Rowland Unified School District, Rowland Heights, CA Career Certification Program. Program Summary

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1 Rowland Unified School District, Rowland Heights, CA Career Certification Program Program Summary Mission & Goals. The mission of Rowland Unified School District is to inspire and educate individuals to realize their dreams and fulfill their responsibilities to society. The Career Certification Program aligns with the District mission by providing an opportunity for students to apply their high school learning to a broad-based career goal using contextual learning experiences to connect academic studies with future career goals. Specifically, the goals of the Certification Program include: Developing the students sense of professionalism in their work, presentation and appearance. Developing the students transferable job skills that will benefit them in any career choice. Connecting students with industry partners to experience the work world outside of school. Assisting students in better defining their career goals. Understanding the importance of life-long learning regardless of their career choice. History. The state and national focus of linking students academic learning to broad-based career preparation sparked the genesis for the development of the Rowland Career Certification Program. The Program's initial development was a direct result of the development of the District's master plan for Career Vocational Education developed in 1989 and was Board approved at that time. The Program components follow the California Department of Education published document Second to None that was released by the State in 1992, which was the blueprint for secondary education in California. It identified career pathway majors as a way of connecting students to school. This Certification Program is incorporated into the District's annual Areas of Focus and reflective of the District's mission and core values, which, in part, is to provide all students with the opportunity to be successful in a chosen field and focus on the necessary curriculum to support that choice. With the approval of the Board of Education, the Certification Program development was instituted through the leadership of the Assistant Superintendent of the Secondary Division, Dr. Anthony Santorufo and the Director of Career Preparation, Rocky Bettar. Working together with teachers and business representatives, the structure and content of the Certification Programs was developed and first implemented in The Business Pathway first certified thirteen students Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 2

2 and the program has since grown to five pathways certifying an average of 120 senior students each year, serving approximately 20% of the students. The five career pathways are Arts & Communications implemented Business implemented Family & Consumer Sciences implemented Health & Medical Services implemented Public & Human Services implemented Technology The program continues to evolve. Although students voluntarily choose to be part of the Certification Program, it became clear to the District and high schools that all students need guidance in career preparation. Due to the success of the program, the Board of Education, in 2001, approved the revised graduation requirements, adopting a career pathway requirement for all students. The chart below illustrates the difference between the required graduation requirement and the voluntary Certification Program requirements. Comparison of Career Pathway Graduation Requirement to Certification Program Requirements Career Pathways Arts & Communications Business Family & Consumer Sciences Health & Medical Services Public & Human Services Technology Career Pathway Graduation Requirement All students must select a pathway. 2 year-long courses of instruction in electives connected to the selected pathway. Career-Related Connecting Activities: Career Center Resources Career Interest Assessment Classroom Speakers Certification Program Students voluntarily join the Program 5 year-long courses of instruction in electives connected to the selected pathway. Career-Related Connecting Activities: Career Center Resources Career Interest Assessment Classroom Speakers Job Shadowing Internship Research Project Presentation Exit Interview Portfolio Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 3

3 Program Setting. Implemented at the two comprehensive high schools in the district, the Certification Program is integrated as part of the schools master schedule. The sequence of instruction in the Program is made up of district and Regional Occupational Program (ROP) courses offered through La Puente Valley ROP (ROPs are the educational agencies in California that provide occupational entry level job training skills for eleventh and twelfth grade high school students). The incorporation of the ROP courses is critical to be able to offer occupationally specific advanced level training in all the career pathways. In addition to the local ROP, students can take courses offered by the local community college, Mount San Antonio College, to meet pathway requirements. In the senior year of the program, students complete an internship with a local business in the community that aligns with their specific career interest. This internship is monitored through the Senior Seminar class; however, all the internship work hours are completed on the students own time at the work site. Approximately 25% of the students are hired by the businesses following their internship experience. Target Population. Rowland Unified is a K-Adult school district with 18,000 students serving a diverse population comprised of 60% Hispanic, 20% Asian, 5% White, and 8% Filipino and 7% other. The District, located in Los Angeles County, serves the unincorporated area of Rowland Heights as well as portions of the following cities: West Covina, Walnut and La Puente. Rowland Unified is comprised of 2 comprehensive high schools, 1 continuation high school, 3 intermediate schools, 15 elementary schools and 1 adult school. The Program began in 1993 with the Business pathway certifying thirteen students and has since grown to five pathways certifying an average of 120 senior students each year, serving approximately 20% of the high school students. The Program is designed to meet the needs of students entering the workforce at three levels: Entry-level students seeking employment upon graduation Technical student seeking employment after a two-year program of training Professional level students seeking employment upon completion of a fouryear university program. The Certification Program graduates include all levels of students: Advanced Placement students Special Education students Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 4

