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A method of instruction for students, 16 and older, where technical classroom instruction is combined with paid employment directly related to the classroom instruction. The two experiences must be planned and supervised by the school and the employer so that each contributes to the student's career objective/major and employability. Written cooperative arrangements showing the instruction to be provided are developed by the school and employer providing the training. School credit is received for both the on-the-job training and the classroom components.


The purpose of cooperative education programs is the development of occupational competence reinforced by a job training experience. The cooperative method of instruction provides students enrolled in vocational/technical courses an opportunity to extend their employment preparation beyond the classroom. When a student has a career objective that is specific and definite, students can often prepare themselves better for the workplace, by being in the workplace, than they can in the school setting. Cooperative education can prepare students for useful employment in the career major of their choice. Frequently schools find that they can not afford to continuously equip and update labs with state of the art equipment. Schools can build partnerships with community business people to offer training that is specifically designed for a given student using state of the art equipment and requiring the student to perform up to industry standards as they meet the needs of clients on a daily basis.

Critical to the philosophy of the cooperative method is that students must have classroom instruction and on-the-job training directly related to one another. Both the school and community businesses assume responsibility for helping a student attain competencies required for a course that utilizes the cooperative method. The school provides related technical instruction in the classroom and the on-the-job training is provided at the job site. The two experiences must be planned and supervised by the school and employers so that each contributes to the student's education and to his or her employability. Work periods and school attendance is planned on alternate half days, full days, weeks, or other periods of time in fulfilling the cooperative program.


Planning for use of the cooperative method should begin at least a year in advance. Administrative approval must be obtained for initiating a new approach as well as the adoption of necessary local policies. There may need to be permission from all necessary school officials to investigate the need. Operational procedures need also to be adopted by the highest level of the organization affected.

Some essential activities that should be accomplished as a school progresses toward the decision to offer cooperative on-the-job training are listed below:

  1. Organize an advisory committee.
    • Contact key community individuals among employers, employees, school, service organizations, labor market contacts, and other agencies regarding the advisability of establishing cooperative on-the-job training.
    • Appoint a planning committee or advisory committee to guide the process to ensure that all important steps are taken and to give the effort credibility.

  2. Conduct surveys.
    • Conduct a student survey to determine students needs and interests and simultaneously to determine businesses that already employ students as part-time workers.
    • Conduct a local occupational survey to determine the number and types of training stations available in the school service area.
    • Determine whether it is feasible to offer cooperative education based on student interest and employer interest.

  3. Create a plan.
    • Devise a tentative written plan to include philosophy, objectives, policy formation, control procedures, responsibilities of personnel, organizational structure and general supervision, broad advisory functions, and an estimated total cost and budget.
    • Present the plan to those who must approve establishing cooperative on-the-job in the school.
    • Select and/or hire teacher/coordinator(s).

  4. Develop local guidelines for participating students to include, but not limited to these issues.
    • Courses identified from which students can be placed for on-the-job training to complete a career major.
    • Transportation to on-the-job sites.
    • Hours worked that will count toward course credit (whether school day time only or will weekend time also count).
    • Methods of computing and reporting grades.
    • Student's school and job responsibilities.
    • Insurance coverage essential for each student.
    • Schedules for on-the-job (whether students will alternate half-days, full days, weeks etc. at the job site).

  5. Develop a criteria for training stations.
    • Develop criteria for selecting on-the-job training stations that will be followed by the teacher(s) placing students for training at the job sites. Involve the advisory committee to be a part of the training station approval on an annual basis.

  6. Develop training agreement and training plan guidelines.
    • These guidelines should assure that a training agreement is signed within the week that the student is placed or the training plan is developed within two-three weeks of the student trainee beginning work at the job site.
    • Determine the location for the official school copy of the training agreement and plan to be filed.

  7. Develop policies and procedures.
    • Develop policies regarding the number of training hours to be completed in order to receive school credit for on-the-job. (Will 0.25 units, 0.50 units, 1 unit, or 2 units be provided based on training hours or will some other standard of competence be used?)
    • Determine coordination time schedules and responsibilities of those assigned responsibilities to coordinate the school instruction with the training conducted at the job site. Outline the responsibilities for arranging with the employers the training to be done at the job site and the evaluation and grading processes to be coordinated between the trainer at the job site and the school coordinator.
    • Develop procedures for accumulating student payroll information for use in conduction with the VEIS requirements and to ensure that student are paid in compliance with the North Carolina and/or federal wage and hour legislation.
    • Develop a procedure that supports the reporting and recording of student participation.

  8. Provide professional development.
    • Design the training experiences for the entire school staff to ensure uniform understanding of the proper usage of cooperative education in meeting the needs of students and employers.
    • Develop a training program for the employers who will be on-the-job training partners. This may become a function of the planning or advisory committee to train partners on an annual basis (especially new training sites).


The cooperative education method is an essential component to five Career and Technical Education program areas.

  • Agricultural Education
  • Business and Information Technology Education
  • Family and Consumer Science Education
  • Marketing Education
  • Trade and Industrial Education


Opening Pages
(pdf, 48kb | doc, 67kb)

Section 1: Management Guide for Administrators - Table of Contents
(pdf, 30kb | doc, 26kb)

Section 1: Management Guide for Administrators with Appendix
(pdf, 461kb | doc, 1.2mb)

Section 2: Management Guide for Teacher Coordinators
(pdf, 183kb | doc, 275kb)

Section 3: Helpful Forms
(pdf, 101kb | doc, 147kb)

Section 4: Current Labor Laws
Child Labor in Nonagricultural Occupations in North Carolina: Joint Federal and State Requirements

Section 5: Marketing Education Student's Training Portfolio: Associate Level
(pdf, 126kb | doc, 148kb)

Section 6: Marketing Education Student's Training Portfolio: Management Level
(pdf, 138kb | doc, 177kb)


The Role of Teacher/Coordinator of Work-Based Learning
Shared from the North Carolina Marketing Education Teacher Handbook.

Designing File Systems
Shared from the Kentucky Department of Education.

Cooperative Education Employer and Student Information Sheet
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education.
(doc, 40kb)

Marketing Education Student Performance Appraisal Instrument: SCANS Competencies and Foundation Skills
Shared from the Small Business Entrepreneurship American Guide.
(doc, 95kb)

Attendance and Work Report
Shared from the Kentucky Department of Education.
(doc, 66kb)

Student Wage and Hour Card
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education.
(doc, 56kb)

Schedule of Business and Industry Site Visits
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education.
(doc, 42kb)

List of Cooperative Education Participants
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education.
(doc, 50kb)

Annual Co-op Summary
Shared from the Kentucky Department of Education.
(doc, 46kb)

Business/Industry Field Trip
Cooperative Education
Entrepreneurial Experiences
Job Shadowing
School-Based Enterprise
Service Learning