Neon lights, gaming tables and vibrant nightlife may be the instantly recognizable icons of Las Vegas, but many do not realize that beyond the nightclubs and casinos is a community of more than 1.8 million residents and home to the fifth-largest school district in the United States. The areas of Clark County that surround the famous city include more than 350 traditional schools and specialized career and technical academies that serve over 306,000 K-12 students.
I’d like to shine the spotlight for a moment on Clark County’s career and technical academies, which offer intensive academic programs aimed at helping students develop highly marketable skills to use immediately upon graduation. For example, in addition to the hands-on classes, students attending the Southwest Career and Technical Academy (SWCTA) participate in a multitude of service-learning projects, job-shadowing, and internship opportunities where they can apply the skills learned in class, as well as take advantage of the ability to earn up to 21 college credits and a variety of CTE certifications.
Flora Shi, a fourth-year web design student at SWCTA offered this insight: “We’ve learned to use solutions such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash Professional and combine them with other code languages to create diverse, professional-grade mobile apps that have left clients speechless. Adobe software gives us a distinct advantage because we’re able to deliver creative, high-quality projects faster.”
In addition to marketable digital communication skills, the academies focus on helping students stay engaged and succeed. SWCTA students consistently scored above the district average for math assessments and 40% of the senior class achieved a GPA of 3.9 or higher. In addition, the school achieved an average daily attendance rate of nearly 99% while increasing its student retention rate to 89%. Clearly, they’re doing something (or, many things) right.
Highly focused Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculums have a tremendous impact on student achievement, as evidenced by the statistics I just quoted. These programs are successful largely because they provide the tools necessary to 1) foster a desire to learn and grow and 2) prepare students for today’s digital world and ever-changing workplace. I encourage you to learn more about how the Clark County School District helps students thrive. Read the full story here.