Career Academy Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the Camden County High School Transition
to Career Academies or Smaller Learning Communities
Advisement and Guidance
Question 1: What happens when a student doesn't have any interest in these specialized areas?

Answer:A student will still be assigned or placed in an academy based on their past elective choices.

Question 2: Is a general 4-year college prep course being offered?

Answer: College preparatory courses will be offered in each academy.

Question 3: How will a student’s aptitude for a particular course of study be determined?

Answer: Students have participated in surveys, discussions and inventories to help them judge their primary areas of interest and educational preference. They will continue to participate in activities to refine their choice. The final decision will be made with their parents/guardians during registration for each academy.

Question 4: What if I change my mind about my career choice?

Answer: A student may change Career Academies once they have made their choice. However, those changes may be restricted to the beginning of a semester or a school year.

Question 5: How quickly can a student change academies if their interests change?

Answer: A student would be able to transfer between Career Academies either at the beginning of a school year or between semesters within a school year.

Question 6: How do academies impact 10th graders?

Answer: The transition to Career Academies affects 10th graders substantially because they will have two years in the program prior to graduating in 2010. It will affect their choices of both academic and elective courses. However, since this class of students will be the last class to graduate under the previous graduation rules, their requirements for graduation will not change.

Question 7: If a student wants to accelerate the courses in which s/he is enrolled, can s/he graduate early?
Is there anything being done for the high leveled students to help them graduate early?

Answer: A student at Camden County High may choose from 16 current Advanced Placement classes, which allow them to earn college credit while they are still in high school. This means a student can leave high school and enter college, potentially as a sophomore, if they take advantage of these opportunities. This has the same effect as graduating early and allows a student the opportunity to gain valuable skills before entering the collegiate classroom.

Question 8: Will students attending the NGC select an academy?

Answer: When they first enter the NGC, students will be placed in the Freshman Academy. At the end of their freshman year, they will make choices about their desired Career Academy.

Question 9: Is there a specific GPA that must be maintained in order for students to remain in the academy of their choice?

Answer: No

Question 10: Is there a plan if a parent doesn’t want their child to participate in the academy program? Would this even be an option?

Answer: All Camden County High School students will participate in Career Academy programs.

Question 11: What about the student who does not have the initiative to enroll in one of the Academies on their own? How will we recruit them - or will we make an intentional effort to do so?

Answer: Students will be enrolled in Academies as part of their registration for classes. They will be given several opportunities to complete interest inventories that will help them choose an academy experience that suits their preferences and interests prior to making their choice.

Question 12: Will the credit be the same as currently set for high school?

Answer: Currently Camden County requires a student to earn 28 credits for graduation. That is unlikely to change. Even though the state Board of Education has recently approved a set of diploma rule changes, those changes will only affect how our identification of our diplomas.

Question 13: If a student wants to be a chemist, in which academy would s/he enroll?

Answer: The student would enroll in either the Engineering or Health/Environmental Science Academy depending on their interests beyond chemistry and on the particular aspect of chemistry in which one was interested.

Question 14: Will the academy choices and the offerings be placed online for parents to research? If so, when?

Answer: Yes, they will be placed online. The final course selection guide is currently being developed and will be published electronically as soon as it is finalized. Due to the registration process and the many variables involved in the transition to Career Academies, the course selection guide is very detailed.

Question 1: The success of this program could ultimately depend on partnerships with employers, community and higher education. How can we make sure from year to year that the community efforts continue?

Answer: Camden County Schools’ partnerships with community institutions have been sustained for many years. The high school is an active partner with our Chamber of Commerce, Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base and local businesses in their efforts to create and support economic growth through jobs, quality development, and a work ready employee force.

Question 2: What businesses are participating?

Answer: All of the school’s current business partners will be participating and additional business partnerships will be sought to further broaden student opportunities for interaction. We currently have a strong relationship with the Chamber of Commerce as well as Trident Refit Facility and the KBNSB command

Question 3: What will be the involvement of businesses and industry?

Answer: Business and industry involvement will be needed for their traditional roles in providing work-based learning (clinicals, internships, coops, apprenticeships) and service on advisory committees. More academic involvement will be sought to enlist partners that can demonstrate real world application of academic concepts in the classroom setting.

Question 1: Are teachers prepared to put the additional time and effort in creating these new programs and changes that would occur?

Answer: The Career Academy transition is supported by the High Schools That Work school improvement initiative. This initiative is faculty driven, with decision-making and program development power resting with teachers and staff. CCHS staff and administration has demonstrated a history of seeking what is best for Camden’s students: implementation of block scheduling, meeting AYP standards through NCLB, implementing new AP courses each year, and supporting a strong system for extra help and credit recovery programs.

Question 2: Do you have qualified instructors?

