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City Plans to Offer Career Education Earlier

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
By Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Public Schools already is on track to revamp its career and technical education program for high school students.

Now there’s a proposal for students in third through eighth grade.

At the school board’s education committee meeting tonight, Angela Mike, the district’s executive director of career and technical education, will present a plan to provide all students in grades 3 through 8 once-a-month lessons about careers and work.

The plan is expected to be up for a board vote next month and, if approved, begin in the second semester of this school year.

“Students already are starting to think about careers at a younger age,” said Ms. Mike.

Pennsylvania requires career education for all students and sets academic standards for grades 3, 5, 8 and 11.

Pittsburgh is working on developing a curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 2 as well. If approved, that may be in place next fall.

The first lesson in third grade is aimed at helping children identify their own personal interests, including a survey asking, among other things, whether they like math, taking things apart and managing money. The next lesson helps to identify the range of jobs available. The third helps children understand that careers take preparation.

By grade 8, students are writing resumes and learning interviewing skills. Eighth-graders already have a requirement to complete a career portfolio.

One lesson to be demonstrated to the board uses materials from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, such as a piece of slag to talk about how the steel industry has changed.

The Foundation is among the more than 50 partnerships the district has set up as resources for students, including speakers, internships and tours.

Plans call for students in grades 4 and 7 to take two field trips to businesses in each of those two years.

Ninth-graders will be able to spend a day visiting the training sessions for the carpenters, plumbers and electrical workers.

At the high school level, the board already has approved the creation of three regional programs — health careers; culinary arts; and information technology and business finance — that will be offered at high schools in each of three regions of the city.

Some high schools will have “signature” programs — such as auto body at Pittsburgh Brashear and advanced machine operations at Langley — that require students to attend certain high schools.

Most of the programs in this system will be in place next fall. About 700 students are enrolled in high school CTE programs, and Ms. Mike said the district is trying to attract more.

The district also is trying to make sure that its programs meet the state standards, including a checklist of competencies for each field and adding meeting not only academic standards but also industry standards. The latter still requires an agreement from the teachers union.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633