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Cooperative Education

Cooperative Education is a structured component of the Career Education (CE) curriculum that integrates classroom instruction with productive, progressive, supervised, and paid work-based experiences in fields related to the students’ career objectives.  Content is planned planned for students through a cooperative arrangement between the school and employer as a component of work-based learning. Students enrolled in cooperative education programs are required to participate in the class.  Cooperative education must be supervised by a teacher who holds a Nebraska teaching certificate with a Work-Based Learning Endorsement on their teaching certificate.

Definition

Cooperative education is a structured component of the Career Education (CE) curriculum that integrates classroom instruction with productive, progressive, supervised, and paid work-based experiences in fields related to students’ career objectives.  Content is planned for students through a cooperative arrangement between the school and employer as a component of work-based learning.

A Cooperative Education class is a required component of the Cooperative Education work-based experience.  Students enrolled in Cooperative Education programs are required to participate in the class.  Cooperative education must be supervised by a teacher who holds a Nebraska teaching certificate with a Work-Based Learning Endorsement on their teaching certificate.

Purpose/Objective

The purpose of cooperative education is to provide paid work-based experiences that typically cannot be obtained in the classroom. 

Prerequisites

It is recommended that a student have completed a minimum two CTE courses in a career cluster prior to enrollment in cooperative education.  The opportunity to develop academic and technical skills prior to the cooperative education experience will enhance the experience and allow the students to apply those skills while on the job.

Related Instruction

Students participating in Cooperative Education work-based experiences are required to participate in Cooperative Education class. This course provides students with the opportunity to discuss workplace issues, submit required reports, and create/maintain a career portfolio.  Students will develop additional skills in employability, ethics, personal finance, leadership, teamwork, and technical foundations in preparation for future employment or continuing education.

Nebraska Department of Education Requirements

The following are essential components of cooperative education that must be in place.

  • Administrative support that ensures that instructional activities promote a quality, work-based learning experience.
  • Qualified, certified Work-Based Learning Coordinator (herein referred to as the Teacher Coordinator) who manages work-based learning experiences in compliance with the Nebraska Workplace Experiences Guide, and all federal and state labor Laws.
  • Student-learners that meet student selection criteria.
  • Work-Based Learning Education and Career and Technical course offering(s).
  • Selected work-based learning sites in fields related to students’ career objectives.
  • Training agreements that stipulate the essential responsibilities and conditions of student employment.
  • Training plans that list processes, knowledge, and skills that the student is expected to learn in the work-based experience.
  • Supervised, work-based experience performed under the supervision of a work-place mentor and the Teacher Coordinator.   
  • Student evaluations by the Teacher Coordinator and employer/mentor.
  • Supervisory visits at the work site for each student.
  • Active Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO).
 

Roles and Responsibilities               

Cooperative education requires time, commitment, and collaboration of the following partners:

Students must meet with the Teacher Coordinator one class period per week to maintain all required documentation and coursework and to accommodate student and/or employer needs based on individual circumstances.  They must adhere to all policies of the program and training station/agency.  If transportation is not available, student drivers must have a valid Nebraska Driver’s License and must furnish proof of their liability coverage for the automobile. 

Parents/Guardians should provide ongoing support to the student. They should support the goals and policies of cooperative education and assume responsibility for the conduct of the student.  Parents/Guardians should attend the required orientation and must sign all required forms. 

Business and community partners agree to serve as training stations/agencies providing placements for students to complete work-based learning experiences related to the student’s career objective. Supervisors are responsible for evaluating student performance, ensuring that students are scheduled to meet the minimum work hours as defined in the Training Agreement, and for providing rigorous and progressive employment experiences.

Teacher Coordinators will provide ongoing supervision to the student and integrate the student’s work-site experience with learning at school.  They will manage all requirements of cooperative education and teach the cooperative education class.  This includes but is not limited to:  Collaboration with partners, selection of students, selection of training stations, placement of students, coordination of cooperative education components, documentation and submitting required reports.

