Assistant Superintendent Dr. Donald Stewart announced at the Natalia ISD School Board meeting on May 13 that 24 percent of Natalia High School’s senior class has passed at least one industry certification exam, surpassing the 2019 goal of 10 percent.
Increasing the percentage of graduating seniors who have passed an industry certification exam is one part of Student Outcome Goal 3.0, an objective the Board adopted as part of its Lone Star Governance training.
Student Outcome Goal 3.0 aims to increase the percentage of high school graduates classified as College, Career, or Military Ready from 32 percent to 38 percent in 2019, 44 percent in 2020, and 50 percent by 2021.
NISD currently offers certification exams in the Informational Technology and Business Information Pathway, as well as the Agricultural Science Pathway.
The Information Technology Pathway includes Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams in Intro to Programming using HTML and CSS, Intro to Programming using Java, Intro to Programming using Python, Windows 7, and Microsoft Office Expert Excel 2016.
The Agricultural Science Pathway features the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core I exam.
Trustee Fernando Garza pointed out that the 24 percent figure not only surpasses the 2020 goal of 15 percent, but also the 2021 goal of 20 percent.
“What are we going to do to build on that?” Garza asked.
Stewart explained that the district has built a coherent sequence of courses that leads students toward industry certification exams that can be taken as sophomores or juniors, not just seniors, allowing more opportunity for re-testing if necessary.
The district also picks up the fee for some of the exams, lowering the barrier of entry for students.
“It’s a really neat process when you actually get to see it,” Stewart said. “Because when you get to go see the students work through the program, they’re taking certifications that are designed for adults who are trying to go into an industry.”
President Eric Smith noted that other area schools have Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) and cosmetology programs, and questioned if the district was offering certifications that interest students and offer the best opportunity for career or college readiness.
“Graduating with a Nurse Tech, I think that is almost a guaranteed job,” Smith said.
Stewart said that students select courses based on Personal Graduation Plans mapped out with the help of Counselor Brigette Wardwell, and that the district has to work within a budget.
“Some of them are truly cost prohibitive in terms of how many students you can have,” Stewart said. “When you think about the CNA program, the process of building that program and sustaining that program is very difficult to do for possibly two or three students.”
Stewart added that the CNA program requires live interaction with a certified teacher, 140 clinical hours, and pre-requisites, as well a district partnership with a certification entity.
“CNA, just the coursework that goes in for nine students, is a little over $9,000,” Stewart said.
Vice President Tiffany Rodriguez praised administration for student achievement and the programs that are currently offered.
“We’re just starting on this road, and I’m sure we’ll have other certifications as we go along,” Rodriguez said.
By Marly Davis