Menu
Donate today!
view counter

Making career and technical education into a first-class option

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 28, 2015 11:35 AM

 

David Kipphut has a mission: to transform what used to be called vocational education from a second-class backwater to a first-class pathway to prosperity in Philadelphia.

It’s an uphill climb in a cash-strapped district that prioritizes college attainment. Even so, Kipphut has seen significant progress since taking over the Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE) three years ago. Among his favorite examples: the welding program at Randolph High, which just graduated its first cohort.

One grad joined the military to specialize in aircraft repair. Another has a well-paid job at the Akers Philadelphia Shipyard, after a successful internship.

And a third is going to college in Virginia to study advanced manufacturing.

“Of course we run into the issue where everyone says, ‘You need to go to college,’” Kipphut said. “In the world of CTE, we say, college is an option, but it’s not the only option.”

When Kipphut, a former principal, took over the CTE office, he found serious problems: out-of-date courses, equipment shortages, unsupportive principals, and flagging enrollment.  

But the challenge his team faced wasn’t just to resolve those issues. It was to wipe out vo-tech’s negative image as a dumping ground and convince parents, students, and principals that CTE can expand possibilities instead of limiting them.

The mission is far from fully accomplished, but principals say good things are happening.

“I tell students and parents: This is not your mother’s vo-tech,” said Toni Damon, the principal of Murrell Dobbins CTE High School, one of five CTE-focused schools in the city (the others are Swenson, Randolph, Mastbaum and Saul). “You will come out of this program ready to go to college – or any post-secondary school.”

The basics: What is CTE?

CTE programs are three-year courses of study taught by experienced professionals. Programs in 41 “occupational areas” include computer technology, engineering, architecture, design, cosmetology, child care, health care, and traditional trades such as plumbing and carpentry.

Real-world work experience is a central goal. Culinary students cater events. Design students run print shops. Horticultural students work on the Philadelphia Flower Show .

Altogether, about 5,600 students were enrolled last year in 115 CTE courses in 30 District high schools, including neighborhood, citywide admission, and special admission schools. Some have just a few programs; others offer 10 or more. All CTE courses are open to students citywide.

One Philadelphia charter school, Universal Audenried in South Philadelphia, offers state-approved CTE programs, qualifying it for federal funds.

Students generally apply to specific programs in 8th grade and arrive at high school enrolled in the specialty, but they begin CTE coursework in 10th grade. A typical CTE program requires 1,080 hours. Students take skill-specific certification tests along the way and a state-required, comprehensive  exam from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) in their specialty area during senior year.

The programs get supplemental funds from the federal Department of Education’s Perkins program and state aid. Perkins money is declining, from $5.2 million last year to $4.6 million this year, due largely to an overall District enrollment drop. The state contributes $950 per student per year; Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal would increase that to about $4,000. Program design and implementation are guided by a complex set of rules and advisory committees largely made up of industry professionals.

How well do the programs work?

Backed by a $5.7 million grant from the Middleton family, the CTE office has been shaking out obsolete programs over the last several years, upgrading equipment, improving data collection, and resolving a variety of issues. Middleton money is seeding a new CTE center in advanced manufacturing at Benjamin Franklin High, opening in September.

Many of the problems, including the need for better training for principals, were identified in a 2011 evaluation; 42 principals are now certified in CTE administration.

Individual program quality still varies, however. Much depends on the quality of the teacher, the principal’s support, and the school’s climate. Kipphut says the CTE office is working on an assessment tool for “scoring” each program, but it is not yet available.

Still, a 2015 District evaluation of CTE showed several positive trends:

  • CTE students graduate at higher rates. The graduation rate for CTE students was  84 percent, compared to 62 percent citywide, and they were more likely to graduate on time.

  • The racial “achievement gap” for graduation is almost eliminated. Black and Latino CTE students graduate at almost the same levels as White and Asian students.

  • CTE students report better “soft” outcomes. The students reported more positive experiences than non-CTE students in areas like goal-setting, planning, recovering from setbacks, and staying engaged with classes.

  • CTE students are “typical” students. Positive results for CTE are not explained by pre-selecting for high-achieving students; those who choose CTE tend to be academically average, but with better-than-average attendance. (Attendance is a factor in admissions.)

What needs to be improved?

Despite progress, CTE programs still face obstacles.

They need high-quality teachers, support from counselors and principals, and effective private-sector and community partnerships.

The demanding 1,080-hour requirement, combined with minimal staffing and limited course options in schools, means that CTE students who want things like Advanced Placement classes (to prepare for college) or language classes (especially for English language learners) can find it difficult to schedule all the right courses.

Because of shortages in counselors and support staff, CTE underserves ELL and special education students.

“You can’t put an autistic student into a carpentry shop with 23 other students and one teacher,” Kipphut said. “In the entire District, I have four aides to work with special needs students.”

And perhaps most significant, the process of recruiting students to CTE courses is ad hoc and uneven. CTE-focused high schools may have 10 times as many applicants as spaces, while CTE programs in neighborhood schools are underenrolled. The District lacks the data systems and staff capacity to effectively steer students to all available options.

“That’s our biggest challenge,” Kipphut said. “In the middle years, we do a terrible job of informing young people about career pathways.”

Even when students show interest in a trade by applying to a CTE school, there is inadequate follow-up to inform those who don’t get in about similar options elsewhere, he said.

That’s a major reason why CTE enrollment – 56 percent of available slots when he started, 70 percent today – remains lower than Kipphut’s goal of 80 percent. Most openings are in neighborhood schools, although CTE-focused Swenson has had vacancies in some programs, mostly building trades and automotive skills.

