Occupational Course of Study


The Occupational Course of Study (OCS) is one of the courses of study that leads to a High School diploma upon the student successfully meeting all of the requirements outlined by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This course of study is intended to meet the needs of a small group of students with significant cognitive deficits who need a greatly modified curriculum. The OCS requirements include coursework, school-and-community-based work experiences and competitive employment in addition to completion of a Career Portfolio as a senior project. The required coursework and work experiences focus on the acquisition of functional academics, work readiness, and independent living skills.
A student can be considered for the Occupational Course of Study if (s)he meets ALL of the following requirements:
  1. the student is being served in the Programs for Exceptional Children due to a significant cognitive deficit,
  2. the student has a post-school outcome goal for employment, (not college), after graduation,
  3. the student has post-school needs that are not being met by the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, and
  4. the student wishes to pursue a course of study that provides functional academics and hands-on vocational training
The Occupational course of Study is not an appropriate curriculum for all students who cannot obtain a high school diploma through another course of study. It is not a course of study designed to remove certain students from accountability standards. The Occupational Course of Study is not a “classroom-textbook” driven course of study and the OCS coursework does not meet the entrance requirements for a college or university.

The IEP Team must consider the enrollment of students into the Occupational Course of Study on a case by case basis. All members of the IEP Team should recognize that the curriculum was designed for students functioning intellectually, academically, and socially in the mild mentally handicapped range, scaled scores ranging between 55 and 70.

In most cases, the decision to enroll a student in the Occupational Course of Study will be made during the last semester of the student’s 8th grade year. Students who enroll during their 9th of 10th grade years will likely be required to spend an extra one or two years in high school in order to complete all of the requirements. All requirements must be completed before the student ages out of the Programs for Exceptional Children. A student transferring into the Occupational Course of Study from a different diploma track, (or another school system), may be able to transfer credits previously earned into the OCS transcript. The Transition Specialist is responsible for determining if a credit will transfer into the OCS. However, credits earned while a student is enrolled in the Occupational Course of Study typically will NOT transfer to any other course of study that leads to a high school diploma, with the exception of some elective credits.

A student must pass each of the following courses in order to receive a diploma in the Occupational Course of Study:
  • Occupational English I, II, III, & IV
  • Occupational Math I, II, & III
  • Occupational Life Skills Science I & II
  • Occupational Social Studies I & II
  • Occupational Preparation I, II (two courses), III (two curses), & IV
  • Health/PE
  • Four (4) Career/Technical Education (CTE) courses
  • Six (6) electives
In addition to the required coursework, a student must also complete the following requirements:
  • Complete 300 unpaid School-Based work hours
  • Complete 240 unpaid Community-Based work hours
  • Complete 360 paid Competitive work hours
  • Take the NC Extend 2 Exam after (s)he takes Occupational English I, Occupational Math I, and after completing both Life Skills Science I and Life Skills Science II
  • Complete a Career Portfolio and successfully present it to a panel of EC Staff and Administrators
  • Take the 10th Grade Writing Test
  • Demonstrate computer proficiency as outlined in the student’s IEP

A student may not begin accruing school-based, community-based, or competitive work hours until the student is formally enrolled into the Occupational Course of Study and has begun his/her first semester in the program. Each work experience must be approved, in advance by the Job Coach, to ensure that the worksite meets OCS requirements and safety standards. The Job Coach is also responsible for ensuring that the students will be properly supervised and that appropriate evaluations are completed each month.