Executive Director's Take on Establishing National Standards for Career & Technical Education

Education is changing. Our country’s roles in the global economy and the recent years of recession have focused our country on evaluating systems that we have in place, including our education system. The paradox of high unemployment and high numbers of unfilled, high-skill jobs has let us to evaluate many aspects of our education system. Some of the national initiatives include developing common academic standards for students; raising the requirements for STEM teachers; engaging industry in all aspects of education; providing career awareness information to students; and implementing more effective, 21st century teaching methods. One such national effort has been to develop national standards for career and technical education.

This national effort to define common technical core skills and knowledge for Career and Technical Education (CTE) will be finalized in all of the 16 Department of Labor career clusters later this summer for implementation in the fall of 2012. The “Common Career Technical Core” (CCTC) effort began in the spring of 2011 with subject matter experts, industry validation and reviews. Currently, 42 states are participating in the effort that should better define student outcomes that meet industry expectations of our high school students. (See www.careertech.org for more on the CCTC).

All states engaged in the CCTE project were asked to invite one expert to participate in the series of workshops for each career cluster. I was invited by the FLDOE to participate in the review of the standards for the manufacturing cluster. The process has been educational and enlightening.

The process started with a lengthy orientation webinar for all participants in all clusters. Next, each cluster working group was asked to review the draft standards commenting on both the content and cognitive level of each standard. We also had the opportunity to submit comments or suggestions for rewriting. All the input for independent consultants consolidated each cluster and distributed to the members of the respective working groups. The manufacturing working group met online for a two-hour facilitated session to review the compiled comments and come to consensus for the final statements. Our working group included educators and industry representatives from across the country. We had very lively focused discussions about many of the new manufacturing standard statements. Together we worked through nearly 50 statements, focusing on making the intent and importance of each item clear, concise, meaningful and measureable.

The manufacturing cluster defines a set of anchor core common standards. Six manufacturing career pathways under the anchor standards have a number of standards of their own. The career pathways that have been defined in the manufacturing cluster are:
  • Health, Safety and Environmental Assurance
  • Logistics and Inventory Control
  • Maintenance, Installation and Repair
  • Manufacturing Product Process Development
  • Production
  • Quality Assurance
The final standards for all clusters will provide structure and increased rigor and relevance for all CTE programs across the country and we look forward to aligning our Florida CTE programs to them. As this educational process starts, others are ending for some of our students now anticipating graduations from high school or community college programs. We congratulate all them and wish them all good luck in their careers and opportunities that lay ahead of them.NASDCTEc is seeking public comment on CCTC.  NASDCTEc is You can participate & post your comment at http://www.careertech.org/career-technical-education/cctc/publiccomment.html. More info on this in the FLATE Focus "Announcement Section" here in the blog.

Finally, please check out what is new on our websites. On our FLATE wiki (www.flate.pbwiki.com) we have added a section for FLATE presentations. Posted here are talks at national conference, webinars and professional development workshops, including the orientation presentation for the student trip to Spain revealing some of what the students will be experience next month. On FLATE’s website, we have added a page highlighting the current NSF funded ATE projects in Florida. Go to the FLATE home page; select the PROJECTS menu; and then ATE Centers. The first link on the left takes you to www.fl-ate.org/projects/ate.html.

Our FLATE Focus this month reports on FLATE's line-up of robotics and energy camp offerings this summer, and about FLATE’s exciting international technician program to Spain later this month. In this issue also we also bring you the last and final piece of the NSF’s role in redefining technician education in Florida, and outline highlights from the upcoming industry day tours planned for high school students in the greater Tampa Bay area. We can find these and much more in the May edition of the FLATE Focus.