New CTE Program Promotes 21st-Century Skills

untitled-54This year, YES Prep is piloting a career and technical education (CTE) program that promotes 21st-century and career skill development. CTE courses require frequent computer use and expose students to technology and programs necessary for careers in STEM, health science, information technology, and more. The program, along with our 1:1 pilot, ST Math pilot, and efforts to connect students and families, could help to close the digital divide, the gap between those who have regular access to internet and computers and those who do not.

“This program couples academic rigor with career-readiness preparation and 21st-century technology infused learning,” said Chris Darville, Senior Director of Portfolio and Learning Technology.

Additionally, districts that offer CTE courses have access to 35% more revenue per student. Once pathways are fully built, campuses could also apply for Perkins grants and buy more cutting edge technology– such as a program that would allow students to do virtual dissections in AP biology. Campuses could also purchase hardware and software that replicates industry-specific technology like medical equipment.

As part of the program, students will have the opportunity to participate in capstones like paid internships where they work in local industries and see what it takes to be a doctor, engineer, or graphic designer. “It’s about building the student’s network,” said Darville. “It isn’t uncommon for a CTE student to complete an internship in high school, continue to work for that company throughout college, and graduate with a head start on their career pathway.”

For the first year, YES Prep will pilot the following courses:

  • freshman seminar
  • financial math (sophomore seminar)
  • professional communications
  • introduction to business
  • principles of information technology
  • A/V Production I
  • criminal justice
  • digital media
  • forensic science

YES Prep Fifth Ward freshman seminar teacher, Erika Hayes, discussed the importance of making sure YES Prep students have relevant skills in a job market that has grown more and more competitive. “At YES Prep Fifth Ward, we’ve been thinking of it as College Plus, meaning college plus career. You’ll graduate from college with career skills that you can put on your resume,” she said.

In the first year of the program, Darville and his team will visit campuses to observe student engagement in the program, ensure courses are academically rigorous, and determine whether the technology facilitates learning. In the second year, they will work with campuses to determine which pathways to develop. In the third year, Darville hopes to have some fully-developed pathways, so that a high school student could take a course each year in their desired pathway.

“CTE aligns with our mission that YES Prep students will graduate from college prepared to lead,” Darville said. “Students will be prepared to lead if they have the skills necessary for their field.”

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