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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Career tech or college prep

From the Daily Commercial


Lake County's career-technical education students are outperforming other students on FCAT assessment tests in math and reading, according to statistical data released by Lake County Schools.

In studying 2010 FCAT scores, school officials found CTE students outpaced other students on the math portion of the test by 8 percentage points in reaching level 3; more than 9 percentage points for level 4; and better than 2 percentage points for level 5.

CTE students also shined by more than 7 percentage points in reaching level 3 on the FCAT reading test; nearly 4 percentage points better than attaining level 4 and about 1 percentage point more than level 5.

"I am extremely impressed by the findings," said Dr. Maggie Teachout, director of Career Technical, Adult and Community Education Department for Lake County Schools, who expected CTE students to do well on the FCAT.

"But, I was surprised that the difference was that radical," she said.

Teachout credits the power of "hands-on" education that CTE students receive, which she believes helps to enhance their academic proficiency.

"Career-technical students learn how to actually use all of those academic skills," Teachout said. "Nobody understands geometry unless they build something. Some students have trouble with fractions, but in culinary arts, fractions makes perfect sense. What they learn in the CTE classroom is actually using and practicing all those skills that they are learning in science, math, language arts and reading. We all learn much better by doing hands-on."

Lake County Schools said the data reaffirms the district's effort to develop and promote CTE programs and Professional (CAP) Academies, in which students can earn adult, nationally recognized industry certifications.

The district said the high school dropout rate in 2010 for non-CAP Academy students was about 2.4 percent and for those enrolled in CAP Academies was .6 percent, while no students who earned an industry certification while enrolled in CAP Academies dropped out of school that year.

Attendance stats also overwhelmingly favored CAP Academy students. Only 13 percent of students in CAP Academies and only 8 percent of students in CAP Academies who also earned an industry certification were chronically absent, compared to more than 21 percent of non-academy students.

Lake County Schools features robust CTE programs at all of its high and middle schools. The curriculum consists of 29 career preparatory high school programs and five middle school programs.

Lake County's 10 middle schools and eight high schools house 100 state-of-the-art CTE laboratories. Programs of study include Plant Biotechnology, Engineering, Gaming and Simulation, Automation and Production (Robotics), Culinary Arts, Allied Health, Television Production and Architectural Drafting (these are only eight of the 29 high school programs offered).

Thirty-eight CAP Academies offer students the opportunity to earn industry certifications, including Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and Adobe Dreamweaver.

Teachout said students interested in becoming architects could take drafting classes in high school.

"They can learn if they like the field before they go off and their parents pay all of this money on an education that they decide that they don't like," she said. "They get to try in high school; they get to learn the skills and more about the subject area."

In 2009-2010, 78 students earned industry certifications in CAP Academies. The following year, Teachout said the number skyrocketed to 413.

"Our goal is to have every student graduate high school, ready for post-secondary education and with job skills," she said.

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