Hands-on approach


They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to educate one, too. Our educational system is so interconnected - it takes good parents, administrators, teachers and even elected officials to create and implement policy and curriculum that best serves students.

Ask any one of those educators, and they will agree that not every student thrives in a traditional classroom. Even putting learning delays or disabilities aside, reading a textbook, comprehending that information and then recalling it for a test is not easy for everyone, and for some students, that expectation disengages them from their education. School isn't fun anymore, and unfortunately, some students fall through the cracks. According to Rhode Island Kids Count, the dropout rate in 2011 was 14 percent in Rhode Island.

Cranston, however, is fortunate to have a program that identifies those at-risk kids - as well as those who already have a direction for their future - and offers them a hands-on approach to education.

From culinary arts and child development to forensics and medical pathways, the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center prepares students for careers, particularly in the in-demand industries that continue to hire, despite the lagging economy. Acing a textbook quiz no longer is a hindrance for these visual and experiential learners, who are able to play to their strengths. They graduate with a better understanding of what they want to do with their lives and, often with internship experience that poises them at the front in the throng of graduates looking for work.

An analysis of 13,000 students, promoted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), showed that students in activity-based programs performed up to 20 percent better than their peers using traditional or textbook approaches. Students who benefit from hands-on learning activities on a weekly basis outperform their peers by 70 percent in math and 40 percent in science.

Students at CACTC are experiencing those hands-on learning activities every day. In David Bizier's entrepreneurship class, his students are collaborating with established businesses, learning how to conduct themselves in the workforce and creating products that keep them passionate about and engaged in their education.

Kudos to CACTC - they're an important part of the village.


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