Building Capacity Through The
Career Development and Occupational Studies
Learning Standards

All New York State students must perform at higher levels of achievement than ever in our history in order to attain and maintain employment in a global economy and information-based workforce. The Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) learning standards, along with a companion resource guide, provide a foundation upon which the Office of Work- force Preparation and Continuing Education strives to expand the educational capacity of learners to achieve high academic standards, work readiness skills and, for some, job specific skills.

Occupational education is an essential component of a comprehensive, integrated educational delivery system for both academic and workplace preparedness. The development and refinement of such approaches as school-to-work, Tech Prep, and New Vision(s) programs provide specific examples of how CDOS can operate to connect and enhance the attainment of the new learning standards. Three studies which demonstrate the additional benefits of models which integrate CDOS include the Philadelphia School-to-Careers performance statistics which indicated the following for students enrolled in the program:

The same set of results were reported in the State Education Department’s Evaluation of Tech Prep in New York State: Final Report, October 1997. The State evaluator for New York’s school-to-work initiative, the Westchester Institute for Human Services Research, Inc., found a significant difference in GPA between students with "high involvement" in school-to-work activities as compared to students with "low involvement."

The CDOS learning standards, while they apply to all students, are not directed toward a specific subject area. Many of the standards, performance indicators, and performance tasks identified in CDOS cut across all disciplines and are embedded into the learning standards for all other disciplines. The structure of the CDOS learning standards provides for a continuum of instruction that will allow maximum flexibility in planning the educational goals for each individual student. CDOS lays out the foundation for a system that will deliver career planning, integrated learning, and basic life and work skills to all students through their chosen program of study. It also provides a foundation for instruction to all students that focuses on specific career knowledge and skills leading to continuing study in a postsecondary program and/or direct employment.

Recently, the Departments of Labor and Education, in cooperation with more than 125 influential representatives of business, labor, education and government, developed and released the report, New York’s Workforce Development System. The report proposes to move the fragmented array of workforce development activities to a comprehensive, demand-side driven system, based on the needs of employers and job seekers. A large part of employers’ needs are described by standards identified for productive workers. The report has endorsed raising the learning standards and in particular the CDOS learning standards as appropriate and necessary for emerging, incumbent and transitional workers. The CDOS learning standards, particularly the foundation skills, are recommended to become the base for all who are, or will be, productive workers in New York. The endorsement of the CDOS learning standards extends the influence of these standards well beyond the domain of K-12 education to the employment and training community, the continuing education sector and employer-based programs.

To ensure that the vision for occupational education can become a reality for New York State students, the following goals have been identified as central for long-term success of education reform:


  1. To assure that all students, including out-of-school youth and adults, meet or exceed the 28 learning standards and to provide multiple pathways to achieving these standards and required assessments.
  2. To build capacity at all levels by implementing a staff development initiative reflecting best practices and model programs for career development, applied and integrated learning, and foundation skills and technical skills necessary for success in the workplace.
  3. To develop assessment instruments for the Career Development and Occupational Studies learning standards, including a career plan for all students, a program evaluation of the universal foundation skills, and technical skill assessments in career cluster areas for students in occupational education sequences.



The CDOS learning standards provide a powerful base for other education reform efforts. New York, as one of the initial states to implement a school-to-work system (STW), intends to better prepare all students for the full range of postsecondary education and employment opportunities. The major elements of STW are school-based activities, work-based activities and connecting activities. The CDOS learning standards are the foundations of school-based, work-based and connecting activities which integrate high academic standards with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the workplace.

The CDOS Resource Guide is designed to serve as a companion document to the learning standards. It was developed with significant input from educators who are currently working to align their instructional practices with the State standards. The Resource Guide provides teachers with a wealth of information, including scope and sequence for each standard, learning experiences, sample assessments, research, and specific discipline materials which can be used in the curriculum and assessment development process within each school/district.

An Adult Education Resource Guide and Learning Standards document has been developed to incorporate the 28 learning standards into the adult education curriculum used in a full range of adult programming (e.g., adult basic education, GED preparation, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Even Start, incarcerated youth). Additional work is underway to develop a resource guide supplement to focus on CDOS standards to support adult learners seeking employment preparation and upgrading.

Skills standards projects were funded by the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor in a variety of career areas. Active involvement by Department representatives and field-based educators in several of these projects has helped to formulate these standards, and reflect them within the CDOS learning standards. Pilot projects involving Health Care Skill Standards are currently underway in several STW sites across New York State. Pilot projects involving manufacturing standards will shortly be underway with several BOCES manufacturing programs. The program is a joint venture with seven states under the Council of Great Lakes Governors that will build a bridge from classroom to the work environment and assure that a skilled workforce is available for the metalworking industry.


