August 1, 2018 Update from the Superintendent
This article is the second of a six part series that will be published as we begin the 2018-2019 school year. The focus of these articles will be our fiscal, infrastructure, and facility accomplishments, as well as our current status and future challenges. The first article (part 1) focused on our financial history over the past three years and the concept of financial right sizing. This article is Part 2 (changes in Career and Technical Education); future articles will include: Part 3 (the condition of our Technical Center and Agriculture facilities); Part 4 (the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo); Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story).
For over a decade the term Vocational Technical Education (Vo-Tech) has been out of favor in education circles. The term Career and Technical Education (CTE) has replaced Vo-Tech; Vo-Tech is only used to refer to what technical education was in the past. I am often asked why this terminology has changed. The change is not “political correctness”; however it does reference the different focus to meet the change in skilled and technical careers. Vo-Tech prepared High School students for direct entry into trade jobs after graduation. CTE prepares High School students for direct entry into the workforce, entry into a post-secondary certification program, a post-secondary 2-year degree program, or a 4-year degree program after graduation. In essence, Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares students for a career at whatever point they decide to pursue one. CTE is more encompassing than Vo-Tech and includes Agriculture, Business, Family and Consumer Science (Home-Economics); as well as, Automotive Technology, Collision Repair Technology, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice, Health Sciences, Graphic Arts, Teacher Preparation, and Welding which we offer at Dallas County Technical Center. The application of academics creates the difference in today's CTE model. CTE students are required to read/write at a higher level than before, think critically and solve detailed problems in today's competitive job market.
In the United States three out of four high school students graduate on time (4 years). For those in CTE programs in the United States nine out of ten students graduate on time and seven out of every ten in CTE programs enroll in post-secondary education. At Buffalo High School 95% of students graduate on time and at DCTC over 40% of students enroll in post-secondary education. The 40% from DCTC does not include CTE students focused on agriculture, business, or family and consumer science coursework at Buffalo High School that pursue post-secondary education. If those students were to be included, our percentage of CTE students attending post-secondary institutions would be closer to 60%.
Career and Technical programs prepare students for the skilled higher wage jobs that will be here in the future, and/or post-secondary education. The preparation for these higher skill jobs and higher skill programs has changed due to the increase in technology integration and the increasing requirement for technical reading and basic mathematical skills. Students who prefer to “work with their hands” may not have the skills necessary to be successful in a technical training program. Today, those traditional technical fields require the ability to perform hands-on tasks as well as read at a higher level, understand and apply math to everyday tasks, and integrate various technology skills.
In the Dallas County R-I School District we have a history of preparing students for college coursework and for skilled trades. The change that we must now make is to continue to prepare today's student for tomorrow's job. We must prepare all students for college and career and change from what we have always done. We must stay current with industry needs and prepare students to meet those needs. We will fail our students if we fail to change, and we pride ourselves on student success. Therefore, we must change our focus of Career and Technical Education and move away from the Vo-Tech mindset.
Over the next month or two I will be writing several more articles. The future articles will include: Part 3 (the condition of our Technical Center and Agriculture facilities); Part 4 (the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo); Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story).
Support our local schools, we can’t afford not to!
Believe in Buffalo!
Tim Ryan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Dallas County R-I School District