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Teacher & Classroom Resources | Industry Certifications

Aligning Industry Certifications to Existing CTE Curricula

June 8th, 2022 | 3 min. read

Joshua Witherspoon

Joshua Witherspoon

After serving as a Texas FFA state officer in 2018, Josh Witherspoon joined the iCEV team as a part-time employee for 3 years before taking on the role of content development specialist in 2022. Witherspoon holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University, in which his experience and proficiency in writing, marketing and CTE allow him to effectively communicate the successes of CTE educators and students and the value iCEV has to offer.

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As CTE has developed and changed over time, educators have turned to industry certifications to take educating and preparing the next generation of the workforce to the next level. Industry certifications offer students a multitude of benefits, including increased engagement in their education, career preparation, validation of knowledge and skills as well as increased opportunity for employment. However, the challenge today’s educators face is effectively aligning industry certifications to existing curricula.

In this blog, we will discuss challenges educators often face when aligning industry certifications to existing curricula and solutions to overcome these obstacles.        

Challenge #1

The primary challenge when integrating industry certifications into existing CTE programs is curriculum-based. As most CTE programs are delivered at the high school level, they still require students to master the general K-12 education standards in addition to any technical skills they may be acquiring. It can be difficult for administrators and teachers to find certifications that meet the future employment needs of high school students while aligning to classroom frameworks.

Solution #1

When identifying a certification to implement in a CTE program, educators should compare the standards of a certification with the standards of the courses they teach. In doing this, educators are able to find where certification work and what is normally taught align to create a more linear approach to meeting academic and career readiness. The key to overcoming curriculum as an obstacle is finding how the certification and general coursework can work together. Often, it’s as easy as emphasizing certain aspects of a course if the certification and the course taught have enough in common as they should.

Certifications reflect real-world scenarios, preparing students for postsecondary education and the workforce. They can be easily integrated into your lesson plans, allowing students to earn certifications while completing regular coursework. Read this spotlight to learn how Mike Meissner, power technology instructor at Huron Area Technical Center in Bad Axe, Michigan, integrates certification work into everyday learning.

Challenge #2

As in most facets of education, funding can be a substantial challenge for educators when aligning certifications to existing curricula. Oftentimes, in the eyes of administrators and teachers, certifications may appear difficult to approach or too expensive for their program. According to an iCEV survey, most purchases of CTE materials are funded through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. This federal program stipulates close adherence to the 16 identified Career Clusters. Perkins Act funding has decreased by roughly $100 million since the budget crisis of the previous decade.

Solution #2

Educators and administrators may be unaware but funding for CTE is abundant. The challenge is finding the right funding or grant opportunity for your program and its needs. For example, in most recent years, ESSER, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding, is an opportunity CTE programs can pursue to receive funding for investing in technology, curricula, equipment and other needs.

As educators face the challenge of aligning industry certifications to existing CTE curricula iCEV is passionate about sharing solutions to help teachers better prepare students for their futures. To learn more about certifications or the certifications iCEV hosts on its platform, visit the certification tab on the iCEV platform for more resources and information. 

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