Academic and CTE Integration
The North Carolina CTE Essential Standards and Programs of Study incorporate and align with academics. In addition, the Future-Ready Occupational diploma track includes Occupational Course of Study academic courses.
Academic-CTE integration has been a major focus of professional development in North Carolina. The 2010-2011 CAR narrative describes work with Southern Regional Education Board and other stakeholders to develop a model for integration of mathematics into CTE courses. The state also supports Project Lead The Way, a STEM curriculum.
College and career readiness: North Carolina has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and is a governing state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is developing a next-generation assessment system aligned to the CCSS.
North Carolina has adopted the nationally recognized Career Clusters® model, supported by eight program areas: agricultural education; business, finance and IT education; career development; family and consumer sciences education; health science education; marketing and entrepreneurship education; technology engineering and design education; and trade and industrial education. The North Carolina Career Clusters Guide is a resource tool for career planning and preparation.
CTE Delivery System
At the secondary level, CTE is delivered through comprehensive high schools, CTE-focused high schools, which teach core academic subjects in the context of specific career training, and early/middle college schools, which allow students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree or up to two years of credit toward a bachelor’s degree.
At the postsecondary level, CTE is delivered through the state’s community colleges. Individual colleges have service areas that may include one or several counties, but students may apply to institutions of their choice, regardless of their counties of residence.
According to 2010-2011 data from the U.S. Department of Education (the latest numbers publicly available), the total number of CTE students in North Carolina was 669,655. This includes the following:
- Secondary: 513,397
- Postsecondary: 156,258
Federal: North Carolina is estimated to receive $35,567,554 from the Perkins Basic State Grant in FY 2012. Of funds distributed to local programs, 67 percent go to secondary recipients and 33 percent to postsecondary recipients.
CTE Program Performance Data
CTE program performance is reported by states each year to the federal government through the Consolidated Annual Report (CAR) as required by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The reports below are the latest publicly available from the Department of Education.
CTE State Standards
The CTE Essential Standards provide program area and course descriptions, links to essential standards by course and other curriculum information. This document includes national standards and academic content. The CTE Planning Guide provides supplementary information useful to CTE administrators as they plan for implementation of CTE Essential Standards.
The Department of Public Instruction is responsible for approving secondary CTE programs, while the community college system is responsible for approving postsecondary CTE programs.
Dual Enrollment and Articulation
According to the state plan, North Carolina has a long-standing statewide articulation agreement developed by NCDPI and NCCCS staffs working with secondary and postsecondary instructors and content experts. Dual credit and enrollment programs encompass many options:
- Career and College Promise: In this program, students take exploratory and skills-focused courses during middle school and their first two years in high school. As high school juniors and seniors, they access Career and College Promise technical pathways to earn a community college certificate in their career interest area and acquire credits transferrable within the NC Community College System.
- Huskins Bill: This law provides for community college courses to be offered specifically for high school students and held on high school campuses, taught by community college faculty.
- Concurrent Enrollment: Concurrent enrollment is a joint effort between LEAs and community colleges that allows high school students to earn credit that can be applied toward high school and college graduation and may be transferred to other colleges or universities.
- Early College High Schools and Middle College High Schools: Located on the campuses of two- and four-year colleges and universities, these schools allow students to graduate with both a high school diploma and two years of transferable college credit or an associate degree.
The North Carolina Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) is a statewide agreement governing the transfer of credits between NC community colleges and NC public universities. The CAA assures admission to one of the 16 UNC institutions (Transfer Assured Admissions Policy) and ensures NCCCS students with an associate degree will be admitted with junior status.
High School Graduation Requirements
A new law signed in 2013 directs the State Board of Education to develop three diploma endorsements–college-ready, career-ready or both-starting for the class of 2015.
Beginning for ninth graders in the 2012-2013 school year, students can choose two courses of study for a high school diploma. Both tracks require a minimum of 22 total credits, plus any local requirements.
- Future-Ready Occupational: 4 credits of English (including Occupational Course of Study [OCS] English I, II, III, and IV); 3 credits of Mathematics (including OCS Introduction to Mathematics, OCS Algebra I and OCS Financial Management); 2 credits of Science (including OCS Applied Science and OCS Biology); 2 credits of Social Studies; 1 credit of Health/Physical Education; 4 credits of CTE electives; and 6 credits of electives (including OCS Preparation I, II, III and IV, which includes completion of 300 hours of school-based training, 240 hours of community-based training, and 360 hours of paid employment. as well as elective credits/completion of individual education plan objectives/career portfolio). Students are also encouraged to take at least 1 credit in Arts.
