State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recently unveiled his Career Readiness Initiative designed to help lower dropout rates and provide graduates with career readiness skills to enter the workforce or pursue higher education.
Torlakson says the imitative can help the state rebound from its current economic recession.
The multi-faceted initiative is aimed at integrating career technical education programs into modern high school curriculum and link students with local businesses through training.
"The ongoing budget crisis and an 18 percent dropout rate mean we have to take action to help our students and our state's economy," Torlakson said. "Career technical education is a proven way to ensure more our students, especially those who are deemed ‘at risk,' succeed after high school."
The Initiative is part of Torlakson's "Blueprint for Success."
Turlock Unified School District Career Education and Adult School Principal Alice Pollard says the district's CTE and Regional Occupation Programs are already ahead of the curve, compared to some other districts.
Next year many of the district's CTE and ROP programs at both Pitman and Turlock High Schools can be included or can replace fine arts and foreign language for college prep requirements.
These CTE classes are known as career pathways. TUSD CTE classes include business, engineering, agriculture, health and nursing, sheet metal technology, welding, automotive and auto body, home economics and culinary arts, criminal justice.
Pollard noted that a large amount of ag classes meet college prep requirements, examples include including urban forestry, environmental horticulture.
"Those pathways can translate into straight into work, as well as two-year or four-year college education.
In addition to classes TUSD students have the opportunity to be part of CTE related clubs and activities such as Future Business Leaders of America, Future Farmers of American, and EngTech Clubs.
"Blueprint" describes the need to increase the personalization of instruction and engagement of students through career-themed Linked Learning pathways. Linked Learning blends rigorous academic instruction, high quality CTE courses, work-based learning experiences, and support services to help students succeed.
"Our CTE programs are tried and proven, and it just makes sense to build on these successes," said Torlakson, who plans to showcase successful schools and support policies to expand these approaches. "We need to do everything we can to help our students achieve career and college success, and help us return California to its rightful place as an economic powerhouse and global leader."
Part of the initiative is to increase graduation rates, but TUSD schools are already well above state averages in grad rates.