Local Education Agency (LEA) Responsibilities                  

It is the role of the LEA administration to ensure that instructional activities support and promote quality, work-based learning experiences.  Positive administrative support is vital to the success of cooperative education and should be demonstrated in the following ways:

  • Develop written policies regarding cooperative education in cooperation with the Teacher Coordinator to be adopted by the local board of education for use in decision-making situations and to provide guidance in achieving program goals. 
  • Assure compliance with written state and local boards of education policies.
  • Provide facilities and up-to-date equipment to meet business/industry standards.
  • Facilitate the procurement of instructional materials.
  • Ensure that the school schedule includes cooperative education class as an essential component of work-based learning. Students enrolled in cooperative education are required to participate in the cooperative education class.
  • Schedule students into a regular school schedule until they are placed in work-based experiences.
  • Provide opportunities for recruitment of students through assembly programs, meetings, school visits, and other venues to create awareness of cooperative education.
  • Ensure the review of student transcripts to verify eligibility for participation in cooperative education.
  • Cooperate with the Teacher Coordinator and/or career and technical education teachers in the selection of prospective students and in making school records available.
  • Require orientation for students and parents.
  • Review student and teacher files for required forms: Training Agreement, Training Plan, Application for Enrollment, Teacher Recommendations, Weekly Wage and Hour Sheet, Training Station/Agency Visit Teacher Coordinator Summary and Student Evaluations.
  • Ensure that the student selection is equitable and addresses the needs of each student. 
  • Ensure that students accepted shall have met the application/selection criteria for cooperative education and shall have been approved for participation by the Teacher Coordinator.
  • Ensure that the Teacher Coordinator has a coordination period.
  • Provide the following financial support in order to support cooperative education:
    • Facilities, classroom space, furniture, and equipment required for business/industry certification.
    • Travel funds for the Teacher Coordinator’s work-based training supervision.
    • Other funds as designated by the state legislature.
  • Place, when possible, the Teacher Coordinator on an extended contract that provides the time to plan and carry out required activities needed to manage the experience.  This is essential if summer work-based learning experiences are approved by the LEA.  The Teacher Coordinator must be on an extended contract if the student is enrolled in summer school and credit is awarded for summer work-based experience or if the student is involved with a Supervised Agricultural Experience Program through AFNR and is involved with summer employment or entrepreneurship programs.
 

Coordination of Cooperative Education Components

Coordination is the process of aligning administrative, organizational, and instructional activities to accomplish the objectives of cooperative education which requires time released from school as detailed in this manual. The Teacher Coordinator must be constantly aware of the student’s performance on the job and instructional activities for optimum results.  The Teacher Coordinator ensures that normal progression takes place and that a complete series of manipulative skills is acquired.  These skills are supplemented by technical and general information that will make the student a competent and well-rounded employee. 

During the coordination period(s), the Teacher Coordinator performs the necessary out-of-school activities including visiting training stations, observing students at work, and consulting business individuals responsible for training the student. 

Coordination functions ensure that certain essential objectives are attained:

  • Prevent any possible exploitation of students.
  • Determine progress of students’ performance on the job and in instructional activities.
  • Help resolve problems that occur on the job.
  • Increase the Teacher Coordinator’s understanding of the employer’s viewpoint.
  • Check on student’s work performance, progress, habits, and attitudes.
  • Evaluate the employer’s and the employee’s satisfaction with the job placement.
  • Promote enforcement of the school’s policies and procedures by the employer.
  • Collaborate with the employer to determine the student’s job performance.
  • Make school instruction relevant to the student.

The Teacher Coordinator needs adequate time prior to the opening of school to make business/community contacts in order to facilitate the implementation of work-based learning experiences. Making contacts in the community is critical to the success of the work-based learning experience.  The Teacher Coordinator will:

  • Visit the business and industry leaders in the community to explain the opportunities available as well as benefits of the work-based learning experiences to the employer.
  • Conduct community surveys to determine appropriate types of work-based learning sites.
  • Develop a work-based learning brochure/handbook to distribute to business, industry, the school community and other stake holders.
  • Promote work-based learning experiences within the school utilizing technology, brochures, displays, and articles in the school newspaper.
  • Develop a communication plan to keep the community informed regularly of work-based learning experiences.
  • Conduct a business/community survey to begin the development of partnerships. The optimal delivery of the survey is through person-to-person contact. The completed survey should be kept on file by the LEA.  The business/community survey results serve the following useful purposes:
    • Identify employment potential in the community.
    • Locate suitable training stations for work-based learning students.
    • Identify the knowledge and skills needed by the responding business/industry.
  • Plan an employer/employee event with students during the school year to honor employers who offered work-based learning experiences for students.
  • Secure employment for participating students.

