Beginning in the spring of 2005, Scott Burke (Industrial Technology), Tom Moore (Mathematics), and Dave Dillman (CTE Director) began discussing options for applying to receive vocational Tech Prep Funding. After analyzing different data including CSAP scores, vocational credentialing, and an existing program that began with two retired teachers from Jefferson County public schools, the decision was made to combine the current geometry curriculum with the current construction curriculum in order to create a contextualized model for teaching. Additionally upon meeting with local leaders in the fields of construction, architecture, trades, and engineering, truths about the large local demand for construction workers in all aspects of the industry drove the conversation, as construction related careers account for more than 20% of the private workforce in Larimer County. These Business and Industry representatives have stressed the need to hire competent employees who possess solid math skills as well as a foundation of knowledge in Green Built Techniques, construction, and leadership/employability skills.
Proceeding to the fall of 2005, Burke, Moore, and Dillman began the writing process for the 2006-2007 Tech Prep Grant funding. In Colorado, Tech Prep funding is a competitive process designed to select the very best proposals submitted from around the state in various career and technical education training programs. After countless hours of planning, writing, editing, and collaborating, the grant application was finished on schedule and turned in to the state in early 2006. After being screened by the selection committee our grant proposal was selected for funding along with 14 other grants from around the state. Upon receiving confirmation we began recruiting students and networking with the community to get the word out.
After our recruiting efforts we had a total of 80 students sign up for classes. We also continued our networking efforts to gain support in the community for this pilot project. This turned out to be very successful because we gained further financial support from various donations of money as well as materials to help the classes move forward.
Although all of the above is great the true beauty of the program is the combining of the two curriculums. CSAP data as well as the strategic plan for the district indicated a need to improve mathematical skills for all students. Our methodof addressing both needs is to infuse math into the Career and Technical Education course, where students can readily identify the relevance of mathematics. For the first time, all students will be able to see the relevance through real world models of skills being used. They not only see this in the classroom but also can recognize knowledge attained in class outside by being able to recognize topics related to their own homes and lives.
Moreover, there are also benchmarks placed in the grant to reach out to underrepresented populations. Approximately 25% of enrollment is young women, which are a traditionally underrepresented minority in technically skilled fields. We have also targeted the schools English language Learners (ELL’s), Free and Reduced Lunch, Special Education, and minority groups. By targeting these sub group populations the hope is to improve education for all. This in no way limits the scope of the curriculum but rather increases the relevance ten fold for the success of all students.