Answer: All Camden County High School teachers meet the state’s requirements to be Highly Qualified. This means that they are certified, by education and/or experience, to teach the classes they have been assigned to teach.

Question 3: If not, how will they get their training?

Answer: All teachers receive ongoing training as a part of their certification and re-certification process. They are required to complete 10 hours of training every five years. Teachers have already received 24 hours of training in preparation for the Small Learning Community conversion supporting Career Academies.

Question 4: How will teachers stay current to new techniques and processes in industry?

Answer: Teachers stay current through ongoing training offered in the district through its Professional Enhancement Conference, through seeking advanced degrees, and through attendance at professional conferences related to ongoing advances, research and action in the educational profession

Question 5: Why are Career Academies being instituted in the first place?

Answer: The research and data on schools that promote excellent performance have used Career Academies to help students find teachers and classes that enhance their connection with their studies and sustained relationships with staff members and potential employers.

Question 6: What will the students learn that is any different than they are currently being taught?

Answer: Students will still be required to meet state and local graduation requirements in order to graduate. The primary differences will come in that students will focus on course work that meets their interests and career preparation goals, as well as, over time, academic content will be adjusted in order to provide additional relevance to the career academy theme(s).

Question 1: Is there reliable evidence that the Career Academy approach will affect the graduation rates or the transition to secondary education and employment outcomes?

Answer: There is considerable research and published data regarding the efficacy of schools that transition to Career Academies. On the whole, schools that implement smaller learning communities for their students demonstrate continued improvement in test scores, graduation rates and post-secondary employability and access to further education by graduates. Current data shows that Camden High as “maxed” its potential for improvement beyond incremental measures. Converting to SLC’s can provide more concentrated improvement to smaller instructional groups using the Career Academies approach.

Question 2: What are the advantages to SLC?

Answer: Students have the advantage of working with a smaller group of core staff members that share similar interests. Teachers have the advantage of being able to integrate instruction and linking their content to the content in another subject area.

Question 3: What are the disadvantages to SLC?

Answer: For students, it will be that all their friends may be in different academies. Extracurricular events, however, will be common to all students. For teachers, the initial process of collaboration with their peers in other content areas will be different from the traditional “departmentalized” organizational structure of the past.

Question 4: Is there a certain class (age group) that the changes will affect more than others and why?

Answer: The change to Career Academies will affect current 10th and 11th grade students the most. Secondly, the transition will affect incoming ninth-graders. Rising seniors will be affected the least.

Question 5: Do the students of career academies tend to have higher SAT scores?

Answer: Yes. Several variables exist related to state specific requirements and entrance to colleges or universities. Career Academy graduates also tend to have higher graduation rates, and pass graduation tests and end of course tests with higher percentages.

Question 1: How does the concept work?

Answer: Essentially, students are allowed to choose an academy which fits their interests and career goals. The students then take classes with teachers and administrators that are more personally invested in their academy’s students. The primary goal of Career Academies is to promote smaller learning communities within a larger educational institution, much as colleges and universities implement on post secondary campuses.

Question 2: Does the student stay in the academy the entire day?

Answer: That will depend on a student’s classes. Some classes in the arts, foreign language and physical education areas will be offered to all students, regardless of their career academy assignment. Strengthening a student’s senior year will be more heavily promoted through joint and dual enrollment and the ACCEL college enrollment program. These programs along with options for work-based learning may reduce the school day at the high school but expand options off site for juniors and seniors.

Question 3: Will the school day change for the academies?

Answer: At this time, there are no plans to change the school day schedule. The “Zero” period was introduced during the 07-08 school year and will still remain an option for those students who wish to enroll for the upcoming school year.

Question 4: Is there a minimum number of students for each academy? A maximum?

Answer: There will not be minimum or maximum number of students for each academy, but efforts will be made to balance the student numbers between the five academies.

Question 5: If I'm a senior, will I be able to take the classes I need to complete my planned course? Will I get first choice for the classes I need?

Answer: All students will be able to complete their four year educational plan. Seniors that need specific courses in order to graduate will continue to be given priority for admittance to those classes. Seniors are encouraged to seek dual enrollment and work-based learning options to expand their exposure.

Question 6: Will I be restricted to only the classes in the academy I choose or can I cross between academies?

Answer: Students will be able to cross academies as necessary to take courses that are offered as “umbrella” courses.

Question 7: Will there be Honors/Gifted classes in all of the academies?

Answer: There will be Honors/Gifted classes in all academies. If a class is not offered that a student needs or wishes to take that is not offered in his/her academy, they will be able to do so in another academy.

Question 8: Will any of the Academies effect the ACCEL Program?

Answer: No, the transition to Career Academies will not affect the ability of a qualifying student to enroll in the ACCEL program.

Question 9: If you are in the 11th grade and in the Engineering Academy, can you still go to band?

