How to ensure student success by creating a strong college and career

How to ensure
student success by
creating a strong
college and career
education program
8 Steps
for Schools
Implement AchieveTexas
Align secondary and
postsecondary programs
Partner with business
and industry
Texas Achievement Plans
And more!
College and Career Initiative
Dear Colleague,
exas has always pioneered innovative programs that improve how students learn and what they
achieve. We have set high standards and expectations for every student, and worked hard to make sure
schools are accountable for results. We believe significant educational advancements occur when we
break with traditional ways of thinking.
It’s now time to take the next step forward in Texas education. We are pleased to introduce this college
and career initiative that allows students to achieve success by preparing them for secondary and
postsecondary opportunities, career preparation and advancement, meaningful work, and active
citizenship. The AchieveTexas College and Career Initiative centers on establishing career clusters in all of
our schools as a strategy for improving high school completion rates and college and workforce readiness. It
is based on the belief that the curricula of the 21st century should combine rigorous academics with
relevant career education that incorporates the College Readiness Standards, personalized learning
environments, academic and social support, relevant teaching and learning designed to promote
postsecondary success, and effective educators and leaders.
Career clusters are a way of reorganizing learning around programs of study that will prepare students
for an ever more competitive global economy. In Texas, we have adopted the U. S. Department of
Education’s Career Clusters System. The 16 broad career clusters and 79 programs of study support the
Governor's Industry Cluster Initiative, which identifies high-growth/high-paying jobs for the 21st-century
Texas economy. AchieveTexas offers guidance to help students plan their educational experience based on
their career goals and allows students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful
transition into skilled employment, advanced training, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or technical
certification. AchieveTexas provides an organizing tool for redesigning schools, small learning communities,
academies, and magnet schools. Career programs of study represent a recommended sequence of courses
based on a student’s personal interests and career goals. The idea is to connect what students learn in school
every day to what they aspire to do tomorrow, thus increasing engagement with school and motivation to
This booklet is your guide to implementing career clusters. It introduces the concept of career clusters
and programs of study and offers you eight essential steps to building a strong program that promotes
high school completion and college and career readiness. At the state level, we are supporting this effort by
aligning curricula, standards, and professional development. The Education Service Centers will also play a
role by offering technical assistance as you implement career clusters and programs of study.
The Texas spirit is to pioneer new ideas. Working together, we can take education in Texas to a new level
of excellence. Again, we hope you will begin to prepare the children of Texas for a lifetime of success.
College and Career Initiative
What’s inside…
exas, like the rest of the world, is experiencing change at an amazing pace.
While the economy is steadily growing on the surface, underneath it is volatile,
with new technologies and other economic forces reshaping entire industries.
Although the unemployment rate is relatively steady, the media is full
of reports of downsizing and outsourcing. Some areas are desperate for workers,
while others are oversupplied. In today’s job market, it seems the only constant
is change. One statewide strategy, the Governor’s Industry Cluster Initiative, can
help us navigate that change.
Due to global competition, Texas graduates are not just vying for jobs with those
from across town or other states, they are also competing for jobs with welleducated workers from other countries. The only chance our children have of
staying ahead of the competition is if our schools make it a priority to keep up with
the developments in the world and truly prepare each graduate for college and
This is what AchieveTexas is all about. It is an effort to redesign education so that
students are better prepared for opportunities in today’s and tomorrow’s world. It
recognizes that our public education system is Texas’ primary way of building a
strong workforce that can compete favorably with that of any other state or nation.
AchieveTexas is an ambitious vision of an improved education system that is
based on rigorous standards of performance established in partnership with the
business community. The initiative calls for parents to be actively involved in their
children’s education and career goals. It is a way to refocus school on how students
really learn—actively engaged in activities and projects using critcal thinking and
problem solving skills.
This is your guide to implement AchieveTexas in your community. It covers the
benefits for you and your students, and then describes eight fundamental steps for
building a program. Each step includes a profile of a successful program currently in
place that demonstrates the concepts of “AchieveTexas in Action.” Finally, you will
find a list of helpful resources and a glossary of key terms.
Education must keep up with the changing world. AchieveTexas is an
opportunity to redesign schools to ensure that every student succeeds and
contributes to the Texas of tomorrow.
Copyright and Terms of Service
Copyright © Texas Education Agency, 2006, 2008. The materials found on this website are copyrighted © and trademarked ™ as
the property of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and may not be reproduced without the express written permission of TEA, except
under the following conditions:
Why Build an AchieveTexas
Page 2
Implement AchieveTexas
Page 4
Span All Grades
Page 6
Implement TAPs
Page 8
Enhance Guidance
Page 10
Build Seamless Connections
Page 12
Establish Extended Learning
Page 14
Build Strong Partnerships
Page 16
Offer Professional Development
Page 18
1) Texas public school districts, charter schools, and Education Service Centers may reproduce and use copies of this Material and
Related Materials for the districts’ and schools’ educational use without obtaining permission from the TEA;
2) Residents of the state of Texas may reproduce and use copies of the Materials and Related Materials for individual personal use only
without obtaining written permission of the TEA;
Cluster Resources
Page 20
3) Any portion reproduced must be reproduced in its entirety and remain unedited, unaltered and unchanged in any way;
4) No monetary charge can be made for the reproduced materials or any document containing them; however, a reasonable charge to
cover only the reproduction and distribution may be charged.
Private entities or persons located in Texas that are not Texas public school districts or Texas charter schools or any entity, whether public
What Does That Mean?
Page 21
or private, educational or non-educational, located outside the state of Texas MUST obtain written approval from the TEA and will be
required to enter into a license agreement that may involve the payment of a licensing fee or a royalty.
For information contact: Office of Copyrights, Trademarks, License Agreements, and Royalties, Texas Education Agency, 1701 N.
Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701-1494; phone 512-463-9270 or 512-463-9437; email:[email protected]
Page 1
It all comes down to the purpose of education: to ensure success for students
The concept of AchieveTexas is
simple: students can succeed in
school, career, and life if they
develop their own individual
plan to success.
Top Reasons
To Implement
� Better serve the needs of
� Improve students’
motivation to learn
� Reduce the number
of dropouts
� Prepare students
for college and career
� Increase academic and
technical rigor
� Support efforts to
redesign schools
� Redesign curriculum and
instruction to be rigous and
� Supports a P-16 focus that
leads to postsecondary
� Meet the needs of
employers for highly
educated employees
Page 2
For some students, this means going to a
four-year college, followed perhaps by
graduate school. For others it means
attending a community college, doing
apprenticeships, or joining the military.
Some may delay postsecondary education
by starting full-time employment after high
school graduation.
The philosophy of AchieveTexas is that
no option is intrinsically better than the
other. Whether the choice is right or not
simply depends on the personal objectives
of the student. The goal is to prepare
students for college and career, and to allow
them to choose the option that is best for
Millions of Routes to Success
In fact, there are as many individual routes
to success as there are individual students,
and no two students are likely to follow the
exact same route to success. Under the
guidance of parents/guardians and
educators, each student should explore
career options and make wise decisions
about how best to move forward.
Education should treat every student as
an individual learner and help each student
find success in academic and technical
achievement. The purpose of school should
be to help students prepare for college and
career—energizing and motivating them to
learn and achieve. If society does not truly
believe that there is a way to support every
student—even the most disinterested and
disruptive—then the system is a failure.
Texas schools and educators know better
than that. They are not in the business of
giving up on students, but of finding
creative ways to support each and every
Introducing AchieveTexas
This is the spirit behind AchieveTexas. It is
an effort to create multiple ways for
students to plan their success.
In today’s world, all but the most basic
and low-paying careers call for workers
who can read, write, communicate, and
solve problems. Projections indicate that by
2016, 31.2% of the jobs will require at least
a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree or
postsecondary award (see chart on next
page). Both professional and skilled
positions are filled with rapidly growing
occupations that require a blend of
academic, employability, and technical
skills. To take advantage of these
opportunities, every student needs strong
academic skills complemented and
enhanced with relevant technical skills.
