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CTE Can be a Partner in Common Core Standards Initiative, Officials Say

The Common Core State Standards released Wednesday focus on the academic content of English Language Arts and Math, but those leading the initiative say that career technical education (CTE) can play a distinct role in how students are educated to those standards.

While NASDCTEc staff is still examining the details of the document, remarks made by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers at a NASDCTEc webinar last week clue in that CTE has a notable presence. Those standards focus on the academic content needed to prepare students to be college and career ready, but officials say there are significant opportunities for CTE to demonstrate the unique role it can play in helping students meet those standards.

“There are tremendous opportunities for CTE to be a true and integral partner in making these standards come to life,” Gene Wilhoit, CCSSO Executive Director, said at the webinar last week.

For instance, Wilhoit said that a close look at schools’ assigned reading lists for students revealed that literature books dominated the curriculum. Schools fell short of including texts that are relative to what students would have to read and interpret in the real world at work. Hence, the Common Core standards document includes manuals and other publications more commonly found in CTE courses as examples of what students should read to succeed under the common core standards.

Dane Linn, Education Division Director of the NGA Center for Best Practices, said that the Common Core Initiative had CTE specifically in mind when adding exemplars of technical writing and technical manuals in their common core document.

And there was no concern that such work-related documents were less rigorous. In fact, Wilhoit said that through the Common Core Initiative, they discovered that some workforce entry standards for jobs that provide a middle class wage or better are just as high, or in many cases more rigorous than the standards for a liberal arts college program.

While the education community is still unfolding the details of the newly released standards, it is clear that the CTE community will have an opportunity to seize an important role in preparing students to be college and career ready.

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