Ninety-four percent of the 81 Career and Technical Education (CTE) students at Williamsport Area High School who took the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) exam this spring passed, with 75 percent of them earning advanced status.
This year's results exceed the high school's record-setting passage rate of 85 percent it achieved in 2013 - a growth that Randy Zangara, CTE director said is indicative of the hard work of both the department and students.
"I am extremely proud of the work the students and instructors have put in this year," Zangara said. "We have increased the amount of job-ready and post-secondary-ready students graduating from our school. The instructors took the time to include a great deal of literacy and numeracy, along with multiple tasks designed to strengthen student competencies outlined by the state. This year's results are an indication of their hard work."
Shown are students in Randy Williamson’s construction trades classroom, with Career and Technical Education director Randy Zangara visiting the students.
The NOCTI exams are taken annually each spring, with a written portion that assesses a student's knowledge of the state-mandated competencies for their programs.
Students also have to take a performance test during which a local business owner or employee, in the field of the program that the student is in, comes to the school and has the students demonstrate a number of hands-on tasks aligned to the state competencies.
Advanced or competent results show prospective employers that the student is certified to be able to work in an occupation that is aligned to the program through which he or she went.
"For instance, an automotive student could leave here with numerous ASE certifications, the ability to inspect cars, and a NOCTI certificate showing that they have the knowledge to effectively work within the automotive service industry," Zangara said.
According to Zangara, the ultimate goal of the district's CTE program is to make students either job-ready or post-secondary-ready.
"Our community sees the need for more middle-skills based labor," he said. "The more students that acquire skills provided under a CTE program, the better chance they have either landing a job or strengthening their post-secondary experience by having skills other students may not have had the opportunity to experience."
The high school's CTE program, which has been in place since the early 1990s, boasts a menu of 15 programs, and is looking to expand its offerings in the 2014-15 school term.
"We have had a number of future engineers come through our programs to learn things such as structure, CAD, process, operation and application," Zangara said. "We have had students leave and start their own businesses, some go onto work directly in jobs related to their program, and many others go off to post-secondary institutions, such as RIT, Penn State, MIT, University of Pittsburgh, and Bucknell, just to name a few."
As Zangara looks to the future of his department, he said he plans to continue to look to help fill voids within the community for jobs that require specific skills, whether it is in the natural gas industry, businesses that support them, businesses that are moving here or businesses that have been here for years.
"I am very proud of our CTE team," said Mike Reed, head principal. "Through outstanding teaching, focused learning and collaboration with industry, our teachers and students produced extraordinary results."
For more information on the Career and Technical Education program, visit www.wasd .org.