Redesigning Schools
AchieveTexas supports a broad choice of
programs to enhance, supplement, and
build local capacity to improve
postsecondary success. Districts are
encouraged to identify strategies for
aligning and coordinating federal and other
funding sources that may be pursued for
high school reform, dropout prevention,
and to motivate students to master the
knowledge and skills needed to graduate
from high school ready for college and
career. AchieveTexas promotes: a rigorous
academic and technical curriculum that
incorporates the College Readiness
Standards, personalized learning
environments like internships, relevant
teaching and learning designed to promote
2016 Projected U.S. Job Distribution
Bachelor’s Plus
postsecondary success, and effective
educators and leaders. AchieveTexas
complements comprehensive whole school
reform models such as the Early College
High School, Texas High School Redesign
and Restructuring, Texas High Schools that
Work Enhanced Design Network, and the
T-STEM Initiative.
AchieveTexas is designed to focus
education so that it seamlessly integrates
learning, giving students the academic and
technical skills they need to succeed.
Organizing learning encompassing
career clusters and programs of study (see
page 4) provides a way to blend academics
and career preparation to produce more
well-rounded graduates ready for the
opportunities of the world. Education
must provide many different routes for
students to follow based on their individual
needs and career choices.
AchieveTexas is your opportunity to
rethink education in your community,
form close working partnerships among
different stakeholders, and strengthen the
Texas workforce and economy. It’s a chance
to improve curricula, instruction, and
assessment so that they better reflect the
realities students will encounter as adults.
Adopting AchieveTexas
Connecting what a student learns in school
today with what he or she wants to do for a
living, increases motivation to learn.
Schools can help each student develop
skills they need to make informed
decisions about the future.
Connecting School and Career
Although motivating students to learn has
been talked about for decades, AchieveTexas
is the first systemic initiative promoting that
principle in all our schools. Great teachers
Work experience, related
Long/Moderate OJT
Short-term on-the-job
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2007.
your community can make a big difference
have been doing that with some students
in the lives of all students. You can build a
forever, but AchieveTexas creates a
program that addresses individual student
complete program oriented toward
needs and sparks a personal motivation to
engaging all students to learn throughout
succeed. Surely, such a goal is worth
their P–16 years.
pursuing. AchieveTexas is your opportunity
The impact on students and on Texas
to establish an ambitious vision for
will be profound: thousands of graduates
improving schools and taking practical
thoroughly prepared for personal and
action to turn the vision into reality.
professional success. AchieveTexas is a sound
strategy for addressing
complaints that graduates still do
not have the knowledge and
Texas’ Industry Clusters
(including Sub-clusters)
skills they need to enter
� Advanced Technologies and
postsecondary education or
training and the workplace. It
• Nanotechnology and Materials
simply makes common sense to
• Micro-electromechanical Systems
bring AchieveTexas to your
• Semiconductor Manufacturing
• Automotive Manufacturing
� Aerospace and Defense
� Biotechnology and Life Sciences
Learn More
� Information and Computer Technology
Read on for information about
• Communications Equipment
eight essential steps for
• Computing Equipment and Semiconductors
implementing AchieveTexas,
• Information Technology
including definitions and
� Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products
explanations of career clusters,
� Energy
programs of study, Texas
• Oil and Gas Production
Achievement Plans, and
• Power Generation and Transmission
enhanced career guidance.
• Manufactured Energy Systems
Together, you, your
Source: Texas Industry Cluster Initiative, page 20
colleagues, and other members of
Page 3
Step One
Implement AchieveTexas
Commit to building a strong cluster program for your students and schools
The first step in implementing
AchieveTexas is to make a
commitment to embrace career
clusters as an essential
education strategy in your
Initially, the cluster concept will redesign
high school education, but it can be a
broader strategy to reorganize every
aspect of education to increase
achievement and student success. It’s up to
your community as to how ambitious the
local implementation of AchieveTexas
Cluster Basics
The idea of career clusters developed over a
number of years at the federal and state
The concept is to organize learning
around clusters and programs of study such
as Business, Management & Administration
or Health Science. Each cluster has
opportunies for multiple programs of
Texas Career Clusters
At the state level, Texas has adopted the 16
federal career clusters (see back cover) plus
the Governor’s six targeted industry
clusters, which are the economic engines of
the state. These encompass all the careers
students might choose and connect directly
to the Texas job market and economy.
The idea is that students are introduced
to clusters early (see page 6), explore a cluster
in the eighth grade (see page 8), annually
reevaluate their education and career goals,
continue in a career of choice during
postsecondary education or training, and
enter employment when they are ready to
start careers. The program offers a seamless
route to success in school, career, and life.
Local districts in Texas are free to choose
which clusters to implement based on the
needs of the students, community, and local
economy. Not all schools will be able to offer
all 16 clusters, but the goal should be to use
advanced technology to give students an
understanding of each career cluster and
targeted industry cluster and enhance their
opportunities for high demand, high-growth,
and high-wage jobs.
Examples of Industry Clusters, Career Clusters, and Programs of Study
Advanced Technologies
and Manufacturing
Aerospace and Defense
Biotechnology and Life Sciences
Science, Technology,
Engineering, & Mathematics
Law, Public Safety,
Corrections & Security
Health Science
Information and Computer
Information Technology
Petroleum Refining and Chemical Transportation, Distribution,
& Logistics
Agriculture, Food &
Natural Resources
Page 4
Engineering and
Security and
Protective Services
Biotechnology Research
and Development
Network Systems
Facility and Mobile
Equipment Maintenance
Power, Structural
and Technical Systems
AchieveTexas in Action
Region VIII Education Service Center
Build Buy-In
Generally, cluster programs are built by
working groups or partnerships
representing education, employers, and
other community stakeholders (see page
16). It is critical during the early stages of
system redesign to establish buy-in from all
stakeholders. This is best achieved by
making them part of the process of program
design. If all stakeholders feel their concerns
are heard and addressed, the chances of
gaining support are greater.
One of the most important elements of
early program development is strong
leadership. For your partnership or working
group, recruit leaders who are passionate
about improving education and who
understand the benefits of career clusters. In
the beginning, choose co-chairs from
education and business. Leaders should be
responsible for guiding the group toward a
clear vision for the program and developing
detailed plans for implementation.
Seek Approvals from
In your community, implementing clusters
may require formal approval by the school
board, superintendent, or site-based
decision-making committee. It will be
helpful to determine what rules and
regulations need to be followed. A strong
cluster program can generally be established
within current rules.
The power of AchieveTexas is that it
makes sense. Develop a clear vision in
partnership with community stakeholders
and it is likely that others will rally around
the concept of helping students find their
individual route to personal and
professional success.
The Education Service Center (ESC) in Region VIII in Mt. Pleasant
noticed a problem a few years ago. A large percentage of 8th
graders in its region, which covers the northeastern corner of
Texas, were failing the math section of the TAKS (Texas
Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) exam.
To give the incoming 9th graders a boost, the ESC developed
Agricultural/Algebraic Extensive Exploration—or A2E2—an
innovative course that explores agricultural issues in algebraic
terms, allowing students to apply classroom lessons in a realworld context. The class is an example of how clusters can
integrate academic and technical knowledge and skills.
“Our students use algebra in a number of agricultural areas
from animal science to horticulture,” says Sharon Derricks,
Career and Technical Education Specialist at the Region VIII
Service Center. “Overall, we cover 17 agricultural projects, but
we also introduce the students to algebra applications in a few
other areas, such as automotive repair and welding.”
Projects are the cornerstone of the course and lecture time
is limited to provide as many hands-on activities as possible.
One class project brings students to an area horse farm where
they measure and compare Shetland ponies and regular-sized
A2E2 is designed for students concurrently enrolled in
Algebra I, and it requires two teachers: a certified secondary
teacher with math experience and a certified agricultural
science teacher. The expertise of each teacher strengthens the
students’ understanding of both the mathematics and its
application in the agricultural world. The ESC hopes the
—Sharon Derricks, CTE
introduction of agricultural topics will motivate students to later
Specialist, Region VIII
enroll in related classes such as Forestry and Horticulture.
