As the new vision states, CTE is delivered through comprehensive programs of study aligned to the National Career Clusters framework. Because of our commitment to programs of study through Career Clusters, we are always looking for state and local examples. What are states doing with programs of study? Are they using them to address on particular challenges?
Last week, we heard about one state who asked: what tools can we use to improve programs of study to better prepare our students for college and career?
The State of Illinois responded to this question with Pathways to Results (PTR), an initiative the Office of Community College Research and Leadership presented at a webinar last week. PTR is a tool that can be used in schools to continuously improve programs by identifying areas like inequity and implementing outcomes assessments that encourage the use of data to inform decisions.
The PTR process is structured around six phases, described in this brochure, which also illustrates PTR when applied to programs of study.
The webinar included three panelists who are implementing PTR in at least one program of study at their schools.
PTR impact on Manufacturing (two examples):
With a focus on program improvement and access, the PTR tool allowed schools to determine the necessary changes in curriculum and resources. For example, identifying trends or changes in student demographics can determine how a school would best serve the needs of the students in their program. In one Illinois school, data collection confirmed that women were underrepresented in manufacturing courses, but it also revealed that there was a significantly higher enrollment of special populations who may need specific resources.
With a focus on improving the image and understanding of three programs of study in manufacturing, the PTR tool was used to help focus on relationship building with high schools and production of new materials to increase awareness of available careers in manufacturing.
PTR impact on Health Science:
With a focus on recruitment, the PTR tool helped the school work on application guidelines. Illinois discovered that these guidelines for potential students were confusing, which resulted in misunderstandings and students being delayed a full year. They are in the process of improving the application guideline materials and work with students to prevent any future misunderstandings and delays. They are also using data to compare the numbers of students applying and those who are accepted, information they previously did not have.
Overall, panelists encouraged others to clearly define their improvement goals, to work with others already in the process and to begin by going to www.careerclusters.org for more information.
Click here for more information on Illinois’ PTR initiative and other projects by OCCRL.