Beyond the Diploma: Career Technical Education: Clark Magnet High School Has Received State and National Recognition for Its Seamless Integration of a Rigorous College Prep Curriculum with Career Technical Education

Article excerpt

Following a $15 million renovation project, the Anderson W. Clark Magnet High School with Emphasis on Science and Technology opened in September 1998. Through the efforts of a magnet school task force that included educators, business partners and other community members, Clark was designed for students who want a challenging curriculum to prepare them for further education and the highly skilled, technology-oriented jobs of the 21st century.

Since the school's inception, there has been an ongoing commitment to self-study and data-driven improvement that has refined the school's academic programs--programs that epitomize the seamless integration of a rigorous college prep curriculum with career technical education.

Clark's curriculum is based on school reform research, including California's plan for secondary schools, "Second to None," as well as the SCANS Report, "Aiming High, Breaking Ranks: Changing ah American Institution," and the work of the governor's School-to-Career Task Force.

Entering ninth graders are introduced to Clark's unique CTE focus through two foundation courses. The College and Career Prep course allows students to start planning their high school, higher education and future career paths. The Technology Literacy course provides Clark's students with introductory skills that prepare them to undertake more advanced courses in their chosen curricular strand. Clark's curriculum is designed to provide every student with the preparation necessary to succeed in college and in future careers.

Clark's students are guided in their choice of high school courses by following one of four curricular strands: science/engineering, computer applications (including business applications and computer programming), digital arts or technology systems (computer repair and networking).

Strategies for success

Over the years, Clark has won many international, national and state awards as one of America's most successful high schools.

These awards include the California State Distinguished School, the California Exemplary Career/Technical Education award and the National Blue Ribbon School award. In addition to these honors, Clark has been identified by the International Center for Leadership in Education as one of the 30 most effective high schools and as a model school.

The key strategies behind the school's success are intentionality of purpose, a student-centered culture and high academic expectations.

All of Clark's students have opportunities to participate in CTE experiences. CTE opportunities include preparation of digital school-to-career portfolios using Bridges Choices Explorer software, attending youth leadership conferences, and going on field trips to media corporations. Many students participate in the Engineering Club bridge-building competitions and the Future Business Leaders of America activities.

A special project and experience for Clark students was production of the video of award-winning schools shown during the California Department of Education's Distinguished Schools awards ceremony. In addition to producing the video, students were given the opportunity to work with professionals behind the scenes at the Disneyland Hotel setting up the multimedia equipment for this year's program.

The Clark Robotics Team has successfully competed in the First Robotics program and in 2007 won the San Diego Regional competition. It then went on to compete at the international robotics championship in Atlanta.

The Senior Project Oral Boards Day is an annual convocation of all community stakeholders when parents, Clark alumni, Clark staff, district administrators and local business people come to volunteer time to evaluate senior project presentations that can focus on either career themes or vocational interests.

Clark's "business casual" dress standard, including khaki pants with collared, polo-type shirts, produces a professional environment that prepares students for the working world. …