Education Service Center
A2E2 takes the place of the state’s mandated tutorials for
9th graders struggling in math, and, according to the ESC, is an improvement strategy that
“A2E2 is doing a good job because the students get it,” Derricks says. ”Kids will need
algebra in everything they do, and we give them specific examples to illustrate that.”
With a nearly 100 percent success rate of students passing 9th grade algebra, A2E2 is
rapidly expanding. Beginning in 2003 with just three pilot schools, the program is presently
offered in 45 school districts.
Derricks says that teacher professional development is the largest factor in the program’s
success. Interested agricultural, math, and science teachers have four opportunities throughout
the school year to attend a total of 9 days of traning, during which they complete an entire year’s
worth of projects. “It really is fun to watch teachers get excited during the training, and then see
the students get excited during class,” says Derricks. “They all put in a lot of work, and you can
see that they recognize students’ progress.”
“We care about
our kids’ selfesteem. Most of
these students
hadn’t passed a
math test before,
and now they’re
participating and
questions and
getting excited
about learning. ”
Page 5
Step Two
Span All Grades
Follow the AchieveTexas career development model
AchieveTexas involves all grades.
The following progression of college and
career education (see “AchieveTexas Career
Development” at bottom) is supported by
quality career development.
Understanding Jobs and Work
In elementary school, students will have
opportunities to participate in a full range
of appropriate activities designed to help
students begin to understand patterns of
work and economic activity. These activities
help to support the Kindergarten through
Grade 5 Texas Essential Knowledge and
Skills for Social Studies. The intent is to
help students understand the importance
and value of work and jobs.
A school might, for example, conduct an
activity in the Health Science cluster in
which a nurse discusses the job and how he
or she prepared for it. A Law, Public Safety,
Corrections & Security cluster activity
might be a trip to a local firehouse or police
station. Elementary school educators could
talk about their personal experiences in the
Education & Training cluster and how they
decided to become teachers. The difference
between the AchieveTexas approach and
current activities is that the activities are
identified by cluster and integrated
throughout the curriculum.
AchieveTexas Career Development
Postsecondary Education or Training
• Preparation
High School
• Concentration
Middle School
• Exploration
Elementary School
• Understanding
Page 6
Middle school is an appropriate time to ask
students to think about their career
ambitions. This does not mean forcing 6th
graders to make career choices, but creating
activities that allow students to research and
gather information on specific careers.
Building on activities in elementary
school, these learning experiences might
include doing research on a career in the
Science, Technology, Engineering &
Mathematics cluster. It could mean job
shadowing a Preschool Teacher while
exploring the Human Services cluster. Or it
may be learning about computers as part of
the Information Technology cluster. As with
elementary school activities, the plan is to
continue many of the activities schools are
already doing, but to integrate them in the
middle school curriculum. These
experiences prepare students to make
informed decisions prior to creating their
individualized Texas Achievement Plans
(TAPs) during the 8th grade (see page 8).
By implementing AchieveTexas,
stakeholders can create a very different high
school experience for students, one that is
far more engaging and motivating. Students
will graduate with a much clearer vision of
their career goals and be better prepared for
postsecondary education and employment.
The goal is achieved by having students
annually evaluate their college and career
AchieveTexas in Action
Ready, Set, Teach!
Fort Bend Independent School District
While some career preparation may take
place in high schools, under the
AchieveTexas concept, postsecondary
education or training is the critical time for
students to get ready for employment. This
may mean attending a four-year university, a
two-year college, doing an apprenticeship,
joining the military, or participating in onthe-job training.
Career Advancement
Education does not end with high school or
college graduation, completing an
apprenticeship, or leaving the military. In
today’s world, individuals need to keep
learning throughout their lifetime to remain
competitive in their careers, to benefit from
increased longevity, and to enhance their
civic involvement. Texas postsecondary
institutions are filled with adults seeking to
build their portfolio of skills, improve their
ability to conceptualize, and gain knowledge
so they may earn more money, a promotion,
or a more satisfying job.
Every Texas citizen must be able to
achieve his or her greatest personal and
professional potential.
“There’s a difference between loving to learn, and loving
to teach,” says Linda Aiello, who leads the Ready, Set,
Teach! program at Clements High School in Sugar Land.
“Many students enjoy school and assume they’ll equally
enjoy teaching. Some students start in education courses
and realize they’re not meant to teach. They’re usually
grateful to have discovered that before making it halfway
through college.”
Ready, Set, Teach! is a two-pronged initiative in the
Fort Bend Independent School District. The program
consists of a lab course and a career preparation
course. It is designed to give juniors and seniors both
the classroom instruction and real-world experience to
decide if a career in education is right for them.
During the Educational Assistant course, students
explore the field of teaching through observation,
analyzing current issues, and using technology for
research and presentations. Students shadow teachers,
principals, and counselors, and assist with instruction,
preparation of materials, and group activities. Students
join the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE), a
semi-professional organization, and complete a career
development package for college admission, which
includes taking the SAT and/or ACT.
The second part of the program is the Educational
—Linda Aiello, Ready, Set, Teach!
Assistant Career Preparation Course. Each school day,
Coordinator, Clements High
students attend their regular high school classes,
followed by off-site field experience that sends them into
district classrooms to teach their favorite subjects—while earning a salary. Primarily at area
elementary schools, students assist with instruction and are given the opportunity to develop
activities and teach lessons. The career preparation course requires 270 hours per semester (or
540 accumulated hours for the year) and is considered the honors portion of the program.
Student participants get more than experience. Fort Bend has an agreement with Texas A&M
University that grants students one semester of paid tuition for each year spent in Ready, Set,
Teach! instruction.
“When our students go to college,” says Aiello, “they know what they’re doing. At most
schools, students don’t enter the college of education until their junior year, but these students
enter as freshmen having already taught in a classroom.”
The “free” semesters are paying off already, as many of Aiello’s former students have returned to
Fort Bend ISD to teach and to mentor a new class of students. Another part of the program
guarantees district teaching positions to Ready, Set, Teach! graduates once they are certified to teach.
“The best advantage of Ready, Set, Teach!” says Aiello, “is that it gives students the chance to
learn in areas of personal interest. They get to do their own discoveries and find out a lot about
themselves. They gain a real sense of self.”
“Kids are going to
college knowing
what they’re doing.
They’ve made a
connection between
their educations and
how they’ll use
them, and they’re
confident in their
Page 7
Step Three
Implement TAPs
Every student will create a Texas Achievement Plan (TAP)
Every high school student needs
a plan for college and career. It
does not matter how many
times the plan is revised as the
student changes his or her mind.
Having a plan is far better than having no plan
at all and wandering without direction through
secondary and postsecondary education.
Students who hope to“find themselves”during
four-years of college are doing it in the most
expensive way possible. It makes far more sense
for a student to choose a cluster program of
study and adjust it as he or she changes
Sample Texas Achievement Plan (TAP)
Name: Taylor Jones
School: West High School
Career Goal: Power Generating
Cluster: Manufacturing
and Reactor Plant Operator
Pathway: Manufacturing Production Process Development
Postsecondary Goal: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, industrial technology, or technology
9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade
Algebra I
Algebra II
English I
English II
English III
English IV
World Geography
World History
US History
Languages Other
Than English I
Languages Other
Than English II
or Equivalent
Physical Education or
Electronics II
Physics of
Energy Power and
Electronics I
Curricular Learning Activities: SkillsUSA; Technology Students Association (TSA); career
preparation learning experiences.
Extracurricular Experiences: School Club Officer, Student Government
Page 8
This is a pillar of AchieveTexas. It’s the
idea that smart, yet flexible, planning for
secondary and postsecondary education
makes sense for students, regardless of their
interests or abilities. Too many students
stumble through high school and college
without any idea of why they are there. The
vision for AchieveTexas is to have each and
every student take responsibility for their
own college and career goals and assemble a
plan of action for success.
Texas Achievement Plans (TAPs)
Using the learning acquired during Career
Awareness activities in elementary school
and Career Exploration activities in middle
school (see page 6), each 8th grade student
will plan a high school program of study, a
postsecondary education or training goal,
and a career choice (see sample TAP at left).
