Tulare County distinguishes itself for vocational ed

Nine of 10 NAF Distinguished Academies in Calif. were from Tulare County school districts

The Sun-Gazette

TULARE COUNTY – Tulare County has distinguished itself as a leader in vocational education after nine pathway programs made the list of 2020 NAF Distinguished Academies.

The designation is the highest level a program can achieve with NAF, a national network of education, business and community leaders working to ensure students are college and career ready. Each program is assessed by NAF staff and given an overall score based on four categories: academy development and structure, advisory board, curriculum and instruction, and work-based learning.

Porterville Unified School District led the way with six Distinguished programs including: Academy of Engineering (AOE) at Harmony Magnet Academy, Academy of Performing Arts (APA) at Harmony Magnet Academy, Emerging Agricultural Technology (EAT) at Strathmore High School, Law, Justice, and Ethics (LJE) at Granite Hills High School, Porterville Academy of Business and Finance (PAB) at Porterville High School, and Porterville Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) at Porterville High School.

“We are pleased to be able to attain and sustain the level of Distinguished status for our pathway program,” director of PUSD Pathways Cindy Brown said. “The support of PUSD, our community of educators and partners, and national support from the NAF organization, has been essential in this coordinated effort to strive for excellence.”

The Pathways Program at Porterville Unified School District provides an exciting, innovative and powerful learning environment for students. Students can apply what they are learning in a project-based, “real world application” instructional program. By combining demanding career technical training with rigorous academic standards-based teaching, the goal of Pathways is for students to graduate college and career ready with a greater advantage of post-secondary learning options, whether college, technical, or workplace.

“This is a great tribute to our dedicated teachers and Pathways staff,” PUSD governing board president Lillian Durbin said. “Our students deserve the opportunity to earn the best education possible and the Pathways program enhances their overall educational experience. We are particularly pleased to see programs at Strathmore High and Granite Hills High reach this level of excellence.”

Only four other programs in California earned Distinguished status, with three of those also coming from Tulare County: Dinuba High School’s Academy of Health Sciences and Orosi High School’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology and Academy of Health Sciences. One hundred thirty-five academies in the NAF network have reached Distinguished level, with 91 of these academies having reached this level more than once and 44 being new to the roster.

NAF chief executive officer JD Hoye said, “At a time of great uncertainty and rapid changes in education, we are proud to celebrate these outstanding academies for the work they are doing to support student success. Congratulations on this terrific accomplishment and we look forward to your continued achievements.”

NAF, formerly known as the National Academies Federation, works with high need communities to transform the high school experience through an educational design that includes industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals, culminating in a paid internship. NAF academies fit within and enhance school systems, allowing NAF to become an integral part of a plan for higher achievement at a low cost. NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. During the 2019-20 school year, over 112,000 students attended 620 NAF academies across 37 states, including DC, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2019, NAF academies reported 99% of seniors graduated with 86% of graduates planning to go to college. For more information, visit naf.org.

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