Agriscience Education in Alabama
An Introduction with Business/Industry Certification Requirements


Agriscience Education places a new emphasis on the integration of academics into existing agriculture/agriscience curricula, especially in the areas of science and mathematics. As a result of this emphasis, new programs have been added to the Agriscience Education curriculum this new direction serves two major purposes: (1) to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to enter and advance in agricultural careers and (2) to enable students to function as informed citizens in today's society.

The objectives of Agriscience Education are:

  1. To provide education in and about agriculture from the perspective of science and technology
  2. To prepare students for employment in an agricultural career
  3. To prepare students for entry into post-secondary programs in Agriscience fields
  4. To provide education about the role of Agriscience in the conservation of Earth's natural resources
  5. To develop life and enjoyability skills essential for successful employment
  6. To develop skills needed to fulfill occupational, social, and civic responsibilities

The Agriscience Education program is a comprehensive program providing students appropriate classroom and laboratory instruction, supervised, agricultural experiences, and personal development experiences through both classroom instruction and related organizational FFA activities. These components are integrated to complement each other, providing an effective program for students and effectively utilizing instructional time.
The classroom is the primary setting for instruction in agriscience theory and related academics, although laboratory experiences are a significant part of the program.


Business/Industry Certification: General Information and Guidelines
In 1998, Alabama business and industry persons developed a certification process that establishes and maintains a quality-oriented accountability system for the improvement and enhancement of Career/Technical Education. Business/Industry Certification (BIC) promotes program improvement that enhances the preparedness of Alabama's students for society and tomorrow's workforce. Alabama is the only state in the nation to require all CTE programs to certify to industry standards, either through the state's BIC process or through a national certification process.

The BIC process is certified to the standards as developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and these standards are referred to as ISOO 9001:2000 certification. The ISO 9001:2000 certification is process-based and recognizes organizations that link business objectives with operating effectiveness. ISO indicates that CTE demonstrates effective implementation of BIC documentation and records management; has the commitment of top management to local career/technical programs; has established clear policies; conducts good planning and implementation; performs good resource management; and has efficient process control, measurement, and analysis. The ISO certification ensures that the BIC process is quality-oriented, consistently administered, and focused on customer satisfaction.

The purpose of BIC is to ensure that CTE programs meet industry standards so that students will be equipped for post-secondary education, apprenticeship, employment, and life.
  • All CTE programs in each local education agency (those programs supported through federal funds and/or programs that count toward maintenance of effort as determined by the level of spending in 1994-95) will meet BIC standards as determined and approved by the Department.
  • The Department will determine the appropriate certification agency for all programs.
    • Current national program certifying agencies are:
      • Graphic Arts Education Research Foundation (GAERF) for graphic arts programs.
      • National Association for Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) for automotive service technology, collision repair technology, and diesel technology programs.
      • National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) for precision machining programs.
    • Current state certifying processes are:
      • Business/Industry Certification (BIC)
      • Associated General Contractors (AGC) for all construction-related programs.
  • The Department will use the business/industry certification for all programs that do not have a Department-approved national program certification process.
  • Teachers must possess specific knowledge and skills as prescribed by industry standards and the Department for a program to be certified to business/industry standards.
    • Any teacher who holds a valid Class B or higher certificate or Alternative certificate, which is based upon a bachelor's degree or higher, in the career/technical area being taught is considered certified to industry standards.
    • Any teacher who does not hold a valid Class B or higher certificate or Alternative certificate, which is based upon a bachelor's degree or higher, in the career/technical area being taught is required to meet industry certification requirements as determined by the Department.
    • Teachers must continually maintain industry certification and/or teacher certification at the Class B or higher level to continue to be employed.

