States Continue to Make Progress on ESSA Implementation

December 6th, 2016

Last week we provided an update on new federal regulations clarifying the implementation timeline and requirements for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Of note was the decision to delay the submission deadline for state plans to afford state agencies more time to meaningfully engage and gather input from stakeholders. This has been a priority activity for many states over the past several months. As state agencies have worked to draft and finalize their ESSA plans, many have made use of surveys, focus groups and listening tours to gather feedback from students, parents, educators and other relevant stakeholders.

To date, draft ESSA state plans are available for public comment in 10 states (though several others have released draft components): Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Washington. At this point, several states have proposed strategies to leverage ESSA’s accountability requirements to encourage and expand quality career pathways through a College and Career Readiness indicator (CCR). California is a notable example, having adopted a such a system in September, though other states are considering this as well.

Based on feedback from stakeholders, Delaware proposed a “College and Career Preparation” indicator that includes the percent of students demonstrating postsecondary preparation through CTE pathway completion, dual enrollment, and other academic indicators such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and SAT exam scores. Additionally, Oklahoma’s state plan proposes using industry credential attainment, along with AP/IB, as one measure of student access to postsecondary opportunity. And in South Carolina, the Department of Education designed its ESSA plan around a 90 percent college and and career readiness goal for graduating students by 2030. As an interim measure of progress towards this goal, the plan proposes adopting a “Prepared for Success” indicator that measures high school students’ scores on WorkKeys assessments, participation in Youth Apprenticeships, completion of state-approved CTE pathways and industry credential attainment. This list is by no means exhaustive, but nonetheless provides a snapshot of how some states are approaching this opportunity.

Other states have found opportunities to prioritize career readiness strategies throughout the ESSA planning process. For example:TN ESSA

  • In response to its cross-state listening tour, Tennessee released an update on its ESSA plan development, reporting that one of the priority themes from the listening tour was creating a bridge to postsecondary. As such, Tennessee aims to leverage its ESSA planning to encourage and expand access to early postsecondary opportunities, including industry credentials and postsecondary credit attainment.
  • In compliance with ESSA’s requirement of challenging state standards and assessments, the Montana State Board of Education in November approved an updated standards review schedule to ensure that standards in specific program areas are regularly reviewed and revised. The first cycle of review, beginning in 2016, will examine standards for CTE, Digital Literacy, and Computer Science.
  • Washington State’s plan proposes utilizing the state’s High School and Beyond Plan as a strategy to support student learning and achievement. Students develop their High School and Beyond Plans in middle school with support from family members and school based counselors. The Plan identifies the student’s interests and abilities and defines a plan that is linked to his or her career goals.

With ESSA state plans due to be submitted in 2017, many states have yet to formalize their strategies under the new K-12 education law. Advance CTE  will monitor state plans and proposals as they are released to share emerging strategies and opportunities to leverage the law to advance career readiness and CTE as ESSA continues to be implemented over the coming years.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Road to ESSA Implementation: USDE Publishes Final Regs and Provides more Guidance

December 1st, 2016

United States CapitalEarlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a new batch of final regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—bipartisan legislation that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These rules cover the law’s accountability, reporting, and state planning provisions of ESSA and come on the heels of an earlier— and highly controversial— set of proposed regulations for the law’s so-called “supplement-not-supplant” provisions.

While final rules for ESSA’s supplement-not-supplant provisions are still being worked out, this week’s set of final regulations make a number of important changes to the draft version released earlier this summer.

In many respects these final rules stipulate a more realistic timeline for the law’s implementation. For instance, states now have until the 2018-19 academic year to identify the lowest 5 percent of schools— schools that would then be eligible for comprehensive improvement under ESSA— whereas before that requirement would have gone into effect in the 2017-18 school year under the earlier proposal. Similarly, state ESSA plans are now due by April 3 or September 18, 2017 in order to give state education agencies more time to meaningfully engage stakeholders ahead of the law’s accountability system going into effect (another aspect of ESSA that will not be fully implemented until the 2018-19 school year).

