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School District of New Berlin News

Information for the New Berlin community on school district news, events, and celebrations of success.

The Role of Career and Technical Education in College and Career Readiness

by Laura Schmidt, School District of New Berlin Interim Director of College and Career Readiness

February marks Career and Technical Education month.  Have you ever heard of it before?  Many have not.  How about the term “College and Career Ready”?  Most have heard of that term but each person likely has a different definition of what it means to them or their student.  However, it is really hard to be college and career ready without career and technical education. 

In a general sense, the term “College and Career Ready” means that a student has performed well enough to indicate they would be successful with entry level college coursework and/or be able to apply what they have learned in school to satisfy the requirements of an entry level job.  Whether or not that bar is too high or too low is a matter of personal perspective.  

The School District of New Berlin “expects excellence” so we continually strive to improve the breadth of our programming to ensure that all students can pursue excellence in their own way as they develop, monitor and refine their academic and career plan to support the goals they set for themselves.  Regardless of their post-secondary plans, there is significant value in pursuing rigorous and relevant coursework in whatever academic and/or technical disciplines are of most interest to them. 

Nearly all of our students aspire to continue their education after high school.  That is good news since most jobs require that they do.  However, there are many different ways to pursue a post-secondary education and each have a value in the current and projected economy.  Finding the right fit for each student is critical to ensure that they make a wise investment and are adequately prepared to be successful. 

Success in college and career requires more than a mastery of the “content” that is traditionally measured by standardized assessments.  In the School District of New Berlin, we have defined “College and Career Ready” in a broader sense to include the development of skills and dispositions that would ensure students are truly ready to effectively navigate the world of higher education AND work.

To have the skills and dispositions needed to navigate the world of higher education, students need to be able to evaluate post-secondary education alternatives in relation to their personal academic and career plan.  They need to have prior exposure to careers and the coursework needed to prepare for those careers to confirm what they like, what they don’t like, and what level of effort it will take to be successful.  Without guidance, they might not know what to look for or what questions to ask to make sure they choose the school that is the right fit for them. Most importantly, students need to develop the self-confidence and self-advocacy skills required to persevere when things don’t go as planned.

Preparing students to be ready for the world of work is different than preparing students for the college admissions process.  They need to understand and value their future role in the economy and know how to develop a plan to secure credentials that differentiate them from others who will be competing for the same opportunities someday.  They need to know what it takes to find, and more importantly keep, a job. They need to understand what it means for an employer to trust them enough to employ them and what expectations come with that level of trust.  They also need to know whether they are being treated fairly as an employee.  These are skills and dispositions that are needed by all graduates so that they are prepared for work whether they are seeking employment to help fund their post secondary education, secure an internship, or transition to full time employment.

The School District of New Berlin can not effectively prepare students to navigate the world of higher education and work without career and technical education.  In honor of CTE month, we would like to thank all of those that play a role in supporting our efforts! 

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