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State funds boost PPS career tech classes

Good news for supporters of career-technical education.

Portland Public Schools received this week a $346,637 grant from the Oregon Department of Education to boost CTE programs at 52 schools.

“CTE Revival,” as it’s called, is fueled by the voter-approved $482 million school construction bond that will invite contractors to collaborate with students on site-based projects. The grant refers to a plan allowing juniors and seniors across the district to co-enroll in classes at Benson Tech High School, which houses seven of PPS’ 18 CTE programs. An advisory group will engage stakeholders in developing a plan by this fall.

The new funds build on Benson’s success in other ways, including expanding Tech Geometry, a successful course taught at Benson. Data from Benson indicates that 42 percent of incoming freshmen indicated they didn’t like math; after six weeks 59 percent had a better attitude and 89 percent enjoyed the class. A course called Tech Algebra will follow.

The grants will also start a Career Exploration class at three pilot high schools this fall (and then others in 2016); start two career pathways programs (such as health care, athletic and outdoor, and clean tech) by June 2015 at Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Madison, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools; and build partnerships to boost summer, evening and mentorship opportunities in CTE.