“If you go and look at the eligible [certification] titles, the jobs that we want to prepare our students for that are going to put them in the middle class or higher in new technologies, they are not [included in] the eligible CTE titles for the state,” Bauer said.
The result is schools have to “reinvent the wheel” every time they want to create a program outside of the designated list, said Tamar Jacoby, one of the authors of the Manhattan Institute report. That can leave schools negotiating with the state and waiting “a long, long time,” to start a program, she said.
Aware of the need for more CTE teachers, the state’s Board of Regents approved more ways that teachers can earn a transitional license, which will allow them to enter the classroom based on various combinations of work experience, industry credentials, and enrollment in teacher-prep programs, giving them extra time to earn additional credits.
Another hurdle for some CTE programs involves the state’s new 4+1 graduation policy.
Allowing CTE exams to double as graduation requirements was hailed as a big success by CTE advocates. The new policy, approved in 2014, was intended to encourage the creation of more CTE programs and to give students across New York state more ways to graduate.
But so far, the policy is not even trickling down to some existing CTE schools. The state has an approved list of technical exams, but those exams do not cover all careers and do not always match schools’ specific programs.
For instance, the Academy for Careers in Technology and Film in Long Island City, Queens, offers a CTE exam that yields an additional credential, but it is not approved as part of the 4+1 program. As a result, it doesn’t count toward graduation, said the school’s principal, Edgar Rodriguez.
A spokesperson for New York’s State Education Department said the department is currently developing an application process for CTE programs to submit assessments that will be reviewed and potentially added to the list of eligible 4+1 graduation exams.
In the meantime, these bureaucratic hurdles have left some schools feeling like it’s easier to ignore the approval process instead.
Maker Academy is starting a new CTE technology-focused charter school but decided its connections at Google and IBM would be easier to manage without the state’s stringent CTE teacher certification rules, said Eric Rivers, the director of institutional advancement at Maker Academy.
Dealing with the state CTE requirements “definitely makes it more challenging and I think that’s the reason we have decided to take the charter school route in this situation,” Rivers said.
Another teacher, Lane Rosen, who runs a marine science program at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, came to a similar conclusion. He would like to gain some new attention for his program and a few extra perks for his students, but the process of earning CTE approval is too daunting for him to undertake, he said.
“It would be nice to have,” he said, “but I heard there’s a lot of red tape.”
Bauer hopes to overcome the red tape—eventually. He shifted his program’s focus and expects to be eligible to apply for state certification a year from now. Until then, he hopes he will not have to alter his plan more than he already has.
“I don’t know what it will look like two years from now,” he said. “I hope it gets approved.”
This post appears courtesy of Chalkbeat New York.