This should be done under the guidance of
parents/guardians, counselors, and teachers
(see page 10). The TAP would then be
reviewed at least once each year and
changes would be made based on the
student’s personal career goals.
No plan will be set in stone and the
student will be completely free to change
their program of study. In fact, learning that
a career is wrong for a student is as valuable
as discovering one that is right. It is better,
for example, that a student who wants to be
a nurse learns he or she cannot stand the
sight of blood in high school rather than
waiting until the junior year of college.
As a local district, you should consider
utilizing the state model for the Texas
Achievement Plan. Many Texas schools
already require graduation plans for
students. Your version of the Texas
Achievement Plan could be an improved
version of existing documents.
AchieveTexas in Action
Graham Education and Workforce Center
Affiliated with the Graham Independent
School District
Program of Study Models
The state has developed Program of Study
Models to help students, parents, and
educators in the planning process. These
show students recommended courses for a
particular program of study, what program
of study is appropriate during
postsecondary education, and
recommended extended learning and
extracurricular opportunities. These
program of study models are available at
Career Portfolios
Another key concept of AchieveTexas is the
Career Portfolio. At its simplest, this is a
folder of student work that shows a
prospective postsecondary institution or
employer what he or she has accomplished.
It can consist of writing samples, artwork, or
anything that showcases the student’s
abilities. In today’s world, portfolios may be
entirely electronic and students can keep
them on CD-ROM or flash memory drive.
The value of student planning is obvious
when compared to the alternative that exists
in so many high schools and colleges—
students who are in danger of dropping out
because they do not see a connection
between their educational experiences and
what they want to do with their lives. A good
plan is the glue that links today and
tomorrow, showing students how their
current studies are preparing them to be
successful in their chosen fields. Providing a
planning tool for students is an important
element of ensuring that students start on
their route to success.
“Our daily challenge is to meet the needs of our community
and the surrounding areas,” says Cheryl Groves. “We realize
the need for our citizens to receive extended learning
opportunities in a location convenient to their homes. And we
always welcome input and ideas that will continue our vision.”
Groves is describing the Graham Education and
Workforce Center, which she directs. The center was created
to fulfill the vision of the Graham Higher Education Board and
to meet the needs of the Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board’s Closing the Gaps initiative.
According to Closing the Gaps, only 5 percent of the
Texas population has ever enrolled in higher education. The
national average in 2000 was about 5.4 percent. The 0.4
percent difference represents 76,000 students in Texas.
Closing the Gaps has a goal for an overall postsecondary
participation increase to 5.5 percent by 2010 and 5.7
percent by 2015.
The Education and Workforce Center supports that
effort by providing a way for members of the Graham
community to take advantage of lifelong learning
opportunities from colleges and universities without having
to travel to a larger city, such as Dallas, which is more than
100 miles away.
“We host college classes, continuing education classes,
and training seminars for the Graham Independent School
—Cheryl Groves, Director,
District and local businesses,” says Groves. “We have
Graham Education and
several partners including the regional Texas Workforce
Workforce Center
Commission, Graham Independent School District, Texas
State Technical College, Vernon College, Midwestern State University, and Weatherford College. Our
desire is to acquire more partners to better serve our community.”
The need for local learning opportunities was recognized by members of the Graham Higher
Education Board, which is appointed by the city government. The membership includes all elements
of the community, including the President of the Graham Industrial Association, the Superintendent
of Graham schools, the Graham High School Principal, the administrator of the Graham Regional
Medical Center, and Graham citizens. The Board is just one example of how the Center strives to
bring together education, local business, and community members.
The Center is located at what used to be the Shawnee Elementary School. It houses Workforce
Resource, the local office of the Texas Workforce Commission, which provides resources for job
seekers and employers. Also on campus are distance learning classrooms, computer labs, and
administrative offices. The Center recently acquired an old library on adjacent property and plans to
use the building as an Allied Health Facility for Allied Health programs including an Associate’s
Degree of Nursing.
Anyone may use the Center to seek an associate’s degree, take courses with a career focus,
take classes leading to an industry certification, or earn credits toward a college degree. Partnering
colleges and universities also provide dual credit and concurrent enrollment courses to qualified
area high school students via distance learning or traditional in-person delivery if students wish to
“The Center really reaches out to the people in our community,” Groves says. “There are so
many opportunities to take advantage of, it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to.”
Page 9
“We are simply
trying to fulfill the
promise we made
when we opened
that we will always
be here to provide
lifelong education
to the people of the
City of Graham.”
Step Four
Enhance Guidance
Expand the quantity and quality of college and career guidance throughout schools
Another pillar of AchieveTexas
is enhanced career and college
guidance for all students.
As students go through Career Awareness,
Exploration, and Concentration activities in
K–12 education (see page 6), they need
accurate information and advice from
caring and committed adults. With
AchieveTexas, guidance professionals such
as school counselors are expected to play a
key role in dramatically expanding the
quantity and quality of resources available
to students, and what new opportunities are
emerging in the world of work.
Empower Students
Using Internet career information
resources like America’s Career
InfoNet (see page 20), students can
take greater responsibility for their
own career research and planning.
They can come to the Texas
Achievement Plan (see page 8)
process with information and ideas
about what cluster they want to
explore, which careers they want to
pursue, and what new opportunities
are emerging in the evolving world of
Career Awareness and Exploration
activities are designed so students
feel empowered to take charge of
their futures, rather than feel as
though their teachers, counselors, or
parents are making decisions for
them. Recognize students’ unique
abilities and help them find their best
route to success.
Page 10
Let Counselors Counsel
The first priority is to simply allow
guidance counselors to counsel.
Unfortunately, too many counselors are
burdened with duties at school other than
advising students. A big part of their time is
spent with scheduling, but they are often
asked to do other jobs that fall outside the
typical guidance job description.
As a local district, you should look at
how counselors are used in your
community and develop ways to enable
them to spend more time helping students
with such tasks as creating Texas
Achievement Plans (see page 8). Ideally, a
counselor would know every student for
whom he or she is responsible. The
counselor would help individualize
education based on each student’s unique
interests and needs.
Lower Student-to-Counselor
As part of AchieveTexas, look at student-tocounselor ratios in your local schools. Some
schools have ratios as high as a 1,000
students to every counselor, making it
impossible for counselors to spend more
than a few minutes per school year advising
each student. An ideal ratio is 300 to one,
which allows counselors to spend far more
time with each child. Cutting the ratio by
10, 20, or 30 percent, however, can make a
huge difference in a student’s guidance
experience. It is up to local AchieveTexas
partnerships to develop strategies for
reducing counselor workloads.
AchieveTexas in Action
Career Resources
Districts should provide opportunities for
students to conduct research on career
options, local employment trends, and
economic competitiveness.
Fortunately, there are an increasing
number of tools available for students to
research college and career options.
Technology provides opportunity for
students to access resources such as the
Internet version of the Occupational
Outlook Handbook (,
America’s Career InfoNet
(, Texas Industry
Cluster Initiative (
ticluster.html) and Labor Market Career
Information (LMCI) (
(For a list of career information resources
see page 20 or
Teachers as Career Advisers
Under AchieveTexas, it is hoped that
teachers will take a more active role in
advising students about career choices. After
parents, teachers have the most influence on
the career directions students choose.
Teachers are often in the best position to
identify a student’s abilities and passions,
and to encourage students to follow them.
The idea is that guidance is a school-wide
responsibility, carried out by a team that
includes counselors, teachers, parents, and
the students themselves.
You have the opportunity to design and
build a much more effective guidance
program for your local schools. Like all
elements of AchieveTexas, this program
should focus on treating each student as an
individual and helping him or her find the
best route to success.
Project Lead The Way
McNeil High School, Round Rock
Independent School District
Under the guidance of experienced professionals,
future engineers are starting on the route to becoming
high-tech professionals at McNeil High School in the
Round Rock Independent School District.
McNeil is home to the only engineering academy in
the district. The academy features curriculum from
Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nationwide program
aimed at solving the United States’ engineer shortage.
The not-for-profit organization provides engineering
curriculum to more than 1,750 schools in 46 states and
the District of Columbia. The curriculum is free, but
schools must provide software, hardware, and other
supplies for the program.
