In addition to meeting the state requirements for graduation, each county school grad must now successfully pass three career pathway education courses. This is a local graduation rule passed separately from state laws by the Gordon County Board of Education.
State rules will also require all freshmen entering the 2012-2013 school year to complete a pathway for graduation requirements.
A pathway consists of three courses in a technical field; however, the county schools also give students pathway credit for areas such as foreign language, fine arts and Junior ROTC.
“It gives them a career concentration and an opportunity to explore and go more in depth the career and training before they go off to college or the workforce,” explained Amy Parker, county director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education. “It’s just as beneficial for them to discover that it’s something that they don’t want to do as it is to discover it’s something that they want to do.”
Currently, Gordon County students have the opportunity to choose from 28 career pathway combinations. Additionally, the school system offers a few pre-pathways at the middle school level.
“A lot of students will do more than three courses. Some may end up doing a work based learning as their capstone or related experience in the workplace,” Parker said.
Work-based learning and internships are opportunities that enhance learning outside of the classroom, giving students some field experience, for example, at a local business or hospital.
Industry certification courses Parker said by 2014, it is the district’s goal to have industry certification for all pathway courses.
A program is considered industry certified after a special agency comes in and analyzes the program area, the “standards” and the teacher’s ability to train students in a way that prepare them for the workforce. It is acknowledged by the Georgia Department of Education.
Currently, Gordon Central High School’s computer science and business science class is seeking recertification of industry certification status.
“Right now we have four (courses) going through certification,” Parker said.
The other three are: automotive service technology at Gordon Central, business and computer science at Sonoraville High School and Healthcare Science at Gordon Central.
This will allow students to master introductory skills and show future employers that they are well trained in a technical field of study.
“It’s a benefit for our students because they come out with a credential. It’s something that they can take with them next step whether it’s post secondary or workplace,” Parker said.
Partnership with GNTC
The county system has partnered with Georgia Northwestern Technical College to begin the construction of a separate college and career academy using a $3.16 million joint grant. The Gordon County career academy will be located across the Highway 53 spur from GNTC.
It is unknown how long it will take to build the academy, but Parker said system officials hope to have it open by 2013.
In the meantime, county schools have implemented a plan to enhance technical courses and training for students by offering the first ever career academy class, an architecture, drawing and design course. Students take the course at GNTC’s Gordon County campus.
This fall, 19 students enrolled in the first level of the course, Parker said.
“We are looking at other options in the fall to expand the career academy,” she said. “We have to look at things like purchasing equipment, a lab and things that we could easily move.”
Some options may include graphic arts, robotic automation, and alternative fuel and energy sources.