Of particular note for the CTE community are other rule changes governing the law’s accountability system, specifically the new ESSA requirement that state accountability systems include at least one non-academic measure of school quality or student success which, under ESSA, may include measures of career readiness. Under the earlier draft version these additional indicators would have needed to be supported by research finding that “performance or progress” on the measure increases student academic achievement or graduation rates. Advance CTE, along with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) urged USDE to broaden this standard slightly to ensure that a greater number of high-quality career readiness indicators could be incorporated into states’ new ESSA accountability systems.

Encouragingly USDE heeded this suggestion and the final rule now requires that such measures, “increase student learning, such as grade point average, credit accumulation, or performance in advanced coursework, or for high schools, graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, persistence, or completion, or career success.” A summary of these final rules are available here and the full document can be found here.

On Capitol Hill, the new ESSA regulations were met with mixed reactions.  Referencing the powers at his disposal via the Congressional Review Act—a law that would allow the Republican controlled Congress next year to throw out the proposal entirely— Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he, “will carefully review this final version before deciding what action is appropriate.” Ranking Members of the Senate and House Education Committees, Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a more supportive statement saying, in part, “While we are disappointed that this final rule doesn’t go as far as we would have hoped, we commend the Department of Education for listening to stakeholders . . . This rule will provide states and school districts with much needed stability and clarity as they work to submit state plans and implement statewide accountability systems.”

In other ESSA-related news, USDE recently released new non-regulatory guidance for states and local districts to support the law’s ongoing roll-out. These releases covered topics ranging from meeting the law’s new English Language Learner requirements under Title III, guidance for how to effectively use ESSA Title II funding to support teachers and high-quality instruction, and additional guidance aimed at helping states and districts provide a “well-rounded education” under Title IV of the new law.

Be sure to check back here next week for another update on states’ efforts to implement ESSA.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Election 2016 Update

November 10th, 2016

United States CapitalAmerica went to the polls on Tuesday and, in what was a surprise turn of events for many, Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States. The Senate, which many were closely watching to see if it would flip towards Democratic control, will retain a slim (51 votes) GOP majority. Republicans also defended their majority in the House of Representatives, retaining 239 seats in total (218 are needed for control of the chamber). Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, is expected to return to the Senate and continue on in his current role as co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus.

At present, it is still difficult to predict a Trump Administration’s education priorities, as it was not a primary focus of the candidates on the campaign trail. The President-elect recently created a transition page, which can be viewed here, articulating some of the broader education policy goals of his new administration. Trump has also expressed enthusiasm for returning more control over education to state and local entities while calling  for the elimination or dramatic downsizing of the U.S. Department of Education. Along with these wider policy pronouncements Trump has also voiced support for “vocational training” while on the campaign trail. The Vice President Elect, Mike Pence, also has had a track record of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) in his home state of Indiana (read more on that here).

In addition to these revelations at the federal level, there was also quite a lot of state-level CTE policy of note on this year’s ballot:

  • In California, voters approved a $9 billion bond to create the 2016 State School Facilities Fund, directing money to fund school construction and modernization projects across the state. A sum of $500 million from the fund will be appropriated for updating CTE program facilities. The measure passed despite criticism from California Governor Jerry Brown, who called the investment large and inefficient.
  • measure in Oklahoma that would have levied a one-cent sales tax to increase revenue for public education and teacher salaries was rejected. The proposal included a 3.25 percent allocation to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, which amounted to approximately $20 million.
  • Oregon voters passed Measure 98 to establish a College and Career Readiness fund. The measure calls on the state legislature to allocate $800 per pupil, which can be used to establish and expand CTE programs, college-level educational opportunities (including dual credit programs), and dropout prevention programs in high schools.
  • And South Dakota voted to amend the state constitution and allow the state technical college system to be governed separately from the Board of Regents. Under Constitutional Amendment R, the legislature will now determine a new governance structure for the state’s four technical institutes.

