During the month of February we celebrate Black History Month and the nation’s Presidents but we also call attention to the power of a long-standing education program that prepares millions of students for success beyond high school.
Questar III is joining others across the country during the month of February to celebrate national Career and Technical Education (CTE) month.
Locally, high school students learn technical skills in 25 different hands-on programs offered at Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Educational Center in Hudson, Rensselaer Educational Center in Troy and other locations.
These programs – known as CTE, Career Studies or New Visions – are among the more than 275 shared services Questar III offers to schools. Questar III students prepare for college and careers ranging from aviation to welding in half-day programs that integrate classroom learning with hands-on training.
Questar III Assistant Superintendent Andrew DeFeo said career exploration and skills development is more important and timely than ever.
“Our CTE programs are aligned with our regional labor market, provide students with valuable career exploration and result in credentials and experiences that help them get jobs and go to college and post-secondary education,” DeFeo explained.
In recent years, Questar III has added a number of new programs including aviation maintenance technology, green and renewable energy, media communications and 3-D printing and prototyping.
DeFeo said Questar III uses feedback from school and business leaders to be responsive to school, economic and workforce needs. “These leaders advise us on curriculum, trends and technologies in their fields,” DeFeo said.
Questar III students participate in work-based learning (WBL), or structured work-related learning experiences. This includes job shadowing and internships with professionals in the field.
CTE students can also earn industry certificates and licenses — as well as college credit at local institutions, providing graduating students with a head start on the future. Additionally, Questar III students earn thousands of dollars in scholarships at regional, statewide and national skills competitions each year.
DeFeo said Questar III also continues to work with superintendents, principals and counselors to raise the bar for CTE programs. This includes greater participation in decision-making through its superintendent academic committee, annual CTE summit held each November, academic teachers from local high schools reviewing integrated credit during the program approval/re-approval process, and an intake process that helps schools match students to the right programs.
In the end, DeFeo said CTE is an investment in the future of local students and their communities.
“Our programs provide for additional choices in public education that help districts to meet students’ learning styles, abilities and interests. Through Questar III, districts can offer a rich variety of learning experiences for students that may be cost prohibitive for them to try to offer on their own,” DeFeo said.
CTE is increasingly viewed as a way to prepare students for college and careers. In fact, last October, the state Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan to provide multiple pathways to increase graduation rates and college/career readiness. This includes a new CTE option for students.
Some facts about Questar III’s CTE programs:
- Last year, 91 percent of students graduated with Regents and Advanced Regents diplomas. Additionally, 81 percent of students received a Technical Endorsement on their diplomas. To achieve this, students must earn 22 credits, pass 5 required Regents exams and pass a culminating exam that tests skills in their chosen area of study. This 3-part technical assessment – held each May – includes written, demonstration and project components.
- 85.6 percent of students attended college or pursued degrees related to the field they studied at Questar III. 80 percent of students went onto work in a related work, according to the 2013 Perkins Report Card.
- Programs are taught by professionals with hands-on experience and knowledge in their content or technical area – and in consultation with consultant committees of business, industry and higher education.
- Questar III has partnerships with more than 200 business, college and industry professionals through its CTE consultant committees.
- CTE programs currently have 29 articulation agreements with post-secondary institutions. This allows students to earn college credit or advanced placement for work they complete at Questar III.
Recent student profiles: