At a Glance
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI) offers adult education students the opportunity to participate in secondary CTE programs alongside high school students. The intergenerational training is provided through an extended-day schedule for the adult education students.
The HVAC programs at CPI generally was fully subscribed for both the secondary and adult education (adult ed) sections, and there often was a waiting list for post-secondary students who wanted to enroll in the program. In addition to these maximized enrollment numbers, the placement results for the HVAC program often are at 100 percent, and local employers are actively involved in the program. Given the demand for and strength of the HVAC program, CPI administrators saw an opportunity to increase enrollment opportunities. This expansion would maximize the reach and profitability of the program.
Facing limited physical space for expansions, the administration and HVAC instructors looked at alternative scheduling options to expand the program without sacrificing its quality. High school students at CPI attend on a half-day model, while adults attend for a full day. CPI used to offer the adult ed HVAC program through a 27.5 hour/week, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. schedule. In making the scheduling change for adult ed, administrators decided to implement a 32 hour/week schedule, Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In practice, this schedule means that the adult ed students start class at 7:00 AM and receive about 1.15 hour of theory instruction from the lead instructor. Then, as the high school students arrive, they transition to the lab area with the assistant instructor. At this time, the lead instructor provides theory instruction to the high school students. The high school students and adult education students are instructed separately from each other for both theory and lab time.
According to the CPI administration, the 32-hour, intergenerational schedule achieves several objectives. First, it allows the adult ed students to graduate sooner in mid-April instead of June which puts them in the job market at the start of the cooling season.
Second, the schedule provides financial benefits to CPI. Two instructors are employed for the HVAC program. The lead instructor is employed by the high school side, and the adult ed side funds an assistant instructor. The compensation for the assistant instructor is about half of what the full-time, high school instructor receives. The assistant instructor helps both high school and adult ed students. The high school contractual schedule for the lead instructor is Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 3:15 PM. Then, the lead instructor goes on adult education payroll from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM and from 3:15PM to 4:15PM Monday through Thursday. This is an affordable option for the adult ed program, and the setup allows the lead instructor to supplement his income.
Third, the intergenerational, yet separated schedules for the high school and adult ed students, as well as the modified curriculum that meets the needs of these two groups of students, help with the programs marketing and recruitment efforts. All students share the lab and theory areas, but they received differentiated instruction made possible by the separate schedules and the availability of a second instructor. Although the total class size is larger than what it used to be, having two instructors to oversee the instruction and manage classroom behavior makes the class size a nonissue.
Before implementing the alternative schedule, CPI administrators and the HVAC instructor addressed some potential issues. First, administrators needed to secure buy-in from the lead instructor to expand the teaching hours (to be funded through the adult ed program). Second, there needed to be a good fit between the lead instructor and the adult ed-funded assistant instructor. To ensure this occurred, the lead instructor was involved in recruiting and selecting the assistant instructor.
For CTCs that want to replicate the intergenerational, alternative scheduling model, CPI administrators suggest:
- Start with one of the best, most in-demand programs.
- Secure the buy-in and involvement of the lead instructor because if he/she is not interested in additional compensation hours, the model likely will not work.
- Hire an assistant instructor who can cover the AM or PM lead role of the adult ed program, if necessary. This is important if the lead instructor is out for the day or needs off in the afternoon. It is important that the lead instructor does not burn out due to the permanent extra hours and so having reliable instructional coverage is critical.
As noted already, the intergenerational, alternative scheduling model is a valuable practice for many stakeholders.
- It is a cost-efficient model by which to provide two instructors in the classroom.
- It allows for the adults to be differentiated from the secondary students in an intergenerational program, which helps with adult ed enrollment and retention.
- The scheduling model lends itself to moving up the program end dates so that student employability is maximized.
- By flexing schedules, both high school and adult ed students receive one-on-one time with the lead instructor.
- The lead instructor receives support with ordering supplies, record keeping, and other tasks that are non-instructional.