Career and Technical Education (CTE), now known as ‘Accelerate’ in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), is a core component of BVSD’s secondary curriculum and the BVSD Grad Plus framework, which expands graduates' skill sets by providing students with learning opportunities and credentials that offer a head start on a career, postsecondary education, or both.
The goal of Grad Plus is that every student, beginning in Pre-K through graduation, begins learning about work, are exposed to career pathways, and have opportunities to participate in work-based learning, earn college credit, industry certifications and the Seal of Biliteracy.
BVSD’s Accelerate programming and courses, are a pillar of the district’s Grad Plus framework, and are designed to empower students through relevant, rigorous academic and technical skills for career and college readiness. Accelerate courses are offered at both middle and high schools as well as at BVSD’s Technical Education Center, Boulder TEC.
As part of BVSD’s efforts to expand CTE offerings and support student success, the Bond-funded Building for Student Success building renovation program passed by voters in 2022 will expand and update Accelerate centers at middle and high schools throughout the district and the central career acceleration center at the Arapahoe Campus in Boulder.
Learn more about the Accelerate roadmap:
BVSD vision for Accelerate:
- Provide access to multiple high demand, high wage, and high growth careers.
- Provide access to higher education and industry partners.
- Align to priority grade level content standards that include Concurrent Enrollment (CE) and industry certification opportunities.
- Consist of at least four semester courses, wherein at least two must be level two or higher as defined by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS).
- Be taught by a CTE-credentialed teacher.
- Lead to completion of one or more of the four quadrants of the Grad+ Framework.
Ongoing support of school-specific programs
Each high school in BVSD currently supports students with various career-based programs. Our vision for Accelerate in BVSD applies to all programs available to students. All coursework can be applied to a career interest, and it is our job to ensure those interests are met with support, guidance and opportunities for acceleration. Additionally, some programs take time to build, staff and adequately fund. BVSD will continue to support teachers & leaders across our district working toward the development of school-specific CTE programs.
A CTE Master Planning Consultant provided BVSD with the research to inform CTE pathway recommendations in BVSD. Within the Master Plan, career pathways were highlighted based on interest, demand and compensation. Career pathways were also presented to various committees including teachers, leaders, central office staff, students, parents and industry partners before final recommendations were provided.
State-of-the-art renovations coming to BVSD’s CTE facility
BVSD’s Technical Education Center, Boulder TEC will be undergoing renovations to become a centralized career acceleration center for the district. Our plan is to ensure all future offerings lead to high-demand, high wage career opportunities for students. We will build upon Boulder TEC’s strengths, while improving the learning environment and expanding career exploration opportunities. Boulder TEC’s administration and advisory committees have been evaluating the current programming, which includes biomedical science, automotive and collision repair, construction technology, criminal justice, emergency medical services, physical therapy, sports medicine, video production, and more. Changes are being explored to update and modernize BVSD’s offerings including the potential additions of environmental science and sustainability, heath and medical, as well as quantum information science and technology. The updated facility will serve as a central hub for students who are ready to accelerate their academic careers by pursuing college credit, industry credentials and internships.
The design process is currently underway for the updated facility, with construction planned to begin in the spring of 2025. Renderings and additional plans for the facility will be shared in the coming months.
Dr. Bianca Gallegos, BVSD Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships emphasizes the importance of industry partner support in not only real projects to apply students' learning, but also the overall direction of programs with a focus on making them more progressive.
BVSD industry partners play a critical role in the design and development of our CTE programming and spaces to help create useful, realistic and beneficial training opportunities for CTE students pursuing careers in the respective industries. Community businesses also play a big part in the development and sustainability of these advanced programs.
CTE pathways coming to life through Bond projects
Plans for how to bring the vision for new and expanding Accelerate pathways are taking shape in the designs for the first round of Bond-funded renovation projects at middle and high schools in Broomfield and Lafayette. The Critical Needs Plan that was approved for funding by voters in 2022 included money specifically identified to be used for renovations to support career and technical education at BVSD secondary schools.
The renovations aim to create spaces where students can learn about different potential career interests and make progress on a career pathway, learning specific skills and earning certifications along the way.
“School design advisory teams have been excited to work with architects and think about how to give more students the opportunity to benefit from CTE education,” BVSD Executive Director o f Bond Planning and Construction Kris Stoppenhagen explained.
According to Career and Technical Education director and Boulder TEC principal, Dr. Arlie Huffman, middle level CTE courses are designed to provide students with opportunities to explore a variety of areas. At the high school level, CTE experiences will continue to let students explore their areas of interest, while also enabling them to progress much further along their path before graduation, Huffman further explained in a recent update to the Board.
Engineering, IT, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are the selected pathways for the Lafayette schools. Centaurus has had an engineering program for almost two decades, and renovations planned for the school will make it so that more students can participate in the award-winning program. Specific features will include a larger maker space for prototyping and an outdoor learning space. In addition, some classrooms will be rearranged to move ILC rooms next to the Engineering wing, and incorporate an office for Art to make it easier to collaborate between the programs.
At the middle school level, the goal for CTE programming is to expose students to a variety of career paths so they can explore and find what interests them. Over the course of their middle school tenure, students will participate in CTE programming that rotates six career clusters/twelve industries through all six semesters of middle school. To further support this exploration of interests and build excitement for continuing on specific career pathways, each middle school will have an information center—the iCommons—that shows what CTE looks like at high schools across the district.
At Angevine Middle School the CTE renovations will upgrade existing spaces. The Life Studies room will be updated with new furniture and appliances. Two other adjoining classrooms will be upgraded with lighting, furniture, and equipment to create a space for the STEAM (STEM + Art) learning that will introduce students to engineering design and analytical thinking. Students whose interest is sparked can continue their journey of discovery at Centaurus and transition into the expanded Engineering pathway.
Students in Broomfield will be able to explore and gain experience in Infrastructure and Applied Technology pathways. At Broomfield Heights Middle School, the Design Technology lab will be updated with new furniture, equipment, paint, and lighting and will give students broader opportunities to learn the introductory concepts involved in these pathways. In addition, the Art space next door will also be updated and the adjacency is expected to boost collaboration between these programs.
The Infrastructure and Applied Technology pathways at Broomfield High School involve applying high-level math and design competencies to real-world applications.
“One particularly exciting example of this is the ability for students to be involved in every aspect of designing, planning, and constructing a house on-site at the school,” Huffman explained to the Board recently.
The close proximity of the two Broomfield schools will allow middle school students to visit the high school program throughout the year.
Design has been completed for these phase 1 projects and construction will begin next spring/summer. All middle and high schools in the district will receive renovations aimed to expand CTE opportunities through the course of the Bond program.
For more information about CTE and the Bond program, check out the Oct. 24 update to the Board.