Creating a “comprehensive” K-12 counseling plan for all students that includes CTE is one of Kipphut’s primary goals.

But for now, recruitment falls largely to overworked principals and counselors, among whom knowledge of and support for CTE varies.

“The principals that are totally engaged, those schools are very successful,” Kipphut said. Some principals are negatively influenced by memories of the days when students of color were steered away from college into subpar shop classes, he said, but others see CTE as a true complement to higher education.

For example, CTE internships can lead to part-time jobs that put cash in students’ pockets – meaning they’re less likely to drop out when hit with $200 dorm fees or other surprise college costs. That’s a “game-changer,” said Otis Hackney, principal of South Philadelphia High, home to eight CTE programs that migrated in 2013 from now-closed Bok Technical High.

Likewise, the student who gets a full-time job through CTE is in better shape to go to college part-time, he said.

Hackney, like Damon from Dobbins High, has a wish list of improvements, including more flexible schedules to help CTE students get the best academic classes and more support for ELL and special education students.

But mostly he’d like more awareness of the opportunity that CTE programs offer. Getting that message out to middle-schoolers isn’t easy. At a recent open house, Hackney hoped for 60 students and got about 20.

Still, he had his pitch ready. He told them, “If you go down the Shore, you’ll see as many carpenters and plumbers as you see doctors and lawyers. They have college graduates working for them, doing their books.”

Bill Hangley Jr. is a freelance contributor to the Notebook; on Twitter @BillHangley.

This article will appear in the Notebook's upcoming Fall Guide to High Schools, due out next Friday. 

 
Click Here
view counter

Comments (15)

Submitted by Best Glass Garage Door San Diego (not verified) on August 31, 2015 10:17 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I enjoy reading it. Keep it up!

Submitted by write my essay cheap (not verified) on September 1, 2015 5:29 pm

Through extra university, pupils tend to be drilled on paper organized essays as well as coached how to found their matter together with understanding as well as conciseness so they really tend to be rewarded together with grades involving superiority.

Submitted by Allen Brien (not verified) on September 3, 2015 7:46 am

Apart from education vocational training is also an essential part of our life; as with the help of vocational training we are able to get sufficient ability to earn our bread and butter. And vocational training is also essential way to build a career; from here we learn how vocational training is essential and helps in our career building process.

Submitted by jack (not verified) on October 20, 2015 3:21 pm

The principals that are totally engaged, those schools are very successful,” Kipphut said. Some principals are negatively influenced by memories of the days when students of color were steered away from college into subpar shop classes 

pay to write my assignment for me

 

Submitted by Roja (not verified) on November 26, 2016 11:10 pm

Your articles. On the internet site are generally often exceptional. Cheers to the wonderful talk about along with carry on this specific wonderful operate! Currently click here  along with follow-up Payday Loans Take care to you personally. Cheers pertaining to wonderful information.

Submitted by العاب باربي (not verified) on December 3, 2016 9:23 am
good share and nice blog ! العاب تلبيس
Submitted by University Essay (not verified) on December 24, 2016 5:10 am

Students need to show their confidence for presenting research speech press provoked brand.

Submitted by James Kling (not verified) on March 1, 2017 12:45 pm

Best, great to see the numbers increasing everytime. Now student can learn some new & real-world demanding skills. I also help students in their home assignments here: http://www.writingjunction.com/term-papers/

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 27, 2017 3:25 am

Here again you get memory not supposed me remind, herbal medicine is indeed unusual, try to feel pleased, starting from right now and feel his recovery obat penambah nafsu makan balita and obat penurun asam urat and obat gatal di selangkangan

Submitted by Austin amk (not verified) on April 1, 2017 8:09 am

great blog click

Submitted by lionel (not verified) on June 1, 2017 6:07 am

I feel that this is the best idea for any student. Career and the education must not be considered separately rather it should go hand in hand with some amount of practical classes. The idea of CTE is a very effective one. private louvre museum tour

Submitted by Jennifer Judy (not verified) on July 14, 2017 7:03 am

If you're finding a good college then it is definitely that type.Everything is good.From the study view,it is very well ;i am 3rd year student now but i haven't seen any suspended class.Placements are very good for the student of CSE,CSIT but ok for core branches.  Do My Essays

 

Submitted by trupply (not verified) on July 29, 2017 11:38 pm

The actual Australian Car Industry might be experiencing tough market problems, mostly because there isn't any more federal government support; however competitors and revenue maximization continues to be possible. Dresser compression coupling

Submitted by John Hard (not verified) on August 30, 2017 6:34 am

Education should obviously be the first option when considering the people among us. It may not teach you the real world skills but it will definitely test your skills, sharpen your intelligence and make sure that you do well, as well said by research paper help.

Submitted by Milan (not verified) on August 31, 2017 8:40 am

Education is necessary for every stage of our life. Depends on which career we choose, the training was really different. If we like a job, our first priority is to make a good career in that field. The article tells about it and it was really useful for people like us.Paris Guided Tour

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

By using this service you agree not to post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable. We reserve the right to delete or remove any material deemed to be in violation of this rule, and to ban anyone who violates this rule. Please see our "Terms of Usage" for more detail concerning your obligations as a user of this service. Reader comments are limited to 500 words. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Follow Us On

Read the latest print issue

Philly Ed Feed

Recent Comments

Top

Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300
notebook@thenotebook.org

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy