This summer, the Portland Area Career Technical Education Consortium (PACTEC) and Dual Credit programs at Portland Community College honored 71 area students with Student of the Year awards for excelling in their programs of study and earning college credit through their high school. This is the first time PCC has ever had this sort of celebration.
In front of a packed Event Center at the Rock Creek Campus, PCC recognized students in its CTE programs at area high schools as well as Dual Credit students who are graduating from high school with 30 or more credits earned through PCC. Delivering the keynote address was Nancy Golden, Oregon’s Chief Education Officer.
“I believe so deeply in career technical education,” Golden told the crowd. “I feel like all of you, students and staff, are pioneers. I salute you. Because what you have been doing in your schools is what absolutely every student in the state of Oregon should have an opportunity to do.”
Also in attendance was PCC President Jeremy Brown, Vice President of Academic Services Chris Chairsell, Rock Creek President Sandra Fowler-Hill, Rock Creek Dean of Instruction Cheryl Scott, Sylvania Campus Dean of Math and Industrial Technology Dan Findley, PCC Dean of Academic Affairs Kendra Cawley and Cascade Dean of Math and Science Division Alyson Lighthart. The dignitaries congratulated each student on stage as they received their awards.
High schools represented included Glencoe, Hillsboro, Aloha, Liberty, Century, Tualatin, Tigard, Sherwood, Sunset, Beaverton, Westview, Forest Grove, Newberg, Banks, Gaston, St. Helens, Scappoose and Vernonia. Students earned credit in such areas as business, marketing, financial services, culinary, early childhood education, building construction, computer technology, automotive technology, manufacturing and accounting.
Within their CTE program, high school students learn math and science skills while learning how to apply them immediately in industry. Students can use the college credit they earn to enroll at their community college to get a short-term degree or certificate. Golden, who is advocating the state Legislature for more resources for CTE programs statewide, said this helps the economy in building a trained workforce.
“We know that the skills they are learning are critical,” Golden added. “CTE is about getting hands-on experience with high expectations for what you learn. It’s also about connecting with the industry so we are clear about where the jobs are in your community and the state.”
PACTEC, which includes 20 high schools in Washington and Columbia counties, supports 72 career and technical education programs in the area. It gives students the opportunity to acquire skills that prepare them for careers, gaining specific skills needed for job-entry positions and allow them to build broad, transferable skills. Dual Credit is a program through which high school students are given the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school through qualified teachers and programs.
“These programs of study give students real life education experiences that prepare them for quality careers or for further education,” said Beth Molenkamp, PACTEC regional coordinator and Dual Credit Program manager “They are in sync with CTE programs offered at PCC so that transitions from high school to college can be smooth and efficient. The students have excelled in their schooling and have a headstart on their careers and postsecondary education. We’re very proud of their achievements.”
Currently there are 49 high schools articulating PCC Dual Credit. In 2013-14, the PCC Dual Credit program registered 5,361 students who earned 32,964 PCC credits. As a student of the PCC Dual Credit program, students were not charged tuition or fees. This was a savings to the students’ families of $3,032,688 in PCC tuition and generated approximately 1,010 FTE credit.
Golden said PCC’s efforts are the gold standard in this area.
“One of things we are doing is called ‘accelerated learning’ and that’s a question of, ‘how do we get more college credits in high school?’” Golden said. “This will help reduce the cost and debt of going to college. And what you are seeing is PCC, and the school districts, becoming the mavericks of this. It’s really helping to make sure our students can all go to college.”