County schools, TCAT launching dual enrollment program

Published 5:04 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Danny O’Quinn with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Elizabethton, left, listens as Director of Carter County Schools Dr. Kevin Ward discusses the school system’s Work Ethic Diploma program.

Beginning next school year, students in Carter County’s high schools who want to pursue a technical education can start work on their chosen program while still in high school.
The Carter County School System has worked in partnership with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to begin developing a dual-enrollment curriculum for students. The county system already works in close collaboration with TCAT to help ensure students in the school system’s Career Technical Education can easily move on to TCAT programs for their post-secondary education, Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward said.
This new partnership will allow those students to get a jump start on their technical programs at TCAT while still in high school. The school system already offers dual enrollment opportunities for high school students who plan to attend a two-year or four-year college program after graduation allowing them to go ahead and earn some college credits. This new partnership will now provide that same opportunity to students pursuing a technical school education.
“The way dual enrollment works with TCAT is they can do two classes their junior year and two classes their senior year,” said TCAT Elizabethton Director Dean Blevins.
This dual enrollment will allow the students to begin working on their Technology Foundations course work. Technology Foundations is a requirement of the Tennessee Board of Regents to help students gain reading, math and occupational skills necessary to be gainfully employed.
“They are already doing math and English classes anyway,” Blevins said. “Let’s get that knocked out early so when they get here, they can focus on their program.”
The Tech Foundations Course also includes obtaining their Career Readiness Certification, which Blevins said is something that many employers are now looking for, and in some cases requiring, with potential employees.
“Eastman requires that CRC certification to even apply for a job,” Blevins said. “If Eastman says you have to have it to apply, then we as educators need to say ‘Well, that’s pretty important.’”
Ward said the CRC certification available through the Tech Foundations program would mesh well with the Work Ethic Diploma program the school system is preparing to launch. Through that program, students earn points based on what Ward referred to as “soft skills” such as attendance, arriving at school on time, and willingness to submit to a drug test.
“The great thing about the Work Ethic Diploma is we have industries signing on to say they will give them an interview after they earn it,” Ward said. “That gives them that first look, a foot in the door.”
The dual enrollment would allow high school students to begin work on any of the programs of study available at the TCAT Elizabethton according to both Blevins and Carter County school officials.
Danny McClain, the secondary school supervisor for Carter County Schools, said the system is looking at dual enrollment opportunities not just for the Tech Foundations portion of the TCAT programs but also possibly with portions of the actual course programs that line up with current CTE class offerings.
“They could be well through the program when they get here,” McClain said.
Blevins provided a couple of examples of programs students could choose and begin work on while still in high school.
With the TCAT’s Dietary Manager program, which is available primarily online, high school students could take one term of classes at the end of their junior year and then two terms during their senior year. That would leave them one term to complete, which will largely consist of their field work, when they arrive at TCAT, Blevins said.
For programs that last one year, Blevins said the students could be six months into the program before graduating high school.
“They could be out in the workforce six months after graduating high school and making $40,000 or $50,000 a year depending on the program,” Blevins said.
The dual enrollment could be available at no cost to the high school students as they can tap into Tennessee Hope and Tennessee Promise scholarship funds, according to officials with both TCAT and the county schools.

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