- Future-Ready Core: 4 credits of English; 4 credits of Mathematics; 3 credits of Science; 4 credits of Social Studies; 1 credit of Health/Physical Education; and 6 credits of electives (including 2 credits of any combination from CTE, Arts Education or World Languages as well as 4 credits strongly recommended in a sequenced program of either CTE, JROTC, Arts Education or any other subject area).
Local Program Examples
Profiles of exemplary programs can be found on the North Carolina Fact Sheet.
Programs of Study
According to the state CTE plan, local education agencies in North Carolina develop local plans using the state’s Standard Course of Study, developed by educators with input from business and industry, community college and university representatives. Programs of Study offered in any of North Carolina’s community colleges must first be evaluated by a curriculum review committee.
Programs of Study are correlated with national industry standards and/or national curriculum standards and aligned to academic standards. Classroom-assessment banks are developed and provided to teachers.
State Education and Workforce Agenda
Governor Pat McCrory has announced his support for education that leads to successful careers. He has also questioned the value of public liberal arts education. In addition, his 2013 inaugural address indicated support for technology in education as well as for expanding agricultural exports, unleashing energy resources, creating a climate for existing businesses to expand and new businesses to locate and grow jobs, and supporting manufacturing, transportation, finance, and travel and tourism.
The governor’s budget recommendations for Fiscal Years 2013-2015 include:
- $32 million in additional funds over two years for resource-intensive community college programs in high demand by employers such as engineering, vocational and technology training
- $28 million over two years for technical education equipment and infrastructure in North Carolina’s Community College system
- $63 million over two years to help fund the University of North Carolina’s Strategic Directions Plan, which will prepare students for workforce demands in various high-growth sectors
In 2013, the governor signed the Increase Access to Career and Technical Education bill, which includes:
- Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, students will get one of three endorsements on diplomas: college-ready, career-ready or both.
- The state Board of Education is directed to relax licensing requirements for CTE teachers, with a goal of recruiting industry professionals into teaching.
- High schools are called to collaborate closely with community colleges, and education officials are directed to recruit more students into career fields with available jobs.
North Carolina Senate Bill 166 in 2011 established the “No Adult Left Behind” Initiative to increase to 40 percent the percentage of residents who earn associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees and other non-graduate credentials. The state of North Carolina issues career readiness certificates to individuals who have taken the WorkKeys tests.
Other initiatives include the “12 in 6” Program to create community college programs in 12 career areas, each requiring less than six months to complete. In addition, the NC Back-to-Work program prepares North Carolinians facing long-term unemployment with job training, employability skills and industry-recognized third-party credentials. The N.C. State Board of Education approved a STEM Education Strategy in November 2011, which creates a coordinated blueprint to advance STEM education across North Carolina.
On July 3, 2003, The Innovative Education Initiatives Act was signed into law and created policy waivers and a dedicated funding source for innovative high school models like career academies. The North Carolina New Schools Project (NCNSP) includes several school models:
- Career Academies
- STEM Education and Thematic Schools
- Early College High Schools: Located on the campuses of two- and four-year colleges and universities, early college high schools allow students to graduate with both a high school diploma and two years of transferable college credit or an associate’s degree.
North Carolina also participates in several Southern Regional Education Board activities, including the High Schools That Work (HSTW) and Making Middle Grades Work reform initiatives, as well as Preparation for Tomorrow, for which the state is developing a four-course sequence in project management. The state is also part of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration with the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Jobs for the Future focused on ensuring that more young people complete high school and attain a postsecondary credential with currency in the labor market. To accomplish this goal, states are engaging employers and educators to build a 7th-14th/16th career pathways system for high school aged students.
State labor market: The state’s industry sector targets are biotech/life sciences/agribusiness, business and financial services, consumer products manufacturing, energy, information and communications technology, and transportation. Learn more about North Carolina labor market info at www.ncesc.com.
Technical Skills Assessments
According to the 2010-2011 CAR narrative, technical skill assessments are offered in all eight program areas. North Carolina utilizes a system of statewide, state-developed post-assessments to measure technical skills attainment at the secondary level, validated by business and industry. For CTE participants enrolled in courses for which no statewide post-assessment is available, courses use either attainment of industry-recognized certifications or performance on third-party assessments as their measure of technical skill attainment.
On the postsecondary level, NCCCS collects data on technical skill assessments for licenses required by state statute and for certifications, generally voluntary but that may be required by employers or an outside accrediting agency. The state is continuing to add technical skill assessments, and GPA continues to be used as a measure of technical skill attainment.
Since 2009, the North Carolina program issues state certificates, based on performance on WorkKeys assessments, with an ACT-authorized certificate number for employers to verify in the National Career Readiness Certificate database.