The Independence School District is getting more praise for its Academies of ISD, which is designed to prepare high school students for the area’s workforce of tomorrow.

A report released last week by the Mid-America Regional Council stresses “Career & Tech Education” at the high school level and the need for an increasingly educated workforce.

“In the Kansas City region, employers are increasingly likely to require postsecondary education when hiring,” MARC says. “Currently, about 36 percent of all jobs in the region require postsecondary education. Over the next 10 years, that number is expected to rise to almost 50 percent. The growth is even more dramatic for jobs that pay an above average wage. By 2027, three out of four of these jobs will require postsecondary education.”

The report says CTE programs are focused on efforts “to develop workplace competencies beginning in grades K-12,” and it says they make a difference. Ninety-three percent of those who take part in CTE graduate from high school – about 10 percent higher than the national average for all students – about three-fourths go on to further school.

Here’s the report card. On the Missouri side of the metro area in 2016-17, there were 51,860 high school students, of whom 64.2 percent took CTE and 13.4 percent completed it.

Local districts:

• Fort Osage – 62.6 percent of the 1,409 high school students took it, and 7.7 percent completed it.

• Grain Valley – 78.3 percent of the 1,225 students took it, and 7 percent completed it.

• Blue Springs – 76.2 percent of the 4,549 students took it, and 12.1 percent completed it.

• Independence – 80.7 percent of the 4,114 students took it, and 4.5 percent completed it.

The report lists Independence as among the districts exhibiting best practices, specifically for its Academies of ISD. The program is in all three high schools.

“All ninth graders participate in the Freshman Academy,” the report says, “which encourages students to take three to five introductory courses to help them complete their ‘exit ticket’ to the academy they will join in their sophomore year.”

There are five academies – Industrial Technology, Business, Arts & Education, Public Services and STEM. STEM is business and education jargon for science, technology, engineering and technology – the areas that are producing and are expected to continue producing the best-paying jobs here and nationwide.

“The academies were chosen based on Kansas City economic and workforce indicators and with the involvement of community and business partners,” the report says.

The STEM Academy, for instance, has seven pathways: pre-nursing, pre-med, pre-physical therapy, engineering, computer networking, programming and software, and aviation. Those are growing fields with good paychecks.

One more accolade: The Independence Chamber of Commerce and the Independence School District are getting a major innovation award this week from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, again for the Academies of ISD.


-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.