The following provides a sampling of actions which will assist schools in building their capacity to help students achieve higher standards.

Through a Goals 2000 grant with Madison-Oneida BOCES, a review of literature resulting in a research paper will be distributed that documents the success of integrated and applied learning and includes integration models currently in use nationwide and examples of applied assessment instruments.

Issues Paper

An issues paper will be developed which reflects the current goals of occupational education including the challenge of integrating occupational education, school-to-work and Tech Prep across the continuum of education program offerings. This paper will set the foundation from which a series of forums will be convened during the 1998-99 school year. The forums will be scheduled at intervals to allow time between forums for the issues paper and directions to be refined.

A series of focus forums beginning in July will be conducted to seek the best thinking and engage partners in dialogue regarding occupational education. National and State educational leaders, as well as union and business/industry representatives, will come together to reinforce support for occupational education delivery systems and provide insight into challenges still ahead. A staff work group will be identified and charged with guiding this facilitated process. These forums will result in the development of a conceptual framework from which occupational education policy proposals will be generated.

A field memorandum in a question-and-answer format will be disseminated this month to occupational educators and other interested parties (Attachment B). This document will be followed by additional communiques which will provide examples of programs integrating occupational education with other discipline areas.

Two interactive teleconferences have been held over the past two school years to acquaint educators with the CDOS learning standards, proposed assessments and a sampling of model programs. K-12 teachers presented concepts within their programs which demonstrated implementation of the CDOS standards.

Representatives from Occupational Education professional organizations met twice for updates regarding graduation requirements and to provide input on field concerns. These sessions helped to identify field needs which are being addressed through activities contained within this document.

Through a Goals 2000 grant with Madison-Oneida BOCES, a statewide CDOS staff development initiative will be implemented providing turnkey training to 120 teachers/trainers. The training will provide the tools for integrating the CDOS learning standards with other content area standards and assessing the CDOS standards.

Throughout the 1998-1999 school year, four to six regional meetings will be held to build the capacity of local school districts and BOCES to achieve and assess the CDOS learning standards and the other content standards.

More than 5,000 adult education teachers and administrators have been trained during the last six months in the use of the Adult Education Resource Guide and Learning Standards, with an additional 5,000 to be trained by the end of the year. Peer review sessions for adult education will be conducted statewide to identify model learning experiences and practice.


The career plan will include a systematic documentation process for career development skills as well as the creation of a framework for individualized student plans. Field testing will be done during the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 school years. Results of this field test will formulate a final career plan for inclusion as a requirement for graduation.

A program evaluation examination for administration after grade 9 will be piloted during the 1999-2000 school year. The purpose of the examination will be to insure that local curriculum and practices are delivering the essential skills identified in the CDOS learning standards and the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS).

Students enrolled in career cluster sequences will be assessed for the attainment of technical skills related to these sequences. Assessments of technical skills for particular occupational sequences will be based upon national or state licensing examinations and/or assessments developed by the National Skills Standards Board, or other similar entities. The feasibility of implementing Regents examinations in selected areas will also be considered. Also, as these assessments become available, current Occupational Education Proficiency Examinations will be phased out.

Selected Program Models Integrating the CDOS Learning Standards Into Other Learning Standards Areas

Classroom teachers and other educators need concrete examples of how to translate the intentions of the standards into meaningful learning experiences for K-12 students. While education reform creates a certain level of stress, occupational educators throughout the State reacted in a positive manner by developing and/or redesigning unique, creative and interesting ways to help students achieve higher, more rigorous levels of learning and performance. The following are illustrative examples of this.

Two programs in different occupational areas have dramatically redesigned traditional course scheduling patterns. In September 1998, the Capital Region BOCES is planning to offer an AYES (Automotive Youth Educational Systems) program, designed in partnership with General Motors and Chrysler Motor corporations and Hudson Valley Community College. This program option will allow students to attend the BOCES on a full-day schedule during grades 11 and 12 and earn credits in Regents English, mathematics, social studies, science and physical education. Work experience (including summer opportunities), college credits and tool scholarship credits are features of the Albany Vo-Tech Center approach. AYES designated programs have also been established in five other sites statewide and will begin in September 1998. The Orleans-Niagara BOCES has developed a creative schedule for engineering education co-op students that offers alternating in-class learning for one week followed in the next week by work experience in apprenticeships with engineers and industrial managers. Instruction occurs in double-period block scheduling and includes pre-calculus and physics, as well as bi-weekly seminars with college engineering students and engineering industry representatives to ensure the inclusion of all CDOS learning standards. Over 500 students have participated in this creative initiative.

