Community leaders in these industries were invited to the meeting to give input on the programs and evaluate how well what students learn in the classroom is preparing them for continuing their educations or starting careers.
The school system offers 18 Career and Technical Education programs, ranging from family and consumer science to broadcast media and criminal justice. Each program has different concentrations that students can choose form. There are more than 2,000 students enrolled in the Bradley County Schools career and technical high school programs.
Advisory committee members were asked to fill out a survey giving qualitative data on specific programs they served.
“From that we get feedback on where we need to grow and what we need to do,” said Bradley County CTE Supervisor Arlette Robinson. “(The Feedback) really drives our programs. We look at what the advisory committee says we need in equipment. ... They help drive our curriculum as well.”
Robinson said each program works with community industry leaders throughout the school year to ensure the programs are providing students with the knowledge and experience they need moving forward.
Committees also spoke about the skills the programs teach students. Family and consumer science teacher Amy Shoemaker said the program teaches many life skills many students do not learn at home. Respect, accountability and being on time are also emphasized in the programs to prepare students for the workforce and life after high school.
Challenges to the programs and how the programs can overcome them were also discussed. Partnerships are used to overcome some of these obstacles. The welding program at Bradley partners with local companies and Cleveland State Community College for materials such as scrap metal. Lack of classroom and storage space has created challenges for WVHS agricultural courses. These challenges are being overcome by sharing classrooms and technology.
Hopes for the future were also discussed by the committees. Walker Valley agricultural teacher Jason Kincaid said he hopes to partner with the business department to add a business class to his students’ areas of study to better prepare those who will own their own businesses. For some programs, an advisory committee also serves as a way to plan toward providing industry certification.
Program-specific advisory committees meet once a semester. In the spring, the committees will meet and compile a list of needed technology or equipment.
Clubs and student organizations also play an important role in career and technical education in Bradley County schools. There are seven program specific organizations available.
“One of these things that I truly believe is the young people in this school and in Bradley Central High School do a great job every single day and they can’t do it without instructors who follow through in career and technical education. Career and technical education is one of those things we need every single day,” said Walker Valley High School Principal Danny Coggin.
Coggin said the programs seek to not only prepare students to be good employees, but to be good employers as well.
Students who participate in a three-year CTE program have a higher graduation rate than non-CTE students. In Bradley County Schools, such students have a 96 percent graduation rate, according to system information.