Students and faculty in the nine career and technical secondary education programs of Grayson County Schools are celebrating Career and Technical Education (CATE) month during February.
Recognition of CATE is growing, as, along with its business and industry partners, more students are graduating better equipped to achieve career success.
The CATE programs at the Grayson County Technology Center are Automotive, Carpentry, Computerized Manufacturing and Machining, Health Sciences, Marketing, and Welding. The CATE programs at the High School are Agriculture, Business, and Family and Consumer Science.
According to the Kentucky Association for Career and Technical Education, more than two-thirds of all Kentucky high school students take at least one CATE course, and about 127,000 of those concentrate on one particular career pathway by taking three or more CATE courses in that area.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs merge applied learning with demanding academics as they prepare graduates for all jobs, including the two-thirds that require a skill certificate or associate degree, but not a four-year degree. CTE graduates pursue the new professions of the 21st Century in careers that require highly specialized study and continuing educational updates, and which offer well above average wages. These are jobs that form the foundation of America’s economic infrastructure: growing and preparing our food, repairing our cars, servicing our air conditioners, building our homes, manufacturing goods, and providing health, marketing, retail, business, and computer services.
Grayson County CTE students have a variety of avenues to demonstrate their preparation for this workforce. Students with least three credits in a particular career pathway are eligible to participate in the WorkKeys Assessment, developed by college entrance exam creator, ACT. WorkKeys scores help students compare their skills to the skills real jobs require, with test questions based on real world work situations.
Employers nationwide require either the WorkKeys assessments or recommend that applicants acquire the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), both of which help employers choose the most qualified candidates for their job openings. These tools let them know that students have the essential skills necessary to be successful at their companies.
The graduating class of 2015 achieved at a very high level on these as 116 seniors took the exams and combined for an 83 percent pass rate on applied math, 87 percent on locating information, and 93 percent on reading for information. As Grayson County works toward becoming a “Work-Ready Community,” these results are essential to meet the needs of our businesses and industries. WorkKeys assessments will be given to eligible seniors in late February.
Another indication of students’ CTE technical ability is through the Kentucky Occupational Skill Standard Assessment (KOSSA), an industry-based exam that tests students’ basic knowledge within that field. Again, only students who are taking classes in specific career pathway are eligible to take the KOSSA exam. Last year, 110 local students passed a KOSSA exam. February and March are the windows for this year’s assessments.
Several program areas offer other very specific types of industry credentials for students to demonstrate their technical ability. Student participation and pass rates in these have increased during the last two years as well.
Another integral part of CTE programs are team and leadership skills developed through participation in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO’s). These student-led, community service groups in Grayson County Schools include DECA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, and Skills USA. The co-curricular groups provide an avenue for students to showcase the academic and technical skills learned in class through competition and community activities. The leadership abilities honed through these organizations can provide a valuable asset for future employers, as well as for economic and community growth.
As students pursue a pathway they are interested in and have a passion for, they can graduate with the skills and certification they need to be “career ready,” along with the ability to contribute meaningfully to the success of their employers, their families, and our community.
For more information about career and technical education programs provided at the Grayson County Technology Center, contact Cynthia Smith at (270) 259-3195.