Career and tech ed students gain alternate path

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Career and tech ed students gain alternate path

Voice: July 2017 

For the second time in the past year, Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation greatly aiding career and technical education students and instructors.

Wolf last month signed into law legislation stating that career and tech ed students’ passing the so-called NOCTI exam will meet graduation requirements even if they aren’t proficient on the Keystone Exam, which could be a graduation requirement for state high school students in 2019.

NOCTI is an exam administered in various career and tech ed fields by the National Occupancy Testing Institute.

Since the Keystones have been introduced, however, career and tech ed students who lack proficiency in certain subject areas – i.e., English literature, algebra, or biology – are pulled from their career and tech studies to do remedial work on the Keystones.

David Namey, a teacher at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center and president of PSEA’s Department of Career and Technical Studies, said this legislation further strengthens the importance of the NOCTI exam.

When the NOCTI exam was introduced eight years ago, Namey noted that it was a lot like the PSSAs in that students really had no stake in it. It was just for instructors to see how students were doing.

But that started to change a couple of years ago when students who score “advanced’’ on the NOCTI began to receive articulated credits at colleges around the state. Making it an alternate path to graduation over the Keystones further stresses the importance of NOCTI for students.

The legislation was sponsored by Reps. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, and Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill/Dauphin.

Last summer, Wolf signed legislation that gave career and tech ed instructors additional time to earn credits for their Vocational II certification. The previous timeframe was squeezing many educators.

Namey noted both pieces of legislation were priorities of PSEA’s Department of Career and Technical Studies.

“We in career and technical education have been blessed this past year with legislative victories that PSEA has been able to help accomplish on our behalf,’’ he said.

Another big moment cited by Namey was Wolf’s appearance last spring at SkillsUSA Pennsylvania, a sort of “state championship’’ for 1,700 of Pennsylvania’s career and tech ed students.

He said the governor’s appearance was a big show of support for career and technical education.

“A lot of good things are happening in the area of career and technical education,’’ Namey said. “I’ve been in it for 41 years and to see a renewed interest and emphasis on career and technical education in Pennsylvania does my heart good.’’