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National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review: Demystifying Work-based Learning

June 10th, 2015

Jobs for the Future’s Pathways to Prosperity Network recently released a toolkit to help demystify work-based learning for employers. In the report, “Not as Hard as You Think: Engaging High School Students in Work-based Learning,” JFF acknowledges that addressing employers’ concerns about liability and labor law issues are critical to scaling up work-based learning (WBL) opportunities.

The brief’s primary goal is to alleviate employers’ concerns about perceived barriers to allowing high school students into the workplace, and also offers three case studies of employers in manufacturing and health care that have successfully launched such experiential opportunities.

First, the report offers the greatest benefits of WBL for employers:

  • Developing a more robust talent pipeline
  • Gaining access to a diverse and innovative workforce
  • Creating opportunities to increase name recognition and positive press
  • Encouraging economic growth that in turn boosts business prospects

To create these opportunities, most employers need “to make only minimal changes, if any, to existing workplace policies and procedures in order to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and policies,” according to the report. The greatest restriction for youth under 18 is the 17 hazardous occupations identified by the U.S. Department of Labor, but just one of these occupations – operating a forklift — is actually in use in most workplaces, the report states. Within the manufacturing industry, most federal restrictions apply only to 14- and 15-year-olds. Other restrictions regarding work hours, minimum wages, permits and required rest or meal periods are typically a matter of state law.

Employers’ insurance policies are a more likely source of barriers to the workplace than state or federal regulations. Yet, the report found that liability issues for paid student interns are often covered under existing workers’ compensation policies. Some employers have been able to work with their insurers to clarify and address WBL restrictions and others take additional steps to limit their liability by having students and families sign liability waivers and working with intermediary organizations.

The report offered three ways to encourage and support employers’ WBL efforts:

  • Incentivize employer engagement through tax credits, subsidies, etc.
  • Embed WBL in curriculum through teacher externships and credit for WBL
  • Support intermediaries that can broker WBL opportunities and be a resource to schools and employers

wbl

Credentials for All

The Southern Regional Education Board’s Commission on Career and Technical Education released its final report earlier this month, and described the bridge from high school to postsecondary and the workforce as broken and in desperate need of fixing.

To repair this bridge, the Commission offers eight actions that states can take to reach the goal of doubling the number of young people completing some form of a college credential by the age of 25. Be sure to check out the full report for all eight action steps.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

June 5th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) launched a toolkit, Explore Nontraditional Careers, for educators and counselors across the CTE and STEM pipeline. Learn more about the toolkit in an archived webinar.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Demand for Summer Jobs Outstrips Opportunities
Ever since the recession, teen-unemployment has remained slow to recover. Only 30 percent of people 16-19-years-old are expected to have summer jobs, down from 52 percent in 1999 and 2000.
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MEDIA OF THE WEEK
Infographic: Education options after high school
Developed by CareerStep, this infographic shows students their option upon graduating high school.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

Inside International CTE: Netherlands Part II

June 4th, 2015

This interview with Martin van Os an educational advisor, explores the CTE/VET system in the Netherlands. Van Os began his career as a physics teacher, became a school principal, coordinated the national in-service courses for science and technology, was the senior organizational advisor for the National Center for Urban School Improvement, worked for government on secondary vocational education and was founding director of the Vakcollege support company. This interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc in part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek.

What are some the steps the Netherlands has or is taking to strengthen CTE?

The urgency of the situation has become clearer and better supported in the last ten years. The economic crisis reminded us that only innovation and creativity would maintain our wealth as a nation, and that we need a high number of excellent, technically educated employers and employees. In response to this sense of urgency, successful Dutch companies and public figures have become involved and are providing inspiration and innovation to the field.

A numbers of actions are being taken to help young people to fulfill their talents with the possibilities the Dutch economy has to offer. Among them are very powerful bottom-up initiatives started by schools and often supported with the help of local companies. Others are powered by government and applied in schools, such as the implementation of career education and guidance and curriculum updates.