“When McNeil began implementing Project Lead
The Way in 2001,” says Lisa Windolf, the Academy
Coordinator, “the school wanted experienced engineers
to teach. And, so far, the entire faculty consists of
former engineers.”
Windolf, who was a chemical engineer for more
than 14 years, adds that the engineers’ professional
contacts and experience pay off for students.
“There are local firms who come recruiting our
—Lisa Windolf, Engineering
students,” she says. These calls often translate into
Academy Coordinator/Lead
summer jobs and career preparation opportunities.
Instructor, McNeil High School
“Nothing is more valuable to them than seeing the things
they’re learning come to life.”
Such experiences have led to significant student achievement, as almost 25 percent of the
2005–2006 engineering academy seniors have been offered early acceptance to postsecondary
engineering or computer science programs. More than 40 percent of the previous year’s academy
seniors went on to study engineering and related fields after high school.
Windolf says one reason for the engineering academy’s success is that it is not selective. Any student
in the Round Rock ISD who is interested in engineering is encouraged to transfer to the academy at
McNeil. “We’ll take everyone,” she says. “Part of my job is to get students excited about engineering;
another part is to help some students find out that engineering is not for them. But by giving every student
a chance to participate, we draw a variety of skills and talents for different aspects of engineering. ”
McNeil’s engineering academy offers four out of the eight possible PLTW secondary courses.
The classes—Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, and
Engineering Design and Development—are integrated with math, computer science, and
engineering graphics courses to offer students a comprehensive four-year pre-engineering
education sequence. Only the first two PLTW courses are required for all students in the academy.
The academy is enjoying a boom in popularity. From about 160 academy students in the
2005–2006 school year, next year’s enrollment is project to be more than 200 students.
“The Project Lead The
Way courses are a
great way for students
to experience
engineering while in
high school. They
allow students to
apply lessons in
real working
Page 11
Step Five
Build Seamless Connections
Link programs and institutions so that students have smooth programs of study through school
Getting a Head Start
on College
Seamlessness includes creating
opportunities for students to get an
early start on postsecondary
education. This includes traditional
Advanced Placement and
International Baccalaureate classes
as well as dual credit courses in
which students earn both secondary
and postsecondary credit for collegelevel courses taught in high schools.
There is also a growing trend toward
“middle college,” which are high
schools on college campuses.
Students work toward high school
graduation while also earning
college-credits tuition free. According
to the Early College High School
Initiative, there are now more than 70
such schools across the country.
Page 12
Often, secondary and
postsecondary schools are
islands unto themselves.
learn best, but few schools have truly
committed to it, particularly at the high
school level.
This means that students transitioning
among institutions often hit bumps as they
try to transfer credits and avoid repeating
classes they have already taken. It leads to
inefficient delivery of education because of
the lack of coordination and alignment
among different institutions.
Linking Secondary and
Postsecondary Education
AchieveTexas also calls for closer ties among
secondary and postsecondary institutions.
In its simplest form, this would mean
creating articulation agreements that align
high school programs of study with those of
colleges and universities.
A Health Science cluster at your local high
school, for example, might flow seamlessly
into a Health Science program at the local
community college, with students making an
easy transition between the two institutions.
In a more advanced form, articulation
among secondary and postsecondary
institutions means co-developing curricula
so that they are not just aligned, but are a
single coherent program of study that spans
grades 11–14 or 9–16. One example of
seamlessness in action is Tech Prep
programs, in which students take classes in
11th and 12th grades that lead directly into
associate’s degree programs at two-year
colleges. AchieveTexas imagines
unprecedented levels of cooperation among
secondary and postsecondary educators, all
in the name of providing students with
clear and coherent programs of study.
Establishing Seamless Transitions
AchieveTexas seeks to remedy this situation.
The vision is to create a seamless education
in which curricula, instruction, and
assessment are connected and coordinated.
This would mean that no student would
repeat learning and that credits would
transfer easily from institution to
institution. The idea is to build a program
that provides smooth educational routes for
students to follow from elementary school,
into middle school, on to high school,
through postsecondary education or
training, and into the workplace. Seamless
transition includes creating opportunities
for students to get an early start on
postsecondary education (see “Getting a
Head Start on College” at left).
Under such a program, curricula for
grades K–12 would be progressive and
cumulative. Knowledge and skills acquired in
early grades would be built upon and
expanded in later grades. All classes would
integrate academics such as English and
mathematics with career education. This
would mean redesigning instruction to
hands-on, interdisciplinary, problem- and
project-based education. We know that this
kind of active instruction is the way students
Roll Up Your Sleeves
There’s no denying that creating a truly
seamless system that integrates academic and
technical education will be hard work. That’s
why it is critical for you and your partners to
communicate with all stakeholders and
convince them that such a program is the
right thing to do for students.
AchieveTexas in Action
Governor’s Industry Cluster
In 2004, Governor Rick Perry announced
his vision of building the future economy of
Texas and expanding opportunities for
lifelong success. That vision focuses on
building competitive advantage through six
target industry clusters and bringing highpaying jobs to Texas.
The objective of the Governor’s Industry
Cluster Initiative is to stimulate long-term
sustained growth and focus state resources
on key targeted industry clusters that will be
the engines of job creation and economic
development in the 21st century.
This objective will be realized by ensuring
that the educational pipeline is robust,
aligned, and responsive to the future
employers of students by carefully analyzing
current and future workforce needs. It is
essential that education closes the gaps where
they exist and helps create a climate that is
conducive to the recruitment and retention
of high-paying growth industries that will
ensure lifelong success for all students.
National Biomedical and Health Sciences
Secondary Program
Ben Barber Career and Technology
Academy, Mansfield Independent School
Ben Barber Career and Technology Academy in Mansfield is
stepping up to solve the shortage of healthcare workers in Texas.
Ed Foster, Career and Technical Director for the Mansfield School
District, cites an aging population of healthcare workers and growing
health-related problems such as obesity and diabetes for the
substantial staffing shortfalls in many healthcare facilities. The
innovative National Biomedical and Health Sciences (NBHS)
secondary program is intended to help alleviate the current and
projected deficit.
“The array of classes we offer serves students with interests
varying from a career as a lab technician to aspirations for medical
school,” says Foster. “This program attracts the best and the
The National Biomedical and Health Sciences program is the
result of a partnership between two national organizations that
focus on curriculum design, professional development, program
evaluation, and healthcare workforce demands. MPR Associates
and the National Consortium on Health Science and Technology
Education (NCHSTE) have partnered to create a course framework
that integrates a health sciences core with traditional academic
classes and provides project-based instruction related to health
—Ed Foster, Career and
Most students in the NBHS program spend only half of each
Technical Director,
school day at their home high school campuses. Following a
Mansfield Independent
nine-week introduction to health science, students participate in
School District
clinical rotations at area hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics,
observing and gaining hands-on experience in a variety of healthcare fields. Foster says the clinical
experiences have been a big hit with students interested in pursuing a pre-medical college
program, and that giving the courses weighted credit allows students to improve their grade point
averages as they head into the competitive process of applying for postsecondary education.
Barber was one of eight high schools in the country selected to implement the NBHS
curriculum in the fall of 2005. Success has come even in the program’s first year, as students are
enrolling in the courses for next year with plans to seek certification. The certification option is the
crown jewel of Barber’s NBHS program. It allows students to graduate as pharmacy technicians or
certified nurse’s assistants. Because of Barber’s accelerated block schedule of four classes each
semester, students are able to take more health science electives each year. “A student may take
pharmacology and pharmacy tech during their junior year, and then take pharmacy tech again their
senior year and sit for the certification exam,” Foster says.
The Ben Barber Career and Technology Academy is fed by the four high schools in the
Mansfield area and serves 2,500 students every year. Foster says the school is preparing for an
influx of students interested in enrolling in health science courses. An Emergency Medical
Technician (EMT) certification program is being added for the 2006–2007 school year, and the
school has built a state-of-the-art biomedical lab.
