CTAE faces change
The Career Technical and Agricultural Education departments at Clarke Central High School and Cedar Shoals High School, in which many students from CCHS and CSHS are enrolled, will be transferred to the Athens Community Career Academy with the start of the 2012-13 school year.
Clarke Central High School junior Jasmine Gay and senior Amber Sheats are enrolled in the Work Based Learning program, provided by the Career Technical and Agricultural Education department. With the start of the 2012-13 school year, WBL will no longer be provided at CCHS at Cedar Shoals High School, due to reassignment of CTAE courses.
Along with the transfer of classes, the ACCA will merge with Athens Technical College next year.
“(The CTAE merge is) really dual-enrollment, we just structured it for easy access for students,” Clarke County School District Superintendent Dr. Philip Lanoue said.
Not all CTAE department classes will transfer to the ACCA. Military Science courses, the Graphic Design Pathway and the Plant Science/Horticulture Pathway courses will remain at each high school.
Although certain classes are staying, it is expected that they will soon transfer to the ACCA as well.
“(Graphics and JROTC) are high school courses, still high school pathways; I see (those classes) merging,” Lanoue said.
As a result of combining the ACCA and Athens Technical College, some of the courses formally known as CTAE will be offered through Athens Technical College and count as college credit for students. Other former CTAE classes will be placed as “Entry Level Two” courses, which are the classes students take if they do not pass the COMPASS test, an exam required as an admission test for Athens Technical College in order to take college courses.
If interested students pass the COMPASS test, they have the opportunity to enroll into Athens Technical College courses. The purpose of the COMPASS exam is to determine whether or not students are prepared to take Athens Technical College courses.
“(Qualified students) can just go into Athens (Technical College). (Courses) will be taught by Athens Tech professors and it will be for free. (Students) get a college transcript that gives you that credit,” Lanoue said.
The main purpose of the ACCA is to offer classes that prepare students for college rigor and the workplace. According to the CCSD website, the mission of the ACCA is “to provide expansive opportunities for students to achieve educational and career goals while meeting local and regional workforce need.”
If students do not pass the COMPASS test, there are alternate opportunities available. Those students can enroll into the ACCA and take two high school preparation courses, some of which are previous CTAE courses, but will not be allowed to take the college courses until they meet the requirements to do so.
ACCA offers preparation courses, provided by high school teachers and counted as high school credit, along with the Athens Technical college courses, allowing students alternate opportunities to enter into the ACCA.
The reassignment of CTAE classes causes a removal of teaching jobs at both high schools. However, Lanoue has the authority to make the decisions for the teachers’ new positions.
“(For) each one of those teachers, I have the ability to reassign (their positions); as (CCSD) Superintendent, I have the ability to place them based on certification,” Lanoue said.
CCHS teachers were first made aware of the changes at a faculty meeting with Lanoue on Jan. 13. However, CTAE department teacher Carolyn Jackson, along with other CTAE teachers, feels that there is still a lack of information given from the CCSD.
“(We have not been told) very much. We were told how we are ranked in the school system according to our certification and years of service,” Jackson said. “(I think) they are finalizing the testing among other things so that a more accurate account of the number of students to be serviced at the Career Academy will be known. At that point, they will be in a better position to give us more information about what is needed and how or if we fit into the formula.”
If there is a need, some teachers may be moved to a position teaching a similar subject at the ACCA. But, the reassignment of teachers is still being determined based upon the amount of students interested.
“I hope we have good enrollment (at the ACCA) because that tells you how many teachers you need in the high school section. If you don’t have good enrollment you won’t need as many teachers,” Lanoue said.
Despite the reassignment, Jackson feels that the changes could be beneficial for the students.
“The way I understand it, the students will take courses through Athens Technical College and receive college credit which will be a ‘win-win’ for the students,” Jackson said.
In addition to the loss of teachers and the CTAE courses they provide, Work Based Learning internships will be eliminated. CCHS junior Jasmine Gay is enrolled in an internship at a local radio station, which she feels played a key role in her high school career.
“(WBL) teaches (students) how to be professional; it teaches you how to interact with people. Sometimes it’s not about what you know but who you know. So, if we’re closed out from those opportunities how do they expect us to make it (outside of high school)?” Gay said.
The status of each club provided by CTAE courses, such as the STEAM Café, a student run coffee shop, and the GLAD Shack, a student run store, are still under consideration.
“Those are issues that we’re still working out on. Those are issues we’re trying to clarify. We haven’t gotten to the details, but those (clubs) are things I would like to see those stay open, maybe not through the CTAE. I think the STEAM (Cafe) is very good for our students as well as the GLAD Shack,” CCHS Principal Dr. Robbie P. Hooker said.
While administrators feel these clubs are beneficial to students, the CCSD’s goal is to guide education in a direction that the classes will prepare all students for their plans after high school.
“Even CTAE as we saw it before is going to be merged into this bigger picture of all students,” Lanoue said. “I think there is a different mindset. Sure it’s different, but it’s not uncommon.”
Throughout all the decisions for ACCA, Lanoue takes into consideration how it will benefit the students after high school.
“My ultimate goal is that students have a choice to make: either go into the work force, continue education (or) travel,” Lanoue said. “I think the key here is that we’re trying to create real flexibility in how we prepare students.”