SUCCESS: Reduce the dropout rate and produce graduates prepared to succeed in the real world
Success comes in many different forms. Yet most schools in North Carolina have a very narrow definition of success: a college degree. We need students who are not only prepared to attend college, but who are prepared to succeed in life. For some students, success will require advanced training in the fields of medical technology, automotive technology, health science, or select trades and service areas. In order to redress the emerging labor shortage in these and similar fields, vocational and technical education needs to be redefined and placed on an equal footing with other academic options in terms of rigor and preparation for professional advancement. Character formation, accompanied by a solid grounding in the liberal arts, should complement such training. By providing academically challenging classes for students who want to work in a specific trade or vocational track we can prepare all of our students for a lifetime of success.
SUCCESS for Students:
Survey employer needs. Create opportunities for dialogue between community colleges, high schools and businesses in order to develop specialty career and technical education programs with high academic standards and an emphasis on skill mastery.
– Develop school-to-career pathways that incorporate mentoring, employment opportunities and professional development.
– Create pilot career technology high schools in North Carolina. The schools would be modeled on the Highland School of Technology in Gaston County and other career-oriented programs.
– Create academically rigorous alternative curricula that enable students in grades 11 and 12 to obtain technical education or employment.
– Create comprehensive, locally-tailored ninth grade transition programs for at-risk freshmen to improve the ninth-grade dropout rate, which is three to five times higher than any other grade.
SUCCESS for Business:
– Encourage strong representation of business and industry leaders on vocational education and technical education planning and curricular committees.
– Create pilot programs aimed at encouraging cooperation between technical colleges and businesses to train students in specific skill areas.
– Increase tax incentives for businesses to donate supplies and equipment to vocational and technical education programs. Educate businesses about these tax advantages.
– Provide tax credits to companies that grant scholarships to eligible children enrolled in public and private schools.
– Provide tax credits for businesses that train employees in emerging industries.
Partnering for Success
|The Central Education Center – Coweta County, Georgia. The Central Education Center (CEC) offers a glimpse into the future of vocational education. Born out of a study group comprised of educators and community and business leaders, CEC opened as a publicly funded charter school in 2000. CEC’s curriculum focuses on equipping students with strong technical and workplace skills. Students can enroll in courses such as welding, graphic communications, electronics, computer networking, and health occupations. At the same time, CEC courses maintain high academic standards. CEC also allows dual enrollment in West Central Technical College, enabling students to receive high school credit for their work and partial credit toward an associate’s degree. (Statistics show that students who dual enroll in high school and earn a technical college certificate have a nearly 100 percent chance of graduating from high school and successfully entering the work force.) CEC’s emphasis on work-based learning has made the program popular among students and businesses. More than 200 local firms provide opportunities for internships, apprenticeships and job shadowing. As a result of the program, annualized dropout rates in Coweta County have plummeted. Likewise, several employers point to the program as a significant influence in their decision to expand production. The International Center for Leadership in Education and the Council of State Chief School Officers recently named CEC as one of 30 model high school programs in the United States.|