“Our students
have a huge
advantage after
high school
because they are
graduating with
marketable skills
and real-world
Page 13
Step Six
Establish Extended Learning
Expand participation in curricular experiences such as CTSOs and career preparation experiences
In today’s world, student
learning happens around the
clock—at school, on the
computer, at home with parents
or guardians, in the workplace,
at the mall—everywhere and all
the time.
Texas CTSOs
Business Professionals
of America (BPA)
DECA, Texas Association
Family, Career and Community
Leaders of America (FCCLA)
Future Business Leaders
of America (FBLA)
Health Occupations Students
of America (HOSA)
Texas FFA Association
Texas Technology
Student Association (TSA)
Page 14
Students, in fact, never stop learning. The
question is: What are they learning and how
does it support—or detract—from their
education and career goals?
The task for schools is to take advantage
of all kinds of learning opportunities in a
student’s life to achieve the goal of
graduating a well-educated, highly
motivated adult. Extended learning is a key
strategy for achieving that goal. It refers to
learning that may be curricular or
extracurricular. It can take place inside or
outside of school and at all times of the day.
It is a focused effort to create special
opportunities for students to gain
experience that prepares them for success,
including developing the skills such as
leadership and teamwork that employers
The Role of CTSOs
One of the primary forms of curricular
learning is Career and Technical Student
Organizations (CTSOs). (For a list of Texas
CTSOs, see left.) Any student participating
in career education is eligible to join the
corresponding CTSO for his or her class.
Overall 143,533 Texas students are CTSO
members. CTSOs seek to build students’
skills through local, regional, state, and
national competitions that evaluate what
students learn in the classroom. This
includes skills such as public speaking and
parlimentary procedure as well as specific
occupational skills.
With AchieveTexas, CTSOs will be
aligned around clusters and programs of
study. The vision for AchieveTexas is to
provide opportunities for membership, so
that every student has the opportunity to
develop leadership academic, and technical
Work-based Learning
Extended learning also takes place outside
of schools. These instructional
arrangements include:
� Apprenticeship—An education and
AchieveTexas in Action
Entrepreneur 101
Texas Restaurant Association
training program registered with the
Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training
that is conducted or sponsored by an
employer, a group of employers, or a
joint apprenticeship committee
representing both employers and labor,
and that contains all terms and
conditions of the qualifications,
recruitment, selection, employment,
and training of apprentices.
� Career Preparation—Career instruction
and training, either paid or unpaid,
provided cooperatively through written
agreements between the school, the
student, and an employer in an
occupational training, site-based
� Internships—A method of career
instruction that requires a written
cooperative arrangement with business
or industry where a student enrolled in a
career and technical education course
works without pay in a technical
occupation to acquire occupational
knowledge and experience in all aspects
of the business or industry.
� Job shadowing—A career experience
without pay involving the student
physically following a mentor to observe
all the processes and practices involved in
a job assignment.
The vision for AchieveTexas is that all
students will participate in one or more
extended learning experiences during high
Create Local Opportunities
Develop a full roster of extended learning
experiences available to students in your
community. Start by creating an inventory
of those that are already available, then
collaborate with business partners (see page
16) to create new ones. In an ideal program,
students see how academic and technical
skills are applied in the world of work.
An innovative program in Texas has students saying
“bon appetit!” while they learn to run small businesses.
The Texas Restaurant Association is in its fifth year of
implementing Entrepreneur 101, which links academics
and career preparation for students interested in owning
and operating a business.
The high school curriculum uses a school-based
restaurant to teach students entrepreneurial skills. As part
of the program, students undertake responsibilities as the
owners and operators of the restaurant, with the
assistance of experienced business professionals and
educators. The program is currently operating an
Outback Steakhouse located in Westside High School in
Houston and a Carmelo’s Ristorante at Del Valle High
School in Austin. A new program will open at Emmett
Conrad High School in Dallas in the fall of 2008.
“The program teaches students how to run and
own a successful business,” says Yvonne Loya,
Director of Programs & Events for the Texas
Restaurant Association. “The example we use just
happens to be a restaurant.”
Loya says that through Entrepreneur 101
extended learning, students develop technical and
entrepreneurial skills necessary to manage an
enterprise. Additional curriculum segments have also
been created to integrate other courses into the
experience, such as accounting, math, chemistry, art,
English, languages other than English, government,
layout and design, merchandising, and marketing.
—Yvonne Loya, Director of
This ensures that students are exposed to all aspects
Programs & Events, Texas
of an industry, from keeping the books and designing
Restaurant Association
the menu to legal and health requirements.
Students are also offered the chance to obtain
ServSafe® certification. ServSafe® is a comprehensive food service sanitation program that is
accepted as the national standard by more than 95 percent of state and local jurisdictions. After
passing the 80-question exam, students qualify for a food handler card from the United States
Department of Health.
Entrepreneur 101 requires support from local communities to get restaurants running. Loya
estimates that the total cost of the program is near $1 million per location. To offer the program,
schools must have an unbranded restaurant or dining area on campus, or they must hold a bond
election for Entrepreneur 101 that provides for building and branding the restaurant as they go.
“We’re learning with experience, and as we continue to do so, we can begin to evaluate and
improve our progress and success,” Loya says.
“These students are
getting a really
good picture of
how every class
they take in high
school can and will
affect their future
careers. And they
aren’t just hearing
that they’ll use this
stuff, they already
are using it.”
Page 15
Step Seven
Build Strong Partnerships
Establish a local Business-Education Success Team (B.E.S.T.)
Creating Your Vision
One of the first activities your local
partnership can tackle is establishing your
vision for your local program. Ask the group
to imagine what will be changed in your
schools by the year 2012, the state goal for
implementation of AchieveTexas. Ask such
questions as:
� What clusters will have been
� How will students’ learning experiences
have changed?
� What extended learning opportunities
will be available to students?
You may want to have the group undergo a
formal visioning process as you create your
local program. This can involve everything
from a meeting of stakeholders led by a
professional facilitator to smaller community
meetings or surveys and questionnaires. A
clear vision gives you and your colleagues a
common goal for which to strive.
Establishing a clear vision in the beginning
will save time later.
Once your vision is clear, document the
vision and identify the steps necessary to
make it a reality. Use the information in this
booklet to frame your work and establish
responsibilities for developing career
clusters, programs of study, and Texas
Achievement Plans. Be sure to set
achievable timelines and celebrate
milestones as they are reached.
Page 16
If you’ve read this far in this
booklet, you’re probably
thinking, wow, this is going to
take a lot of work. You’re right!
AchieveTexas is an ambitious effort to
redesign education and fully integrate
college and career education in Texas P–16
education. That’ s no small task.
Fortunately, you are not expected to do it
alone. That’s because one of the primary
goals of AchieveTexas is to vastly increase
the quantity and quality of partnerships
supporting education throughout the state.
Partnership is one of the basic principles of
AchieveTexas, particularly between
education and business. The idea is to
spread the tasks of program building over
large groups of educators and employers.
It’s the entire community’s job to help
construct a strong clusters program for
your schools and students.
Texas B.E.S.T.
The plan is to build a partnership called the
Texas Business-Education Success Team, or
B.E.S.T. This team would bring together
leaders from education, business and
industry, government agencies, professional
organizations, and other groups to
implement AchieveTexas. This may include
discussing policy issues, including how best
to promote AchieveTexas. The biggest
responsibility of this group, however, will be
to build buy-in to the redesign of education
among leadership, so that all share a
common vision for education. The
Governor's Industry Cluster Initiative has
brought business and industry to the table
with recommendations and willingness to
do what is necessary to redesign schools, so
that all share a common vision for
education in Texas.
AchieveTexas in Action
Houston Independent School District
Create a Local B.E.S.T.
You should create a B.E.S.T. to oversee
implementation of your local cluster
program. Generally, these partnerships are
co-chaired by a representative of education,
such as the district superintendent, and
business, such as the CEO or president of a
local company. Membership is drawn from
the education, employer, government, and
civic community, including Chamber of
Commerce representatives. There is no
standard size for such a group, but they
commonly have 10 to 20 members to
represent all stakeholders.
Start recruiting your B.E.S.T. by thinking
about strong leaders in your community.