As things continue to evolve in the capitol, Advance CTE will continue to educate new policymakers regarding the value of supporting high-quality CTE. Be sure to check back here as events continue to take shape.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager & Austin Estes, Policy Associate 

How Do States Identify and Endorse Industry-Recognized Credentials?

October 7th, 2016

Credentials_of_Value_2016Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores Promising Strategies

One of the core components of a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program is that it culminates in a credential of value. But with more than 4,000 credentialing organizations in the United States today, states are grappling with the challenge of narrowing down the field.

Advance CTE today released a policy brief to help states get started in this work. The paper, titled “Credentials of Value: State Strategies for Identifying and Endorsing Industry-Recognized Credentials,” highlights promising practices from Florida, Kansas and Louisiana, which have each made considerable progress developing a system for students and employers to navigate the tangled universe of credentials. The brief further describes how each state tackles the challenge in a different way, building a system that suits their local economy and context, and highlights a few common strategies.

For one, these states engage business and industry leaders early on in the process to verify that credentials are recognized and accepted in the labor market. This helps ensure that students are only pursuing — and states are only incentivizing — those credentials that have value. One example that the brief explores is in Louisiana, where regional teams are required to submit letters of endorsement from businesses in the state whenever they propose a new credential for the statewide list.

From there, the process of vetting high-quality credentials often involves a concerted effort from a variety of different institutions. The brief describes how, in Florida, the state-approved credential list at the secondary level is developed with input from the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the state’s workforce development board (an independent non-profit called CareerSource Florida) and the Department of Education. This ensures that the state can leverage the expertise of each agency to approve only those credentials that are valuable to students and to the economy.

Another challenge the brief explores is that credentials available on the market today range in value, quality and the effort required to earn them. Thus, states have begun to recognize this difference and classify credentials based on their rigor and utility in the labor market. Kansas, for example, is examining a framework that categorizes credentials into three tiers: those required by law or regulation, those mandated by industry, and those preferred by industry.

Even then, states should be prepared to adapt to fluctuations in the labor market or unforeseen problems with the credential review process. Take Florida’s Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) for example. CAPE provided additional funding for teachers and school districts whose students earn state-approved credentials, but the state soon realized that the program was not structured appropriately to eliminate some gaming of the funding incentive. Over the years, Florida has gradually adjusted the funding formula to address these concerns and align incentives to encourage more students to earn high-quality credentials.

With two-thirds of all new jobs projected to require some postsecondary education and training by 2020, there is a growing need for states to play a larger role in identifying and endorsing credentials of value.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

As States Complete Listening Tours, Early ESSA Plans Show Opportunities to Expand CTE

September 28th, 2016

LA MeetingsIn the nine months since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last December, states and policymakers have been hard at work digging through the legislation and deciding how to structure their new plans. ESSA, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, presents a number of opportunities to expand access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). As states prepare to implement the law next year, we will provide periodic updates on their progress and share strategies for leveraging ESSA to support CTE at the state level.

Early Drafts and Proposals from the States

Most states this summer have been gathering input from stakeholders on their ESSA implementation plans as required by the new law. While many are still completing their listening tours (you can find an overview here), a few states have released draft proposals:

