Guilford County Schools focuses on improving career tech options

GREENSBORO — Six out of every 10 juniors in Guilford County Schools have taken a career and technical education course.

But most don’t go on to complete a course sequence in a career path or earn a credential in high school, Superintendent Sharon Contreras and her staff told the Guilford County Board of Education Tuesday.

Sometimes students don’t finish because their school doesn’t offer the full course sequence in a particular area, said Chief Innovation Officer Kathleen Dawson. Sometimes students may not be aware of the usefulness or importance of completing a career pathway, she said.

District officials would like to see schools narrow the types of career tech classes available, but offer full sequences leading to credentials.

“That’s part of the shift that we propose to make in our new CTE plan,” Dawson said.

School board members reviewed Career and Technical Education participation and achievement at their meeting Tuesday as part of an ongoing discussion about progress toward the district’s goals.

One of the six goals is to increase the percent of graduating seniors who complete a rigorous career pathway to 35 percent by 2022.

About 28 percent did so in the last two academic years.

District leaders have outlined a plan that calls, among other things, for new career academies at traditional high schools that would be open to students systemwide.

Dawson said they hope to be able to inform students about six new career academies for next year at the upcoming School Choice Showcase. And they hope to be able to unveil expansions of the N.C. A&T STEM Early College and Middle College high school programs to 6th- through 8th-grade students.

In response to a question from board member Darlene Garrett, school administrators said the district postponed a showcase that included career and technical education to March because they are hoping the board will approve before then any funding for the academies as part of the 2019-20 budget.

They anticipate that going forward with the career academies would be contingent on the board’s approval of funding in the budget, although they haven’t yet outlined detailed proposals about costs or what academies will go where. Contreras told Garrett that the administration is soliciting feedback from schools on those choices.