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State gathering input on CTE standards updates

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Alabama State Department of Education is looking for input on proposed updates to several Career and Technical Education standards.

Comments can be submitted online until Nov. 17.

Public comments are being collected on “proposed Grades 6-12 Career and Technical Education content for Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); and Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security,” according to an ALDSE press release.

“Standards in these documents specify what students in Alabama should know and be able to do,” ALDSE stated in the release.

This opportunity is open to everyone, not just those working in education or in the specific fields represented.

“Input is highly regarded and invaluable as we seek to maintain the highest level of rigor and challenge for all students in Alabama’s public schools,” ALDSE stated in the release.

The state department also wants comments from a variety of people in order to increase the awareness the average Alabama resident has about the standards.

Every high school in Chilton County has agriculture classes. Clanton and Jemison middle schools have STEM classes as a part of Project Lead the Way. The STEM Academy at LeCroy Career Technical Center is an option for students ninth grade through 12th grade. LCTC also offers law enforcement and firefighting courses to qualifying 10th-12th grade students, which would be under the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security standards.

LCTC Assistant Principal Dr. Shannon Walker said the standards are updated “every 5-7 years based on the needs of business and industry.”

Expanding Simulated Workplace are a focus with recent updates.

According to Cathy Jones with the state department, “With Governor Ivey’s emphasis on STEM, the courses in the STEM cluster have been thoroughly researched and strengthened.  Also, additional interest in Workforce Development has resulted in increased attention to pathways that would lead to career credentials.  These credentials set students on a pathway for career advancement in many of the technical trades and prepare students for further study.”

Walker said updates to the standards “help LeCroy programs by ensuring all career tech classes are preparing students to be college and career ready.”

Jay LeCroy of the STEM Academy said the standards need to be updated to align with changes in the industry.

“There has been so many changes in technology, in the way we use technology in business and our personal lives,” LeCroy said. “This is one of the unique fields where things change so rapidly. It is difficult to think about this but (the standards drafters) are writing something based on what we know right now, but we know its going to change in five years.”

He said the standards serve as a “foundation” for the course and define the “minimum of what a student should know and what a student should be able to do by the end of the course.”

In CTE classes, this is determined mostly through projects and hands-on learning.  LeCroy said this is why instructors focus on using “real world scenarios.”

Having classrooms as close to the working environment students would experience on the job is the goal of the simulated workforce requirements.

“In all of classes, we try to mimic the workforce, that’s why our classrooms look different.

The updated 2020 Alabama Draft Course of Study: Career and Technical Education standards can by clicking on the “COS Public Review” tab https://www.alsde.edu/sec/sct/Pages/cos-all.aspx?navtext=Standards/COS#tab20 .

The standards and comment forms can be accessed at the following links: Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources  https://bit.ly/2nZfSJl ; STEM https://bit.ly/2nWXMHT  and  Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security https://bit.ly/2o8Bu5V .