The New Vision Health Careers program at the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES provides for instruction in a classroom housed at Syracuse VA Medical Center which fully integrates grade 12 English Language Arts, social studies, anatomy and physiology and health occupations standards. Students attend their home school for two periods and spend the remainder of the school day at the New Vision learning site. While on-site, students spend time in all departments within the health care facility. Written and oral interaction with health care professionals enhance the students' reading, speaking, writing and listening skills and demonstrates just how important these skills are for future professionals in the health care field. Study of the economics of the health care field gives relevance to the students' classroom learning. This exemplary program has been in place for seven years and has expanded to approximately 25 BOCES and LEAs with a total enrollment of over 500 students per year. New Vision programs in other career areas are also in place across the State. The Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan takes a different approach in delivering a unique program in Logistics Operations/Management. For the past four years, over 250 students have attended this program. Using an academy, school-within-a-school approach, the Norman Thomas program offers a fully integrated curriculum that addresses CDOS, English language arts, mathematics, social studies and foreign language standards within the context of one, unified business/marketing education framework.

In 15 New York City Schools serving grades K-8, a program called Card Connection helps students to achieve CDOS learning standards while supplementing specific standards in mathematics, English language arts and social studies. The central organizing context of Card Connection is the creation and management of an actual entrepreneurial venture for greeting cards in which product design, production, management decision making, and product marketing are experienced by all students. Business/industry representatives collaborate with the program and make scheduled classroom visitations which focus on career development.

At the Porter Magnet School of Technology & Career Exploration in Syracuse, team teaching allows for delivery of the CDOS learning standards and addresses and supports learning standards for academic core areas through student exposure to many different forms of technology. A special feature of the program is the operation and maintenance of a television station by the students which requires mastery of New York State standards in several areas, including the Universal Foundation Skills needed in the business world. All 620 students in the school building have participated in the program this year. On the high school level, also using team teaching methodology, the Massena Central High School Tech Prep program has designed a rigorous alternative to the traditional college preparatory track. Mathematics Level III (with emphasis upon statistics, polynomials, graphic equations, etc.) is spread over two years and is integrated with English and business technology, and combined with career planning, job shadowing and authentic case problems provided by business/industry and postsecondary institutions. Approximately 50 students per year take advantage of this unique, high-level program which includes oral presentations, team projects, technical written reports, and PowerPoint presentations, all of which are used to show student attainment of learning standards.

The Galaxy Program at Riverhead Central School District involves a partnership with the New York Air National Guard for students in grades 4-6. The program is focused on multiple careers in aviation and helps to improve student performance in mathematics, science and technology in addition to providing a wealth of career information. In addition, Galaxy offers learning experiences with pilots, flight surgeons, school teachers and parents in highly motivating environments. So far, approximately 500 elementary students have participated in this program, with a total of 1,500 at this and four other sites statewide.

Technology applications have moved to a higher level for students at West Seneca West Senior High School. To help achieve CDOS and other learning standards, a group of 75 students in grades 9-12 create an electronic portfolio summarizing their attainment of skills identified as critical for success. The computer documentation evolves from a series of interdisciplinary projects and includes life-long learning skills involving problem solving, writing, speaking and computer skills. The program was designed in collaboration with the Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council.

The Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Oneida BOCES Graphic Arts program has been re-designed to integrate the New York State learning standards in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Career Development and Occupational Studies and the Arts into its instructional content. An essential and highly effective component of the program includes a portfolio approach to organize activities which provide an occupational context to academic skills. Work selected for portfolios must be accompanied by a student-developed written analysis which aligns completion of the activity with specific performance indicators outlined in the learning standards. Approximately 45 students participate in this program annually.


A comprehensive plan for the redesign of occupational education has been set in motion through the development of goals and implementation of associated activities. The vision is that all students will participate in and benefit from the diverse occupational education programs available in kindergarten through adult education.

Several initiatives have been completed, and others are being planned or are in progress. They are geared toward building the capacity of New York State schools to provide opportunities for all students in attaining requisite knowledge and skills necessary for success in postsecondary education and for the world of work.

The Office of Workforce Preparation and Continuing Education is providing on-going technical assistance to schools to assist in providing high quality occupational options for all students. The Office will engage its staff in the formulation of policy considerations relative to occupational education for Board of Regents review in spring 1999.