� Who are the leaders who care most about
students and their success?
� Who has contributed positively to
education initiatives in the past?
� Who is respected enough so that others
in the community will listen when he or
she endorses a cluster program?
� Who has knowledge of emerging career
opportunities in your region?
Plan for your B.E.S.T. to become a
permanent part of the education system in
your community. Seek input on what clusters
and programs of study to offer students. With
businesses’ help, redesign instruction, rewrite
curricula, and revise assessments to reflect
real-world standards of student performance.
Form Other Partnerships
Besides formal partnerships implementing the
career clusters, there can be countless other
less-formal partnerships created to support
your program. This could be a partnership
among a secondary school, a postsecondary
institution, and local banks to offer internships
to Finance students. All kinds of partnerships
are possible at all levels, all built around the
goal of helping students prepare for college
and career.
Students at Wheatley High School in Houston are
taking their education to the bank as part of a local
partnership with PrimeWay Federal Credit Union that
will soon bring a financial institution to campus.
“We’re moving into our new updated school
building this summer, and our plan is to develop a
fully operational credit union within the school,” says
Wiley Johnson, principal of Wheatley.
Johnson started at Wheatley in the fall of 2005. It
didn’t take him long to learn that the school’s
previous administration had been in contact with
PrimeWay about a finance course. Johnson was
aggressive about expanding the idea to a full
finance curriculum. He says that Wheatley already
has several career programs that provided hands-on
real-world experience, and that adding finance was
a natural progression.
The finance curriculum is in its pilot stage.
Students use PrimeWay’s mobile banking unit as a
classroom where they study concepts ranging from
managing their own bank accounts to standard
banking regulations and business management.
—Wiley Johnson, Principal,
Students also have the opportunity to become
Wheatley High School
certified bank tellers, which gives them a
marketable skill upon graduation. In addition,
PrimeWay, which has seven branches across Houston, provides guest instructors for
classes and participates in curriculum development and assessment. “Some of my
students are sitting in class saying, ‘Yeah, I can use this when I enter the job market,’”
Johnson says. “But I’m telling them that they already are in the job market. PrimeWay is
really assisting us in making that link with the career cluster, and helping students to
understand the reality of it.” Wheatley’s long-term vision for the program is that students
will be able to service customers at its branch office at the school and learn about
banking practices.
The program is also looking towards an articulation agreement that will award
college business credit to PrimeWay students at some Texas colleges and universities.
One of Johnson’s goals as Wheatley’s principal is to foster a college culture on his
campus that gives students a range of options to make connections from the classroom
to the outside world. He hopes to include many more partnerships with local businesses.
“I would like to see defined programs of study that assist students on their way, and
enable them to tweak their educations as they see fit,” Johnson says. “The big picture is
that no matter what students’ plans are after high school, I want to see them graduating
with knowledge, skills and abilities that make them desirable to employers.”
“Our PrimeWay
partnership provides
a unique opportunity
for our students that
encourages them to
begin building on
their futures today.”
Page 17
Step Eight
Offer Professional Development
Create professional development programs that help educators constantly expand their skills
Texas educators are among the
best in the nation. They are
caring, capable, and committed
professionals who believe that
all students can learn.
Active Learning
Much of AchieveTexas professional
development will be focused on
encouraging educators to abandon
lectures and rote memorization in favor
of teaching the way we know works
best. It’s no secret that active, hands-on,
contextual, problem- and project-based
learning is very effective at engaging
students and motivating them to
achieve. Using real-world situations and
problems while teaching shows students
that what they are learning is relevant to
life outside school.
Recent research suggests that students
don’t drop out of school because
learning is too hard, but simply because
it is boring. Teaching teachers to utilize
active, hands-on learning is a sound
strategy to prevent Texas students from
not completing their education and
reaching their career goals.
Active teaching pays off as more
students better grasp higher-level
knowledge and master sophisticated
skills. It is simply the right way to do
Page 18
Still, everyone agrees that the education
system in Texas can improve. There’s still
much work to be done to ensure that all
students graduate fully ready for the rigor of
postsecondary education or training, and a
career. AchieveTexas challenges educators to
rethink their assumptions about how
students learn and how educators teach,
and it encourages them to develop rigorous
curricula and design better assessment.
Educators will be asked to implement
new strategies as part of AchieveTexas. This
includes playing a role in career guidance
(see page 10); partnering with colleagues to
develop more rigorous curricula; and
aligning programs that span secondary and
postsecondary education.
Professional Development
All this will require significant professional
development for teachers and counselors.
This should start in teacher preparation
programs throughout the state. Institutions
need to redesign programs to support the
career clusters, including expanding a new
teachers’ sense that they have a significant
role in preparing students for college and
career success.
AchieveTexas seeks to dramatically
increase the quantity and quality of
professional development for educators, so
that they are fully comfortable with
implementing clusters. This includes
AchieveTexas in Action
ACE Mentor Program
Dallas Independent School District
familiarizing teachers and counselors with
the major components of AchieveTexas such
as career clusters, programs of study, and
Texas Achievement Plans. It means instilling a
spirit of collaboration among all educators.
As a local district, you and your
colleagues should provide professional
development programs that help teachers
and counselors implement AchieveTexas.
Design an ongoing series of learning
experiences that puts the principles of
AchieveTexas into practice. Create a
professional development program that is
based on 21st century knowledge, skills and
Use Education Service Centers
Professional development experiences to
support AchieveTexas will also be provided
by Education Service Center (ESC) staff. The
ESCs will be responsible for providing
technical assistance to schools that support
clusters and programs of study, including
professional development programs. They
will give smaller districts a way to collaborate
to share resources and offer programs of
study that the districts might not be able to
provide individually.
Business and Industry
The Governor’s Industry Cluster Initiative
supports valuable opportunities for
professional development through
internships, externships, and even team
teaching with industry experts. Company
executives report their willingness to share
expertise and resources to ensure that
teachers and students learn about emerging
technologies and career opportunities.
These collaborative relationships expand
teachers’ knowledge and skills while better
preparing students to make good career
Seniors at Skyline High are building brighter futures thanks
to mentors from the ACE Mentor Program of Dallas-Fort
They are introduced to architectural, construction, and
engineering (ACE) career fields through a unique program
that brings together professionals from these industries and
offers students access to networking and scholarship
ACE Mentors from 16 organizations adopt students from
Skyline’s architecture magnet program to create mentoring
teams. Industry leaders included in the program are HKS
Architects; Thornton-Tomasetti Group; Lopez Garcia Group; the
University of Texas at Arlington; and Hospital Corporation of
America; among others. The firms focus on introducing
students to the real-world challenges and rewards of design
and building careers.
The partnerships take shape at a time of growth in the
construction industry. The number of construction workers
nationally increased from 5 million in 1994 to 6.7 million
in 2003, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job growth projections indicate construction employment
will increase more than 15 percent in the next few years.
Tom Cox, ACE Mentor board member and Architecture &
Construction Cluster Coordinator for Skyline, says the 16
firms work together to develop a program that includes
hands-on activities, tours, video presentations, and site visits.
As part of the curriculum, students are given a design
challenge in which they are guided through each stage of the
—Tom Cox, Skyline Architectural
assignment by ACE Mentors teaching the principles and
Cluster Coordinator and ACE
skills of architectural design.
Mentor board member
“It’s great to give the students exposure to the entire
design and construction process,” says Cox. “The seniors are going to be making some big decisions
about their future careers, so this experience will prove invaluable for them.”
Along with experience planning, designing, and executing a construction project, Cox notes that
students are also given the chance to network with future employers. Another benefit for the Skyline seniors
is the opportunity to earn the $2,000 Humphries Scholarship to the University of Texas School of
Architecture from the Dallas Architecture Foundation and HKS Architects.
The one-year program culminates each spring in an end-of-year presentation of team projects to
family members, friends, and educators. Students present their projects through models, drawings,
electronic graphics, and other materials as well as explain their approach, challenges, and solutions.
Steve Milner, president of the ACE Mentor Board of Directors, credits the program’s success to the
commitment of the Dallas Independent School District, Skyline students, and the volunteer mentors.
