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Iredell-Statesville Schools is expanding career and technical education (CTE) courses, especially in middle schools, in an effort to guide students toward trade vocations and growing industries at an earlier age.

Judy Honeycutt, assistant director of CTE for I-SS, told board of education members on Monday that the model for middle school CTE needed to change from a focus on computer competency to something more advanced, delving into engineering, advanced manufacturing, the medical field and business. “We are seeing a big need in our middle schools to change that program,” said Honeycutt. The goal of the CTE expansion is to “start making connections to what’s really going on in the work world.”

“Maybe once they get to high school, they can be more focused as to the courses that they want to take,” Honeycutt said about the end goal. Few changes are planned for the 2014-15 school year, mostly staff development and training for the rollout of new courses in the 2015-16 school year.