Career and technical education curriculum

Developing Career and Technical Education Curriculum

Career and Technical Education is a growing pathway for students looking to become engaged in real world training within a standard academic environment. Cutting edge, rigorous, and relevant – Career and Technical Education curriculum centers around learning that students will face at a job or in a career.

With a focus on job-related skills, CTE programs are also held to the same standards and requirements of your standard classroom. This necessitates a focused approach on the development of CTE curriculum to meet both its needs for real world application and academic requirements.

Explore how five schools elevate Career and Technical Education curriculum to transform student learning.

Informing CTE Curriculum with Employer Surveys

By Annette Hauenstein, Coordinator of Instruction, Curriculum and PD, Monroe #1 BOCES

While teachers revisit their curriculum maps and make revisions to support the learning, the Career and Technical Education programs go through an annual review cycle. During this time, a new teacher was in the process of preparing for the Engineering and Fabrication program annual review. He was working closely with an Instructional Specialist to fine tune his maps for the course.

He had an idea to survey potential employers in the field to see what they were looking for in an entry-level employee. With the support of his administrators, he designed a survey based on the NOCTI standards and competencies. The survey was sent out to potential employers in the Rochester area for their input.

The teacher and administrator team analyzed the survey results and found that:

  • Two of the highest-ranking areas were “demonstrate safe work habits and operating procedure” and measure work piece to verify compliance with print specifications.”
  • While the Metallurgical and Heat-Treating Processes account for 8% of the area of study, the skill of real importance was to identify properties that affect machinability.
  • When comparing the two biggest subjects of study; lathes (22%) and milling machines (15%) – the latter was of greater importance to the respondents.
  • Use of the band saw and surface grinder were both marginally important.
  • Skills for using CNC equipment ranked high from the respondents.

When it came time to revise the Engineering and Fabrication curriculum, the team factored the survey results into their work, building in greater emphasis on the areas identified in the survey.In addition to streamlining curriculum, the teacher made connections to companies, future employers and found co-op opportunities for his students.

career and technical education curriculum

Building Collaboration Between Teachers

By Kathy Fox, Principal, Herkimer BOCES

Many CTE programs use an “integrated academics” model, where the Industry teacher is the primary classroom leader with secondary support from Core Academic teachers. Because Atlas supports multiple curriculum writers, the Industry teacher can collaboratively create and review units with Core Academic teachers and others.

Mark Tanner, career pathways specialist at  Hamilton Fulton Montgomery (HFM) BOCES Career and Technical Center, explains:

I realized early on that no job or occupation sits on an island by itself. Every occupational area requires elements of math, science, communication skills, good citizenship, etc. for real success. I recognized that need and used my somewhat eclectic educational background to help students understand the role that academics and soft skills can play in career success. Interestingly enough that’s where Career and Technical Education is today. I didn’t think I was innovative, just practical.

Below, Kathy Fox, Herkimer BOCES’s Principal, shares some of her stories and strategies in utilizing curriculum mapping to ensure her students experience a well-developed and integrated curriculum.

In January, 2013, Herkimer BOCES implemented Atlas curriculum mapping simply for ease of use in documenting our Career and Technical Education programs during the NYSED CTE re-approval process cycle.

Prior to this, every five years with each re-approval process, there was a new platform, printing, and notebooks or electronically filed documents that just “got us through the process and sat untouched” until the next round. This may have gotten the task done but never allowed for the curriculum to be “alive”.

Integrated academic instructors suggested color coding each academic component for ease in viewing. Since our implementation, we utilize program maps for instruction, integrated academic lesson planning, teacher recruiting, CSE meetings, and teacher evaluation purposes.

career and technical education curriculum
curriculum mapping template
Template Examples for Designing Your Curriculum Map

Spark inspiration for next-level curriculum design with curriculum map examples from schools and districts across the world.

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Managing the Accreditation or Approval Process

Jefferson-Lewis BOCES & Herkimer BOCES

At Herkimer BOCES, Principal Kathy Fox followed a similar process and learned the importance of curriculum maps as living documents beyond accreditation (see section above): “Prior to [Atlas], every five years with each re-approval process there was a new platform, printing, and notebooks or electronically filed documents that just “got us through the process and sat untouched” until the next round. This may have gotten the task done but never allowed for the curriculum to be “alive”.

Career and Technical Education programs are often required to pass exhaustive approval processes that involve self-study, external review, and curriculum documentation. To help manage their process, Jefferson-Lewis BOCES turned to Atlas as an online hub for curriculum writers to collect and align resources in a five-year cycle. When it became time for a program to seek re-approval, Director Tracy Gyoerkoe invited external reviewers and industry leaders to access specific curriculum maps and communicate their feedback directly in Atlas.

Below is an image from Jefferson Lewis’s Atlas public site, which they use to share curriculum with external reviewers:

career and technical education

Developing Consensus Maps

By Annette Hauenstein, Coordinator of Instruction, Curriculum and PD, Monroe #1 BOCES

In 2009, the Eastern Monroe Career Center began using Rubicon Atlas as a mapping tool for the CTE programs. Since then, the process of writing curriculum has evolved in a number of ways. Specifically, standards for each program have become the driving force behind the mapping process. The Consensus Mapping template has changed to show how the standards can be broken down into concepts and skills:

career and technical education curriculum

Additionally, here is an example of what standards look like in Atlas. Standards in Atlas are streamlined into a series of drop-down menu and check boxes for the teacher to use during unit planning.

career and technical education

Join the growing numbers of Career and Technical Education programs who are using Atlas to design their curriculum.

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