4 English Language Learners (ELL) At-risk students The program is open to all students interested in focusing their education to connect themselves with a career interest. Through extensive work with the school-site counselors and guidance technicians, the Certification Program has been incorporated into the mainstream of the educational process for the Rowland Unified School District. Program Factors. The success of the program is due to many factors, a significant factor being the support that comes from the Assistant Superintendent of the Secondary Division, Dr. Anthony Santorufo and the District Board of Education. Both clearly recognize the importance of preparing students for their future. They recognize that career preparation is not a separate track for students not going to college, but a focus for all students who need direction and experiences to help them become successful in the work environment. The District Areas of Focus includes an ongoing component of school-to-career for all. Board members participate in connecting activities with students by approving program curriculum, evaluating student work samples, participating on exit interview panels and presenting the Certificate of Recognition to students and participating businesses. This support keeps the Certification Program front and center when it comes to making budgetary and program decisions in the district and also evaluates the validity of the Program. A second factor impacting the Program is the work of the Director of Career Preparation, Rocky Bettar, who had the vision for the pathway program development. He recognized that given the demands and challenges of California s educational direction, the development of the pathway program needed to support and enhance the academic curriculum understanding that academics and career preparation work together and not in isolation. The success and tangible results of the Program lead to Rowland Unified being recognized as a Demonstration District for the San Gabriel Valley School-to-Career Partnership. As a demonstration District for the partnership, over $300,000 was allocated over a four-year program for the district to show how the program can be replicated. Additionally, Mr. Bettar initiated the hiring of Nanette Shapiro, Program Specialist for School-to-Career, to coordinate the Certification Program and serve as the District Liaison to the Partnership, providing technical assistance to other local partners. This addition allowed the program to continue growing while providing continuity between the pathways, the two district schools, the business and community involvement and the School-to-Career Partnership. Since the Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 5

5 completion of the grant funding in 2001, the District recognized the value of the Program and has elected to continue funding the School-to-Career Program Specialist position even as the District enters a critical time for budget cutting. While the District leadership has been key to the program, as with all programs, the foundation of the success comes from the teachers working in the program. It is solely their belief and implementation of the career pathway philosophy that keeps the program sustainable. They are in direct contact with the students on a daily basis, and provide guidance, direction and instruction to students in the program. The end result of student growth is a direct reflection of the quality instruction they receive from teachers in the Certification Program. Regardless of the District support, the teachers are the essential factor to the success of the Program. The structure of the Certification Program incorporates a variety of connecting activities which bridge workplace learning with the school-based learning component. Through student interviews, anecdotal evidence shows that students are most impacted by the level of interaction they have with over 300 community and business leaders through the course of their participation in the program. This level of business involvement keeps the program current, the community informed about the program, and builds a stronger relationship between the education and business community. Business and Community representatives participate in a variety of connecting activities: Internship Program Student Exit Interviews Job Shadowing Program Connections to the Future Community Employment Day Career Expo Student Performance Feedback Business in the Classroom Program Uniqueness. There are a variety of program elements that set this program apart from other career pathway programs. These elements include: Senior Seminar. This course is unique in its rigorous design, giving students control over their learning, building in significant time for students to interact and work with business and community representatives. It is closely tied to academic standards and requires students to complete research and demonstrate learning to outside evaluators. The Senior Seminar class is also recognized and approved by the University of California as an English elective course that is accepted for UC admission. Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 6

6 Internship Program. Students complete a minimum of 36 hours in an internship related to their career interest. This program has gone to great lengths to focus the classroom teacher on instruction by providing teachers with support through the creation of the Internship Coordinator Committee. This unique district committee, comprised of retired certificated and classified employees, has the responsibility to secure the internship sites, interview the students for the site match, complete the follow-up on the students at the sites during the students' non-paid internship period and be the liaison between the business, the teacher and the student. Student Exhibitions and Assessment. During the senior year, students demonstrate their skills and are evaluated on three different occasions: 1) While working on the internship, 2) Presenting their research project to a panel of evaluators and 3) Completing an exit interview in front of a panel of evaluators. These outside evaluations are a contributing factor to the student demonstrating their proficiency. Employer evaluations, based on a rubric, must average out to overall proficient ratings in these areas. Out of the six overall areas students are rated, they must have five at the proficient level or above. It is more than just the teacher s evaluation that contributes to the students assessment. Success Rates. Past graduate surveys document that 95% of students completing the Certification Program continue on to further their education in a four-year college, community college, or technical school, leading them to higher paying careers. State test scores of Certificate Program students show greater growth in test score. Program Coordination and Evaluation. The commitment of the Board of Education and District to fund a Program Specialist position to coordinate this program and other School-to- Career activities is unique when compared to surrounding school districts, especially in budget cutting times, which has occurred on two occasions since The support and belief of the Assistant Superintendent of the Secondary Division as a key decision-maker contributes to the strength of the overall program. Since the program s inception, the Certification Program continues to expand and build on the impact of influencing students in their career preparation to the point that career pathways are part of the District Graduation requirements. Starting the program as voluntary and evolving into a mandatory requirement has set the foundation for its sustainability. Business and Industry Involvement. During the program experience, students interact with hundreds of business and industry representatives through their internship, connecting activities, Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 3

