(1) A “career and professional academy” is a research-based program that integrates a rigorous academic curriculum with an industry-specific curriculum aligned directly to priority workforce needs established by the regional workforce board. Career and professional academies shall be offered by public schools and school districts. The Florida Virtual School is encouraged to develop and offer rigorous career and professional courses as appropriate. Students completing career and professional academy programs must receive a standard high school diploma, the highest available industry certification, and opportunities to earn postsecondary credit if the academy partners with a postsecondary institution approved to operate in the state.
(2) The goals of a career and professional academy are to:
(a) Increase student academic achievement and graduation rates through integrated academic and career curricula.
(b) Prepare graduating high school students to make appropriate choices relative to employment and future educational experiences.
(c) Focus on career preparation through rigorous academics and industry certification.
(d) Raise student aspiration and commitment to academic achievement and work ethics through relevant coursework.
(e) Promote acceleration mechanisms, such as dual enrollment, articulated credit, or occupational completion points, so that students may earn postsecondary credit while in high school.
(f) Support the state’s economy by meeting industry needs for skilled employees in high-demand occupations.
(3) Existing career education courses may serve as a foundation for the creation of a career and professional academy. A career and professional academy may be offered as one of the following small learning communities:
(a) A school-within-a-school career academy, as part of an existing high school, that provides courses in one occupational cluster. Students in the high school are not required to be students in the academy.
(b) A total school configuration providing multiple academies, each structured around an occupational cluster. Every student in the school is in an academy.
(4) Each career and professional academy must:
(a) Provide a rigorous standards-based academic curriculum integrated with a career curriculum. The curriculum must take into consideration multiple styles of student learning; promote learning by doing through application and adaptation; maximize relevance of the subject matter; enhance each student’s capacity to excel; and include an emphasis on work habits and work ethics.
(b) Include one or more partnerships with postsecondary institutions, businesses, industry, employers, economic development organizations, or other appropriate partners from the local community. Such partnerships shall be delineated in articulation agreements to provide for career-based courses that earn postsecondary credit. Such agreements may include articulation between the academy and public or private 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions and technical centers. The Department of Education, in consultation with the Board of Governors, shall establish a mechanism to ensure articulation and transfer of credits to postsecondary institutions in this state. Such partnerships must provide opportunities for:
1. Instruction from highly skilled professionals who possess industry-certification credentials for courses they are teaching.
2. Internships, externships, and on-the-job training.
3. A postsecondary degree, diploma, or certificate.
4. The highest available level of industry certification.
5. Maximum articulation of credits pursuant to s. 1007.23 upon program completion.
(c) Provide shared, maximum use of private sector facilities and personnel.
(d) Provide personalized student advisement, including a parent-participation component, and coordination with middle schools to promote and support career exploration and education planning as required under s. 1003.4156. Coordination with middle schools must provide information to middle school students about secondary and postsecondary career education programs and academies. (e) Promote and provide opportunities for career and professional academy students to attain, at minimum, the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars award pursuant to s. 1009.536.
(f) Provide instruction in careers designated as high growth, high demand, and high pay by the regional workforce development board, the chamber of commerce, economic development agencies, or the Department of Economic Opportunity.
(g) Deliver academic content through instruction relevant to the career, including intensive reading and mathematics intervention required by s. 1003.428, with an emphasis on strengthening reading for information skills.
(h) Offer applied courses that combine academic content with technical skills.
(i) Provide instruction resulting in competency, certification, or credentials in workplace skills, including, but not limited to, communication skills, interpersonal skills, decisionmaking skills, the importance of attendance and timeliness in the work environment, and work ethics.
(j) Include a plan to sustain career and professional academies.
(k) Redirect appropriated career funding to career and professional academies.
(5) All career courses offered in a career and professional academy must lead to industry certification or college credit linked directly to the career theme of the course. If the passage rate on an industry certification examination that is associated with the career and professional academy falls below 50 percent, the academy must discontinue enrollment of new students the following school year and each year thereafter until such time as the passage rate is above 50 percent or the academy is discontinued.
(6) Workforce Florida, Inc., through the secondary career academies initiatives, shall serve in an advisory role and offer technical assistance in the development and deployment of newly established career and professional academies.