For the first time since responding to the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury (SCCGJ) in September, the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees received an update on the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. John Acha, director of the program at TUSD, gave a presentation during Tuesday night’s Board meeting, sharing some of the strides that have been made while looking towards future.
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. TUSD offers CTE courses like agriscience, anatomy and physiology, sports medicine, computer science, computer game development, industrial and integrated engineering technology, physics of electronic robotics. Extracurricular CTE activities at TUSD include Future Business Leaders of America, Health Occupations Students of America, Future Farmers of America and Kitchens for Change. The District also offers work-based learning opportunities with local businesses and organizations such as Wilkey Industries, the TUSD Farm, the Stanislaus County Fair, Hen & Harvest, the City of Turlock, and local restaurants and medical facilities.
In last year’s SCCGJ report, a main focus was to determine how well school districts, including Turlock Unified, were providing CTE opportunities to English language learners and continuation high school students.
Acha shared that he has met with a team of high school counselors from Turlock High, Pitman High and Roselawn High to review the civil grand jury findings. As the latest round of grades in 2022-23 school year have just been released, they will have a better idea of whether their adjustments to the promotion of CTE has been effective.
Some of the steps that the District has taken include sharing presentations in college and career readiness courses, increasing promotional materials for counseling offices, identifying professional development for CTE instructors, analyzing grades regularly and addressing needs of English-learning and special education students, and considering Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) funding for more CTE related study field trips and transportation to CTE-related events.
Acha explained the importance of ensuring that the program grows as it could lead to additional funding opportunities in the future.
“Anytime that we are putting in for grants and requesting federal and state funding, we need to evaluate ourselves based on these elements to ensure that we're meeting that high standard, identifying areas for growth and identifying areas that were doing well and want to continue to expand on while always looking at our local needs or industry needs,” Acha said.
And while it may be slightly early to evaluate the effectiveness of these steps for English learners and students who may be facing financial burdens, Acha shared that the CTE program participation and enrollment as a whole has grown over the past few months.
At Turlock High, there are currently 1,346 students participating in a CTE course or activity. It is only a three-student increase from last school year, but Acha explained that the majority of students are in involved in multiple activities at once. Over at Pitman High, there are 988 students involved in CTE, an 89-person jump from last year. Like Turlock, a strong majority are taking more than one CTE class or activity at the same time. When it comes to Roselawn, Acha said their numbers are more difficult to measure considering the fact that there is a lot of fluctuation to general enrollment, but he did make note that there were 55 students enrolled in CTE courses at the start of the current school year. Meanwhile, CTE has seen an increased presence at Turlock Junior High as well, with 180 students being enrolled in food-related CTE courses since the start of the school year.
“CTE, I believe, is strong in Turlock Unified School District,” Acha said. “We have many different pathways in many different sectors covered… We certainly want to continue building with that.”