January 11, 2019

Ames High to offer an Agricultural Pathway Next Year

Ames High Course Offerings Update

Starting next year, in the 2019-2020 academic school year, we are pleased to announce that Ames High will begin to offer agricultural classes as a part of a pathway that students can pursue. The Department of Education requires that all schools offer at least 4 of 6 service areas in secondary schools. At Ames High next year, those service areas will include:

  • Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management
  • Information Solutions
  • Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing
  • Agricultural, Food, and Natural Resources.

When the new Ames High building opens in 2022, we anticipate expanding into another service area: health science, when we begin to offer courses toward a CNA program.

In 2016, Governor Branstad signed into law House File  2392, setting a new vision for students in Iowa to graduate from high school ready for college and career training. The legislation builds upon recommendations released by the Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) Task Force and marks the first major revision to CTE policy in Iowa since 1989.

This secondary CTE redesign aligns with the Future Ready Iowa initiative that was launched last fall. The Department of Education website said, “The initiative focuses on ways to continue building Iowa’s talent pipeline and close the skills gap so that more Iowans have quality career opportunities and employers have the skilled workforce they need.” This encourages alignment of secondary CTE offerings to in-demand occupations to meet the needs of employers.

Future Ready Iowa provided employment projections out to 2024. The #1 projected job openings were in the agricultural field. This was followed closely by registered nurses. Meeting with professionals at Iowa State University, they echoed this sentiment locally as well. Employers such as REG, Ag Leaders, Landus Corp., Key Coop, Monsanto, and Innovative Ag Services, are all seeking qualified employees. This move to adding agricultural classes aligns with other school districts including Iowa City, Clear Lake, Fort Dodge, Johnston, Mount Pleasant, Linn Mar, SE Polk, and others.

Dr. Michael Rettalick, professor and chair of Agricultural Education and Studies Department at Iowa State University, said, “Iowa is the breadbasket of the world and there is a large demand for individuals who have an understanding of agriculture. There are more career opportunities (high school graduates, two-year, and four-year graduates) in agriculture than we graduate. In fact, with more than 1,000 graduates last year, the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has a placement rating of 99.2% and this rating has been consistent.”

As a result of these career and technical education additions, other course offering changes are also taking place effective next year. Family and consumer science elective courses will not be offered at Ames High. These include food classes, those in child development, as well as interior design. This decision was made for two reasons. First, those courses do not provide a complete pathway toward employment. Secondly, students will still have access to those classes through Des Moines Area Community College. DMACC offers culinary classes, and those within the Teacher Academy, and Criminal Justice. Ames High students have the opportunity to take those classes.

One other course change at Ames High is that starting next year, all students will be required to take a Financial Literacy class. This will apply to graduating seniors next year, and is a state requirement for graduation.

The District is excited about the direction that our career and technical education program is moving at Ames High. Superintendent Risner has made this area one of her priorities when she came to Ames. From her first day, she has said “We need to identify what we are going to offer in CTE, establish pathways toward certification, and offer classes in our high needed areas in workforce development.”