Overview of Career & Technical Education in Alabama
Alabama’s Career and Technical Education program is designed to keep abreast of the rapid changes in business and industry by offering students a rigorous array of course work to help prepare them for advanced learning and a wide range of career opportunities. Rigor in the course of study is derived from two primary sources—academic and industry-specific workplace knowledge and skills. Rigor in the workplace is evidenced by the knowledge and skills required for students to achieve, maintain, and advance in employment in a particular pathway. The level of academic and workplace rigor is a function of the degree to which each career and technical education program prepares students for high-skill, high-wage, or high-demand careers. For select career opportunities, credentials and certifications have been established that validate the rigor of the curriculum to parents, students, and business and industry. In addition, articulation agreements in partnership with post-secondary institutions have been developed to allow for a seamless transition for students pursuing opportunities for continued education.
  • Alabama’s Career and Technical Education curriculum empowers students with the work-readiness skills necessary for success in the twenty-first century. Career-empowered students are productive citizens who are prepared with the knowledge and skills for post-secondary education or for employment. The career and technical education classroom provides an opportunity for all students to combine academics with other high-caliber learning experiences.
  • As students grow through adolescence into young adulthood, exposure to career preparedness becomes increasingly important. The Career and Technical Education curriculum focuses on providing students with the knowledge and skills that allow them to reinforce learning of academic content through experiential learning.
  • Alabama’s growing economy has created the demand for an increased number of quality employees. The Career and Technical Education program of studies, through the implementation of this course of study, equips students with the life skills and knowledge necessary to meet this and other demands by preparing them for lifelong learning.

Classroom and Laboratory EnvironmentThe effective career and technical education classroom is equipped with current and emerging technologies and other supplies and materials representative of the content area. In such a classroom, students and teachers utilize equipment to enhance a variety of classroom instruction and learning activities. The career and technical education classroom environment is unlimited and encompasses more than the traditional four walls of the classroom. Students and teachers have access to laboratory environments on and off campus that provide students with practical and real-world experiences in the industry represented.
Technology, Equipment, and Facilities

Adequate classroom equipment must be available, maintained, and upgraded according to a regularly scheduled plan. In addition, other classroom supplies and materials such as textbooks, reference materials, and software should be readily available for student use to support instruction, including access to classroom libraries, reading and research areas, and material centers. Maintaining up-to-date technology enhances students’ learning environment as well as readies them for future career opportunities. Sufficient funds must be allocated to support the technology and materials necessary for a superior career and technical education program.

SafetyStudent safety is a prime consideration in any location of the learning environment. A written safety plan is an essential part of planning, implementing, and evaluating each career and technical education program. An effective plan may include federal, state, local, school, and program guidelines. Students are required to pass a safety test with one-hundred per cent accuracy.

Professional DevelopmentAs technology and instructional methods continue to change, it is essential for teachers to take advantage of professional development and technical training opportunities to stay abreast of current trends and methods pertaining to their content area and the industry represented. Teachers who continually expand their knowledge and skills are able to adjust the learning environment to reflect current and emerging trends in teaching methods and learning styles. Regular assessment by students, educators, administrators, and business and industry also strengthens the instructional program and enhances professional development.

Administrative Support Administrative support is essential in providing the necessary components for a successful career and technical education program. Administrators should recruit teachers who are highly qualified and who possess appropriate credentials for teaching positions. Time must be provided for professional development activities and for planning for integration of academic content areas into the Career and Technical Education program. Funding must be secured for professional development programs and for industry certification for teachers. In addition, administrators should actively participate in the marketing of the career and technical education programs within the school and within the community.

Instructional ModelIn the career and technical education classroom, it is imperative that students apply knowledge, skills, and ideas to solve problems and make decisions. This course of study is designed to address the challenges of a changing, technological, diverse, and global society. Students develop their abilities to analyze, communicate, manage, and lead. The Career and Technical Education curriculum is one that is project-based, process-oriented, and work-based.

The rigorous content standards contained in the Alabama Career and Technical Education Courses of Study requires students to use innovative, critical-thinking skills. Utilization of this document requires teachers to identify the issue or concern addressed in a specific content standard and then to plan appropriate learning experiences. These experiences should be project-based and require higher-order thinking, communication, management, and leadership skills.

The Career and Technical Education curriculum emphasizes the integration of academics. To achieve the solution to a given problem, students must possess an adequate foundation in communication skills for reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting; knowledge and skills in mathematics, science, and social studies; and knowledge of current and emerging technologies.