Teacher Coordinator Responsibilities                       

The Teacher Coordinator will:

  • Create a Training Plan for each cooperative education participant. 
  • Complete training agreement with required signatures. It is through this training agreement that the essential functions are outlined and agreed to by the training mentor, student, Teacher Coordinator, parent, and school administrator. 
  • Explain to the employer prior to the first written evaluation, the Work-Based Experience Evaluation Report, that rates the student on personal qualities and job tasks as defined in the Training Plan.  Then secure through face-to-face contact an evaluation at least once per grading period, at the end of the semester/term, and at other times deemed appropriate.
  • Encourage students to become active in a CTSO related to their career objectives.
  • Prepare students for work-based learning expectations.
  • Make all students aware of the cooperative education opportunity.
  • Conduct an annual follow-up with employers. 
  • Conduct an annual self-evaluation to facilitate continuous improvement.
  • Visit the training site of each student as frequently as possible. It is recommended a minimum of one visit per month.  (More frequent visits may be required to monitor students experiencing difficulties.) 
  • Validate that all students complete all components of the coursework required for the cooperative education class, and have completed a minimum number of hours of work-based experience per credit awarded. 
  • Complete and submit reports as required by the Department and LEA.
 

All coordination visits must be documented. A written summary is required for each visit.  Each coordination visit must include documentation of a discussion with the supervisor to ensure implementation of the Training Plan and Training Agreement.  When making the coordination visit, the Teacher Coordinator’s records must document:

  • Duties and tasks relative to the Training Plan.
  • Student’s performance on assigned responsibilities and work habits including dress, grooming, and general appearance.
  • Quality and quantity of work expected and performed.
  • Student’s attitude toward the job, employer, co-workers, etc.
  • Student’s reaction to rewards, criticism, and disciplinary action.
  • Safety conditions.
  • Validation of the student’s work hours including punctuality and regularity of attendance.
  • Student’s rotation through different job experiences, ensuring that they are diverse, rigorous, and progressive.
  • Student’s preparation for position/job change or advancement.
  • Additional opportunities for involvement in work-based learning experiences.
  • Additional opportunities for partnering with Career and Technical Education; e.g., competition judge, resource speakers.

Extended Contract Responsibilities (if applicable)

It is recommended that the Teacher Coordinator should be on an extended contract that provides the time to plan and carry out required activities needed to manage the experience.  Listed below are a number of activities that must be completed in preparation for the next school year if the student and community needs are to be met:

  • Schedule meetings with parents.
  • Coordinate summer work-based learning experience.
  • Conduct business community surveys.
  • Locate and secure prospective training stations.
  • Conduct training for workplace supervisors/mentors.
  • Provide summer coordination.
  • Plan the instructional program.
  • Assess and counsel students.
  • Participate in professional development.

Supervision of the extended-contract period is the responsibility of the LEA.  The minimum standards for an extended contract for the Teacher Coordinator beyond the regular school term require the submission for LEA approval of a written Program of Work for the extended time period.  The LEA shall have on file documentation of appropriate CE activities with measurable goals and objectives and timelines for each teacher with an extended contract.  The Teacher Coordinator must file a weekly itinerary in advance with the local CE administrator or principal to account for time both on and off campus. 

Required Documentation

Each step in the cooperative education process has documentation that must be completed.  This documentation must be kept on file a minimum of three years (five years preferred) or as directed by LEA Policy.