Business/Industry Certification Review Procedures
  • A team of individuals who meet the Department's prescribed criteria conducts an on-site review. The on-site review consists of two parts: administrator review and program review.
  • Each LEA has an on-site administrator's review every year that the system has an on-site program review. The on-site program review is conducted every five years for each program the system identifies in its annual Local Program Application and Accountability Plan. An on-site program review is set according to the initial review date as established in BIC-Phase I, which began in 1998. All quality factors will be deficient for all programs that are not reviewed during the anniversary year of the critical review date. New programs must be certified within three years from their emergence.
  • The Department facilitator will guide the team(s) and answer questions during the administrator and program reviews.
  • The administrator's review must be the first review of the year in any year that the system has on-site program reviews and may be conducted concurrently with the first on-site program review of the year. One or more career/technical programs may be reviewed at a determined central location and time.
  • The program area certification will be delayed if deficiencies are cited in the administrator's review that directly relate to the program.
  • Team members who do not meet required criteria will not be allowed to participate, and the review will be canceled. All quality factors will be deficient for the program until the review is conducted.
  • Teams not meeting the minimum required number of members present within 30 minutes of the scheduled review time will cause the review to be cancelled. All quality factors will be deficient foor the program until the review is conducted.
  • The on-site administrator's review team consists of two business/inudstry individuals who meet criteria as prescribed in the BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist, Section1/A, page one. The administrator's review team will jointly validate Section 1/A and 1/B.
  • The on-site program review team consists of two business/industry representatives familiar with the program and one or more educators who teach in that program area. Members must meet the criteria as outlined in the BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist, Section 2/A, page one, and Section 3, page one. Team members will jointly validate Sections 2/A, 4, and 5. The team members will also validate Section 7 with assistance from the team educator(s) and program teacher(s) as needed. The educator will validate Section 3. The Department faciliator and local career/technical education administrator will validate Section 2/B and 6, if applicable. the teacher(s) and counselor(s) must be available for an interview. The team members will move to the appropriate area for program observation and interviews.
  • All applicable checklist items in the BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist must be marked Yes, Answer Satisfied Reviewer, or N/A to recieve a recommendation for certification. Recommendation cannot be made if any checklist item is marked No, Answer Did Not Satisfy Reviewer, or left blank.
  • Each on-site review concludes with an exit conference conducted by the Department facilitator. An LEA representative and all team members must be present for the conference. It is at the discretion of the local system to have other parties present.
  • Team members, administrators, and teachers have the opportunity to complete an anonymous Survey Form and return it to the Department.
  • After an on-site review, a letter indicating program certification status is mailed to the superintendent and copied to the career/technical administrator, along with certificates and decals for each teacher in programs that certified. Programs with deficiencies are not recommended for certification.
  • To determine program quality factor deficiencies, how the deficiencies are to be cleared, and who is responsible for deficiency clearance, refer to the Review Recap that is presented to the career/technical administrator during the exit review. Quality factors that are determined deficient should be cleared at the earliest possible time and can be cleared bu an on-site review or through written documentation submitted to the Department facilitator. As deficiencies are cleared, an up-to-date Program Review Status Report is mailed to the superintendent and copied to the career/technical administrator.
  • A local administrator is required to annually monitor all programs not reviewed by an on-site review team and report compliance status in the Local Program Application and Accountability Plan. Corrective action must be reported for programs that are determined to be in non-compliance. Quality factors that are reported deficient are cleared by written documentation submitted to the system's department facilitator by the system's career/technical administrator documenting that deficiencies have been satisfied.
  • All programs shall remain in compliance with BIC standards at all times.
  • Process for notification of programs not attaining or maintaining certification in:
    • Review Year, a letter to the superintendent outlining deficiencies, with a copy to the career/technical administrator.
    • Year Two, a letter to the superintendent outlining deficiencies, with a copy to the career/technical administrator.
    • Year Three, a letter to the superintendent outlining steps to withhold funds, with a copy to the career/technical administrator. If deficiencies continue to be unmet, a recommendation will be made to the state superintendent for program termination.
  • Process for program termination:
    • Any program that does not attain or maintain industry-certified status within three consecutive years would be recommended for termination.
    • After one year, terminated programs may be reinstated. Programs must certify to industry standards during the year of reinstatement. Reinstatement may occur one time.
    • After one year, locally closed programs that re-open will certify on their Phase I cycle; or if that date occurred during the closed period, must certify the year reopened.
    • State and federal funds formerly used for terminated programs may be reallocated to other CTE programs.

BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist
  • Each standard has relevant quality factors that are statements/terms that are subtopics for the standard.
  • The quality factors are used to segment the standard into manageable components.
  • The required specific documentation, which validates compliance, is listed below the quality factor. This documentation is all that is necessary to determine compliance based on the questions/statements asked in the checklist column.
  • The non-applicable (N/A) column lists programs for which particular checklist items are non-applicable.
  • All checklist items must be in compliance to receive certification.

Documentation
  • Documentation is limited to that which is required on the BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist. Additional documentation will not be reviewed.
  • Documents must be aligned in the order that they appear on the BIC Standards and Quality Factor Checklist.
  • For samples of required documents, review resources provided by the Department. (Ex. Administrator Desk Reference)
  • Lesson plans for each year must be available for each course on the teacher's daily schedule for the full year, except for new teachers and/or new course offerings. New teachers and teachers offering new courses must provided lesson plans to extend two weeks beyond the review date.

