Career center receives new accreditation

NEW CUMBERLAND – The John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in Hancock County has received accreditation for its adult programs through a new organization effective July 1.

The accreditation by the Atlanta-based Council on Occupational Education means that adult students will be able to apply for state and federal financial aid, including Title IV programs such as the Pell Grant, said Martin Hudek, director of Secondary, Adult and Career Education for Hancock County Schools.

In addition to vocational programs for high school students, the Career Center on state Route 2 offers programs for adults in two areas – licensed practical nursing and commercial driver’s license training.

Hudek said the accreditation also ensures the quality and integrity of the Career Center’s adult programs.

“It means that when students are applying, they know we are a licensed agency and that we have met the standards of a national, acknowledged leader in accrediting educational institutions,” he said.

The Career Center previously was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, but that accreditation expired June 30, he said. The West Virginia Department of Education decided last year that it would no longer seek accreditation through the North Central Association, he said.

That meant that public schools in the state would have to receive accreditation through another agency, Hudek said.

COE officials visited the Career Center in May 2013 and determined that the school met the council’s criteria for membership, Hudek said.

That was followed by a period of “self study” that lasted from August 2013 to April, he said. COE officials then reviewed the results of the study and visited the Career Center twice in the spring.

“They reviewed our self-study and all our programs, and interviewed me, our teachers, students and graduates,” Hudek said.

“They go through this with a fine-toothed comb. They are very precise and meticulous,” he said. “We learned a lot from them, and they were very pleased with us.”

Accreditation is based on an evaluation to demonstrate that the school meets not only the quality standards of the COE but also the needs of students, the community and employers, he said.