National Sample Definitions
When we talk about the States' Career Cluster™ Initiative with states and local schools, we talk about the need to have some common terms and definitions that are used consistently throughout the state or school. On the national level, in an attempt to practice what we preach, we are providing a set of sample terms and their definitions as a resource. These sample terms and definitions can be adapted/adopted/disregarded by states and locals as appropriate.
Career Clusters™: In their simplest form, Career Clusters™ are groupings of occupations/career specialties used as an organizing tool for curriculum design and instruction. Occupations/career specialties are grouped into the Career Cluster™ based on the fact that they require a set of common knowledge and skills for career success. The Knowledge and Skills represented by Career Cluster™ prepare learners for a full range of occupations/career specialties, focusing on the holistic, polished blend of technical, academic and employability knowledge and skills. This approach enhances the more traditional approach to career and technical education in which instruction may focus on one or two occupations and emphasize only specific occupational skills.
Career Pathways: In their simplest forms, Pathways are sub-groupings of occupations/career specialties used as an organizing tool for curriculum design and instruction. Occupations/career specialties are grouped into Pathways based on the fact that they require a set of common knowledge and skills for career success.
Occupations/Career Specialties: These are particular careers or occupations based on advanced knowledge and skills specific to that career or occupation.
2008 Knowledge and Skills: The Knowledge and Skills are industry-validated statements that describe what learners/employees need to know and be able to do for career success within a Career Cluster™ and/or Pathway.
NOTE: NASDCTEc has recently supported the creation of the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC), a set of common, program-level standards for CTE that are fewer, higher and clearer. The CCTC is built from the foundational components of the Knowledge and Skills Statements along with recent research and input from education and industry experts. States are expected to voluntarily work to adopt the CCTC over the course of the next few years. NASDCTEc is working with states during the transition to the CCTC along with providing updates to educators and the general public.
If you are an educator, the 2008 version of the K&S remain a viable resource, but we encourage a review and analysis of the CCTC standards to identify alignment to the existing teaching and learning expectations.
Program of Study (curriculum framework): A program of study is a sequence of instruction (based on recommended standards and knowledge and skills) consisting of coursework, co-curricular activities, work-site learning, service learning and other learning experiences. This sequence of instruction provides preparation for a career.
Personal Plan of Study: A Personal Plan of Study is an individual learner's scope and sequence of coursework, co-curricular activities, work-site learning, service learning and other learning experiences based upon his/her chosen career goals and aspirations. The Plan of Study should be revisited periodically (at least on an annual basis) to make adjustments as the interests and career aspirations of a learner change. This is a flexible resource designed to change in concert with the interests and needs of the learner.