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Online school program continues to grow

By Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 12, 2017 at 9:00 PM

After launching one of the first-ever career technical education programs at an online school in 2015, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s CTE program has continued to grow exponentially, growing from just 20 the first year to 280 now currently enrolled.

By the second semester of this current year, when more pathways will be offered, ECOT’s CTE program enrollment will top 400 students.

“Career technical education is oftentimes the best path toward guaranteed enployment after high school,” said ECOT Assistant Superintendent Sarah Hanka. “Our students in the ECOT CTE program graduate with a valuable skill set that can be applied in the workforce right away.”

A recent poll found that 50 percent of Ohio voters believe a technical skill training program is a better investment than a four-year college degree. (Compared with only 35 percent who said a four-year degree would be a better investment.) Similarly, nearly 57 percent of Ohio voters feel a typical four-year college degree is no longer necessary to secure a high-paying career.

“With rising tuition and increased student debt, a four-year college degree has lost its luster,” Hanka said. “A CTE program like ECOT’s can help students get into high-paying careers right away with little to no student debt. That’s why so many of our students and parents are turning towards these types of programs.”

The largest onlihne charter school in Ohio, ECOT, launched its first CTE pathway, programming and software development, in the 2014-15 school year.

Due to an increase in demand from students and employers, ECOT now offers eight CTE pathways: programming and software development, Cisco networking, finance, marketing, business and administrative services, interactive media, culinary arts, performing arts, and pharmacy tech. The culinary arts and performing arts programs with ECOT’s CTE program also will allow students to utilize spaces at ECOT headquarters — which was once Southland Mall — to aid in their educational experience: the old Bob Evans test kitchen will become part of the culinary arts program, while students enrolled in performing arts will use the movie theater as a performance space.

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