Answer: Yes, any student that wants to play in the band may do so (based on the band’s admission criterion); regardless of the academy chosen. Participation in band will simply be one of the electives and will count toward graduation just as any other credit would occur.

Question 10: Are you offering International Baccalaureate classes with more rigorous course offerings for free?

Answer: In the future, we hope to be able to offer the IB program as a part of our curriculum and include it as another academy. If this happens, it would be a part of a student’ typical school day and would be provided at no additional cost (except for the typical fees and costs students incur as part of school participation.)

Question 11: Will virtual schools be offered at no costs to students? If there is student interested, is the school willing to pay the fees?

Answer: Georgia Virtual School is offered as a school day option at no additional cost up to one class per semester for students that desire to take those courses. A student must be screened to see if they are a viable candidate to take a virtual course prior to enrollment. A student can enroll in additional Georgia Virtual School courses at their discretion for a cost of $600 per class per semester.

Question 12: How will the academies alleviate scheduling problems for those students who currently desire to take courses that are at maximum capacity?

Answer: Scheduling via the academies model will hopefully open more class options for students in each academy.

Question 13: If a student takes 2 AP classes, a foreign language course and 4 academic core classes, will they still be placed in an academy?

Answer: Yes, based on their preferences and prior electives, an academy will be selected.

Question 14: Are core classes focused on the academies content?

Answer: Eventually, it is anticipated that all core classes will reflect the content and interest of the academy theme in which they are taught. This may not happen immediately but is expected to grow out of students’ and teachers’ common interests.

Question 15: If a student is enrolled in an academy, do they get the first choice of the core classes in that particular academy? How does it affect them if they cross into another academy; do they have to wait until those students select their classes?

Answer: A student in an academy will get first choice of classes for that academy, whether they are academic or career tech in nature. If a student is taking a class outside their academy, they will become second in priority to the students in registered in that academy. Once classes reveal open seats, other students may be placed outside their academy.

Question 16: What will the cost be for updating the different career academies?

Answer: While there will be some additional costs for the transition to career academies, additional expense is not projected to exceed current spending for growth in student population.

Question 17: Are there separate facilities for these academies?

Answer: While there will not be specific separate facilities for all academy classes, specialized labs and workshops already exist for many career and technical programs. In addition, more classroom, lab space, and technology are being planned for NGC and CCHS that will be used to enhance the experience of students.

Question 18: How are these academies being funded?

Answer: The academy programs will be funded from traditional school funding sources, including federal, state and local funds. In addition, the school is actively seeking additional funding from potential state and federal grant programs.

Question 19: What kind of equipment will be in these academies?

Answer: The equipment in all the academies will be typical of equipment found in most schools. Some of the equipment being added to the new addition will be highly technical and used in classes to provide extensive experiences with state of the art technology.

Question 20: How many schools in Georgia already implemented the academy model? Where are they located?

Answer: Statesboro High School is the closest that has achieved full implementation. Many large high schools have ninth grade academies. Because SLC’s by design can only function in large high schools, most other academy/SLC based schools are in the Atlanta area. Camden County has visited schools in other states to learn of their structure and success. We have combined the ideas and practices across many observations and districts to reflect our implementation for Career Academies. The two most common types of academies are based on career education or grade levels. CCHS has chosen career academies based on its exemplary career education program.

Question 1: Will there be a need for more or less teachers with the restructuring?

Answer: The possibility exists that a small number of teachers might be required. That staffing issue will depend on the academy’s enrollment as well as “umbrella” courses desired.

Question 2: When are the academies going to be implemented?

Answer: The current plan is for the Career Academy plan to be completely implemented at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. This means that planning for the transition is ongoing and will include aspects of this year’s course registration and advisement.

Question 3: Will the construction of the academy on the NGC campus impact the start date of school?

Answer: At this time, those construction plans are not anticipated to impact the start of school. The transition will take place whether final construction on the addition is completed or not.

Question 4: If an ACCEL student wants to take summer classes, does it count toward their credits as those earned ACCEL credit during the school year?

Answer: A student cannot take an ACCEL class during the summer due to state regulations. A student could take a collegiate level class during the summer, but it would not count for high school credit. Only those credits earned during the school year in ACCEL or Dual enrollment count in both places

Question 5: Are there going to be provisions made for more career exploration in the middle school?

Answer: This is a desired curriculum decision that we will attempt to have included in the middle school program of study. The state endorses these types of programs in the middle and high school course guide. Continued emphasis will occur in this area.

Question 6: Where will the academies be located?

Answer: New classrooms are being added to the west side of the Ninth Grade Center. However, most academy classes will be located primarily within the confines of the existing buildings on the NGC and CCHS campuses.

Question 7: Who can I speak with regarding my specific questions?

Answer: You can speak to the guidance counselor for that particular academy.