Career and Technical Education success stories at Edmonds School Board meeting

The 2019-20 Student Advisors

After reviewing the success of the Edmonds School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) from the 2018-19 school year, the Edmonds School Board of Directors unanimously voted Sept. 10 to approve the updated CTE five-year work plan.

CTE teaches middle and high school students specific skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies and career preparation. Each school year, the district is required by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to review and plan for the CTE program.

At the board’s Sept. 10 business meeting, Director of Career and College Readiness Mark Madison presented highlights from the 2018-19 CTE program. Among them: Enrollment in a computer science class increased by 100 students across two high schools — Edmonds-Woodway and Meadowdale — that had previously experienced low enrollment. In addition, the program is testing a new intro to computer science CTE course at Brier Terrace Middle School that has 100 students enrolled, and Madison said there are plans to bring the course to other middle schools. 

Madison predicted that the need for computer science education will increase as technology advances across the workforce. “Computer science is going to become what reading is in every industry,” he said.

In response to new requirements for students to have three years of science courses to graduate, Madison said the CTE program saw a “significant” enrollment increase in other CTE science courses like anatomy and physiology, AP environmental science and bio-technology courses. A new food science course was also introduced at Meadowdale High School last year.

“It was a way for students to continue on CTE paths while meeting that new third-year science requirement,” he said.

The CTE program also made technology and equipment improvements, with $100,000 invested in automotive courses at Meadowdale High School, Madison said. Based on feedback from the program’s automotive industry partners, five new vehicle lifts and new high-tech tire-balancing and assessment systems were added so that students can work at automotive industry standards.

Through the CTE program, students can earn both high school and college credit. Last year, the number of students who earned dual credit increased and 460 students elected to receive college credit. Madison said even more students qualified for college credit, but they chose not to obtain it. 

According to Madison, students earned an average of five college credits in the program. Students can also earn industry certifications that they can carry with them into the job market. In the 2018-19 school year, 211 students earned 432 industry certifications in fields like manufacturing, automotive service and Microsoft Office.

“These are portable industry certifications,” Madison said. “They are recognized by employers and can be taken and applied anywhere — not just in the state of Washington.”

Additionally, Madison said the program was recognized during a state audit for its work at Mountlake High School to develop an English 12 Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) class. The class — which utilizes STEM research to earn English credit — was recognized in the audit report as a “best practice,” he said.

Through the CTE program, students can join clubs that compete on state and national levels. Last year, the number of students involved in the 34 CTE clubs across the district increased by 200 students. Students also volunteered in community service projects, and around 500 students competed in regional, state or national competitions, with 245 winning awards.

Two of those awards were received by the Technology Student Association (TSA) teams from Brier Terrace Middle School and Mountlake Terrace High School. Those teams took first place at the middle and high school levels for structural engineering at the National TSA Conference held in Washington D.C.

“‘Exceptional’ isn’t even the right word,” Madison said. “We’re so proud.”

Madison added that the teams will receive additional formal recognition at a later date.

Additionally, almost 20 students had the opportunity to work as paid interns.

For the 2019-20 school year, Madison said he wants to expand career connected learning and industry partnerships to provide students more employment opportunities while they earn course credit. 

“My vision is this — if there’s an employer that’s looking for an employee in our region, the first thing I want them to think about is ‘What does Edmonds have to offer?’” he said.

According to Madison, the program is already expanding its partnerships. This year, students will be able to apply for paid internships with Bothell-based AGC Biologics and a new computer science summer internship with T-Mobile. Also, Madison said the program is working with 190 Sunset Restaurant in Edmonds for culinary arts internships.

Madison said the department also eliminated CTE course fees at the start of the new school year.

“We just believe that supplies and materials are part of our business,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill to provide students with more pathways to graduation that Madison said the CTE Department will be helping students navigate. Under the new legislation, students can graduate high school by taking CTE courses instead of state-mandated tests. 

Currently, only five of the CTE program courses meet the requirements for the new alternative graduation program — automotive technology; carpentry and building construction; health care professions (offered at Meadowdale High School); computer-aided design and drafting (offered at Edmonds-Woodway High School); and engineering/STEM. However, Madison said he hopes to expand the areas of study at a later time.

“It’s an area that we hope to expand in other areas as well,” he said.

Lauri Velasquez

Also attending the Sept. 10 meeting were members of the ESD Association of Office Personnel union, which has been in contract negotiations with the district since May. On Sept. 5, union members rallied outside the Edmonds School District administration building for support.

Speaking during the public comment period, chapter president Lauri Velasquez said the responsibilities of office personnel are so many that she cannot name them all and they are “ribbon that keeps the district together.”

Velasquez, who is an office manager at Beverly Elementary School, said she and the rest of the district’s office personnel don’t believe they are being fairly compensated and that they are being intimidated during the negotiations.

“We are asking (you) to treat us with the equity this district touts as its core belief,” she said. “Equity to us is being provided the same opportunity as other bargaining groups.”

Also during the meeting, the school board of directors welcomed its new students advisors for the 2019-20 school year. Student advisors sit in on school board meetings to learn about the district and sometimes offer advice to the board.

–Story and photos 

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