With its emphasis on academic rigor and building skills in critical thinking, communications, and teamwork, it is no wonder that EDC’s interdisciplinary Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS) high school program has drawn praise from the nation’s educators, the media, and government officials. Over the past year, the program was honored with the inaugural Public-Private Partnership Award from the National Governors Association; TIMEMagazine profiled a teacher using the program in a cover story entitled “How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century;” while the state of Ohio adopted Ford PAS as the core of its manufacturing career and technical programs. In all, Ford PAS reaches 15,000 students in 23 states, and continues to add new sites. For those who want to know what the buzz is all about, good news: in early 2008, Ford PAS is allowing educators to pilot-test a series of new modules on alternative energy sources and financial literacy.
Like the previous modules in the series, the new materials will be developed jointly by Ford Motor Company Fund and EDC’s Center for Educational Resources and Outreach (ERO) and Education, Employment, and Community Programs (EEC). The existing Ford PAS program consists of 15 modules that link classroom learning with the challenges students will face in post-secondary education and the workplace. It integrates academically rigorous, standards-based content with realistic applications in areas such as design and product development, information systems, environmental sustainability, global economics, business planning, and marketing. In addition to being offered as a two and a half year series of electives, the modules may be taught in thematic sequences focusing on business and entrepreneurship, business and manufacturing, science and engineering, and economics. Individual modules may also be integrated into academic courses in English language arts, American history, statistics, engineering, and economics.
“The curriculum provides an opportunity for students to apply rigorous academics through problem solving and critical thinking skills that are crucial in today’s workplace,” said Patty Cantu, Michigan’s State Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director. “The program supports our efforts in CTE to prepare high school students for both postsecondary education and the workplace.” Cantu’s comments came during a recent visit by members of the Ford PAS team to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). The visit was highlighted in the OVAE newsletter received by each state’s director of CTE.
Working Toward Sustainability features four four-week modules that allow students to investigate alternative fuel sources. The sequence of modules builds students’ knowledge of the key physical science concepts essential for understanding how energy is stored and used as fuel. The first module offers an introduction to the scientific concept of energy and how stored energy is released in order to fuel human activity. The other three modules each focus on a particular fuel source: biomass, hydrogen, and nuclear. Individual modules may be integrated into existing science courses or used as a semester-long introduction to physical sciences for ninth graders.
Calculating Your Future focuses on the skills and knowledge students need to take ownership of their personal finances. Students apply concepts of algebra and data analysis to real-world financial decisions, such as how much to spend on a daily and monthly basis; whether to apply for a credit card, and if so, which one; making a major purchase, such as an automobile; planning how to pay for college; weighing the risks of different investment options, and when and how to planning for retirement. This eight-week module combines an engaging introduction to personal financial decision making with teaching essential mathematics concepts in a real-world context.
“Pilot-testing is essential to assure curriculum quality, and all of the existing Ford PAS modules were piloted prior to publication,” says EDC’s Ilene Kantrov. “Teachers who have pilot-tested other Ford PAS modules have reported that their students enjoyed the active, inquiry-based approach to learning that brings subject matter to life.”
Originally published on July 31, 2007