The days of choosing electives merely to fill student schedules are long gone at Cape High.
In addition to required core classes such as English or math, all students choose a career pathway, allowing them to concentrate on one of eight current programs, such as agricultural science, allied health or culinary arts.
Cape Supervisor of Secondary Education Mike Young said pathways prepare students for high school graduation, the workforce and postsecondary education.
“Programs are driven by the economy, developed with relevant stakeholders, and provide early career and college experiences,” Young said.
Students learn through a structured sequence of courses that build on each other. By the end of their senior year, many students have earned an industry credential, certification or license in addition to a high school diploma. Others earn college credits or real-work experience through internships.
Young said school officials choose programs of study by evaluating the labor market.
“We look at what industries are growing locally, regionally and nationally,” Young said. “We like to look at local labor information first to keep kids here if we can.”
Programs are developed by the Delaware Department of Education in collaboration with local businesses and educators. School districts apply to offer programs through DOE.
“Some state models are based on programs developed at Cape,” Young said, adding that programs include professional learning for teachers to keep them fresh and up-to-date on their evolving subjects.
Young said because Cape is classified as an academic institution, not a vocational school, it offers three-credit programs of study. As a technical school, Sussex Tech can offer both three- and six-credit programs, he said.
“Plus, we don’t have the facilities for auto-body or carpentry,” he said. “We’re not a tech school.”
Young said district middle school students take a computer-based assessment that shows their aptitude and interest in different programs of study and careers.
“They can start thinking about that, and they have nine-week exploratories to try out different things and hopefully pick a pathway to start by ninth grade,” Young said.
Beacon and Mariner Middle offer technology education, where students explore bridge building and robotics, and business topics such as keyboarding and creating spreadsheets.
Young said DOE contacted Cape to pilot a middle school program.
“We will audit our programs and look at the alignment between middle and high school,” he said. “We’ll see what we’re doing, and make recommendations on how we can improve and align better so students can explore more in middle school before coming to high school.”