Since starting high school every year has been incredibly hectic, but none can measure up to what my junior year has been like. That’s because this year I became a student at the Center of Advanced Research and Technology, or CART.
And even though going to CART has been hectic, I am absolutely in love with it.
CART combines rigorous academics with career and technical learning and is open to eleventh and twelfth grade students in Clovis Unified and Fresno Unified. Students who attend CART spend half their day there — in either the morning or afternoon session — and spend the other half at their home school.
At CART when I have an idea, the teachers hear me out and encourage it, and when I need help, they listen and try to understand. And that’s what works best about CART. It treats its students with respect, like the young adults and budding professionals that they are.
CART launched in the fall of 2000. The school serves around 1,400 students a year from 15 different high schools in Clovis and Fresno. It offers career oriented courses in four main clusters: professional sciences, engineering, advanced communication and global economics. Within these clusters, students can choose to focus on more specific career-oriented classes.
CART’s success shows in the school’s impressive graduation rates. Seventy-one percent of CART students enrolled in community college after their senior year, compared with 60 percent of other students in area high schools, according to a seven-year study released in 2011. CART students also had higher rates of university enrollment.
This is a time when around the country people are looking for ways to improve our education system to make it more effective at preparing students for the real world. I think there are a lot of lessons that other schools can learn from CART. And I’m not the only one. IngenioMind, a California-based research collaborative focused on creative thinking and innovation, have studied CART and plan to use it as a model for reform.
At my home school, students are more often than not treated like children, instead of like aspiring professionals. Because of that the students show less respect to teachers, and learning suffers. At CART not only do the students give the teachers respect, but the teachers give respect back. I know, crazy, right?!
Last year Fresno Unified’s board approved a spending plan that puts almost $10 million toward funding career programs. The plan was created after months of discussions with community members and parents. That money should go to expanding programs like CART in other schools.
When I’m at CART I don’t just feel like a student, I feel important and needed. All schools should make students feel welcome. Everyone should feel like they’re getting the education they deserve.