“The focus of all involved has remained on positively introducing students to the fields of architecture,
construction, and engineering in a way that facilitates true career opportunity and potential,” he says. “I look
forward to the great things that this organization will accomplish as it supports the growth of students
discovering ACE-related career programs of study.”
Page 19
“Not only does the
Skyline Architecture
Cluster introduce
students to the
environment and the
various occupations,
it allows them the
opportunity to
network with future
Career Resources
Resources for building your AchieveTexas college and career program
This new website will provide information
and resources to help schools redesign their
programs for the 21st century. Tools and tips
for implementing AchieveTexas will be
available. Look for Program of Study Models,
descriptions, implementation tools, and
frequently asked questions.
American School Counselor
This professional organization works to
support school counselors as they guide
students in academic and social development.
America’s Career InfoNet
This is the place to search for occupational
information, industry information, and statespecific labor market information.
Career Voyages
This is a career planning resource for
students, parents, career changers, and career
Governor’s Industry Cluster Initiative
SP/view or
The State of Texas has identified six industry
clusters that will better position it to compete
nationally and internationally for jobs of the
21st century. The Office of the Governor,
Economic Development and Tourism
division and the Texas Workforce
Commission have formed state and regional
partnerships to foster growth and
development of the six target clusters. This
site addresses the strategic plan, defines the
clusters, and gives the rationale for selection.
High Schools That Work
An education reform model developed by the
Southern Regional Education Board, High
Page 20
Schools That Work (HSTW) emphasizes a
framework of Goals and Key Practices for
improving high school education, including
opportunities for out-of-classroom education
and higher standards for all students.
Labor Market Career
Information (LMCI)
This site provides students, teachers, parents,
and counselors with links to products and
services offered by LMCI. Teachers and
counselors will discover materials, tools, and
information that will help them to provide
effective career counseling.
National Research Center for Career
and Technical Education
The University of Louisville and its partners
focus on three major outcomes of effective
secondary and postsecondary career and
technical education: engagement-reducing
dropouts and increasing school completion;
achievement-strenghtening acdemic and
technical knowlege and skills; and transitionincreasing the movement of students from
high school to postsecondary education and
from education into the workplace.
(Occupational Information Network)
O*NET provides full information on
occupations, including compensation,
employment prospects, and skill matching for
students. Information on compensation is
available on a state-by-state basis.
Own Your Own Future
A student outreach campaign to encourage
Texas youth to stay in school and graduate.
The website is designed to show teens that
graduating from high school is the first step
toward college and career.
Reality Check
This site allows students to search for careers
starting with the expenses they need to cover,
the salaries they want to make, or their career
Career Cluster Initiative
This site disseminates information on the 16
federally defined career clusters. It has
published brochures as well as core and
occupationally specfic knowledge and skills
structures (catalogs of knowledge and skills
required for different occupations) for each of
the 16 clusters as well as cluster committee
information. Publications are available online.
Texas Education Agency
The state’s education website is the place to
keep up with the latest developments in Texas
Texas High School Project
The Texas High School Project is a $261
million public-private initiative committed to
increasing graduation and college enrollment
rates in every Texas community. The project
is dedicated to ensuring that all Texas
students leave high school prepared for
college and career success in the 21st-century
T-STEM Initiative
The Texas Science, Technology, Engineering
and Math Initiative (T-STEM) is designed to
improve instruction and academic
performance in science- and mathematicsrelated subjects at high school across Texas
through applied and relevant instruction in
mathematics and science tied to
postsecondary standards.
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Outlook Handbook
This nationally recognized resource offers
information on job responsibilities, earnings,
working conditions, and job prospects for the
What Does That Mean?
This glossary defines key terms related to the AchieveTexas College and Career Initiative
AchieveTexas: the name for Texas’ College
and Career Initative.
Articulation agreements: formal agreements
between or among educational organizations
(high schools, technical colleges, and
universities) that align courses and majors from
one educational institution to another in a way
that allows a systematic and seamless student
transition without loss of course credit or time
for the student.
Career clusters: a way of organizing curricula,
instruction, and assessment around specific
occupational groups (for example, Information
Technology or Health Science) that offers
students core academics, coursework related to
specific occupations, and extended learning
Career exploration: career guidance activities
provided in middle school enabling students to
identify their career interests and abilities and
explore careers to facilitate their college and
career decision-making process.
Career guidance: structured developmental
experiences presented systematically from
kindergarten through grade 12 that help
students analyze and evaluate abilities, skills,
and interests.
Career Cluster Program: a way of
redesigning education around career clusters
and programs of study and connecting what
students learn in school to their career goals.
Program of Study: a way of organizing
curricula and educational activities within a
career cluster related to a student’s specific
academic or career goal.
Career portfolio: a collection of student work
indicating progress made in subjects, activities,
or programs. Portfolios are often used to
document student performance in a variety of
learning experiences.
Dual credit: refers to an opportunity and
agreement through which a student may earn
high school credit for successfully completing a
college course that covers all the Texas
Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) of any
specified high school course. The “dual credit”
earned is college credit and high school credit
for one course.
Extended learning experiences: Career
learning and outside-the-classroom learning
experiences such as job shadowing,
internships, and service learning.
Education Service Centers: 20 centers in
Texas that provide technical assistance and
professional development support to school
districts and educators.
Tech Prep: is a program carried out under an
articulation agreement between secondary and
postsecondary education institutions and
consists of a program of study that combines a
minimum of 2 years of secondary education
with a minimum of 2 years of postsecondary
education in a nonduplicative, sequential course
of study or an apprenticeship porgram of not
less than 2 years following secondary education
Understanding Jobs and Work: appropriate
career guidance activities for kindergarten
through grade 5 to help students develop an
understanding of the world of work and the
relationship between education and careers.
Professional development: training for
educators and counselors and educational
support staff that help them stay informed
about current trends, issues, and best practices
in education and their respective fields.
Seamless Transition: a system established for
the delivery of a curriculum, program, initiative,
etc., that promotes efficiency by reducing
duplication and providing a logical progression
of activities, courses, etc., that meet the
requirements of two or more educational
Targeted Industry Clusters: Six industry
clusters that have been identified as highdemand, high-growth, with high wage jobs and
are the economic engines of Texas.
Texas Achievement Plan (TAP): an
educational plan suggesting the high school
courses a student should take to prepare
successfully for graduation and transition into a
postsecondary education. The vision for
AchieveTexas is that all 8th graders, in
consultation with their parents/guardians,
counselors, and teachers will select a cluster
and program of study and create a TAP. TAPs
are to be reviewed and revised at least once
each school year.
Page 21
Texas Career Clusters
Texas’ 16 career clusters are based on those developed by the U.S. Department of Education.
Schools and districts may develop their own programs of study based on the local economy.
Processing, production,
distribution, financing, and
development of agricultural
commodities and natural
Designing, managing, building,
and maintaining the built
Executing governmental functions
at the local, state, and federal levels.
Processing materials into
intermediate or final products.
Providing diagnostic and
therapeutic services, health
information, support services, and
biotechnology research and
Performing marketing activities to
reach organizational objectives.
Performing scientific research and
professional technical services.
Creating, exhibiting, performing,
and publishing multimedia
Managing restaurants and
other food services, lodging,
attractions, recreation events,
and travel-related services.
Managing movement of people,
materials, and goods by road,
pipeline, air, rail, and water.
The career clusters icons above are used with permission of the
Providing for families and
serving human needs.
Organizing, directing, and
evaluating functions essential to
productive business operations.
Providing education, training, and
related learning support services.
States’ Career Clusters Initiative, 2007. For more information, visit
College and Career Initiative
Designing, supporting, and
managing hardware, software,
multimedia, and systems
1701 North Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78701-1494
512-463-9581 (phone)
512-463-8057 (fax)
Planning finances and investments;
managing banking, insurance, and
business finances.
Providing legal, public safety,
protective, and homeland
security services.
It is the policy of the Texas
Education Agency not to
discriminate on the basis of race,
color, national origin, sex, or
handicap in its career and
technical education programs,
services, or activities.