  • Illinois recently released a draft of its state plan, which State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith offered as a “work in progress.” The plan describes how Illinois’ secondary CTE system, which is supported, in part, with funds from the Carl D. Parkins Act, aligns with ESSA’s new focus on a ‘well-rounded education’ — a key concept in the new law includes CTE as part of the statutory definition. The state Board of Education also adopted a framework for a college and career readiness indicator, including such components as industry credential attainment, work-based learning participation, and postsecondary credit attainment. It is yet to be determined if the framework will be included in the state’s broader, multi-indicator system of accountability. Illinois plans to conduct 14 listening sessions in September and October, after which time the state will revise and publish an updated state plan later this fall.
  • After much deliberation, the California Board of Education approved a new accountability system earlier this month, adopting an indicator for college and career readiness. The indicator allows schools to count students completing a CTE pathway, although the overall score will not differentiate these students from those meeting other college and career readiness indicators such as earning a passing score on an Advanced Placement exam. The accountability system lacks criteria to measure students who are “well-prepared” for college and careers. Meanwhile, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that would have revised the accountability system to place more weight on test scores.
  • Louisiana released a summary report from its listening tour this summer, providing parents, educators and other education stakeholders an overview of progress towards a new state plan. Suggestions under consideration include incentivizing and rewarding schools for students earning industry-recognized credentials, partnering with business and industry to recruit teachers with industry experience, and providing students more opportunities to enroll in postsecondary education and training during their senior year. It is important to note that Louisiana is still considering these recommendations for the purposes of their forthcoming final plan.
  • Finally, Arizona released a draft state plan for residents of the state to review. While the draft is preliminary, Superintendent Diane Douglas promises the final version will align with the state’s AZ Kids Can’t Wait! Plan, which is currently undergoing updates. The state is receiving feedback through both public meetings and the Department of Education’s website, and plans to release an updated version in mid-October.

Department of Education Releases Guidance on “Evidence-Based” Strategies

ESSA provides states more flexibility to select a turnaround strategy for struggling schools, as long as the intervention is evidence-based. In keeping up with this requirement, the U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help state and local leaders identify and implement evidence-based turnaround strategies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) highlighted the potential for CTE to be included in this part of ESSA implementation in formal comments to ED this summer.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Education Sciences updated the What Works Clearinghouse to allow users to search for evidence-based strategies by school characteristics, grade span, demographics and more.

Tackling Accountability: Helpful Resources for Selecting a College and Career Readiness Indicator

college ready plusA new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation offers a framework for a  “College Ready Plus” indicator that evaluates students’ postsecondary preparation using measures such as work-based learning and attainment of an industry-recognized credential. The paper describes the role that employers can play in helping states adopt and implement a career readiness indicator.

The American Institutes of Research developed a policy framework to help states align their visions for college and career readiness with requirements and opportunities under ESSA. The brief focuses on the law’s three most salient policy components related to college and career readiness: well-rounded education, multiple-measure accountability systems and purposeful assessments.

Also helpful: a policy paper from the Learning Policy Institute that takes advantage of the ESSA policy window to propose a new model for accountability. The paper offers three potential career readiness indicators — CTE pathway completion, work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials — and discusses strategies for collecting and presenting data in a way that supports continuous improvement.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Education, Business and Workforce Groups Call on the House to Pass Perkins Reauthorization

September 12th, 2016

Congress is back in session, and chatter on Capitol Hill returns to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), with a chamber-wide vote on comprehensive reauthorization legislation scheduled for tomorrow in the House. The bill, H.R. 5587, would reauthorize Perkins for six years and make a number of changes within the existing structure of the law, encouraging alignment with other federal legislation and streamlining the law’s requirements. You can read our analysis of the bill here.

Before lawmakers in the House vote on H.R. 5587, it is worth revisiting statements of support from members of the education, workforce development and business communities. By and large, there is cross-sector, bipartisan support for Perkins reauthorization. Yet as the 114th Congress heads into its final months, many organizations – Advance CTE included – have urged Congress to complete their work on Perkins this year. Here is a sample of statements of support from a cross-section of organizations and businesses, primarily related to the House Perkins bill as well as the reauthorization effort more generally.

Words of Support from the Education Community

“The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act builds on current law by emphasizing the importance of CTE programs of study, while maintaining the flexibility of states and local recipients to develop and implement program models that best suit their needs and available resources.” – Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education

“As states work to align education programs with current workforce needs, this legislation to update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act will provide critical supports to state and local educators preparing students to succeed in 21st century careers.” – Council of Chief State School Officers

“H.R. 5587 reflects many of our recommendations for reauthorization. It incorporates a commitment to meaningful professional development for educators, encourages supportive partnerships that link school districts and teachers with industry partners, and promotes industry-recognized credentials and certificates for specific occupational areas.” – American Federation of Teachers

“There is much to like in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Act… The House bill addresses the paperwork burden by allowing districts to fill out a simple, easy-to-complete local application.” – AASA, The School Superintendents Association