Responsibilities
Duties/Tasks
Person(s) Responsible
Confirm on-site review dates by October 31 each year.
C/T Administrator and Department facilitator
Review the BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist used for the BIC on-site review.
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Read carefully and thoroughly each Business/Industry Certification standard, quality factor, and checklist item. (Administrator's Section 1/A and 1/B, Program/Teacher Sections 2-7). This document is divided into standards, quality factors, and checklist to improve the management of the review. In addition, required documentation is listed along with particular checklist items that are non-applicable. Resources are available on www.alsde.edu for clarification or explanation of unfamiliar terms/statements, etc. (Ex., Definitions and Abbreviations Manual, Administrative Code for Career/Technical Education, Methods of Administration Manual)
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Enter each school's schedule. (Ex., Trimester, Semester, Block, etc.)
C/T Administrator
Enter daily schedule online, which reflects accurate enrollment for each term, within one month of the beginning of the term.
Program Teacher
Approve the daily schedule prior to the on-site review.
C/T Administrator
Collect required documentation to meet all quality factors in Section 1/A in a satisfactory management system and be available for the interview conducted according to Section 1/B.
C/T Administrator
Collect required documentation to meet all quality factors in Sections 2/A, 3, and Section 6, if applicable, in a satisfactory management system and be available for the interview conducted according to Section 4. In addition, the program area facilities and equipment/materials must comply with the standards in Section 7.
Program Teacher
Be available for the interview conducted according to Section 5.
Counselor
Verify that all required program documentation is available in a manageable format.
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Verify that team members selected for the program review meet Department-prescribed criteria prior to scheduled review date.
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Verify that each checklist item on the BIC Standards/Quality Factors Checklist can be marked "yes" prior to the on-site review.
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Mail survey form(s) to the Department following the on-site review.
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Maintain continued compliance.
C/T Administrator and program teacher(s)
Annually complete certification of continued compliance.
CTE Administrator

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Frequently Asked Questions Involving Business/Industry Certification in Alabama
Can small systems consolidate system-wide Advisory Councils with program Advisory Committees?
No. The Councils and Committees serve very different purposes. While some discussion may be similar, system wide goals and objectives are different than program goals and objectives. The advisory committee should be used to assist the program teachers in creating a relevant program by actively seeking advice and directions from qualified member of the community. While the role of the advisory council deals with the direction of all career/technical programs within the system, the business people on the council or committee provide vital links to community resources and to knowledge and information that may otherwise be unavailable.

Can a program use textbooks that are not on the approved state textbook list?
Yes, with signed documentation that shows local board approval to purchase and use those books.


How do teachers document lesson evaluation toward improved teaching? (9 LP6.2-04w (w) Lesson evaluation toward improving teaching.)
Lesson plans will need to indicate how the teacher plans to make changes to improve the lesson. Not ever lesson plan will have changes but overall there should be indications that the lesson has been evaluated and what improvements are needed.


If a system has 100 % certified programs and does not have any going up this year, does the Administrator Section have to be reviewed?
No. The Administrator's Section will only be reviewed when programs are ongoing review.


Are middle level programs required to teach the core? Can middle level teach the core, if they desire?
There is a checklist item in Section 3-Curriculum that states: i) “Career/Technical Education Curriculum Core” content standards and the only n/a is: programs that use online as their sole delivery system for the Career/ Technical Core Course.


In the Administrator Review Section are we requiring documentation for the programs that are up for BIC the current year? For example: A1A.1-04 Employment. Does "for each program" mean EACH program or those up for BIC that year?
It means each program in the system. Rational: Teachers are reviewed each year for continued compliance; SDE is reviewed each year by ISO; and administrators will be reviewed each year that their system has a program review. They will not be reviewed by the SDE on years when they do not have a program review. They will file a continued compliance document.


In the Administrator Review Section A6.4-04-Program Scheduling, does "for all teachers" mean ALL or those up for BIC that year?
It means all teachers in the system.


If a review is scheduled for second term and the program is on a block schedule, are we looking at both terms documentation?
Look at current year to current date.


Should all Cooperative Education Students be interviewed?
Yes, all students on the R1.


Does the SDE Facilitator check Cooperative Education student records for both terms?
If the review is scheduled between November and March, the SDE facilitator will check 1st term records. But if the BIC review is scheduled for April 1 or after, both terms will be checked.


Can the same team members serve each year on the Administrative review team?
It is not recommended.


