The goal: to ensure that every Jurupa student can explore areas of career interest, at no cost, while still in high school.
How it's been met: JUSD's Career and Technical Education portfolio offers 22 career pathways in 11 industry sectors – up from 13 pathways in seven sectors four years ago. Students can study in areas ranging from art to engineering to medicine to hospitality to IT to public safety ... and more.
The CTE smorgasbord offers real-world, job-based knowledge, skills and training at every district high school as well as Jurupa Adult School. Students, for example, have met with Tesla, toured construction sites and worked as athletic trainers at high school games.
“All of our CTE programs are hands-on – students learn by doing," said Roberta Pace, Director of College and Career Readiness for JUSD.
The courses blend academic teaching with technical training and prepare students for jobs right out of high school: They can start careers immediately, or work part-time as they attend college.
Ms. Pace called CTE courses “very popular" in Jurupa and said most students take one to two years of CTE, far more than the single semester required to graduate.
The district ramped up and diversified its career programs starting in 2016 when the state offered additional career-program funding, Ms. Pace said. Today, JUSD provides CTE opportunities that equal or surpass those of larger school districts – and the Jurupa programs continue to grow, evolve and adapt to job-market needs.
Jurupa Unified has expanded some pathways, including the Operations program at Nueva Vista, which now features a logistics/warehouse lab, and the GIS: Data Visualization program at JVHS. Starting this fall, the latter will send students out in the community to collect and analyze geographical data using mobile technology.
Also, for the 2019-20 school year, the district will add a Green Construction Technology program at Patriot High. The coursework will introduce students to green and smart home construction, an area of high job demand given that state law requires solar power for all newly built homes starting in 2020.
“Students who complete CTE pathways play a critical role as part of the skilled workforce in our community and region," Ms. Pace said. “Students also leave CTE with critical soft skills (such as teamwork, work ethic and time management) and leadership skills that make them more productive and effective employees."
Moreover, Jurupa students can obtain certifications to meet specific job requirements in a given field and earn college credit through JUSD's articulation agreements with local community colleges. Thanks to those agreements, students can complete college CTE programs in less time and with less expense.
Broadly, CTE at Jurupa Unified prepares students for careers in the following industries:
Ms. Pace also shared the most popular courses at each high school, based on enrollment numbers:
Daniel Loza, a recent graduate of JVHS and its automotive program, illustrates how quickly CTE students can learn without limits, landing well-paying jobs. After completing one additional year of technical training at Universal Technical Institute – graduating in May – Mr. Loza started work as a sub with JUSD's transportation department and now works full time for the district.
Meanwhile, Ms. Pace, who has overseen the rapid expansion of CTE courses at JUSD, said she's most proud of student success, the variety of CTE programs available districtwide, and the good work of site leaders, teachers and counselors. Site leaders assess student career interests and labor market data; teachers align curriculum with industry standards and trends; and counselors at middle and high schools help students navigate the district's many CTE opportunities.
“It was our goal to support a variety of industries so the students of Jurupa would find an area of career interest at one of our four high schools," Ms. Pace said.
That goal has been achieved.