2017 marks the inaugural year for the Clarke Community Schools Career Academy tracks. School administration, instructors, and local businesses have set forth a program focused on helping local students build a deeper understanding of how their education is integrated into future career options as well as learning the skills needed for trades available outside “traditional” secondary education tracks.
Education trends and academic planning have evolved a great deal over the past decade. With funding for public schools becoming more limited1 and costs for student administration continually on the rise, manipulating the models in which schools can best affect the learning for each student has forced participants to innovate and grow or suffer. Programs implemented throughout the 90’s and 2000’s have shown to be less effective2 on student preparation, and for smaller communities this comes as a particularly hard challenge.
These types of programs continue to force school administrators as well as teachers and parents to find better answers by moving student and curriculum focus from rote test score achievement and class rankings to a more “hands-on” approach, offering career-focused programming for students from kindergarten through high school.
“While we understand testing is an integral part of benchmarking and measuring progress for our students and faculty, it can’t be the sole curriculum focus for a learning child,” explained Steve Seid, Clarke Community Schools’ (CCS) Superintendent. “Creating a better understanding of how specific coursework is applied in real-world scenarios builds on the achievement of the students, encouraging a deeper engagement and commitment to a future-focused perspective.”
A policy research study performed by the National Council of Teachers of English3 found results of standardized or high-stakes testing not only affects the nature of how instructors administer course information, but also narrows curriculum and limits student learning. Much of the information in the study led researchers to suggest policy changes that include diversifying assessments for student achievement as well as helping the students understand how the testing functions in determining future successes and opportunities.
“That’s where our Career Academy really hits,” said Jean Bahls, CCS Curriculum Director, “We realize not all kids will be college-bound. Some see that financially and logistically impossible. But through this Career Academy, students can discover a broader world beyond the halls of Clarke Community Schools and have the opportunity to prepare for it.”
Local businesses and associations have answered the call for support of the Clarke Community Schools Career Academy. With connections fostered through Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC), the administration and Mr. Dave Lydon, the Industrial Tech Courses Instructor, an Industrial Tech Advisory Board – the first of such advisory boards planned for the Career Academy program – has been assembled to start the development of a system for helping students prepare for careers in the industrial sector. With that, the board will also work with the school, administrators, and instructors on procuring modern equipment and teaching the skills needed to be successful in the trades.
“With the District taking on all the challenges associated with the Career Academy, the CCDC wanted to facilitate ongoing communication between the business community and the District Staff,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the CCDC. “As we reached out to the business community for membership in this first Advisory Board, we found a real willingness to participate in this very important process.”
Clarke Schools’ Career Academy Industrial Tech Advisory Board members are:
- Susan Miller – Altec, Inc.
- Dave Opie – Clarke Electric Cooperative
- Jason A Gibbs – Clarke Electric Cooperative
- Dan Zielke – Hormel Foods
- Joe Greving – Iowa Steel
- Kerry Richardson – Miller Products, Co.
- James Rawson – Paul Mueller Company
- Tom Kober – Salford Group
- Doug Hamilton – Simco Drilling Equipment, Inc.
- Dave Lyden – Clarke Community Schools
- Jean Bahls – Clarke Community Schools
- William Trickey – CCDC
As members of the Clarke Community Schools Industrial Tech Advisory Board, their input, support, and experience will help Clarke Community Schools facilitate and foster a deeper understanding of future career options and skills for trades available outside secondary education. The success of the Career Academy program hinges on full, community-wide engagement and support. With school administrators, staff, and students on board as well as a diversified group of local businesses lending their knowledge and expertise, the future of the program looks bright and poised for growth.
If you would like to get involved with the Osceola Community Schools Career Academy program or have questions or comments, please contact Steve Seid, Superintendent, or Jean Bahls, Curriculum Director for Clarke Community Schools at 800 N Jackson St. Osceola, IA, 50312 or call (641) 342-6505.
1: Des Moines Register, “After Contentious Words, Iowa State Senate Passes 1.1 Percent K-12 School Aid Increase” — http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/02/after-contentious-words-iowa-senate-passes-11-percent-k-12-school-aid-increase/97384150/
2: National Education Association, “Parents and Educators to Lawmakers: Testing is Not Learning!” – http://neatoday.org/2015/03/12/parents-educators-lawmakers-testing-not-learning/
3: National Council of Teachers of English. “How Standardized Tests Shape – and limit – Student Learning” [PDF-STUDY] http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/CC/0242-nov2014/CC0242PolicyStandardized.pdf