Career Technical Education

Madera Unified School District offers 25 career pathways to all high school students

By Kristin Mckenna, College and Career Readiness Director

Recently The concept of Career Technical Education has been trending in various school districts however, in Madera Unified, Career Technical Education has been a cornerstone to education for years, hailed by the school boards, administration, and community. Up until the late 1990s, the term Vocational Education was commonly used instead of the more descriptive Career Technical Education (CTE). Vocational Education was first established under the Smith Hughes act of 1917. The oldest Vocational Education classes available in Madera Unified were the Agriculture Classes, originally established in 1919. These classes are still a strong program at Madera South High School, even today. Over the years, the support of Vocational or Career Technical Education has continued to be strong, in all of our high schools, within MUSD. Career Technical Education provides an opportunity for students to obtain early real-world exposure to careers while still in high school. The pathways, the students choose, help lead them to related careers, or post-secondary opportunities, after high school.

In 2019-2020 Madera Unified students will be able to pick from an expanded set of 25 different career pathways. A pathway is a sequence of 3-4 courses, that students take within a specific field, with opportunities for Work Based Learning, Industry Recognized Certifications, and / or Dual Enrollment. The twenty-five pathways offered in Madera Unified are listed by industry sector. In the Agriculture and Natural Resources Sector, offered at Madera South High School, students can choose from Agriculture Mechanics Welding and Fabrication, Agriculture Diesels and Power Mechanics, AgroSciences, Animal Science, Ornamental Horticulture, Plant Science, or Agriculture Business. For the Arts Media and Entertainment sector, classes are offered at both Madera High and Madera South. Within this sector, students can select a career path in Production and Managerial Arts, Performing Arts, Game Design and Integration, and Videography. Madera High School houses the Building and Construction Trades sector pathway of Residential and Commercial Construction.

Another innovation in 2019-2020, will add the Business and Finance Sectors pathway in the Financial Services track. The Education and Child Development sector is currently offered at both Madera High and Madera South, and students can select from Child Development, focused on working with children from birth, to Transitional Kindergarten, or the Education Pathway, which focuses on students in grades Kindergarten to High School. Madera High School is home to the Engineering and Architecture pathway, within the Engineering Technology track, as well as the sector of Manufacturing and Product Development. These are the pathways that feed into our award-winning robotics team, #1323 Madtown Robotics. One of our largest pathways, at Madera High and Madera South, is the Health and Medical Technology sector, which houses the Nursing, Athletic Training and Public Health pathways.

For students interested in Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation they can enroll in the Culinary pathways at Madera High and Madera South. Also new for both high schools in 2019-2020, MUSD will launch the Information and Communication Technology sectors pathway of software and systems development. The Marketing, Sales, and Service sector offers two pathways of Entrepreneurship and Marketing that are both offered at Madera High and Madera South. The last sector of Public Services has a pathway of Public Safety, currently offered at Madera High, Madera South, and at Mt. Vista. For students who choose a pathway that is not at the high school located within their attendance area, they can apply for a Career Academy of Special Interest (CASI). Students, who apply for a CASI, give up their home area high school to attend the specific high school that offers the career academy that is of interest to them. Today, students can apply for a ​CASI to Madera South, to take part in any of the Agriculture classes and be a part of Madera FFA or to Madera High School for Manufacturing, Engineering or Construction. When Matilda Torres High School opens next year, students will still be able to choose Agriculture at Madera South, however, Engineering and Manufacturing will move into the new facility at Matilda Torres High School, and Madera High School will offer Construction, and a brand new Automotive and a Heavy Truck repair program.

For CTE teachers, the partnership with industry professionals has been key in updating and keeping the high school curriculum relevant to what is happening in the related industries. This is accomplished in a few ways. First, all high school Career Technical Education teachers must spend 20 hours a year in the industry sector they teach, job shadowing current industry professionals. This type of job shadowing is called Externship. The purpose of the Externship is to monitor developments of new technologies and day-to-day operations of the companies or sectors into which their students will feed after graduation. Another requirement, occurring twice or more every year, involves mandatory advisory meetings with industry professionals. These advisory meetings enable teachers and industry professionals to come together to review curriculum, suggest topics to be covered in class, and work together to create projects that are relevant and replicate what actually happens in their industry sector. The feedback from industry leaders helps to guide what is taught, ensures the classroom curriculum is constantly being refreshed and updated to industry standards. Since the main goal of Career Technical Education is for students to find jobs in areas of high need, with livable wages, it is important to obtain relevant skills and abilities in high school. Some pathways like Education and Engineering require 4-year college degrees; for others, a 2-year community college degree can help students find employment with good wages, and some students can go straight from high school into the workforce to find success. However, no matter the pathway MUSD students select, our teachers work hard to find opportunities for Work-Based Learning, Industry Recognized Certifications, and/or Dual Enrollment.

Work-based learning is an instructional strategy, that is essential in preparing all students for success in post-secondary education and careers, and is a core component of Career Technical Education Programs. The primary purpose of work-based learning is to expose students to future career options and provide opportunities for skill development and mastery over time. All work-based learning experiences involve interactions with industry or community professionals that link to school-based instruction. Examples of Work-Based Learning, that gets incorporated into CTE Courses, are jobsite tours, guest speakers, career fairs, industry themed class projects, job shadowing, mentorship, or paid and unpaid internships. Students are exposed to many of these opportunities throughout their high school CTE experiences. Many of our pathways also offer opportunities for students to earn industry recognized certifications, which strengthen their resumes, and prove their skills, dedication, and abilities to future employers. Some examples are the Microsoft Office Specialist in our Business Pathways, OSHA 10 in our Construction and Health Pathways, the Paraprofessional and CBEST exam in the Education pathway, First Aid/CPR in Public Safety and Health, ServSafe for Culinary students, and the Certified Nursing Assistant certificate for students in the Nursing classes. The students are trained in their CTE courses and can practice taking industry recognized exams since they are taking the courses.

The newest emphasis, in our CTE pathways, is Dual Enrollment, which allows Community College Courses to be taught on the high school campus or other agreed upon location. The high school students, who can be as young as freshmen, are awarded both high school and College Credit, for one single course, at no cost to the student. In addition to getting the college credit, they also receive a GPA bump on their high school transcripts, like a student would for honors or advanced placement courses, because of the additional rigor required to complete the classes. This free opportunity for college credit is growing quickly. The first Dual Enrollment courses were started in Madera Unified in 2015-2016. That first year, we offered Criminology, Welding, and Medical Terminology, which were all existing courses in a CTE Pathway. Since that time, the number of opportunities for Dual Enrollment has increased substantially. In 2016-2017, the number of sections increased to four, all of which were CTE courses. In 2017-2018, we offered thirteen dual enrollment sections, nine of them being CTE, and for the current 2018-2019 school year, students can take one of twenty seven sections offered in Madera Unified, with sixteen of them being classes belonging to a CTE pathway.

Arguably, the most visible part of our CTE pathways may be through the Career Technical Student Organizations. The Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO), offered in Madera Unified, are The National FFA Organization, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Health Occupation Students America (HOSA), Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), and SKILLS USA. These CTSOs give students opportunities to highlight their career readiness and soft skills, while competing against other students in California and even nationwide. These organizations teach students how to communicate and lead in their homes and communities. Madera Unified is proud to offer the options, of our current twenty five career pathways, to all of our high school students. With thirty six CTE teachers from Madera High, Madera South High, and Mt. Vista, we are able to offer one hundred sixty seven sections of Career Technical Education courses this year. For the most updated happenings, follow us on Facebook by searching CTE Madera Unified.


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