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Merced Union High School District CTE Course Alignment Project

“The vison for our district is to make learning relevant for all of our students. CTE does that.”

Constantino Aguilar, MUHSD Assistant Superintendent

From February 2016 through July 2017, Inflexion (formerly EPIC) partnered with Merced Union High School District (MUHSD) to support the districtwide development of robust and aligned career and technical education (CTE) curriculum. Articulating appropriate standards with CTE pathways and then sequencing a vertically aligned curriculum to a capstone course that is horizontally aligned with an appropriate college-level course will provide students with seamless pathways from high school to community college or preparation for transfer. With Inflexion’s support, MUHSD is working toward a strong academic coherence in their CTE program that will ensure student success.

Merced Union High School District

Merced Union High School District serves approximately 10,000 students in ten high schools throughout the cities of Atwater, Livingston, and Merced, California. The CTE program at MUHSD works closely with organizations such as the FFA, DECA, and HOSA to prepare students for success beyond high school.


With the ultimate outcome being improved student success, Inflexion is serving as the mechanism for MUHSD to strengthen its articulation of districtwide standards for CTE pathways and individual courses as well as its articulation of course equivalencies, where appropriate, with Merced College. The following are project outcomes that will result in student success:

  • CTE frameworks that provide a comprehensive set of skills and knowledge for identified industries
  • Guided CTE pathways for each framework with scaffolded courses sequenced to a capstone course
  • Cohesive and relevant curriculum across the courses in the pathways
  • Academic coherence between the district, Merced College, and the needs of local industry

The Work

Conduct a Situational Analysis of CTE within the District– Collaborative partnerships and strong instructor engagement are the cornerstone to strengthening academic coherence that will ensure student success. To lay the foundation for engaged partnerships, Inflexion kicked off the project by convening key stakeholders across the district and community, including Merced College, for a daylong highly interactive workshop. Inflexion facilitated collaborative activities to analyze internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), then guided a deep dive into how these aspects can be maximized, diminished, leveraged, or avoided to support the goals of CTE programming in the district. The workshop built common understandings about the current state of CTE programming in the MUHSD and where it can go, and provides clear direction for the next steps. Read more about this workshop on our blog.

Develop and Validate CTE Frameworks– Before aligning the CTE curriculum across a guided pathway, instructors needed a clear and detailed description of the skills and knowledge students would need to succeed after completing the pathway. Inflexion supported MUHSD as it develop and validated these frameworks with a four-pronged approach:

  1. Instructors used Inflexion’s online software to document their curriculum and identify the key California CTE Model Curriculum Standards relevant within that curriculum.
  2. Inflexion convened and facilitated panels to create a framework from the standards identified by CTE instructors. These panels were specifically designed to bring high school teachers, college faculty, and industry professionals together to talk about instruction. View our video on these panels below.
  3. Inflexion developed crosswalks between the CTE frameworks and the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and California a-g Standards.
  4. Inflexion hired a team of two industry experts outside of the district to review the framework. Using a convergent-consensus process, these teams validated the comprehensive coverage of necessary knowledge and skills in the discipline and provided feedback where necessary.

This process resulted in CTE frameworks that articulate the key standards applicable to each sequence of courses required for success in a CTE capstone course, and ultimately in life after high school.

Refine, Align, and Validate Curriculum– To strengthen the curriculum, Inflexion supported MUHSD in a two-pronged approach:

  1. Instructors used Inflexion’s online software to refine and align their curriculum through facilitated mapping and gapping exercises.
  2. Inflexion hired a team of two industry experts outside of the district to review the course sequences within a pathway and the curriculum of each of those courses. Using a convergent-consensus process, these teams validated and provided feedback on the MUHSD’s CTE pathways and the actual curriculum.

This work was designed to establish the disciplined practice of curriculum revision and alignment necessary for student success over time. A curriculum is dynamic. Overall, this work established partnerships and processes to collaboratively and continuously revise the curriculum in order to create district independence for this practice.

Additional Work between EPIC and MUHSD

In the winter of 2017, Inflexion facilitated two additional SWOT analyses for the district, one for their AP Program and another for their Counseling Program. Both were efforts to support the district in gaining a deeply understanding of each program as groundwork for an integrated approach to maximize college credit opportunities for all high school students, consistent with the district’s 4Cs culture and LCAP plans.