BELLFLOWER – Bellflower Unified School District and Lynwood Unified School District are forming a partnership that will substantially expand access to career technical education (CTE) for students in both districts and, potentially, across the region.

The two Boards of Education have voted to create a jointly run program called California Advancing Pathways for Students (CalAPS) that will allow students to take career technical courses at either district – such as the health sciences career program that earned Bellflower Unified a 2015 Golden Bell Award.

CalAPS will leverage each district’s funding for career technical courses, which often collaborate with industry and provide hands-on learning opportunities as well as strong academic instruction in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subject areas.

“This partnership will ensure the students of Bellflower Unified and Lynwood Unified school districts have at least twice the options for career technical training,” said Dr. Brian Jacobs, Superintendent of Bellflower Unified. “CalAPS is an extraordinarily inventive way to expand our students’ opportunities for success.”

The idea grew out of changes mandated by the adoption of a new state accountability and finance system in 2013-14. The new system eliminated a regional career technical program that served the two districts, instead directing each to operate its own program. The shift allowed the districts to customize their approaches to career technical education.

CalAPS will take advantage of that control, partnering with Bellflower and Lynwood schools to extend CTE-type class offerings and develop career pathways – three-course progressions that offer an introduction to a field, develop understanding of specific skill(s), and provide a capstone class that allows students to explore career opportunities.

Programs at each district would be complementary, helping to increase the overall depth of career options and taking advantage of the strengths of the regional job market.

Already, Bellflower Unified offers a variety of courses in international business; finance services; information and communication technologies; energy, the environment and utilities; construction, transportation; hospitality and tourism, among others.

The District also offers an award-winning health sciences career program, which was honored Dec. 5 by the California School Boards Association with a Golden Bell Award recognizing its innovation and impact on students’ lives.

And, earlier this year, the District began building a suite of engineering courses.

The new CalAPS courses will be aligned with the California State University and University of California admissions curriculum requirements, called A-G courses, when appropriate. Class offerings may be within the school day, after school or even on Saturdays.

Additionally, the partnership could begin offering online courses to students across the state as a supplementary program to the regional opportunities.

The next step is for the districts to obtain consent from the Los Angeles County Office of Education for CalAPS, followed by approval from the California Department of Education. The process is underway. A board will be formed with two members from each district to ensure that the CTE needs are achieved.

Classes are expected to be offered under CalAPS as early as fall 2016.

CAPTION: A newly created CalAPS logo showcases California’s 15 career technical education sectors.