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Big strides in vocational testing at CMS

CMS high schools have consistently posted gains in standardized testing for vocational education over the past four years. WFAE's Simone Orendain has more: This past school year, 36,000 students in technical and career-related courses took the vocational exams. The composite score for all high schools was just a hair below 80 percent. The district's goal is to have 80 percent proficiency on these and all other standardized tests. The most recent increase is nine percent higher than what it was in the 07-08 school year. The composite score has steadily increased in the last four school years. In 05-06 the composite was 56 percent. Jimmy Chancey is director of Career and Technical Education at CMS. He says there's been a strong focus on treating these courses with the same rigor as other academic courses. "We made a true effort to integrate our subjects with the core curriculum subjects and show the relevancy between our subject and the core curriculum subject. So the students at the same time they were improving their proficiency in core curriculum subjects, they were improving in our areas," he says. Plus Chancey says all the high schools now offer Advanced Placement and other higher-level versions of these courses. Vocational courses at CMS include biotechnology and computer engineering, among 87 offerings. Superintendent Peter Gorman says career and technical courses play a role in student success. "You know if we just focus on reading, writing and math for a large group of our kids we may not be offering them all the opportunities they need to A- prepare for the world of work or B- have that connection to what really excites them at school," says Gorman. The district has started releasing the vocational scores as part of a directive from the school board to report test results of all standardized testing in CMS.