Building a chain: Developing career education and guidance

Despite the success with the high quality of individual schools, we are still struggling to provide all students with a successful transition from secondary to tertiary education. About 80 percent of students are successful in their chosen area of study after they finish secondary education. The remaining 20 percent drop out or don’t pursue post-secondary education.

The Dutch government hopes to increase the success of students in their first career choice, both for pedagogical and financial reasons. Currently, secondary schools are monitored and rated based on exams. This reliance on results has led to students taking subjects in which they are comfortable and confident for the test, rather than the subject that will help them in their chosen field of study. Furthermore, exams can easily miss some essential skills, like discipline, motivation and collaboration.

In addition, when students are preparing for post-secondary level of education, there are an abundance of choices without much guidance, so students often turn to their parents for advice – but they are also unclear about CTE fields of study. To address these challenges, the government has made career guidance a requirement of secondary education, and schools are experimenting with how to accomplish this new task. This includes teacher trainings on career guidance to help them understand what skills their students need, and site visits to organizations and colleges.

What are some of the Netherlands’ successful initiatives in Career Technical Education?

A broader curriculum

In 2002, an initiative was launched with schools to develop a broader technical curriculum. In partnership with 10 schools, we developed concepts and practices to make the curriculum attractive to students with various career and educational desires, including students interested in pure technical fields, those who want to apply technical solutions in human services and those who prefer to go into the business sector. Participating schools had to agree to deliver this curriculum successfully with a small number of students to start.

The schools were provided the opportunity to experiment and pilot the curriculum, and after a year of preparation and two years of practice, we followed the first group of students moving into tertiary, or postsecondary, education. We found that these students did as well or better than the traditional groups of students.

With these results, we developed a global curriculum and instruction for student exams. With the support of our stakeholders, the Government accepted the results and put it into legislation. The 10 original schools formed a platform, helping other schools implement this approach and guiding further development.

Currently, over 100 schools have adopted this curriculum and are fully supported by legislation with the support of the platform and stakeholders.

In 2007, a group of entrepreneurs had several observations. First, that a group of students were interested in high-quality and attractive CTE, but the number of schools providing that kind of education were closing or forced to decrease the number of their departments. Second, the perception of CTE was very poor.

After getting support from schools and businesses, I was asked to lead an initiative, Vakcollege, which focused on career knowledge early on for students, and would aim to change the perception surrounding CTE.

We developed three promises for stakeholders. For the students we aimed to develop, “attractive education towards an occupation, diploma and job;” for the companies involved, “a new generation of technicians and craftsmen;” and for the schools our goal is that, “together we make a difference.”

We started a company, and in 2008 partnered with 13 schools, each with its own assemblage of business partners. We pushed boundaries of what legislation allowed but found out that –to our own surprise- the Dutch system allows schools to change their vision and mission towards more CTE as long as they stay within the boundaries of the various streams.

The initiative has been widely accepted. This summer the company will be replaced by a foundation with 50 schools as members dedicated to furthering the development of Vakcollege.

Technasium

Another successful program we have is Technasium, which began as an elective choice for students offered in the school gymnasium. In this free space, schools offered a new subject they called Research & Development for the more scientific and technical interested students.

This idea was crucial because it offered CTE to students in higher streams, something that these students were not typically exposed to. The most academically gifted pupils were given a chance to explore their talents and interests in CTE fields.

Furthermore, the goal of this initiative was not to develop a standard curriculum, but to work on interesting and innovative questions posed by local companies and businesses in eight-week projects, and present the student solutions to professionals from the companies. Instead of a typical test, student assessment is on their research, solution, creativity, presentation and collaboration.

A foundation has been created that helps schools develop a Technasium program and works closely with the government to set the standards on which schools can join and are allowed to offer exams in Research & Development.