Required documents must be on file in the Teacher Coordinator’s office and must include the following:

Individual Student Records:

  • Application for Enrollment
  • Resume (recommended)
  • Interview Evaluation form
  • Training Plan
  • Training Agreement
  • Work-based Learning Evaluation Reports (one per grading period)
  • Training Station/Agency Visit Teacher Coordinator Summary
  • Wage and Hour Reports
  • School Regulations and Policies (signed)
  • Teacher Recommendation forms including a recommendation from a career technical education course teacher related to the student’s career objective
  • Interest/Aptitude Inventory (recommended)
  • Safety Training Documentation
  • Proof of Insurance and Emergency Contact Form
  • Potential Training Station Evaluation (recommended)
  • Student Evaluation of Training Site (at conclusion of work-based experience)
  • Other forms as required by the LEA or training site

Other required documents:

  • Business/Community Survey
  • Travel Reports as required by LEA
  • Record of Business Contacts
  • Follow-up Records
  • Extended Contract Program of Work (if applicable)
 

Selection of Students

The student is the most important component in work-based learning.  In all cases, the Teacher Coordinator must ensure that the student has a clearly defined career objective in the cluster for which employment is being considered.  Students must have the ability, aptitude, and attitude for successful employment.

In situations where students have an IEP, it is required that the Teacher Coordinator participate in the development of the Individual Education Program (IEP) prior to placement in work-based learning experiences.  It is also strongly recommended that a CE teacher representing the cluster related to the student’s occupational objective also be included in the IEP development process.

Determination of Student Eligibility

The Teacher Coordinator will ensure that all requirements for cooperative education are met.  The Teacher Coordinator ensures that the student:

  • Has a clearly defined career objective in the career cluster for which employment is being considered.
  • Possesses the knowledge, skills, behavioral qualities, and abilities required for successful employment.
  • Is at least 16 years of age.
  • Is physically and mentally capable of performing the essential functions of the desired work-based experience.  Essential functions are responsibilities that must be performed by the position, are fundamental to the position, and cannot be reassigned to another position.
  • Has successfully completed the required prerequisite course(s).
  • Is classified as an 11th or 12th grader.
  • Is on track for graduation.
  • Has an acceptable attendance, grade and discipline record as validated by the Teacher Coordinator.
  • Has completed an Application for Enrollment.      
  • Has provided the names of a minimum of three educators who know and are not related to the student who will complete recommendation forms including the teacher of the career cluster course.
  • Has participated in a student interview to review information on the application, discuss parental/guardian support of participation, and discuss possible training stations.
  • Has the ability to provide transportation to and from the training station.
  • Has provided proof of current health or accidental insurance coverage and, if driving to and from the training station, proof of automobile liability insurance.
 

The steps for selection are:

Reviewing

The Teacher Coordinator will review the:

  • Completed application.
  • Prerequisite courses.
  • Completed recommendation forms.
  • Attendance record.
  • Discipline record.
  • Academic record.
  • Eligibility criteria.
  • Results of career interests, aptitudes, and skills test.

Interviewing

The Teacher Coordinator and applicant will:

  • Review the information on the application.
  • Discuss parental/guardian support of work-based learning participation.
  • Discuss possible training stations.

Evaluating

The Teacher Coordinator will accept or reject an application based on:

  • Teacher Coordinator documentation and record review.
  • Student interview.
  • Career objective related to a specific career cluster.
  • Interest in learning the skills for the career.
  • Completed recommendation forms.

Recruiting

A planned recruitment campaign is appropriate and necessary.  Support is needed from teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and students.  Activities should be planned well in advance to articulate with overall school calendars and to have adequate time to visit feeder schools.  Publicity should include purposes, career opportunities, and enrollment procedures. Designate a specific time frame for recruitment activities.  The following are suggested recruitment activities:

  • Classroom Visits
  • Posters/Flyers/Brochures
  • Awareness Presentations
  • CTSO Presentations
  • Assembly Programs
  • Advisory Committee Presentations
  • Distribution of Enrollment Information and Applications
  • Personal and Parental Contact

Applying

To be considered for acceptance in cooperative education, the student must submit a completed application.  The application provides information relative to the student’s interests, abilities, and adaptability in relation to the chosen career objective.

Recommending

A minimum of three completed recommendation forms must be submitted to the Teacher Coordinator.  These forms must be submitted by the cluster course teachers related to the student’s career objective.  Additional forms may be submitted by other teachers, counselors, or administrators.