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TUSD prepares response to civil grand jury’s report on technical education
The Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury released a list of recommendations for how Turlock Unified and other county school district could improve access and graduation rates for Career and Technical Education programs (Journal file photo).

How well local school districts, including Turlock Unified, are providing Career and Technical Education (CTE) to English language learners and continuation high school students was a focus of this year’s Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury report. The 2022 report was released on June 1, with a list of findings and offering recommendations on the school district can improve and TUSD has 90 days to respond to the report.

“We’ve been working with the Stanislaus County Office of Education and other Stanislaus County school districts in the response since the report was issued,” said Marie Russell, TUSD Director of Communication, Family Engagement & Outreach, in a statement. “TUSD Educational Services will present an information/action item to the Board of Trustees at the Sept. 6 Board meeting which will give a detailed explanation of the process, District response to findings and recommendations, and actions to address recommendations.”

CTE includes academic, occupational and technical course content with a specific career focus and is open for all students, whether they are considering a career trade or college education.

“CTE at our high schools provides career options in technical and innovation sectors that have the ability to attract the new companies of the next decade to Stanislaus County. Non-tech jobs are also vital to Stanislaus County, such as healthcare, agriculture, food processing, trucking and construction,” the SCCGJ said in their report. “A workforce skilled in both technical and non-technical fields is required to achieve economic growth… CTE pathway programs are beneficial for student’s education advancement, career aspirations, ability to earn college credit and experiences that stand out on college and job applications, as well as the future ability to self-support.”

After interviewing of school administrators from throughout the county, reviewing documents submitted from all the school districts pertaining to English learning and continuation high school students, reviewing school district websites and conducting other methods of research, the SCCGJ had numerous findings.

Some of the major findings that the grand jury listed include:

·         High schools’ access to CTE programs is very limited;

·         Master schedule conflicts are limiting English learner participation in CTE programs;

·         Promotion by districts of available CTE transportation is lacking;

·         Out-of-pocket CTE expenses and access to technology are barriers to participation for some students;

·         Promotion of CTE programs for English learners and continuation high school students is inadequate;

·         CTE completion rate for English learners is low;

·         Graduation rates at continuation high schools are significantly lower than for comprehensive high schools.

The grand jury recommends that districts develop strategies for reaching out to English learners and continuation high school students to promote CTE programs, develop strategies to support English learners and continuation high school students who enroll in CTE programs, create more flexible class schedules, make it easier for English learner and continuation high school students to both satisfy graduation requirements and participate in CTE programs, promote CTE transportation options, provide for out-of-pocket expenses for CTE enrollees in their 2022-2023 budgets, develop a plan to provide CTE learning applications that reflect the diversity of their population, and participate in a county-wide evaluation of why English learners and continuation high school students have such a poor college and career ready scores.

The Sept. 6 Board meeting where TUSD is expected to respond to the findings and recommendations will be live streamed on YouTube at the “Turlock USD” channel at 6 p.m.