A Model of the Career Academy Concept

 

EVALUATION OF EIGHT CAREER ACADEMIES/SMALLER LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Putnam/ Northern Westchester BOCES

 Overview:

This is the evaluation for eight career academies/small learning communities in the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES. The team from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) spent four days assessing the academies. Team members were Rick Delano and Sandy Mittelsteadt. Each academy introduced the evaluators to their team members, students and parents and also discussed documentation of their academy achievements via notebooks using the Smaller Learning Communities Document. The evaluation was based on the evaluation document centered on the National Standards of Practice (NSOP) for smaller learning communities. The NSOP defines what components a standard smaller learning community/career academy should have for success.

Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES offers a wide array of learning opportunities to students who want to both develop career skills and earn college credits. The eight academies/small learning communities evaluated offer academic subjects such as English, math, science, social studies and P.E. Academy students may attend for one or two years, from two to four hours a day. Successful graduates may obtain certification and/or a Regents Diploma with Technical Endorsement.

The eight evaluated career academies were outstanding programs with competent, enthusiastic and dedicated team members. It was obvious in each academy that students are a priority. All academies could be described as supportive smaller learning communities that personalized the education for each student. These eight academies are a model for curriculum integration: integration between career and technical with academics, intra-curriculum integration within the different pathways of the academy and inter- curriculum integration between the academies. In fact, the curriculum integration within the Tech Center at Yorktown is the best that the evaluators have ever witnessed in all the academies they have visited.

Determination:

The evaluations determined that the eight academies exceeded the expectations of the National Standards of Practice and would be considered model career academies.

Commendations for all academies/smaller learning communities:

The evaluator team commends the BOCES for:

  • Its visionary leadership that truly understands the value of the career academies/smaller learning communities’ concept for students.
  • Administration that promotes self-determining and flexible academy structure.
  • The competency of the academy staff. They are experts in their professional industry and continue to upgrade their industry knowledge and skills.
  • The opportunities that are provided to students in leadership and work-based learning.
  • Three-prong integration:

ºBetween career and technical and academics.

ºIntra-curriculum integration within the different pathways of the academy.

ºInter-curriculum integration between the academies, such as the Fashion

Show.

  • The push-in approach of teaching the academics in the career and technical classrooms. (The evaluators think this is a much more powerful environment for learning academics over the pull-out approach.)
  • Safe, caring and supportive environment by the staff for the students (evidenced by the “extra mile” the staff goes to personalize the learning experiences and support students in nonacademic ways).
  • Student portfolios.
  • Exit research project.

 

Recommendations for all academies/smaller learning communities:

The evaluator team recommends that:

  • Each academy team meets to debrief from the evaluation.
  • The academies make presentations at appropriate conferences to showcase Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES’ Career Academies/Smaller Learning Communities and to also instruct other educators on how to develop model career academies.
  • Develop an integrated curriculum institute and invite educators in career academies/smaller learning communities.
  • Consider recruiting activities or events at the eighth grade level.
  • Collect student data to demonstrate student success.