A national group audited 12 career and technical education programs currently offered at Elgin Area School District U-46 high schools, including health care science, auto shop, culinary arts, fashion and apparel, engineering/Project Lead The Way, early childhood education, business, and precision manufacturing.
The National College Transition Network Audit recommended providing students workplace learning experiences as early as 10th grade, training teachers in project-based learning and workplace externships, and collecting data on students who complete CTE programs, are enrolled in Advanced Placement, earn industry credentials, and go on to postsecondary education.
U-46 officials hope to develop nine to 14 pathways for students based on economic and workforce needs, establish nationally recognized industry certifications and credentials for their career programs, and provide articulated credit or dual-credit for all pathways.
"We do have 45 students that have opted into the Accelerate College (program at Elgin Community College) for next year and are hoping to expand our dual-credit options," said Terri Lozier, U-46 assistant superintendent of secondary schools instruction and equity.
Starting next school year, U-46 will start including any certifications or credentials students have acquired on high school diplomas.
"The hope is every student will be enrolled in a career academy following an educational pathway starting in 2019-20," Lozier said. "Next year, we are also going to be looking at an International Baccalaureate for Elgin High School. (It) will offer a whole new level of curriculum and understanding for our gifted students."
-- Madhu Krishnamurthy