Saturday, March 28, 2015

Technology education/ voc ed classes

Anonymous wrote:

"New Post Please, 

This is in Saturday's Post. 

Technology education classes were gutted from PPS some time ago. How many wood or metal shops still exist? How many Tech Ed classes are on any school's master schedule? California University of Pennsylvania used to be among the top five colleges in the country for tech ed majors. A school in our back yard that PPS could collaborate with. Oh, PPS has kept up with technology. iPads, laptops, smartboards... 
When was the last time our kids got their hands really dirty."


Anonymous said...

Cal U stopped sending student teachers to us because of the controlled scripting especially at the elementary level. We were unable at that time to prepare students for teaching in the real world. I'm guessing any other collaboration would be the same. Broad/Gates does see technical/CTE, vocational education as important to students. They want just enough reading and Math to get by-- this is why they cut the arts-- cant have that thinking outside the box

Anonymous said...

Look, it's all about the scores on those standardized tests. That's how principals get their bonuses. And that's how people get promoted.

Vocational education is VERY important. It provides a solid career path, one that's in demand and pays well.

But vocational education does not contribute directly to those test scores. So vocational education simply not important to the PPS these days.

Kids that should be (and would rather be) in a trades program are instead shoved into advanced algebra. And trust me, unless you're going into engineering or chemistry, you really don't need to know how to solve a third degree polynomial.

Anonymous said...

But, advanced Algebra is not on the standardized assessments AND the other skills tested on standardized stuff are basic minimum skills that all students need to acquire whether or not they are taking vocational education. Basic minimum skills are why kids go to school. Kids need to be able to think, to make decision, to analyze situations and solve problems in work and life. Good grief give these kids credit. TEACH them and they will learn. Teach them in ways that have a context and are relevant to their lives and goals!

Did any of you all ever look at these tests? They are not rocket science!

Mark Rauterkus said...

There used to be (3-6 years ago?) a TECH Class at Schenley/Obama. Even middle school students had to take it. But, let's not confuse what that was with what others might be talking about.

Funny story: One day a few years ago at a banquet type event attended by the boys and girls varsity swimmers and their parents / guardians and the principal, kid's introduced themselves with name, FAVORITE CLASS at School, and some other factoid. More than half the kids said that their TECH CLASS was a "FAVORITE" -- out of sheer IRONY and to drive home the message to the principal that it was a complete waste of time. The students were following in a manual and opening some Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet and doing some basic, boring, mindless, version specific stuff that had little to do about learning.

I think those PPS classes have ended. But, they were called "tech." Just beware, that title has a wide range of meanings.

The other "Tech" that has a history in PPS -- South Vo Tech. Older still, the all boys Connelley Tech.

The "tech concept" needs clarity.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Mark at 9:15. That's why I prefer the old term "vocational education", or voc ed. If a kid was in a voc ed class, you knew he was learning a real trade.

I wonder why the term "tech" was used in the first place. Maybe the teacher had a certification problem, and "tech" was used as a cover. Or maybe it was used to satisfy some state requirement. I'm just guessing here.

Anonymous said...

It's great that the students were able to help bring about an end to the infamously awful tech class. At Schenley it was fine, not too onerous and a helpful introduction to spreadsheets and computer hardware and software in general- at a time when students had less exposure at early ages and out of school. But the class morphed into a monster at Obama.

Anonymous said...

Technology or 'tech' back in the day of South Vo Tech was about the use and knowledge of tools that drove the innovations making auto body repair or wood-working faster and easier. There were different technologies that went into teaching the vocational skill or job.

A technology for the Bake Shop might have been the convection oven.

Questioner said...

Re: "advanced Algebra is not on the standardized assessments "

- Would it not be on the Keystone exams? In any event, another measure of administrator success is getting lots of students into AP and IB classes, which definitely do involve advanced algebra.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, March 28 6:15 here,

Knowing advanced algebra would certainly help you on the Keystone exams. And it would be very useful in, say, AP Physics.

But that's not my point. Every student should have an understanding of basic algebra. But advanced algebra is not for everybody. It just isn't. Not every student has the aptitude, or need, for it.

Yet PPS shoves kids who want to work with car engines into advanced algebra. It's silly.

And if it gets to the point that the Keystones require advanced algebra, then there is something wrong with the Keystones.

Anonymous said...

In some schools, students are "shoved into" AP courses for the wrong reasons. IN one school 60 kids were put into AP courses. The problem that resulted was that zero/none of the students earned even ONE point of credit. Why would that happen? Well you have to wonder about the teaching IF not even one student earned one point.Seems like a wasted year in that class? Right?

Well, the school got extra points on the SPP just because they had 60 kids enrolled in AP. HMMMM.
Enough said?

Anonymous said...

7:51, you make a good point. But the fact that no students earned any AP credit might not be the teacher's fault.

Suppose you were an AP teacher, and you had 30 students in your class. 10 of them really wanted the course. The other 20 were just shoved into the class, and are really not prepared for it.

So what do you, as the teacher, do? Do you teach at the normal demanding AP speed? If you do that, those 20 unprepared students will not be able to keep up, even if you offer extra help after school. Those 20 will get D's and E's, wrecking their grade point averages for college.

So maybe you should slow the course down, giving those 20 a chance to succeed. Then you don't get through all the AP material.

I've been there. It's not an easy choice.

Anonymous said...

NO ONE among ALL 60 students taking AP courses score a single point!

Yet the SCHOOL go "extra points" on their SPP School Performance Profile for enrolling 60 students in AP courses!

Who was served in this travesty? CERTAINLY NOT THE STUDENTS! Would you agree?

Who is education for --- students or schools?

Anonymous said...


Mar 30 8:08 here. You said "Who was served in this travesty? CERTAINLY NOT THE STUDENTS!"

I pretty much agree with that. Either the teacher was not competent to to teach that class, or the class was filled with students who didn't belong there. Something is very wrong somewhere.

The reason I don't fully agree is this. Even though that class was a mess, I hope that the students still got something out of it. You can learn a lot of physics, for example, and still not score well on the AP test. You just haven't learned quite enough.

Regardless, it's not something that should be allowed to happen again.

Anonymous said...

THANKS for your forthright response, 1:44!

Anonymous said...

I have heard kids say they wanted out of AP classes and had difficulty withdrawing. I am not in the profession but I do understand the grading and what is required in order to have an AP class count as college credit. What I do not understand is how an AP class impacts your GPA and class rank. When did the push to get kids to take AP classes really start and why? Also doesn't CMU offer summer prep for AP classes? If that is still available, who takes advantage of it?