An Update on School-to-Work Technical Assistance

by Cathy G. Ramer

Through the School-to-Work Opportunities (STWO) Act, implementation states were given a $125,000 "line of credit" to be used to hire approved technical assistance providers. Providers offer products and/or services that will be used by the state agencies and local school-to-work regions and schools to assist the states in implementing comprehensive school-to-work systems. The National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE) and MPR Associates, Inc. (a site of NCRVE) are both approved technical assistance providers. With the overwhelming response to the professional development materials, Getting to Work: A Guide for Better Schools (GTW), MPR Associates has provided over twenty technical assistance workshops and GTW materials to local, regional and state-level groups, including technical assistance in five of the 27 implementation states--Hawaii, Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado.

Three Examples of Technical Assistance Activities

Through their line of credit, the Nebraska Department of Education and Department of Economic Development contracted with MPR Associates to provide technical assistance primarily in one of the five modules in GTW--Module 3: Learning Experiences (Work-based Learning in STWO Act terms). This technical assistance has taken place in five phases. In the first phase, MPR conducted a workshop in May in New Orleans in which administrators from many states were trained how to use the GTW modules with practitioners. (Two state-level administrators attended from each state.) In Phase II, MPR conducted an orientation for regional coordinators on GTW with an emphasis in preparing these regional leaders to conduct workshops on work-based learning for teachers, administrators, and community members. Phase III involved MPR conducting a workshop with the regional coordinators and local representatives to develop rural and urban models of work-based learning to be used in the upcoming regional trainings. Coordinators have just completed Phase V which included five regional meetings of almost 300 participants using Module 3 and the rural and urban models developed from Phase III.

The STW Joint Services Office of the Florida state Department of Education hired MPR Associates to conduct a train-the-trainer on the GTW materials with regional coordinators and selected state-level administrators. This workshop served as the beginning to a series of staff development programs that will provide regional and district coordinators with a successful approach to implementing a statewide school-to-work system, as well as provide an introduction to the GTW materials. Through this training, regional coordinators determined that integrated curriculum and marketing were the two top priorities for training at the local level. MPR will be returning to Florida to conduct a workshop in Dade County (the largest county in Florida) on integrated curriculum, using Module 2 of the GTW materials with approximately 100 administrators, counselors and teachers.

Last May, five day-long regional workshops were provided to educators from four of Hawaii's islands by NCRVE and MPR Associates, Inc. The primary purpose of these regional workshops was to help local partnerships focus on systemic reform envisioned by the school-to-work movement. To achieve this aim, MPR began by exploring the participants' understandings of school-to-work by using the case studies in Module 1 of GTW. Specifically, MPR inquired: Who are the students and teachers included in this reform? What STW components are involved? Who are the community members that will play a part? and What other reform efforts can support School-to-Work in Hawaii?

NCRVE and MPR Associates have gained a great deal of experience by working with the implementation states and others who are in the process of implementing school-to-work systems. We are holding a workshop in Philadelphia on November 14 and 15 for state or regional administrators and educators who are interested in using GTW as a resource in their own professional development work or to expand on their knowledge of the GTW materials and conduct their own technical assistance.

For more information, please call me at MPR Associates, (510) 549-4551.

Cathy G. Ramer has been involved in the writing, development and production of the Getting to Work materials, and currently provides all the coordination and support for these materials.

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