South Dakota’s Board of Education heard about new proposed standards for career and technical education this week.
The hearing, Monday in Aberdeen, was the first of four set across the state.
After approving a new timeline for the social studies standards review process, the board went on to discuss new standards for several of the 16 career and technical education clusters that are offered in South Dakota, as well as fine arts.
Career and technical education classes help students get an idea of potential career opportunities. Vera Tipton, administrator of the Office of Standards, Learning and Leadership with the Department of Education, presented the fine arts standards. A workgroup in the fine arts standards revision process consisted of 30 members throughout the state from both public and private school districts. They met seven times between June and July via Zoom, said Tipton.
Six main themes emerged from the proposed standards, she said. Media arts is now combined with visual arts, bringing the fine arts subjects down from five to four. The other subjects are theater, dance, and music.
Currently, the only levels of high school music standards are proficient and advanced. The proposed new standards would create three new categories: novice, intermediate, and accomplished.
Career and technical education standards
Laura Scheibe, who is the state’s career and technical education director, explained that career and technical education standards take a broader approach than core courses and are organized in different career clusters.
The revision team consisted of counselors, secondary educators, staff members and school administrators, among others. It considered whether standards were research-based; rigorous; connected to industry; promoted readiness for college, career, and life; supported students’ capacity for higher-level thinking; and showed a clear progression of current technical expectations, Scheibe said.
In the agriculture, food and natural resources cluster, a common set of supervised agriculture experiences were added to the standards of almost every agriculture class, she said.
The use of appropriate protective equipment and demonstration of proper use of equipment were added to the standards.
The arts, audiovisual and communication cluster includes pathways like audiovisual technology; film, journalism and broadcasting; and visual arts. While all courses remained, the team reorganized the six existing pathways within the cluster, instead creating three.
“This change helped to eliminate some repetition among pathways, and will make implementing the pathways easier for South Dakota schools,” Scheibe said.
Other topics worked into the revisions include the employability and industry skills and legalities surrounding the design industry.
In the finance cluster, several course names and descriptions were changed with modern technology like mobile banking taken into account, said Scheibe.
In the health science cluster, which includes pathways like therapeutic services, diagnostic services and biotech research, several course names were changed to better reflect the purpose of the courses. For instance, the certified nursing assistant course was changed to “gateway to certified nursing assistant” in order to emphasize the fact that students will need to take further steps in order to become a licensed certified nursing assistant.
The manufacturing career cluster includes pathways like welding,automation and engineering, with changes being made to address feedback from industry professionals about skills needed to be successful in the industry, said Scheibe. For example, agriculture metal fabrication was added to the welding curriculum.
Scott Pudwill, ATEC Academy director at Aberdeen School District, which provides career and technical instruction to students in grades nine through 12, said the district has recently made a considerable effort to build up course offerings that align with the state’s industry needs.
“This allows schools of all sizes that offer CT courses to give sound instruction that prepares students for a productive life after high school,” he said.
When asked about how schools decide which clusters and courses to offer, Scheibe said several factors are considered, such as industry professionals in the area, local interest, community needs and the availability of teachers.
Virtual learning report
The board also heard a virtual learning report from Jennifer Tschetter, assistant administrator for the Office of Assessment and Accountability with the Department of Education.
Tschetter led a 40-person taskforce during the summer that assessed the future of virtual learning.
Some recommendations made by the group include a change in nomenclature for the South Dakota Virtual School to the South Dakota Center for Virtual Education, as the website is not an actual school, but a hub for students to find information about virtual instruction.
The workgroup also made recommendations regarding leadership and the advisory council, which could provide guidance to local school districts. However, Tschetter said the workgroup still felt that it is best for local school districts to implement policies on virtual education
The next hearing for the proposed course standards will be on Nov. 15 in Sioux Falls.