On Articulation

Thoughts about articulation from my 29.5 years as a career and technical educator across my Pk- 16 teaching and learning journey.
Urs Haltinner | May 3, 2019

My Personal Context

I have seen powerful changes in articulation between PK-12-14/16 and some that I am trying to come to grips with.  As I recall, PK-14 CTE educator’s interactions by CTE disciplines were once vibrant; my colleagues at NTC (like content area faculty) knew each other, served on each other’s advisory boards, and mapped our curricula in the process of making sure our post-secondary like programs across PK-14 appropriately progressed student learning outcomes. We all knew what learning and skills students would arrive with at the next level; we intentionally brought each other into our classrooms as guest experts delving into real activity with students with the vision of them moving from high school to technical college (FYI, this was also my experience at Kimberly with FVTC).    

On Articulation

Articulation was a natural conversation and the agreements were refined yearly without incentive or being pushed.  As for UW-Stout, I personally brought 48 NTC credits into my baccalaureate program as did over 40% of my peer classmates taking the journey from the Associate to the BS degree. Did you know; Madison College, Western, Indian Head, Gateway, Waukesha, NTC, Nicolet, FVTC, etc. all have instructors that came through the UW-Stout Marketing and Business Education programs (a program I led for 15 years) with their Associate degrees. They graduated 2 to 2.5 years later and moved into teaching with their earned BS in PK-12. Some entered the WTCS and most migrated to their respective technical college positions.

What changed, I am uncertain; however, I do know that the professional associations were critical and over time they appeared to segregate by PK-12 and Post-secondary levels. WACTE did not help, as it increasingly lost its appeal to PK-12 teachers.  Increasingly like experts across the PK-12 and Post-secondary lost out on seeing how their programs intersect. Today, we have the mechanics of one of the greatest practices (Articulation). We have expanded the ways in which we do this and talk about it.  We have a systems approach; yet, the relationships across stakeholders are razor thin. Today we hire specialists to do the work; yet, the CTE relationships between natural pathway faculty simply exists on paper with email trails and signed spreadsheets and agreements that have little personal investment by the frontline teachers/instructors that make it happen. I share this with you because I wanted you to get a sense of the context I speak from when talking articulation. 

Articulation as a Relationship

In reflection of my ramble, I see articulation as a relationship between programs that embrace a culture of 2+2+2.  Such a culture brings program faculty together to create meaningful agreements that all parties have a vested interest in.  A relationship that is not driven from the top, yet administration sets the organizational vision that is embracing of stakeholder relationships and empowers program faculty (chairs and subject area teachers) to create and nurture sustainable articulation that updates annually.  I see these persons hanging with one another, attending conferences with one another. I see students flowing from high school to technical college to employment, to baccalaureate degrees, and then further advance their careers through technical college skills updates; so, goes the cycle with each system being respected for what part it plays in the mix.

Healthy and mutually beneficial relationship that serve student learning and skilling has to be at the core. We need to get back to that if we aim to make all versions of articulation (inclusive of college options, dual credit, AP. CLEP, and yet to be envisioned intentionally cross designed degree programs, etc.) that Parnell brought to focus and Gray & Herr called on us to envision in their quest to drive other ways to win.