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How districts can ensure English learners have access to CTEs

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English learners are well represented in career and technical education programs as a proportion of the K-12 student population at the state and federal levels. new analysis From the Migration Policy Institute think tank.

But there are steps individual school districts and schools can take to ensure that all English learners, including older entrants, don’t miss out on participating in the growing wave of CTE programs. Available nationwide.

Julie Sugarman, Senior Policy Analyst for PreK-12 Education at the Migration Policy Institute, published a new report on the participation of English learners in CTE programs. In it, she highlights how in 2018 Congress reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act of 1984.

While national and state-level data show fair representation of this student group in the CTE, there is no breakdown of subgroups, including how many of these English learners are from low-income families, how many have disabilities, and How many disabled newcomers or English learners with a beginner level of English proficiency.

“The experience of any particular student really depends on the knowledge and good sense of the staff, and whether the staff are actually recruiting them for these programs, explaining them, and sharing information at the individual district or school level.” translating,” Sugarman said.

Sugarman and district leaders recommend the following to ensure that all English learners have equal access to quality CTE instruction including the role of cross-departmental collaboration plays ,

work with the community

Districts and schools need to be able to identify specific cultural communities’ particular concerns about CTE, Sugarman said, while making sure they understand exactly what it is, what its benefits are, and other details that may be needed. Immigrant parents may not actually be familiar.

In the Aldine Independent School District in Harris County, Texas, members of the CTE department attend community events to educate the public about the various programs offered by the district.

That’s where she finds misconceptions, said Brooke Martin, executive director of CTE programs for the Eldin district. For example, families believe that participation in JROTC is only for those who want to serve in the military, or some think that their children cannot participate because of their family’s immigrant status.

Martin’s team informs families about the aptitude and leadership skills students can gain from this type of program.

invest in teacher training

“Many CTE teachers come from industry, and they really don’t have great academic training in general, but certainly not with respect to English learners,” Sugarman said.

She noted that some CTE teachers may not have as much experience working with students who are fluent in English.

Recognizing this, Martin at Eldin worked closely with Altagracia “Grace” Delgado, executive director of multilingual services at the district, to train their new CTE teachers. , Members of Delgado’s team met with new CTE teachers, going over teaching strategies for English learners, including what it means to learn to read.

“What does it look like in your classroom? What does it look like when you know the student is using it? And so it became a workshop where teachers were able to engage [training] And implement it, and they have feedback from Grace’s team of support directly in the room with our teachers,” Martin said.

Teachers at Aldean also receive professional development promoting CTE programs for English learners.

have the right mindset in place

Sugarman said districts and schools need to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of how English learners on the CTE can succeed on the CTE.

This is why cross-departmental collaboration is important as seen at Aldean.

The district accounts for 45 percent of English learners, Delgado said, and in her review of how well these students were engaged in elective courses, she saw an opportunity to work with Martin and her team.

The idea of ​​silos where those in charge of CTEs only supervise students in those programs, and only oversee English learners working in multilingual services, is not student friendly.

“We don’t have enough staff to do that. Students are students and they belong to all of us. And we are responsible for all of them together,” Delgado said.

All teachers also need to see the value CTEs provide to English learners, said Kate Kramer, deputy executive director of the Advance CTE nonprofit.

This program offers ways to help increase graduation rates, and may offer connections and many other post-secondary opportunities.

“I think, certainly for English learners, the connection piece you make to your teacher, your school, your community, your other peers is really meaningful,” Creamer said.

Allow flexibility in student participation

Sugarman said that whether it schedules accommodations, or workarounds for undocumented students, districts and schools need to identify ways to be flexible in offering and running CTE programs for all English learners.

For example, while this may be a challenge for smaller districts, Sugerman said it is worth looking at how to offer evening CTE classes to accommodate schedules that require English learners to take language development courses. But regular school days are required to be spent. This often leaves English learners with fewer options for participating in electives.

Kramer said some states and districts face the issue of how to support undocumented students, and particularly through work-based education such as internships and apprenticeships. As a workaround, some districts have offered these students scholarships in lieu of salaries.

At Aldine District, Delgado works with her team and counselors to better assess incoming students’ school transcripts to see if they are able to meet the study abroad credit requirements. If so, it gives them more time to take electives like CTE.

The district also makes sure that if an English learner wants to participate in a special CTE program, they have the same opportunity to apply as the rest of their peers, Martin said.