College leads statewide committees on Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) review and Programs of Study (POS) development
09.23.2014 | By Andrea Vasquez
San Jacinto College recently received two Carl D. Perkins grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, focusing on Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) maintenance and Programs of Study (POS) development.
The Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) Maintenance grant will fund two workshops in 2014 and 2015 that will review the currency of the business management and administration, finance, marketing, and sales and services career clusters. San Jacinto College will lead this year’s WECM maintenance workshops as part of a committee of career and technical administrators from community colleges across Texas.
Since 1998, WECM has not only reshaped the way career and technology courses are written and approved in Texas, but also served as the database to link all community and technical college programs to all secondary career and technical education (CTE) programs, as well as courses offered by Work Force Solutions, which are funded by the Federal Workforce Investment Act. The WECM database of courses must be reviewed and revised by updating the content of the courses, adding new courses, and archiving courses to assure currency to all stakeholders. All WECM courses are subject to review by career cluster every four years. These workshops ensure that all the common learning outcomes of the selected CTE programs align with the current requirements set forth by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. By delving into the fine details of the courses’ learning outcomes, along with feedback from individual program advisory committees, the WECM review instructional specialists (faculty) can make changes to the curriculum where necessary; in some cases, even sooner than the four-year cycle.
“Certain programs that are heavily based on technology may have ‘triggers’ we’ll need to convene about prior to the four-year mark,” said Jeffrey Parks, San Jacinto College dean of business and technology. “These ‘triggers’ are emerging trends in that particular industry that require immediate assessment so that the instructional specialists can revise the statewide courses in the WECM database to reflect the current trends in that field.”
Together with other statewide leaders in workforce education, the College will also lead the steering committee for the Programs of Study: Strategic Alignment grant. The committee will develop a statewide common curriculum for technical disciplines that will align and sustain the previous work completed as part of the AchieveTexas project and other programs of study curriculum alignment projects. AchieveTexas was designed to prepare secondary students for a lifetime of success by preparing them for postsecondary opportunities, career preparation and advancement, meaningful work, and active citizenship.
The goal of the Programs of Study: Strategic Alignment project is to have well-defined career pathways that will shorten the time to degree completion for Texas community college students.
The committee will develop a strategic plan with five key points: to promote program of study curriculum pathway projects; maintain and sustain alignment with Texas Education Agency’s AchieveTexas project; integrate programs of studies into career and technical education (CTE) programs and academics; align the program of study development process with the efforts of other state agencies—such as the Texas Skills Standards Board; and coordinate future work with the P-16 initiative.
“The Programs of Study: Strategic Alignment project depicts a shift in how we define a career pathway,” said Parks. “Ultimately, it will benefit students by having easier transfer pathways within the state of Texas. If they start their program here and have to transfer to another two-year college, they can pick up where they left off. Employers will benefit from these common pathways because when they hire their employees, they will have the same learning outcomes and skillsets across the board, rather than having applicants proficient in only certain areas. Employers have stated in our advisory committees that training beyond secondary education is vital, and these post-secondary programs of study pathways really show that pendulum shift of the success that’s out there when it comes to an associate degree versus a four-year degree.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.