“We are pleased that H.R. 5587 [supports programs closely aligned with the needs of business and industry] by encouraging states and local recipients to better coordinate activities supported by the Perkins Act with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and by requiring needs assessments to guide the expenditure of Perkins funding at the local level.” – American Association of Community Colleges and Association of Community College Trustees

“H.R. 5587 recognizes and includes educators in CTE planning and decision-making. This approach strengthens collaboration among the education, business, labor, employment, and economic sectors; improves program effectiveness; and helps ensure that the needs of both students and employers are met.” – National Education Association

Business and Industry Leaders Weigh in on Perkins Reauthorization

“H.R. 5587 would be an improvement over current law. In particular, the Chamber supports the provisions of this bill that would … authorize innovation grants to improve CTE and align workforce skills with labor market needs … integrate industry-recognized credentials; and increase support for work-based learning activities through innovation grants and state leadership activities.” – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“There is no issue more connected to U.S. competitiveness than equipping our nation’s youth with the academic and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs. By updating and reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Congress has an opportunity to ensure our students achieve strong academic and career preparation in the nation’s fastest growing industries.” – IBM

“We know more can be done to help educational institutions better prepare young people for today’s jobs. A modernized career and technical education (CTE) system, designed with input from employers and responsive to the needs identified by labor market data, is central to accomplishing that test.” – Toyota

“By reauthorizing the Perkins Act and reinforcing CTE programs, educators and their partners in the business community can improve student outcomes and provide the skills required to be successful in the workforce … We urge the House to swiftly pass H.R. 5587 and for the Senate to consider companion legislation in the near future with the goal of sending a Perkins Act reauthorization bill to the president’s desk in 2016.” – Associated Equipment Distributors

“[H.R. 5587] would provide agriculture education programs the funding assistance needed to create a well-rounded practical approach to learning through classroom education.” – American Farm Bureau Federation

“Among the provisions we believe will be particularly effective in driving improvements in career education: the incentives for CTE programs to incorporate work-based learning and recognition of the value of industry-driven occupational certifications. Both work-based learning and industry credentials are indispensable elements of effective career and technical education.” – Opportunity America

Workforce Development Organizations Consider the Value of New Bill

“The bill makes substantial improvements in the federal CTE law: encouraging the development of high quality programs of study; emphasizing the importance of work-based learning; encouraging the expansion of dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school opportunities; requiring that CTE programs are aligned with the skill needs of employers in in-demand industries and occupations; and better aligning CTE with innovations and programming established in the newly implemented Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).” – Jobs for the Future

Op-Eds on Perkins

“The revised Perkins bill now must pass the full House and Senate. Passage of the legislation will be critical to the future of American education and our economic competitiveness. We are hopeful that the House committee’s unanimous, bipartisan approval signals that Republicans and Democrats, supported by business and labor, educators, community leaders, parents and students who are united behind common-sense solutions will result in an update of our education system, leading to a stronger economy and more opportunities for our young people.” – Stanley Litow

“The proposed reauthorization will strengthen connections between CTE programs and business and industry. Doing so will help more precisely identify the career fields, along with the skills and credentials, needed regionally.” – Mark MacCarthy

“If passed, the new Perkins Act would be a small but important step toward making sure that students get on the pathway to prosperity that’s right for them.” – Charles Sahm

“[H.R. 5587] stressed educational partnerships that align secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and career and technical education programs to meet local and regional labor needs now and in the future, meaning students can pursue a career path equipped with the knowledge of where job opportunities exist in their local community.” – Jim Postl

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Ask Your Members of Congress to Support Perkins Reauthorization!

September 8th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, Congress returned from its annual summer recess to begin the final stretch of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers have been out of session since mid-July, but that doesn’t mean everyone s has been away from the Capitol. In fact, work has continued in both the House and the Senate to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—the first comprehensive Perkins reauthorization legislation to be considered by Congress since the current law’s passage in 2006. This month the House chamber has the opportunity to build on this strong showing of bipartisan support by voting on this bill.

