What is academic integration?
Integration means combining separate parts smoothly to improve effectiveness. In CTE, academic integration means combining technical skill development based on industry standards with content knowledge from related academic subjects (English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science or Social Studies). There are many successful models for CTE academic integration; all require a commitment of CTE staff to the importance of integration and the collaborative planning and implementation by teachers of various subjects.
Why academic integration?
Preparing students for success beyond school should not be a choice between developing sound foundational academic knowledge or acquiring technical skills. Students need both! Integrating academics and CTE is one element of a high quality CTE program.
In 2001, the New York State Board of Regents revised the policy on CTE when modifying the student graduation requirements. Approved CTE programs, an option in earning a diploma, must include academic integration and may be flexibly offered to allow students to earn academic diploma credits while completing a CTE program.
At the federal level, the Perkins Act places a high importance on integration of academic and CTE content. One of the key purposes is “to promote the development of services and activities that integrate rigorous and challenging academic and career and technical instruction.” There is a requirement on local schools, as they create plans for their Perkins funds, to demonstrate how they will “improve the academic and technical skills of students…through the integration of coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant career and technical education programs…”
Academic Integration Study
Ed Shafer has created two presentations, The Power of Academic Integration in CTE and Academic Integration What have we learned? Where do we need to go? on the importance of academic integration.
Contextualized Learning Concepts
Developed by teachers in the Loveland,CO School District, Contextualized Learning Concepts is an interdisciplinary curriculum covering core mathematics concepts team-taught in the context of hands-on projects. Two programs have been developed, and the teachers offer workshops and curriculum to teams of teachers to replicate. Geometry in Construction is a combination of high school geometry and construction. Algebra in AMPED is a combination of Algebra 1 and Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship and Design. The NYS TAC has partnered with several school districts and BOCES to introduce the curriculum to New York.
Reading is an essential skill for learning in all subjects. Developing reading proficiency is more that decoding words. Teachers need to use a combination of pre- and post-reading strategies to help students develop understanding. 23 Reading Strategies helps CTE teachers enhance student reading comprehension in CTE instruction. Tips on Reading Specific Text includes suggestions on interpreting graphs and charts.
The database includes both fiction and non-fiction texts to support literacy within a rigorous CTE program. The database lists many works, including novels, books, short stories, biographies, speeches – even poems and plays linked to specific CTE clusters, reading levels, and grades. All items included have been suggested by educators in the field. The items are a shared resource among educators and are not endorsed by the CTE Technical Assistance Center or the NYSED.