Magazine article Techniques

CTE: Connecting Passion with Purpose

Magazine article Techniques

CTE: Connecting Passion with Purpose

Article excerpt

Helping students connect their passion with a purpose is critical to student success. Career and technical education (CTE) programs are uniquely positioned to facilitate this connection, providing the pathway to help students work toward a career objective while still in high school.

The International Baccalaureate (IB), a non-profit association founded in 1968, offers four programs of international education that develop the "intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world" (International Baccalaureate, 2015). The IB is best known for its Diploma Programme (DP), which unites a challenging academic program with the need for a global approach to learning and living. It has been recognized by SRI International, a non-profit research institute, for being a pathway to success in postsecondary education.

And the statistics back this up. Research released last spring by the International Baccalaureate (2015) showed that 78 percent of DP students enrolled immediately in postsecondary education following high school graduation; the national enrollment rate was 69 percent (Bergeron, 2015a). Even more notably, the four-year graduation rate for DP diploma earners was 79 percent, compared to 39 percent nationally, as shown in a recent research brief by the International Baccalaureate (Bergeron, 2015b).

Recognizing the changing needs of our global community, the IB developed its newest offering: the IB Career-related Programme or CP, which is a CTE program that seeks to serve the needs of those students who have a keen interest in a specific career path or subject area and the desire to connect that passion with a purpose.

The Career-related Programme

Today's information economy demands a new style of career training that helps prepare students for lifelong learning, as opposed to envisioning learning as a task with an end date. Furthermore, our increasingly global workforce is best served by an educational curriculum that teaches creative thinking and problem solving, rather than how to perform rote tasks.

The CP meets the needs of schools seeking a technical or career-related studies option that combines these skills with a rigorous academic program to prepare students for success in career and/or postsecondary education. By combining strong academics with hands-on career experience in career pathways chosen at the local school level, the CP distinguishes itself from traditional CTE programs, and helps to shape students who are prepared for success in both career and higher education.

Making the Connection

The importance of the connection between passion and purpose in a student's life can be seen in countless examples within CTE programs, and the CP is no exception. Take Alex (*) for example. He graduated from the CP at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, last June. Literature did not interest him, nor did history or Language Arts, and writing papers for those classes was downright painful. But he soared in engineering classes.

He also loved math, and he saw it in everything he did. He worked with Lisa Ingram, the IB coordinator at Watkins Mill, on his math internal assessment. Ingram shot basketballs in the gym while a classmate filmed and Alex measured angles, velocity and arc. His internal assessment project allowed him to focus on the math in something every day--basketball--and that was a fitting outlet for him.

Alex was a natural fit for Watkins Mill's Engineering Academy career path, offered through the school's unique CP, and he thrived in his coursework in Principles of Engineering and Engineering Design Development. As Ingram puts it, "CP was made for kids who are passionate about something and blessed to be able to pursue their passion."

How can teachers and schools help students connect directly with their passion? By offering the CP, which is anticipated to become one of the IBs most popular programs because its flexibility allows schools to cater the program to the needs, backgrounds and contexts of their students and their community. …

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