This post is written by Kuder, Inc., a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.
The 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting encouraged state CTE leaders to BE BOLD while also sharing concrete examples of how other states have taken risks to gain real results for the learners they serve. As we listened to the speakers and attendees, we reflected on the bold and innovative approaches taken by some of our top clients.
Kuder wholeheartedly endorses CTE’s integrated approach because it includes hands-on learning in the classroom as well as work-based learning. We’ve witnessed firsthand how these experiential learning opportunities can fast-track students to middle- and high-skill, high-demand careers.
We’re honored to have the opportunity to work with many clients who are investing in the future of students with innovative CTE and workforce strategies and initiatives. When we look at large-scale adoptions of the Kuder system, we see a common thread: prioritizing career advisement. Here’s an example of an innovative approach to career advisement that’s being taken by one of our clients.
Alabama’s Success Story
The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) sponsors the Alabama Career Planning System, powered by Kuder® (ACPS). The ALSDE provides the ACPS as a free tool for students in grade 6-12 throughout Alabama as one measure to meet the state’s academic requirements and college and career readiness standards.
Alabama’s Plan 2020 mandates that students enter the ninth grade prepared, and with a course plan that addresses their individual academic and career interest needs. The multi-year course planning tool in the ACPS, which is tailored to the Alabama High School Diploma Program, supports the 2020 mandate.
Here are a few ways that the ACPS has supported student success:
- Over 400,000 unique course plans have been created.
- Over 100,000 resumes have been built.
- Over 2 million career assessments have been completed.
“In Alabama, Career Technical Education programs are essential for students to pursue their passions, to explore various career opportunities, and really bridge the information they learn in the classroom to how it applies to real-world situations,” said Sean Stevens, ALSDE Education Administrator of Counseling and Guidance.
“What the Alabama Career Planning System is able to do,” Stevens continued, “is provide educators with the tools they need to help students discover their passions, and then provide students with an avenue to explore careers they may not have even considered.”
Capitalizing on Students’ Interests
The ACPS uncovers students where their interests lie. It also enables CTE program leaders to build curriculum around those interests. For example, Cullman High School leveraged Kuder assessment data to develop new CTE curriculum based on students’ expressed interest in the Health Science Career Cluster.
“We found that 60 percent of our students were interested in some form of medicine,” said Stacey Tankersley, a Registered Nurse who serves as a Health Science Program Teacher at Cullman High School. “So, we created a program that targets those students to give them an introduction into health care.”
Tankersley explained that the growing local demand for health care workers was, of course, another catalyst for launching the program. Cullman High School recognized that it could develop a pathway to capitalize on students’ interests while supporting workforce development in their community at the same time.
The Cullman High School Medical Academy offers students two foundational courses and a competency-based therapeutic services course. It also offers an internship, which enables students to learn at a hospital, extended care facility, rehabilitation center, medical office, imagery laboratory, pharmacy, veterinary hospital, dental/optometrist office, or other local health care facility.
Career Coaches Close the Gaps
In addition to the ACPS, Alabama is addressing its workforce skills gaps with the Career Coach Initiative. The program increases awareness in youth about career opportunities with over 100 career coaches throughout the state.
The career coaches cultivate students’ understanding of the process necessary to obtain their career goals, encourage and advise students as they complete Kuder assessments and build multi-year course plans, and help students navigate their post-graduation education and career paths. The career coaches also serve as the “missing link” between schools, businesses, and community leaders through networking with local chambers of commerce, regional workforce development councils, etc.
“I believe having career coaches in every high school is a huge factor that differentiates our approach to CTE,” said Melissa Godsey, a Lawrence County, Alabama career coach. “We help integrate the value of CTE in any field and encourage students to explore their options. I feel that we help students understand the significance and value of CTE,” she said.
Godsey pointed out that assessments help students begin meaningful exploration of career pathways and related education and training options based on their personal results. She and her fellow career coaches take students through this discovery process by identifying where students’ interests and values intersect with local industry needs and trends.
But Alabama isn’t relying solely on its career coaches to ensure students are future-ready: “Career development is the responsibility of all educators,” said Stevens. “Career development is everyone’s responsibility in school.”