2012 CDE revisions help teachers link to standards and better prepare for competition

By Beth A. DeHoff

Career development events (CDEs) are taking a big leap forward with the orgaization’s 2012 revisions, and with the handbooks out now, it’s the perfect time to start preparing for regional and state competitions this spring, leading to the national convention in the fall.

With 23 CDEs, it’s important to consult the handbook (at www.ffa.org/cde) for full details of the changes, but all events have some common revisions, says Melissa Dunkel, FFA education specialist for career development events. “Revisions happen every five years in our award programs,” she says. “This revision was more intense because of the adoption and inclusion of the National Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) standards in the event.”

Overarching changes affecting most of the CDEs include:

  • Increased emphasis on career skills that can be applied to every field, such as teamwork and oral and written communication.
  • Updated scorecards and rubrics, which help teams in training and decrease subjectivity in judging.
  • Identification of AFNR standards addressed in each CDE, with a list of standards addressed and what CDE activities address those standards.

Career skill-building
“We know students are in these events because they’re interested in the field they’re competing in, but that doesn’t mean they’ll seek a career in that field,” Dunkel says of the career skills component. “We want the events to provide not only good technical content for the particular skill but also good overarching professional skills that they’ll need in any job. Every career requires good communication and effective teamwork. We’ve included new opportunities for teams to work and present together – to take their technical knowledge and communicate about it and work as a team on it. In making these revisions, we involved not only experts in the classroom but also leaders in business and industry.”

AFNR standards
Next year, students involved in a CDE competition will be able to directly tie it to AFNR standards, which should help students, teachers and school administrators. “Sometimes students miss school for these events, and the AFNR standards offer a way to show a principal and superintendent that they’re not just missing school – this is a valuable educational event,” Dunkel says. She adds that teachers and advisors who have seen the standards in the handbook have indicated it’s a helpful tool that “speaks their language.” The standards also help teachers link their classroom activities to the CDEs, offering a logical connection between the classroom and chapter activities.

Scorecards and rubrics
The new handbook provides specific rubrics and scorecards. Teams who study these during training can use that information to prioritize their training activities and understand how they will be judged. “These are much more specific now, which will help teams train,” Dunkel says. “By adding more descriptors, details and rubrics to the scorecard, it also helps the judges be less subjective.”

With the new revisions, CDEs are becoming even more exciting, challenging and relevant for students preparing for their future. “CDEs give students the opportunity to be exposed to information and experiences that can help them decide on a field of study and ultimately a career,” Dunkel says. The revised CDE handbook and the guidance within it should make that goal even simpler to attain.