Though these initiatives may have different outcomes, they share the same ambition of developing education, meeting the needs of the students involved, contributing to lasting careers, and helping to provide a pipeline of students with the skills industry needs.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Inside International CTE: Netherlands

June 2nd, 2015

This interview with Martin van Os an educational advisor, explores the CTE/VET system in the Netherlands. Van Os began his career as a physics teacher, became a school principal, coordinated the national in-service courses for science and technology, was the senior organizational advisor for the National Center for Urban School Improvement, worked for government on secondary vocational education and was founding director of the Vakcollege support company. This interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc in part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek. Check out part two on Thursday! NeterlandsMap

 PART 1: Exploring Career Technical Education (CTE) in the Netherlands 

What does CTE/VET look like in the Netherlands?

For some background context, the Netherlands has one of the densest populations, our economy is rated eighth in the world, and our PISA scores are in the top ten, with national goals to move ourselves into the top five.  According to UNICEF, our children are the happiest in the world.

Recently, consensus was reached on the nine “Top Sectors,” or the categories in which we excel and want to maintain our excellence.  Among them are: water-management, food technology, energy, creative industry, high tech, and life and health. To continue to excel in these areas, Netherlands will need 30,000 people with the proper educational skills each year to account for job replacement and industry growth.

Currently, the educational system is categorized by “streams” where students are tagged as low, intermediate, or high performing. The big challenge is that not enough students choose a technical area of study in post-secondary education. Research shows that the perception among students is that technical courses are difficult and a career in a technical field is dull.

After primary education, a student can participate in secondary education within seven different streams, although many secondary schools combine them. Still, this many options for pupils at the age of 12 is a unique feature of our system.

Regardless of a student’s categorization as belonging to a certain stream, our system is focused on providing pupils with the education that meets their needs, which has resulted in a very low dropout rate. Despite the low dropout rate, we have little upwards mobility in the school system in a time where we need everyone to reach their highest potential. In addition, secondary CTE is typically taken by students with lower academic achievement, while the academic track is taken by students who perform at a higher level. This has resulted in a very negative perception, and has made promoting CTE difficult.

Another cause of this negative perception is the improvement in primary education and the ambition and pressure from parents, resulting in fewer students enrolling in the CTE streams and more in the academic paths. Also, academic pathways include little focus on Career Technical Education. While the traditional pathways through secondary schools for vocational education are decreasing in participation, we had hoped CTE in the academic route would develop. As this has not happened, it has left us with a skills gap and a sense of urgency.

Please describe the current landscape of Career Technical Education/VET in the Netherlands.

Overall, there has been a decline in CTE participation and in particular, a strong drop in the traditional courses for technicians and craftsmanship.  However, there is some growing interest in newer courses, which combine technical education with entrepreneurship skills.

The two trends combined means CTE enrollment in the upper grades has stayed somewhat consistent over time. A little over a third of third-year secondary students engage in CTE, out of about 200,000 students in total.

Another opportunity is that more of our students are eligible for technical or science programs in higher education, particularly in the higher streams, even if they are not choosing CTE programs at this time. In fact the economic crisis was a big boost for students actually choosing technical and scientific careers. This is all to say there is potential for more students to choose CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

Every system has its challenges – what are yours? What are some solutions you are looking to implement?

Our first challenge is changing the perception of CTE  in the country. We need to spread CTE throughout all schools for all students of all abilities.  We need to eliminate the stigma that only low ability students should participate in CTE in our school culture, and instead make CTE available to all students on all levels, especially in the intermediate streams where there is a vast potential of talents and young people who wish for more attractive curricula and CTE.

In addition to making CTE available for all students, we need to convince students and parents that there are attractive careers in CTE fields. Though increasing the number of CTE students is admirable, we need to convince students to go into CTE careers.

Along with changing the perception of CTE, we need to nourish successful initiatives by schools and support them through legislation, intelligent governance and smarter systems of funding.

