Designed initially for special education students, the program allows high school students to master career skills beyond academics by spending part of their school day at a job. “Students who participate in work-based learning experiences can see great success,” said Kerri Canzone-Ball , director of special education services at the Ballston Spa Central School District. “Whether it’s working to prepare food as part of a catering business, or working in the community, you can see the glow on their faces and the pride in their work.” Right now, students are working on campus with buildings and grounds, food service and with the clerical staff. Yet a $300,000 state grant is helping Ballston Spa Central School District to expand its CDOS offerings. Moving into the second-year of a three-year phase-in, the Program Development Grant to Prepare Students with Disabilities to Exit School with Work Readiness Skills is reaching out to businesses that can partner with the district, expanding students’ career choices. The money is also widening its on-campus career and technical education classes and the work-readiness courses that teach skills needed to land and keep a job. It is also allowing Ballston Spa to welcome more students, those not identified with special education needs, into the CDOS program. “It allows students to see the true importance of their academics while learning valuable vocational skills. For those students who struggle meeting the state testing requirements, it can act as a standalone credential for the purposes of graduation,” Canzone-Ball said. Established in 2013 by the state Education Department , CDOS replaced the Individualized Education Program diploma. The standalone credential works like this: CDOS students are paired with a work-based learning coordinator who places them in an unpaid job where they receive coaching and work experience.
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