How many lesson plan books are needed when multi teachers teach the same course?
All lesson plans for all courses taught should be checked. If multiple teachers are teaching the same course, only one set of lesson plans should be checked.


How many teachers participate in teacher interviews? Is it collectively or individually? If collective, must all contribute?
All teachers are interviewed based on the best schedule for teachers and team members. May be individual or collective.


Will a new compliance form be developed and distributed that corresponds with the new BIC requirements? When will it be available?
It will be available at the Director's meeting in October or before.


In Quality Factor A2A.5.04 Checklist b. - Advisory Council and T2.1-04 Advisory Committee Checklist b., does past 12 months mean from review date?
Yes.


Does self-guided study (reading and Internet research) that is documented and verified, qualify as Business/Industry Awareness?
Yes. Administrative verification and new content knowledge that will be taught to students must be identified on the document.


Are there restrictions on the number of administrative reviews that an individual may participate in during a year?
No.


Can a pre on-site review committee do the scheduled on-site review?
It is not recommended.


(1) Are team members allowed to ask other questions during interview? (2) If they are not satisfied with the answer, where do they document not satisfied?
(1) Yes. (2) On the Recap Sheet under Needs Improvement.


Can interview questions and answers be presented in printed form in lieu of the interview?
No.


What type of documentation can be used for a student’s planned course work (T5.1-04 Student Records b.) to complete his/her secondary path in career/technical education?
A 4 year plan, a Pathway document adjusted to an LEAs course offerings, or writing the 3 career/technical courses the student plans to take.


Can like programs within a system use the same advisory committee?
No. Each program in each school must have a separate committee. Different programs have different goals and needs for their community and the students served.


What type of documentation can you use for interest inventory T5.1-04 Student Records?
Documentation results of the system or school’s administered interest inventory.


How can you clear deficiency on T9.1 Business/Industry Awareness if a teacher did not receive all of the required hours during the scheduled time frame? Should they add on the additional hours on next year cycle?
The teacher would need to complete the deficient hours from the previous year as well as the hours in the current year to be in compliance.


How long does a new program have to become certified?
All new career/technical programs have three years (including the first year of implementation) to become certified to industry standards. Example: If a program begins in 2003-2004, then it must be certified to industry standards by the end of 2005-2006.


Will funding exceptions regarding maintenance of effort, local maintenance, and travel be made for BIC under proration?
No, funding exceptions will not be made. Maintenance of effort and local maintenance are legislated. Travel funds are available from the Program Improvement Grant that each system is eligible to receive.


How many business/industry awareness hours are required for a part-time teacher?
The required amount for a 9-month teacher is 8 hours. It is not appropriate to prorate teacher preparation in the technical areas down to an amount that is not worthy of the effort.


In the first BIC cycle, the Business Program and the Marketing Program at the same school may have been reviewed in different years. Since Business/Marketing is now one program, when will they schedule their review date for re-certification?
Business/Marketing will be reviewed as one program. They will schedule their review during the year that the first program (either Business or Marketing) obtained certification. Example: If Business was certified in school term 2000-2001 and Marketing was certified in school term 2002-2003, the review for the Business/Marketing Program will be scheduled for 2005-2006-five years from the first certification (2000-2001).


What is a CTSO?
An organization that functions as an integral part of the career/technical education instructional program with a state and national affiliation that provides support for skill attainment and leadership development. Career/Technical Student Organization (Ex. DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA).


What happens to the individual programs if the administrator does not pass the review?
Programs cannot receive their business/industry certification until the administrator has completed their section. If the administrator is being reviewed for several programs but has deficiencies that apply to only one, the program with deficiencies will not be certified until the deficiencies are cleared.


Do lesson plans have to be hard copy or can they be in electronic form?Electronic files are acceptable as long as all are available to be reviewed and are in easily accessible form.
Electronic files are acceptable as long as all are available to be reviewed and are in easily accessible form.


Does the class average of 12-29 OR the previous three-year class average for each teacher of 12-29 refers to individual count or adjusted count?
The class average can refer to the adjusted count but remember that students should only be counted twice if the student receives significant modifications. This means that the curriculum has to be significantly modified for the student and a Career/Technical Implementation Plan and IEP are on file.


Do the BIC records need to be in a folder or notebook?
Documentation should be aligned with the BIC review instrument in one notebook/box/folder plus one lesson plan notebook per course. The type of management system used is up to the teacher.


I am a new teacher and do not have an advisory committee. What do I need to do?
A Handbook for Career/Technical Education Advisory Committee is available on the SDE Web site. This publication provides information on the purposes, organization, and management of a program advisory committee.