There also needs to be clearer links between education systems. The three steps in a student’s education are primary, secondary and tertiary education, which all have their own systems and rewards.  Essential skills for students to be successful in the next step of education are not sufficiently included in the reward system.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Getting to Know … Michigan

June 1st, 2015

Note: NASDCTEc has launched a new blog series called, “Getting to Know …” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, our partners and more. Check out our first entry about Florida!

State Name: Michigancte-logo-michigan

State CTE Director: Patty Cantu, State CTE Director, Office of Career & Technical Education, Michigan Department of Education (MDE)

Postsecondary Counterpart: None. Michigan may be the only state in the nation that does not have a state agency or governing body responsible for higher education. MDE and the Workforce Development Agency work collaboratively with the deans of the colleges and universities to foster and promote postsecondary CTE connections.

About Michigan CTE: In the Great Lakes State, secondary CTE is delivered through comprehensive high schools and career centers. In 2011, 33 percent, or 115,214, of juniors and seniors were enrolled in CTE programs, with 19 percent of those completing their CTE program. Of the 16 Career Clusters® in the state, Business, Management and Administration; Marketing Sales and Service; and Health Science are the three most popular programs within secondary CTE. The state’s graduation requirements often forced CTE to compete for space in a student’s schedule. In 2014, lawmakers made changes to the state’s graduation requirements to allow CTE course equivalencies to count toward graduation in science, physical education and foreign languages as well as math, in some cases. State officials expect this change to boost the number of students taking – and completing – CTE programs.

Postsecondary is delivered largely through community colleges. With more than 200,000 students enrolled across all programs, the most popular are Health Science; Business, Management and Administration; and Law, Public Safety, Corrections, Security.

About the state CTE office: MDE is the sole agency responsible for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) and has 26 people on staff. The state’s Perkins funding is divided with 60 percent dedicated to secondary CTE and 40 percent for postsecondary. MDE has a memorandum of understanding with the state’s Workforce Development Agency to distribute the federal postsecondary CTE funds to the state’s community colleges.

Programs of Study (POS): Education in Michigan is governed heavily through local control, meaning that all programs of study are locally developed. However, to garner state approval, CTE programs of study must have strong postsecondary connections. In recent years, the number of statewide articulation agreements has grown. The state posts all secondary CTE standards on the website, CTEnavigator.org, which state officials say has helped encourage these statewide agreements.

Notable in Michigan: Prior to 2006, Michigan had just two early/middle college high schools, which is a five-year high school that allows students to earn a high school diploma and substantial transcript college credit. Then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm targeted early colleges as a way to bolster the state’s talent pipeline in the health field, where there was a growing need for skilled workers. Granholm and lawmakers allocated funding to launch early colleges with a healthcare focus, and once state funding faded away, school districts continued to establish these early colleges. Today, there are 90 early colleges in Michigan, with many of them having an explicit CTE focus and the rest offering CTE courses for students.

Gov. Rick Snyder has long promoted CTE as a critical piece of the state’s economic development strategy, which led, most recently, to his proposal to designate $18 million funding for early colleges in his 2015 budget. Snyder also continues his effort to boost the skilled trades, including a $50 million grant program for the state’s community colleges. Last week, Snyder launched a new campaign to highlight the skilled trades with help from TV host Mike Rowe. The campaign includes videos targeting K-12 students and addresses common myths of trade careers.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

 

 

 

This Week in CTE

May 29th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Indiana Career & Technical Education Trend Data
Indiana has some encouraging information showing the impact of CTE in the state including the fact that graduation rates of CTE concentrators are significantly above the overall average and only nine percent of concentrators require remediation compared to a state average of 23 percent.
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ARTICLES OF THE WEEK
The National Journal has released a series of articles surrounding Career Technical Education featuring schools across the country. Check out The High School Where Students Wear Scrubs, The Classrooms Where Students are in Charge  and What Do You Want to be When you Grow Up 101, to see innovative Career Technical Education happening in secondary settings.

