Schoolchildren in the USA can learn working professions for free: what you need to know about vocational education programs

Previously, vocational education was thought very narrowly. It was considered just an alternative for high school students who didn't intend to go to college. But career prospects and technical education, as it is often called, have changed a lot in recent years. understood.

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In many states, these programs no longer limit opportunities for high school graduates. In fact, a quality program can empower your child. Vocational education may be a good option for some children with learning and thinking differences. Here's what you need to know about these programs.

What is vocational education

Vocational education is exactly what it sounds like. Students acquire skills that prepare them for jobs in a particular field after high school.

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Vocational schools continue to offer training in trades such as carpentry and culinary arts. But they also have programs in areas like healthcare, technology, and graphic design. Most of them have advisory committees to help focus on programs that provide more job opportunities.

Good programs also include regular academic studies. This allows students to graduate with standard diplomas and gives them the opportunity to enroll in two- and four-year colleges.

States differ in how they offer vocational education. There are three standard models:

  • Stand-alone schools that are separate from the traditional high school.
  • Schools that operate in a separate wing of a traditional high school.
  • Programs where children attend a traditional high school in the morning and then take a bus to a learning center in their area.

Vocational education planning

If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), you will meet with the IEP team in eighth grade to plan the transition. This is a good time to discuss vocational education. This is also a good time to study vocational education if your child does not have an IEP.

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Some states offer vocational education during all four years of high school. Others have two-year programs that start in junior high.

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There are several reasons why you might consider vocational education for your child. First, if your child shows a strong interest in the proposed area of ​​study. Another thing is if your child is strongly motivated by hands-on learning related to the "real world".

However, it is important to ask what happens if it turns out that your child does not have the skills or interest in this area.

How to distinguish a quality program

Career prospects and technical education vary from state to state. This results in a wide range of program quality and what is expected of students. Therefore, it is important to make sure the program is aligned with your child's goals. Keep in mind that no matter where you live, IEP and 504 plan support and services must remain in the vocational education system.

Here are some of the things that happen in a quality professional program:

  • Graduates receive a standard diploma. Programs should prepare teenagers for college. This means that students must pass all standardized tests and classes that are required in their district. This makes them eligible for a standard (academic) diploma. Make sure this is the case in your state. Students can also earn a certificate or license in their field of study in addition to a diploma. Requirements vary by state.
  • Students can attend foreign language courses. Most four-year colleges require two years of foreign language study in high school. If your child is in vocational education, these activities should be built into their day.

Another thing to consider is how well program graduates do after high school. There are a number of questions to ask about how well the program prepares students for life after high school:

  • How do standardized test scores compare to regular high school scores?
  • Can the program share any employment statistics after graduation?
  • How many graduates go to four-year colleges?
  • How many graduates go to two-year colleges?
  • What professional experience do teachers have?

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Vocational education is directly related to what your child can do after school. Help your child think about a possible career. And explore potential careers for kids who don't want to sit at a desk.

Career technical education (CTE) operates in every state. You can read about such programs in your state. here.

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