While the Career and Technical Education programming in Elkin City Schools is among the strongest in the state, local school officials want to continue growing and strengthening the program going forward.
Elkin’s CTE department recently was the subject of an audit, which is being done in all of the state’s CTE programs over a seven-year period, according to Barbara Long, CTE director for ECS.
During a recent board of education meeting, Long took time to share the fall test results of the program’s students and the results of the audit.
“Last year we were third in the state among public schools, and in this report, we are a little higher than we were last year,” said Long.
In the most recent school-year information, she said 261 industry-recognized credentials had been earned by Elkin students, which was an increase from the previous year’s 168 credentials. These certifications range anywhere from Workforce Readiness Certification, which many industries are requiring before employment, to Microsoft Office Certification, ServSafe Certification for those working in the food industry, to Nurse Aide Certification and Adobe Visual Design Certifications.
“The percentage of credentials to CTE enrollment is 38 percent representing an increase from the previous year of 25.3 percent,” reported Long. “When they get out and apply for a job and they’ve got that certification, they have a better chance of getting hired.”
The CTE program also is seeing success in its graduation rate, Long said, as she reported those who concentrate on CTE focuses in high school are at a 98 percent graduation rate. And that is paying off following high school, “approximately 95 percent of former CTE concentrators, one year after graduating, were either employed (73.7 percent), and/or enrolled in the military (7.9 percent), and/or post-secondary education (57.9 percent),” she reported.
Elkin’s CTE program also is No. 1 in the state for nontraditional student enrollment, meaning the number of males taking courses such as foods I, and the number of females taking technology and building classes, Long said, noting, “We’re proud of that.”
Auditors had three findings of non-compliance issues, Long said, with those already being corrected. One of those was the lack of a needed license by the career development coordinator, which she said already has been remedied.
The other two findings were for coding something incorrectly when it was purchased and the other was making “minor” purchases, such as snacks, which weren’t allowable by the restricted funding source.
Several recommendations were made by auditors to improve the program, Long said. “We’ve already fixed the first one,” she said of being sure reports reflect the correct time periods during the year.
Of the second recommendation, to develop a written purchasing process, she already was working on that as well.
A third recommendation was to consider additional funding sources for things which aren’t allowed by CTE funding, such as the snacks. Long said fundraisers are being used to send students to national competitions during the summer, and local funds or other sources will have to be used for purchasing refreshments or other items not allowed.
Other recommendations included:
• ensuring information on CTE programs is up-to-date on the school website;
• considering adding honors courses for CTE to provide advanced learners with a more rigorous curriculum;
• ensuring Career and College Promise and Career Pathway information is provided within the Course Registration Guide to provide further opportunities for students;
• continuing to provide opportunities, such as tours, speakers and others, to CTE staff to learn more about local and regional business and industry.
Locally, Long said the CTE department, which includes 10 teachers, has developed a plan of what they would like to see for CTE in the future. Included in those items is offering more courses to Elkin City Schools’ students through Surry Community College; continuing to encourage students to focus on a career cluster with a completer or level II course even though it isn’t a requirement; and aligning the goals of workforce development, workforce education and economic development in the region to be sure the school system is meeting the needs of the business world.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.