WEBINARS OF THE WEEK
The National Skills Coalition is hosting the Aligned by Design webinar series exploring how states can use the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) featuring our very own Kimberly Green along with national and local experts from across the country.
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DATA OF THE WEEK
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, community colleges contributed one million new postsecondary credentials in the 2013-2014 academic year through first-time associate degrees, four-year credentials and community college certificates.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Research Review: Value of Higher Education

May 28th, 2015

The value of higher education has been a hot topic lately, and the following research and reports provide insight into returns on an investment in higher education.

  • Career Technical Education and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from California Community Colleges released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) discusses how Career Technical Education (CTE) impacts students’ future earnings in California. The study of 112 community college campuses with 2.6 million students is critical to helping students decide the worth of attending higher education for their desired career field. Health careers were one of the occupations that students found extremely high returns on their college investment.
  • A study of employers through the recent CareerBuilder survey found that 65 percent of employers are looking to hire recent college graduates and the most sought after candidates will have skills in IT, customer service, finance, sales and business development.
  • The Aspen Institute released From College to Jobs: Making Sense of Labor Market Returns to Higher Education exploring the ways in which labor market data are collected and used to determine the value of higher education. A collection of eight short papers resulted in a variety of findings, one of which was that the skills valued by employers are not always found within one field. For example, skills associated with STEM degrees are valued across non-STEM fields.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

What did Education, Policy and Foundation Leaders Have to Say About the Global Skills Race?

May 27th, 2015

Last week, New America held The Great Skills Race: Innovations in U.S. Education and Training from a Global Perspective to discuss what the skills gap looks like abroad and in the United States, and how it impacts employers, students, policy, the education system and more. Simon Field, Project Leader, OECD, started off the event by discussing what some big global trends are emerging around developing employees with the skills they need in both developed and emerging countries.

He explained that there is a global disillusion with the college for all concept, and that though it remains politically popular, increasingly studies show that it does not yield career-ready employees. For example, 70 percent of Koreans attend college, but this includes two-year programs to become a barista, and similar lower-skilled positions, where after two years students may not have very marketable or essential skills.

On the other hand, countries are ramping up their efforts to provide students with high-quality academic and work-based skills such as Indonesia, which is making a concerted effort to expand Career Technical Education (CTE). Currently, about a fourth of the population takes part in some CTE, and the country has a goal of expanding this number to 90 percent through a massive growth of CTE high schools.

Countries need to focus on education that bridges the gap between the world of learning and the world of work through strengthening employer engagement, educating the teacher workforce and developing work-based learning opportunities through apprenticeships, internships and more.

The panel then turned to Holly Zanville, Strategy Director at the Lumina Foundation who spoke about the value of credentials in the Foundation’s work. At this time, there is no system for evaluating credentials or certificates, or a way for educators, students, employers and parents to determine how credentials and certificates connect to jobs. Lumina is developing a website to address these issues along with:

  1. Creating a national dialog around credentials and certificates
  2. Developing a translation platform to connect credentials
  3. Developing a prototype of a credential registry including the competencies, quality of the credential, cost and more
  4. Launching a new website (in two weeks) as a clearinghouse for credential information to help students understand the value of the credential, and employers understand how credentials and certificates may increase the skills of their employees.

Next, Todd Greene, Vice President of the Federal Reserve System of Atlanta explained that the Federal Reserves is involved in workforce development, something not typically addressed by the Reserves, due to the financial crisis. Greene took over 40 meetings with local communities including business leaders, employers and educators to see what workforce development looked like on the ground. Through this work, Greene found that there was a vast disconnect between these groups, and many did not have any type of meaningful relationship resulting in educators often teaching the wrong skills, and employers disengaged with the community and experiencing a skills gap with their employees.

Now, all 12 Federal Reserves are involved in workforce development, often using convening as a method to combat unemployment. One of these convenings included over 30 historically black colleges to help the Federal Reserves understand why Black unemployment is vastly higher regardless of education level compared to White unemployment.