Students’ individual learning styles and interests require the use of various instructional strategies. Individual needs of students must be determined by a variety of assessments that evaluate interests, aptitudes, and abilities. Once individual needs have been determined for special populations, a support service program should be planned cooperatively with the career and technical education teacher and other appropriate personnel. Individual education plans are more effective when developed with career and technical education instructors. Courses and equipment may be tailored to ensure equal access to the full range of learning experiences and skill development in the Career and Technical Education curriculum.

Student OrganizationsNationally affiliated student organizations are an integral part of classroom instruction in each career and technical education program. The focus of these organizations is to help students develop an understanding of all aspects of industry and technology in the program areas while learning teamwork and leadership skills. Goals of student organizations include:
  • Developing individual potential
  • Developing effective leadership and citizenship skills through social, economic, scholastic, and civic activities
  • Increasing knowledge and understanding of an ever-changing society
  • Assisting in the exploration of occupational choices
  • Participating in career development events
  • Serving the school and community through student organization projects

Business-Industry-School Relationships : CertificationMaintaining relationships with local businesses and industries is vital to the Career and Technical Education program certification process as well as to federal funding through the Carl D. Perkins legislation. Certain elements of Business and Industry Certification (BIC) require local industries to participate in the Career and Technical Education program’s adoption of industry standards. Representatives from local businesses and industries interact with school programs to address the ever-changing needs of the competitive global economy. From this interaction, program structure is reviewed to ensure that needs are being met through lesson plans, instructional techniques, facilities, professional development, technical updates, and equipment.

Student Work ExperienceAs students begin to plan careers, it is essential to provide them with opportunities to visit, tour, and work at local industries and businesses. Real-world experiences such as cooperative education, internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing are beneficial to enhance classroom learning. Continuous feedback from students and supervisors provides further assessment of the program and facilitates changes necessary to satisfy industry needs.

Advisory Councils and PartnershipsIn accord with Alabama Department of Education guidelines, each career and technical education program has an advisory council that may provide opportunities to establish partnerships as a means for professional input regarding equipment needs, curriculum emphasis, technical updates, and problem solving. This external support is a necessary link to business and industry for the potential acquisition of equipment, resource materials, community support, and qualified speakers. These resources include judges for student career development events, program sponsors, financial support, scholarships, field trip sites, and other program needs.

Community Involvement and ServiceThere are many ways students and teachers become involved with community and service projects. Mentoring activities may include teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-student, student-to-student, student-to-community resident, and community member-to-students-and-teacher. Local organizations such as community civic clubs, professional educational organizations, youth organizations, and community adult education organizations are valuable resources for career and technical education programs. Open houses, tours, and presentations provide families and other interested citizens with opportunities to become more involved in the education environment.

Post-secondary and Higher Education ArticulationPost-secondary and higher education articulation is a significant element in a student’s career clusters. Secondary and post-secondary instructors must communicate on a regular basis to ensure a smooth transition for students and to ensure students are aware of articulation opportunities. Articulation may occur through program alignment with post-secondary programs, early college enrollment, or dual enrollment programs. Students benefit in a variety of ways when cooperation exists between secondary and post-secondary institutions. One of the benefits is the earning of post-secondary credit in conjunction with work done at the secondary level. Post-secondary teachers offer additional benefits by serving as guest speakers, donating equipment, sharing expertise through professional development activities, and addressing other needs appropriate for the school community.

Overview & General FAQ:Alabama's Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs continue to change to meet the challenges faced by today's society.
  • When educators collaborate with business, industry, and community agencies, students acquire knowledge and develop skills that are realistic and relevant to family, community, and workplace roles. Teaching CTE students requires the best cooperative efforts of school and community. To meet this responsibility, schools must know community needs, and communities must know school potential. The mission of Career & Technical Education is to provide students with life skills a nd prepare them as workforce in which business and industry is confident.
  • Business/Industry Certification (BIC): The Alabama Department of Education is the only state-level educational agency in the nation to receive certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for its business/industry certification (BIC) process, used to certify CTE programs for industry compliance.

Alabama's Career & Technical Education (CTE) students are fortunate to have the experience of major corporations and the leadership of highly qualified teachers available when developing their skills for college and their future careers.
  • Alabama's CTE programs develop the talents and skills of students in classroom settings that are rigorous, progressive and certified to international standards. The Alabama Department of Education is the only state-level educational agency in the nation to receive certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for its business/industry certification (BIC) process, used to certify CTE programs for industry compliance.

Typically, when business professionals look for qualified employees, they search for candidates that are highly skilled, who have excellent communication skills, and leadership training.
  • Often, high school students struggle to get the kind of experience required for many of today's top career opportunities. This is why the primary focus of CTE is to work with local and international businesses in different career fields to ensure students are equipped with the skills needed for lifelong success.