Ahead of further consideration of Perkins in the House, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement of support urging both Chambers of Congress to move forward with its efforts to renew Perkins before the end of the year.

In order to make sure this legislation gets across the finish line, we need your help! Please take a few minutes to contact your member(s) of Congress and let them know how important Perkins reauthorization is to your community, your state, and our country.

You can find your member of Congress by visiting here. By visiting ACTE’s CTE Action Center you can contact your Senators and Representative directly to express your support for moving the Perkins reauthorization process forward. We also encourage you to take to social media to make the case for Perkins and CTE. Sample tweets are available here.

As Perkins reauthorization continues, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Bipartisan Interest in Perkins Grows with Pending Legislation on the Hill

August 31st, 2016

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act last month with a 37-0 vote. Prior to and after the introduction of this reauthorization proposal, members from both houses of Congress have continued to introduce legislation to make their priorities for Career Technical Education (CTE) known. Three bills of interest — two in the Senate and one in the House — aim to expand dual credit opportunities for CTE students, increase representation of nontraditional genders in high-wage career pathways, and equip students with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. While these bills have little chance of advancing further on their own, they do represent areas of interest for members as Perkins reauthorization continues to take shape in Congress.

The Workforce Advance Act (S. 3271)

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in July introduced the Workforce Advance Act, which aims to expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities for CTE students across the country. According to Sen. Bennet, dual and concurrent enrollment strategies have “helped more [Colorado students] enroll and do well in college.” The bill would amend the permissible uses of Perkins funds at the state and local levels to include tuition, books, fees and transportation costs for students completing dual or concurrent enrollment courses. The bill would also allow Perkins funds to be used for professional development costs for teachers seeking to obtain credentials needed to teach these courses. At the national level, the Workforce Advance Act would allow the Department of Education to use CTE national activities to research strategies for expanding dual or concurrent enrollment programs in high schools.

The Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2016 (S. 3417)

Citing gender disparity in high-wage career pathways, the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act aims to help schools fully implement Title IX, a federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education. The bill, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would create an Office for Gender Equity under the Department of Education that would be responsible for helping educational entities in their implementation of Title IX. The Office would provide technical assistance, share best practices, administer a new competitive grant program and more. Under the bill, the Office would also be responsible for training Title IX coordinators annually.

The Four C’s for Careers Act (H.R. 5663)

And in the House, Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced legislation to promote what he calls the “four C’s CTE providers should promote in their curriculum: critical thinking, communications, collaboration, and creativity.” According to Rep. Costello, these are the skills that industry leaders say will best prepare students for success in the workforce. The bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), would amend Perkins to promote these four skills through a number of educational strategies, including blended learning, public-private partnerships, and data-driven career counseling. The bill would also encourage participation with local industry leaders by allowing states to use Perkins funds for a needs assessment to identify the strategies, tools and resources needed to promote greater engagement with industry partners.

While Advance CTE has not endorsed these proposals, we will continue to work with these offices to ensure that some of these key concepts find their way into future Perkins legislation. Stay tuned for future updates on all things Perkins as the 114th Congress heads into its final stretch.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores State Strategies for Measuring Work-based Learning

August 25th, 2016

Measuring WBLWork-based learning provides a continuum of activities — from career exploration and job shadowing to internships and apprenticeships — that help students develop technical and professional skills in an authentic work environment. While many work-based learning programs are designed and operated at the local level, several states have begun building a data collection and evaluation strategy to ensure program quality, identify and scale successful programs, and share promising practices. To support state efforts in this work, Advance CTE today released a brief that explores strategies for measuring work-based learning.

The brief is the latest installment in the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” series, which examines the state’s role in expanding work-based learning opportunities for K-12 students. This issue highlights examples from three states that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.