Last on the panel was Byron Auguste, Managing Director of Opportunity@Work who attributed the skills gap to a variety of things. The first concept Auguste described is that the skills gap is a result of market failure; it’s not just the government or education systems that are failing, it is also the duty of employers and industry to help solve the skills gap problem. Also, the country has been highly disinvested in this work. All of the focus and spending has been centered on former higher education with very little investment in adult learning.

In addition to changes in policy, there needs to be a change in business practice. Instead of hiring on degrees, there needs to be a focus on hiring based on skills, whether gained through a degree, previous work, credentials, certificates, apprenticeships, internships or more.

To watch a video of this lively discussion visit New America’s website.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

May 15th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@OECD_Edu Investing in #education matters for long-term inclusive growth, but how countries invest matters more http://bit.ly/1EKk1wf  #OECDwk    blog-thumbnail-thiswek
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RESEARCH REPORT OF THE WEEK
2015 Building a Grad Nation Report
This annual report released by Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University states high school graduation rates have reached 81.4 percent, and that the nation is on track to reach a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2020.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The Classrooms Where Students Are In Charge
The United Technical Center in West Virginia hosts area high school students every day to take part in a simulated workplace, where they learn how to run meetings, show up to work on time, work with their peers among other employability skills along with the technical skills they’d normally learn in a classroom.
More

VIDEO OF THE WEEK
NASDCTEc’s newest video showcases the Career Technical Education Program of Study framework and how it contributes to student success.
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PARTNER UPDATE OF THE WEEK
SkillsUSA turned 50!
More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Reflections on President Obama’s Visit to Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota

May 15th, 2015

Over the weekend, President Obama became the fourth president in U.S. history to visit all 50 states during his tenure. Obama’s visited South Dakota to deliver the commencement speech at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, a huge confirmation of the President’s commitment to the community college system, and an affirmation of the value of Career Technical Education (CTE).

There, the President gave his congratulations to LATI graduates, as well as spoke about his initiative, America’s College Promise, which would make two years of community college free for students. Obama also praised Lake Area Technical Institute when he said, “Community colleges like this one can be a great place for young people to launch a career. But they’re also a great place for folks who have been in the workforce for a while.”

Michael Cartney, President of LATI, cites a variety of reasons that the school was a focus of the President’s visit. LATI boasts a graduation rate of 75 percent and an incredible 98 percent placement rate. “We feel honored and humbled that our President chose to come here to do the commencement address. The tribute he paid to our graduates and staff is huge, just momentous. [It’s the ] biggest gift he could have given our staff and students,” said Cartney. “This is a gift not only to Lake Area Technical Institute, but to all CTE. This is an acknowledgement that CTE is important and that there is a strong future for what CTE has to provide.”

Cartney explained that success is not only defined by graduation or placement rates, but also how the school is preparing students for the best careers for them. A strong commitment to career guidance and providing students with the information they need to make informed decisions on their career options has resulted in graduates earning an average yearly salary that eclipses the South Dakota median income within just five years after graduation.

In addition to guidance, the school also focuses on engaging the community and employers and industry. LATI has worked hard with the business community to improve the image of CTE and technical careers. For example, one advertisement highlights what high-tech and high-skill manufacturing jobs look like today, not the old factories students and parents often envision.

What matters most, however, is the school’s culture. “The biggest thing that distinguishes our school is our culture. We genuinely care about our students, and they are engaged and make meaningful connections here,” something that has shown to be a high indicator of success in studies conducted by Gallup, among others. “Our heritage goes back to caring about our students and working with them to be successful.”

So what does CTE look like in the future at LATI? With 11 consecutive years of growth, there is an influx of new students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators and partners. Though LATI has reveled in a variety of national accolades including the President’s visit, Cartney explains the responsibility of the school to remain concentrated on their mission, “We are staying focused on our students and that remains our way forward,” said Cartney. “It’s not about being the best, but doing the best for our students.”

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama addresses the graduates at Lake Area Technical Institute (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

 

 

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