7 classroom speakers, project research and student exhibitions. Business and industry involvement is an integral ongoing element of the students instruction. It is not a one-shot interaction. Students learn to communicate and network in the adult business environment developing greater maturity, demonstrating a higher level of professionalism. Program Operation. The program is designed around the three elements of school-to-work linking School-based learning, work-based learning and connecting activities for students focused on a career path. Beginning in the 8 th grade a comprehensive guidance delivery system aligned to the National Standards for Guidance and Counseling supports students in making academic and career goal decisions. Students complete an annual career interest/aptitude inventory to help them focus on possible industry sectors and select a career path. The table below outlines the assessments currently used in 8 th -11 th grades: Annual Career Assessments Administered to Students Grade Career Assessment 8 th COPS Interest Inventory 9 th CHOICES Interest/Aptitude 10 th COPS Interest Inventory 11 th ASVAB-Aptitude 12 th Career Research and Planning Career assessment results are used during one-on-one counseling sessions that occur yearly with the parent, student and guidance counselor to review the student s academic progress, plan for the future, and define career goals. During the registration process, all incoming ninth graders are oriented to the Certification Program by the counselors, informational brochures and letters mailed home. Teachers of pathway core classes open to ninth grade students, promote the benefits of the Certification Program in their courses. Students electing to join the Certification Program commit to taking a sequence of at least five courses within a pathway. Students take their Core Course in their freshman and sophomore years. These are foundation courses within each pathway that provide skills that are broad-based and serve as the foundation to all careers in the pathway. In the junior and senior years, students take more advanced classes that specialize in a more specialized focus within the pathway. In the senior year, students also enroll in the Senior Seminar class which is Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 4

8 the final course in each pathway that brings together all of the learning in the other pathway courses giving students the opportunity to put all their learning into practice. Senior Seminar provides students the opportunity to complete a personal portfolio, which incorporates their best work samples from their four years in the program, and a research-based project, which represents a culminating activity in an area of interest that parallels the students' internship site experience. Once the research project and portfolio are complete, students must demonstrate their skills in front of two panels of evaluators, which are comprised of industry, business, community college, four-year college and community representatives. Over seventy panel members evaluate students on their presentation skills, their research project content and evaluate their performance in the portfolio exit interview. As part of the senior seminar course, students complete an internship with a local business that aligns with their individual career interest area where they practice the skills they ve learned in the workplace under the supervision of an employer. The internship is completed over 6-7 weeks on the students time outside of class time. Upon completion of the sequence of courses and the Senior Seminar course, students meeting the performance standards and proficiencies outlined below as set forth by the Board of Education are awarded a District Certificate of Completion at their high school graduation ceremony in addition to their high school diploma. The diagram below gives a visual representation of how the program operates when a student elects to participate in the Certification Program. Program Elements Grade Career Assessment Courses Completed in the Sequence 8 th COPS Interest Inventory 9 th CHOICES Interest/Aptitude Core Course 10 th COPS Interest Inventory Core Course 11 th ASVAB Aptitude Advanced Career path Course 12 th Research Advanced Career path Course Senior Seminar Career-Related Activities Career Speakers Career Speakers Career Speakers Job Shadowing Career Speakers Community Employment Day Career Speakers Internship Connections to the Future Community Employment Day Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 5

9 Graduation Diploma and Certificate of Completion Performance Exhibitions Employment Four-year University Community College Technical College Trade School Recognition. The Career Certification Program has been recognized as a Program of Excellence by the California Department of Education, by the California School Boards Association and by the National School Board Association. Listed below are the various awards the program has received and a list of various presentations made about the Program. Awards include: 2005 Distinguished High School and Exemplary Career Technical Education Program, Recognition, California Department of Education, Awarded to Rowland High School 2002 Exemplary and Promising Secondary Career and Technical Education Program. Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, and the National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education. Awarded to the Rowland Unified School District Certificate Program in Program of Excellence. California Department of Education, Awarded to the Family & Consumer Sciences Program. (First received in 1995; Renewed in 1998 and 2004) 1999 Special Blue Ribbon Recognition. Rowland High School received a Blue Ribbon distinction with special recognition to the Arts & Communications Pathway Program Business Education Demonstration Site. California Department of Education. Grant awarded to the Business Certification Program in 1997 and Magna Award. American School Board Journal. Awarded to the Business Certification Program Golden Bell Award. California School Boards Association. Awarded to the Business Certification Program 1996 Demonstration District. Recognized by the San Gabriel Valley School-to-Career Partnership in the Federal School-to-Work Grant funded from Program Presentations include: 2002 National School Board Association Conference, New Orleans, LA 2001 CALCP/CAROCP & State Conference, Costa Mesa, CA (Also 1994, 1995 CALCP/CAROCP State Conferences) Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 6

10 2000 National Institute of Education. Singapore 1999 Workplace Learning Conference, Deerborn, MI 1998 California School Boards Association, San Francisco, CA 1994 Business Education & Marketing State Conference, Palm Springs, CA Various school districts in California by request & California Association of Leaders in Career Preparation (CALCP) & California Association of Regional Occupational Programs (CAROCP) Rowland Unified School District Career Certification Program 7

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