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Advisory Committee Functions

AUTHORITY

The authority invested in all advisory committees - general, occupational, and special function - is limited to making recommendations and to giving advice. Advisory committees are not empowered to set policy; that responsibility rests solely with the school board or the board of trustees and/or the administration of the school.

An advisory committee should thoroughly understand its purpose from the beginning. At the time of appointment, each member must receive a written explanation of the purpose and the authority of that particular advisory committee.

The limits of authority should always be a lead item in every set of written advisory committee guidelines. Advisory committee authority generally encompasses several functions, which are covered in the following sections.

A general advisory committee helps the total Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in the following ways:

  • assisting the system in developing long-range goals and plans and in studying community needs;
  • recommending a total CTE program design, suggesting addition, deletion or revision of CTE programs, when needed, to meet community needs;
  • suggesting time frames and priorities for the implementation of approved plans;
  • conducting evaluations of the total CTE program and recommending procedures for change as a result of the evaluation;
  • providing public information and financial and legislative support for the CTE program; and
  • investigating the need for new CTE programs in the community.

FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF OCCUPATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEES

Curriculum Content Advisement

Curriculum content advisement is vital to an effective CTE program.  Although this section may be more applicable to the occupational advisory committee, it is also important for the general advisory committee to have information on the status of the total CTE program.  In its review of curriculum content, an advisory committee focuses on one primary concern: Do graduates possess the entry-level job skills needed by employers in the area served?

Notice that this function is referred to as advisement on content, not on teaching method.  What to teach is a proper responsibility of an advisory committee, while how to teach is the responsibility of instructional and administrative personnel.

An advisory committee might follow these steps in fulfilling the curriculum content advisement function for an existing CTE program:

  • Review the goals of the CTE program.
  • Review the performance objectives for each course.
  • Review an area employment needs assessment.
  • Review a task inventory and analysis for the occupation.
  • Compare the content of the CTE program to the task inventory and analysis.
  • Compare the needs assessment to program enrollment and attrition.
  • Recommend optimum length of courses or programs, with suggestions for any changes.
  • Recommend the content of CTE programs, with suggestions for any revisions.

When technology is changing rapidly, this process should be performed once a year.  It is a lengthy process and ample time must be allowed in the program of work.  A subcommittee may undertake at least a few of the steps to save time for the entire group.

Most of the groundwork for curriculum review can be performed by the instructional staff. The actual conducting of surveys is too time consuming to be a practical function of advisory committees.  The following activities for a task inventory illustrate a suggested division of responsibilities between the advisory committee and the instructional staff:

  • Instructional personnel compile a comprehensive list of tasks performed by workers in the field.  If seeking industry certification, the task list supplied should be used.
  • The advisory committee edits and verifies each item on the list.
  • The advisory committee and instructional personnel jointly compile a list of workers to whom the survey will be sent.
  • Instructional personnel conduct the survey, asking workers about the frequency, difficulty, and importance (either of the last two may be omitted) of each task on the list.
  • Both groups jointly review the collected data and interpret the results.
  • The advisory committee compares the task inventory results to the current curriculum and makes recommendations for any needed changes.

To review, an advisory committee may perform the following activities in the area of curriculum content advisement:

  • Assist with a survey of local employment needs.
  • Assist with a task inventory to determine the skills needed by local industry.
  • Advise on changes in industry standards and recommend acceptable performance standards.
  • Advise on new developments in technology.
  • Review the length of CTE programs in terms of entry-level job skills needed by industry.

Career Guidance and Student Placement

Advisement on career guidance and student placement begins with a thorough review of the program's activities.  After review, the guidance and placement function is a good area for creativity and the development of individual approaches.

In the field of career guidance, committee members may assist by holding regular, informal visits with students; sponsoring or assisting with career days; serving as guest speakers on the subject of job opportunities and the expectations of employers; conducting mock interviews, etc.

To assist with student placement, advisory committees may participate in the following activities:

  • locate prospective employers to interview graduates for jobs;
  • inform local employers of the capacity of the CTE program and provide information on current graduates;
  • help students locate part-time jobs in their specific CTE field during instruction; and
  • obtain prizes and awards for outstanding students.

Community Public Relations

Advisory committees effectively promote public relations for CTE programs. A subcommittee may be appointed to plan and direct the public relations program for the year. Among the activities the committee might consider are:

  • promoting awareness of the CTE program through news releases, radio and television announcements and coverage, special days, programs for civic groups, an open house, etc., and
  • obtaining contributions to promote CTE programs through advertising.

 Community Resource Identification

The advisory committee is a major resource for CTE.  It also serves as a coordinator for identifying other available community resources.  A community resource can include any person, place, organization, or item that has instructional value.  

An advisory committee might:

  • locate potential stations for a cooperative education course;
  • locate appropriate local businesses and industries for student tours;
  • identify community representatives as guest speakers for various topics of instruction;
  • identify any community resource that can be used by the CTE program to improve instruction; and
  • arrange for in-service teacher training clinics or workshops.

Equipment, Facilities, and Resources Review

Adequate equipment and facilities are critical to an effective CTE program.  Students must learn to master the equipment they will use after employment.  One of the most important functions of an advisory committee is to recommend the equipment and facilities needed to provide students with an optimal learning environment.

Generally, this function falls into the following three categories:

  • review and evaluation of the available facilities and equipment in light of industry standards;
  • survey of businesses and industries to continually identify new procedures, equipment, and materials used, including both the task inventory and analysis and members' professional experience; and
  • establishment of a plan for procuring the needed equipment.

Specific equipment procurement activities an advisory committee might perform are:

  • to assist CTE program personnel with surveys to determine types of equipment graduates will be expected to use in industry;
  • to recommend facility or equipment improvements needed to bring training to current industry standards;
  • to assist instructional personnel in locating sources of donated or low-cost instructional supplies and equipment;
  • to secure outside funding to assist instructors in attending professional or industrial meetings; and
  • to obtain current industrial publications and visual aids for the school.

Program Review

In reality, all functions of an advisory committee fall under the umbrella of program review. A group is qualified to give advice only when it has first carefully reviewed the existing situation.  In this sense, the advisory committee's program review activities are not separate from, but a part of, its other functions.

In some schools, however, the committee is charged with providing a formal program review. All schools providing CTE instructions are required to undertake periodic program evaluation. When the advisory committee is to review the program, it must know how its review fits into other program evaluation efforts.  With this information, the advisory committee can proceed with a review of program goals and the development of data collection procedures.  This is a lengthy process that should probably be directed by a subcommittee.  Instructional personnel should perform all groundwork possible to save the time of the advisory committee members.

The program review functions of an advisory committee should include:

  • assisting with long-range planning and the formation of goals for the CTE program;
  • assisting in evaluating the CTE program by selecting appropriate evaluation activities, identifying needed data, and interpreting the evaluation information;
  • reviewing program budget requests; and
  • advising the instructional personnel who conduct student follow-up studies.