CareerTech Contributes to Oklahoma’s Early Care Success
Child development expert, Vicki Rexroat, director of instructional technology at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center in Fort Cobb.
Oklahoma’s prekindergarten programs were recently ranked among the best in the nation in quality standards and access for 4-year-olds, with more than 40,000 Oklahoma 4-year-olds attending pre-K. The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education has played a major role in the success of those programs by preparing teachers for early care jobs.
CareerTech offers early care educator programs at 17 technology centers and two public schools. One of the most popular programs is the Pathway to Your National Credential, which helps students earn national child development associate credentials. This program benefits Oklahoma’s children by preparing qualified teachers, but child development expert Vicki Rexroat said it benefits Oklahoma adults, as well.
“Early care programs in the tech centers not only help students gain skills to work with young children,” said Rexroat, “they also eliminate barriers for adult students to go to school. That can impact the whole family by offering a pathway to a better life.”
Rexroat is currently director of instructional technology at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center in Fort Cobb. She worked with CareerTech’s Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center to develop the CDA curriculum used in CareerTech’s early care programs.
CIMC, in Stillwater, is the CareerTech System’s own publisher; it develops, produces and ships instructional products throughout Oklahoma and across the nation. Customers for CIMC products include high schools, technology centers, junior and community colleges, proprietary schools and government agencies. The curriculum produced by CIMC addresses a diverse range of needs, from family and consumer sciences courses and agricultural education courses in most high schools to practical nursing training in technology centers.
Oklahoma has granted 3,347 national CDA credentials since 2004, Rexroat said. Along with job opportunities, she said, the program offers CDA students a jump-start on their futures.
“Adult students in the early care programs gain the skills and confidence they need to succeed in college courses later on,” she said.
Getting the skills necessary to get a job can be especially difficult for teen mothers, who may have difficulty paying for child care, according to Rexroat. She said CareerTech’s early care programs break down that barrier by allowing students to take their children to the early care center while they attend school. At Caddo Kiowa, Rexroat said, the students can even bring their children with them on the bus.
“Many parents go into the early care field in order to bring their children to work with them,” she said. “In fact, 34 years ago, I applied for a job at Caddo Kiowa so I could be near my children, and I am still here today.”
Rexroat has helped CIMC produce a series of curriculum titles for teacher assistants, master teachers and center directors. Its most recent product, “Pathway to Your National Credential,” responds to changes in the national credentialing process for CDAs that took effect in 2013. As a result, Rexroat says, early care professionals in Oklahoma are better prepared to meet these new guidelines. CIMC worked closely with early care educators across the state to develop the new Pathway product.
The CareerTech Testing Center, also in Stillwater, develops online assessments that align with national and industry standards. The center provides more than 100 assessments that are available for free to Oklahoma CareerTech students, as well as online assessments in early care and education.
“We are an exception and one of the very few in-house, government-agency publishing companies that includes curriculum and assessment development, printing and traditional and digital delivery within one entity,” said Kimberly Sadler, CareerTech associate state director of curriculum, assessment and digital delivery. “Other states don’t make that level of investment.”
According to Sadler, this consistent support allows early care programs in Oklahoma to get exactly what they need for instructional resources.
“We don’t have to settle for what another state wants us to have,” she said. “Working closely with early care professionals helps CareerTech produce the training industry needs, when it needs it. Our approach allows us to provide many more career choices for Oklahomans.”
For more information, contact Connie Romans, communications and marketing coordinator:405.743.5153
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 59 campuses, 393 comprehensive school districts and 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities.
The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.