduling conflicts with required classes.

Almost all area high schools offer career and technology courses in some form, but the programs vary in focus and popularity between districts. Some districts offer classes in nearly all of the career clusters defined by state and federal guidelines, but others have a narrower approach.

The state’s 4×4 requirements caused some students to forgo classes they wanted to take, said Debbie Deck, Longview Independent School District’s career and technology education director. Under the requirements, every student must take four years of math, science, English and social studies. Some career and technology courses can qualify for science credit and state officials are hoping to give credit for other classes, Deck said.

The Longview district changed to an eight-period day partly to provide more flexibility in students’ schedules, she said. The change allows more students to take more electives, most of which are career and technology classes, she said. The district offers 90 courses in 15 of the 16 career clusters.

The career clusters help school districts divide the courses and create a coherent education pathway for students, officials said. The result is similar to a college student’s required coursework for a selected major.

"We have a pretty even balance (between clusters)," Deck said, adding that students are fairly evenly divided.

Pine Tree’s goals
Pine Tree High School offers students courses that fit into 13 of the 16 career clusters, said Gail Dobbs , career and technology education coordinator. The courses offered depend on the interests of the student body, she said.

Dobbs said the district’s courses involving computers are among the most popular with Pine Tree students. Courses in human services and hospitality and tourism also have a large number of students.

Dobbs said she is working to begin courses in the health science career cluster for the 2010-11 school year. She also hopes to find more dual-credit opportunities for career and technology education students.

"This is a really exciting time," Dobbs said.

ine Tree does not offer any agriculture-related courses, because not many students have shown an interest in it, Dobbs said.

New Diana’s ‘practical experience’
New Diana’s agriculture program attracts the largest portion of district high school students, said Adrian Knight, career and technology education director.

"We have a real strong ag program," Knight said. "Kids just get a lot of practical experience through it."

The district offers about 20 courses in seven career clusters, he said. The district’s business computer information systems course is also popular.

Knight said he is working to develop contacts with East Texas businesses to ensure students are learning skills that are needed. He said he believes it is easier for larger districts to get businesses involved with education.

Hallsville ISD’s ‘growing interest
"In this area, we always have students interested in agriculture science," Kathy Gaw , Hallsville schools’ career and technical education director said.

Hallsville High School students, however, have expressed a growing interest in business and health science courses, she said. The school sends some health science students to Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview for some classes and Gaw said the school hopes to expand its health science courses in the future.

The high school also has the only automotive technology program in the area that offers high school and college credit through Kilgore College. The college and school announced the collaboration earlier this year.

The college has seen an increase in students involved in career and education courses during the last few years, Kilgore College President Bill Holda said. College officials decided to hire a full-time professor for Hallsville ISD’s automotive technology program and the college has placed a part-time professor in Longview ISD’s manufacturing process technology class.

"We are seeing more students," Holda said.


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