Where can we get a copy of the BIC equipment list?
A copy is available on the SDE Web site.


Why are we going through BIC?
Business/Industry Certification (BIC) is a means of assisting career/technical education programs to improve by setting standards against which all programs can measure progress. BIC demonstrates commitment to quality, enhances the program's image, reflects achievement of teachers and students, establishes professional credentials, improves the opportunity for career development and advancement for program graduates, and validates quality.


Do we secure our own evaluation teams, and how far in advance?
Yes. It is suggested that team members be contacted at least a month in advance to determine their eligibility and willingness to participate in the review process. Confirm their participation one week before the review. It is suggested to have a "back-up" team member ready to participate in the event that someone cancels.


What is the definition of live work?
Work requested from outside the classroom (may be from community sources, school-based projects, etc.) to be conducted by students that relates to the knowledge and skills taught as part of a sequenced course of study.


There are three teachers in the FACS department (one teaching Family Life courses, one teaching Culinary Arts, and one teaching Early Childhood Education). Does each program need two business/industry representatives plus three educators, equaling nine members?
Yes. BIC awards program certification, not department certification. In this specific case, there are three different program areas being taught, requiring each teacher to have a separate team for her review. The two business/industry representatives should have experience directly related to the program area being certified. The educator should have expertise in the program area and should be familiar with the course of study for the program being reviewed.


To obtain the 40% required to meet the benchmark for the report card formula, do LEAs round up or down.
Round up.


When will the Coordinated Studies lesson plans be reviewed in the following scenarios: A. Career/Technical teacher who is not a cooperative education coordinator teaches Coordinated Studies all day and has students from several different program areas. B. Career/technical teacher teaches occupation preparatory courses and Coordinated Studies.
In each case, Coordinated Studies lesson plans must be reviewed when the first program area with a coordinated studies component comes up for review. Example: A teacher has students from agriscience, business/marketing, and welding, and agriscience and welding will go through their on-site review for BIC this year. If agriscience is scheduled as the first review of the year, the coordinated studies lesson plans are reviewed when the agriscience program is reviewed. Coordinated Studies lesson plans will only be reviewed once over the five-year cycle for any teacher.


How long should student records be kept?
Student folders must be kept for 5 years. However, the archived student folders should contain only the documentation for student participation/achievement such as four-year plan with courses that are taken, documented and contact information so that follow-up can be accomplished. Archived folders are not required to contain student tests, assignments, etc. Strongly recommend that a chart showing safety instruction be kept for liability purposes.


When will teachers know when their BIC review will take place?
The local career/tech director/administrator submits requested dates for the BIC review to the SDE. The SDE BIC Team Leader/facilitator will confirm dates. Once the date has been secured, the career/tech director/administrator is to notify the teacher(s).


Can the local education agency be required to purchase new textbooks since textbook money is not budgeted from the state?
No. Teachers are encouraged to use project-based lessons, bringing real world experiences into the classroom. However, LEAs have been notified that Perkins funds may be used to purchase textbooks in circumstances (proration) that are beyond the control of CTE personnel.


Will review teams be allowed to accept purchase orders as documentation of equipment, supplies, textbooks, etc. purchased for the program?
No


If a teacher teaches a program that is unique to only their school, is that program and its related courses required to have courses of study approved by the State Department of Education oversight committee?
Yes. An on-site review team cannot review a program for business/industry certification without an approved course of study.


Should coop records be kept separate from student records?
Yes. Coop records (training agreement, wage & hour, visitation documentation, evaluation forms, etc.) are required to be available to the SDE facilitator; therefore, they should be kept in a separate file from student records.


Will the review team look at daily schedules for a full year.
The review team will look at the current and previous year’s daily schedules, if needed for each full credit course to determine if a complete program is being offered.


If a teacher in a high school is teaching one course of a program and the remaining courses are taught at a career/technical center, does the teacher become part of the review at the career/technical center?
Yes. The course taught at the high school will be a part of the program being reviewed at the career/technical center.


Can equipment be articulated?Yes.
Documentation of articulation signed by articulating agency must be provided for the review team.


How much teacher experience should the educator on the team have?
The educator should have a minimum of three years of teaching experience within the past six years in the program area being reviewed.


Can the LEA extend the core course beyond one-half credit?
No. Additional content standards may be added to the 70-hour course, but the course time and/or credit cannot be extended.


External Links of Interest:

BIC Standards/Quality Factors and Checklist:

Miscellaneous BIC Checklists:


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