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Youth Radio caught up with Daniel Valladeres, 18, on a break from his Auto Tech class. He walked us around the shop — a large warehouse room filled with several cars on lifts and humming equipment. “We’re just working on taking engines apart, putting them back together, learning the basic tools, and their components and what they do,” he said. Valladeres goes to Hayward High School in Hayward, Calif., but takes Auto Tech classes at Eden Area Regional Occupational Program (ROP) for school credit. He hopes to be a car mechanic in the future.
A recent study came out showing that boys who take three or more career and technical education (CTE) courses in their high school career, are more likely to finish high school than those who don’t. In fact, Ed Week reports that taking CTE courses is the second strongest predictor of finishing high school after a student’s ninth grade GPA. But CTE courses did not seem to have the same effect on girls.
“These classes push people to do what they want, what they believe they should be doing in life,” said Valladeres. “In school they’re just learning about natural things, normal things. But when they come to ROP they’re actually challenging themselves and the career path that they want to take,” he said.
Researcher James Stone III presented the new findings about boys and career and technical education (CTE) at the National Policy Seminar of the Association of Career and Technical Education. According to EdWeek, Stone says that 75 percent of D’s and F’s are given out to boys. He said, “We have a boy problem. Boys are less likely to finish high school, go to college, finish college, go to graduate school, or finish grad school…. We are driving them out. We are not giving them things that engage them,” quotes the article.
Dr. Irene Fujii, the superintendent of Eden Area Regional Occupation Program (ROP) — where Valladeres takes Auto Tech classes — explained to Youth Radio that the years just before high school are a critical moment of engagement. “We’re losing students’ interests between eighth and ninth grades. They become disinterested in education,” she said. “They make mistakes their freshman and sophomore year by failing and then start regretting it by junior and senior year,” said Fujii. When this happens, students are often pulled out of their [career and technical education] classes and put in remediation math or English classes.
According to Stone’s research, this might be the wrong solution. Tell us what you think about career and technical education @youthradio.