California Department of Education Programs of Excellence Awards 2006


Picture of Students

Vocational Education
2005-2006 Recertification
ADA served in Vocational program, 2004-2005: 1,795

Lead Administrator: Nancy Compton, Principal

Location: 5451 Lemon Hill Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95824

Web site:

Contact: Nancy Compton, (916) 433-2600

Statement on Becoming a Program of Excellence from the Principal

“The Charles A. Jones Skills and Business Education Center initially received Programs of Excellence status in 1998 and earned recertification in 2003. As we approached our second recertification, our goal was not just to meet the standards, but to exceed them. Our stakeholder group was committed to finding creative ways to meet the expectations and needs of our future graduates. We found it helpful to look at the Programs of Excellence criteria as a process for continuous improvement that could take two years or longer. Although administrators often attempt to take on difficult tasks like this by themselves, Programs of Excellence cannot and should not be done by one or two people. The effort needs to come from a team representing all aspects of a school community. Seeking input from every one of your programs, partners, students, and stakeholders is vital to the process.  It’s very energizing to realize that you can work together to meet and exceed the criteria. By believing you can become a Program of Excellence, you can become one, because you apply yourself to the process of continual improvement.”

--Nancy Compton, Principal

Curriculum and Instruction

The Skills Center continually revises its curriculum to meet the needs of Sacramento’s adult community and the regional labor market.  As the Sacramento region has evolved into the health care center of Northern California, the Skills Center has added programs for Certified Nursing Assistants/Home Health Aides and Emergency Medical Technicians. A customer service class is required in many of the career tracks to ensure that graduates gain the skills and understanding necessary for working successfully with the public.

Learner Outcomes

Students in a number of programs create portfolios to reflect on their progress. After completing their programs, students receive job cards to record and share their progress as they become employed. Students and their new employers are recognized at the annual graduation ceremony, which is planned and organized by the student council.

Learner Support Services

After completing orientation, new students at the Skills Center receive personal telephone calls from staff inviting them to meet one-on-one with case managers to discuss assessment scores and plan their vocational paths. Since the system of calling began, the number of students who return after orientation has grown from around 30 percent to 75 percent. The school also increased retention by creating a computer literacy class for waiting students. It serves as a refresher course and offers a welcoming environment to adults returning to formal education after many years’ absence.

Leadership and Planning

The Skills Center Student Council is visible on campus, organizing graduation ceremonies, promoting campus beautification, and providing scholarship vouchers for books and materials. Teachers are continually encouraged by administrators to challenge themselves and their students, to employ innovative strategies, and to pursue professional development opportunities. The leadership team meets regularly to review data and track performance, using the information to drive decision-making.  

Community Involvement and Collaboration

Community partners support the Skills Center by meeting regularly with staff and by offering externship opportunities to students. Employers that provide externships often hire Skills Center graduates. Staff and students participate in a number of community events such as Learning to Live in America--a major outreach effort to immigrant members of the community.