Changes to CTAE courses?
By Kathryn Schiliro
In light of the state's newly minted College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), local school system administration is examining opportunities to bolster Morgan County High School's
Career, Technical, and Agriculture Education (CTAE) program.
Georgia's move to the CCRPI, meant to replace federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures, part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, indicates a stronger emphasis on preparing students for their career of choice, not necessarily a post-secondary institution.
On the coattails of the CCRPI and given Baxter International's recent commitment to the area, the state Department of Education is predicting an increase of about 200 students to the Morgan County School System when Baxter is operational. A greater demand for workers knowledgable in biotechnology and healthcare sciences has become apparent to area school systems. Morgan County Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett said system administration is "looking for opportunities to help support our Career Pathways program."
In an effort to educate themselves as to options, local school system administrators, along with Madison City Council representatives, have visited the Athens Community Career Academy. Plans are also in the works to visit similar career academies in Rockdale and Newton counties, and representatives of the county's Board of Commissioners and Chamber of Commerce are on board to attend those visits too.
Further, Bennett is in very preliminary talks with other, similarly sized, surrounding school systems – Putnam, Greene, Jasper counties and Social Circle, for example – about possibly forming a consortium where different area schools could offer different CTAE courses and students from within the consortium could take those courses at a nearby school, perhaps out of their home county.
"We're probably all within 30 minutes of each other," Bennett said.
Morgan County High School currently offers eight CTAE groups of courses, called "Pathways," including Agriculture Education, Business Education, Construction Education, Food and Nutrition Education, Healthcare Science Education, Government and Public Safety, JROTC Education and Teaching as a Career CTAE Pathways.
Bennett suggested a Baxter-inspired biotechnology pathway, perhaps at MCHS, perhaps as part of the proposed consortium, could be a possibility.
Bennett pointed to Baxter's involvement with the Chicago Public School System.
"Baxter International has partnered with Chicago schools, even sponsoring an academy there," Bennett said. "One of their goals is to work with the communities where they're located."
In fact, according to Baxter's website, "As a science- and technology-based healthcare company, Baxter has a responsibility and need to ensure that current students as well as future generations have the opportunity to learn and be inspired by math and science. Baxter's commitment to education focuses on enhancing local math and science education programs to prepare students for scientific careers."
In 2008, Baxter was responsible for a program, "Science@Work," supporting the education of teachers and development of students in healthcare and biotechnology in Chicago; in fact, in 2009-2010, the company "hosted 22 events for teachers and students including lab tours, lectures, career days and problem-based learning projects, including an experiment to help students understand how easily bacteria are transferred from humans to objects." In 2010, Science@Work opened Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, a Chicago high school meant to ready students for healthcare careers.
By 2015, it's the company's hope that it will not only enable learning through biotechnology education in Chicago, but also "partner with other educational organizations to provide similar opportunities in other locations."
"From Baxter's inclusion and talent recruiting perspective, this initiative also provides a longer-term view to creating a pipeline of talented young people who may be interested in Baxter careers in the future," the website states.
Printed in the June 28, 2012 edition