BY RYDER APPLETON/Director of Career & Technical Education
Enrollment in Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses is at an all-time high in the history of Abilene ISD, and career and higher education opportunities exist today as never before.
House Bill 5, which introduced the Foundation Graduation Plan to Texas public schools, changed the landscape of graduation plans statewide. Students now declare an endorsement area upon entering high school, very similar to the way college students select a major. Within the declared endorsement students further identify one of the 16 career clusters they are interested in pursuing.
Entry-level courses begin at the freshman level and build to intermediate and capstone courses as juniors and seniors. While in high school, students have the opportunity to earn industry-based certifications that they can use immediately to enter the workforce upon graduation. They may also choose to continue their education since they have been strategically positioned to enter a variety of technical or four-year universities.
Abilene ISD is working diligently with community leaders and business partners to enhance both the quality and the quantity of opportunities available for students as they transition from high school. One such endeavor is called Career Pathways, in which we are creating tangible pathways for students to follow in two identified areas of interest and need in the Abilene area: healthcare and manufacturing. The objective of Career Pathways is to create a roadmap for students to follow as they pursue their career goals. Some workforce positions require only minimal training and certifications while others may require years of courses and internships. Our goal is to show the entire pathway students may follow while also informing them of exit points along the way. Each pathway and exit point require different investments of both time and money, and consequently, have different potential returns on investment and income potential.
Multiple dual-credit opportunities are available to students as well as industry-recognized training and technical certifications. The Development Council of Abilene (DCOA), in conjunction with Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, offers matching scholarships to provide financial assistance to students wishing to pursue advanced education and career preparation at the college level. These partnerships are crucial in merging the needs of the local workforce with the education and training provided to AISD students. We eagerly seek partners to assist us with our Career Cluster Advisory Boards to further identify how AISD can create more connectivity between education, business and workforce.
Be on the lookout for upcoming information about National CTE Month in February. Each year the month of February is designated for a public awareness campaign to celebrate Career and Technical Education and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country. CTE Month 2018, with its tagline of “Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow!”, exemplifies the objectives of CTE classes and Career Tech Student Organizations. If you would like more information about the exciting things happening in Abilene ISD Career and Technical Education or would like to schedule a personal tour of programs please call our office at 325-677-1444.