Team representatives from Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, Oregon and Ohio came together at the Career Clusters Institute last week to share how they met challenges to developing a green-focused program of study. As winners of the Green-Focused Program of Study Technical Assistance Academy, they are pioneers in this endeavor and offer a unique learning opportunity to all who work within an established program of study or are in the process of developing one. Through the challenges they have faced so far, the challenges they anticipate in the future and what they might have done differently, you can find insights into how to take on what is most difficult in developing a model program of study.
- Each state had to put together a team of secondary, postsecondary, and business and industry members. While all states were impressed by the enthusiasm they were met with, it was challenging to develop a team this diverse with full participation and collaboration. To meet this challenge, many initially began working to establish a shared language and understanding. For example, a community college understood “program of study” to mean “major”. Working together, the team had to lay a foundation of common meaning.
- Understanding what a program of study is in practice, not just on paper. Illinois is developing a tool that will specify evidence necessary for a program of study.
- Establishing a strong industry connection. While several states already have strong connections between business and industry and community colleges, they are continuously working to extend these connections to the secondary level. By bringing all respective stakeholders to the table to contribute to the development of the program of study, they are developing a shared language and increasing opportunities to work together.
- Some states lack statewide articulation agreement policies. For now, work with individual colleges will keep progress moving forward and provide examples to inform a potential statewide agreement.
- Implementation of teaching and learning. Where professional development is not centralized, work needs to be done to leverage it for these programs of study.
- In some cases with “green”, there is enthusiasm, but no programs. Program development has begun, but in many cases control is at the secondary level. The postsecondary institutions have to adopt the content to continue that program.
What would you have done differently?
- Three states indicated they tried to address too many areas and that a narrower focus might have helped move along their progress. However, one state did say that the trying to address so many areas served a purpose. While they do not have green-focused programs of study developed in three different cluster areas, they have broadened their audience, which will potentially help them in the future.
- Two states said they would have broadened the initial team participation. Eight to ten people was not enough for the kind of diverse participation and buy-in they needed.