  • In West Virginia, the Department of Education partners with industry leaders to evaluate the quality of Simulated Workplaces, student-run programs that create an authentic work environment in the classroom. Programs that fail to meet industry standards receive technical assistance from the state.
  • In 2014 Tennessee adopted a new framework to improve the quality of work-based learning. Under this framework, local districts conduct their own program evaluations and strive for continuous program improvement. The state supports local efforts through a toolbox of surveys, rubrics and other resources.  
  • And in Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses a work-based learning plan to evaluate skill gain for students participating in the School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative. Worksite supervisors assess students on technical and professional skills at least twice during the course of the program, allowing the state to measure skill gain against a baseline.

The brief, Measuring Work-based Learning for Continuous Improvement, is available on the Learning that Works Resource Center. Other titles in the series explore Setting a Statewide Vision, Removing Legal Barriers, and Leveraging Intermediaries to Expand Work-based Learning.

To learn more about work-based learning, be sure to sign up for Advance CTE’s fall meeting, which will take place in Baltimore, MD between October 17 and 19. The convening will feature a session on state strategies for measuring and scaling work-based learning. Register by August 31 to receive the early bird discount.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Illinois Tackles Career Readiness with New Education Bill; Meanwhile North Carolina Creates Credential Incentive Program

August 23rd, 2016

With Half of Illinois Community College Students Required to Take Remedial Courses, New Law Aims to Improve College and Career Readiness in the State

IL Graduation RatesLast month Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act into law, cementing a cross-sector effort to transform the educational system in Illinois and better prepare students for college and careers. According to Advance Illinois, an education nonprofit, half of high school students enrolling in community colleges in Illinois are required to take remedial education during their first year. The law aims to reduce the remedial education rates in the state and prepare students for future careers through four major strategies:

  • Defining Postsecondary and Career Expectations: The law calls on a joint committee (including the State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community College Board and the Student Assistance Commission) to define specific, grade-level expectations for career and postsecondary exploration. These expectations, which cover grades 8 through 12, are to be published by July 2017.
  • Piloting a Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Program: A new pilot program established under the law will permit selected school districts to replace current graduation requirements with competency-based learning systems. One challenge with competency-based education is evaluating student learning in a way that is recognized by colleges or employers. As such, the law requires participating school districts to create a plan to assess student mastery and to partner with two-year and four-year higher education institutions to ensure that a competency-based system can still provide colleges the information they need to admit incoming students.
  • Establishing a College and Career Pathway Endorsement Program: The endorsement program is designed to recognize student learning and incentivize entry into high-need career pathways. To be eligible for an endorsement, students must develop and maintain an individualized college and career plan, complete at least two years of coursework on a career pathway that leads to a degree or certificate with labor-market value, complete career exploration activities, and demonstrate readiness for non-remedial coursework.
  • Providing Transitional Instruction in Math and Reading: Finally, the law calls on community colleges and K-12 school districts to reduce remedial education in college by creating transitional math and reading opportunities in 12th grade. These classes will help prepare students for credit-bearing college courses and, as such, will be recognized by colleges across the state. In developing competencies for instructional coursework, the law also requires the state to draw on expertise from private sector employers.

The law will be implemented over the course of several years. The competency-based education pilot program will be launched during the 2018-19 school year;  the pathways endorsement program will be launched in the 2019-20 school year; and transitional mathematics courses will also be available statewide by 2019-20. 

North Carolina to Offer Teacher Bonuses for Industry-Recognized Credentials in New Pilot Program

When North Carolina passed its budget for fiscal year 2016-17 last month, it launched a new pilot program to encourage student learning in high-demand industries. The program — which will start immediately, using data from the 2015-16 school year — will reward Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers with up to $50 for each student who goes on to obtain an industry-recognized credential.

The size of the reward will depend on the academic rigor and employment value of the earned credential. Academic rigor will be evaluated based on the instructional hours, work experience and postsecondary credit that are associated with the credential. The second value criteria, employment value, will consider the entry wage, growth rate and job opportunities for the occupational category.

Before the pilot program sunsets in June 2018, the State Board will report back to the legislature on the amount of awards provided, the number of industry credentials earned, and the effects of the program on teacher performance and retention.


Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

Series

Archives

1