Strengthening Career Readiness Systems through New Skills for Youth: A Look Back at States’ Impact

December 11th, 2019

Under Kentucky’s new program approval and review process, schools and districts can use state and federal funding to support career pathways only if their programs are aligned with priority industries or top occupations. This is just one of the strategies Kentucky used under the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) initiative to transform and phase out virtually every career pathway that was not well aligned with labor market demand.

From 2016 through 2019, Kentucky and nine other states in the NSFY initiative received $2 million and hands-on technical assistance and coaching to strengthen their career readiness systems. As part of the NSFY initiative, a $75 million national initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase & Co, the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group worked with states to improve their career readiness systems.

Through NSFY, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin took action to:

  • Develop and scale high-quality career pathways: Massachusetts designed and launched a new initiative to expand access to high-quality college and career pathways (HQCCPs). HQCCPs include Innovation Pathways, which connect student learning to broadly defined, in-demand industry sectors, and Early College programs, which enable students to earn at least 12 college credits in high school.
  • Expand access to work-based learning opportunities: Louisiana piloted the Building Employment Skills for Tomorrow program in Bossier Parish in 2018 to connect learners with disabilities to work-based learning opportunities, equip them with real-world skills through training, and provide mentorship to program participants.
  • Strengthen data and accountability to incentivize career readiness: Ohio’s school report cards include a summative score for the Career & Postsecondary Readiness indicator and break down how learners achieved readiness by reporting the percentage of learners that earned industry-recognized credentials, completed dual enrollment, completed a pre-apprenticeship and more.
  • Lay the foundation for sustaining career readiness efforts: In 2017, Nevada, with support from the Nevada Department of Education, the governor and the Legislature, enacted six major policies to lay the foundation for a statewide career readiness system.

The impact of these states across the entire initiative is highlighted in the NSFY Impact Snapshots and NSFY Impact Summary, which examines the state role in catalyzing and transforming career readiness opportunities for youth.

Through NSFY, 10 states demonstrated the importance of strong state leadership to advance career readiness by setting a clear vision and agenda, catalyzing and scaling pathways and work-based learning, and ensuring access and equity in career readiness opportunities. As a result, the impact of the states was far-reaching. For instance, under NSFY Delaware was able to develop 19 career pathway programs in high-demand occupations and Tennessee was able to ensure that 100 percent of high school students have access to at least four early postsecondary courses.

To learn more about the work states completed under the NSFY initiative, register for Advance CTE’s A Look Back at States’ Impact through the New Skills for Youth Initiative webinar, which will take place on December 12 from 1-2 p.m. EST, and download the NSFY Impact Snapshots here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Lessons Learned from New Skills for Youth Investments Around the Globe

October 31st, 2019

Launched in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, five-year global initiative aimed at transforming how cities and states ensure that young people are career ready. In addition to the state-based investments, which Advance CTE – in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group – has been helping to lead, JPMorgan Chase has also been investing in local innovation sites across the global.

In August, Advance CTE released snapshots on five of these investments located in the United States. Today, we are releasing five additional snapshots on JPMorgan Chase’s international sites, along with a summary report that highlights noteworthy, cross-cutting strategies from these 10 sites.

Despite the diversity of the locations, the populations being served and the challenges to overcome, the initiatives share more in common than one might expect. All 10 innovation sites share a common focus on interventions that target in-demand jobs, career pathways and workforce needs; provide youth with meaningful, industry-aligned work-based learning experiences; and target at-risk and in-need populations.

Looking across the strategies and lessons learned from the 10 innovation sites reveals commonalities and the beginnings of a roadmap for other communities to follow.  Specifically, there are a handful of common and noteworthy design and implementation strategies that are yielding promising outcomes and helping the sites develop long-range plans to sustain and scale each of the initiatives. These strategies include:

  • Engaging cross-sector partners to work collaboratively toward a shared vision;
  • Intentionally focusing on addressing equity, expanding access and removing barriers to success;
  • Building will and shifting stakeholder mindsets;
  • Grounding interventions and strategies in data; and
  • Planning for scale and sustainability at the outset.

The scope and the impact of the 10 initiatives is far reaching, even though much of this work is in the early stages or still being piloted. Individual sites are engaging a multitude of government entities, schools, higher education institutions and workforce organizations, as well as teachers, parents and students. Collectively, these sites are reaching over 200,000 young people from middle and high school into early adulthood. And early outcomes are impressive, including increased high school graduation rates, work-based learning participation, and successful placement into college and careers.

The Snapshots:

Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand: EDC is partnering with secondary schools and technical colleges across the three countries to train teachers in Work Ready Now!, adaptable curriculum modules that provide students with a hands-on bootcamp experience run by local information and communications technology industry partners, as well as work-based learning experiences.

England, United Kingdom: The Education Endowment Foundation is identifying and evaluating effective interventions to help youth ages 16 to 18 achieve a passing rate on the General Certificate of Secondary Education exams in English and mathematics, a current barrier to postsecondary school success.

Maharashtra, India: Lend-a-Hand India is collaborating with the state government to integrate and scale vocational education in Maharashtra, the second most populous state in India. To date, they have provided work-based learning to over 1,000 students, engaging over 200 employers.

Orange Farm, South Africa has two organizations that are bringing technical skills development and work-based learning directly to the Orange Farm community to enable low-income youth to become more employable.

Sichuan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hebei Provinces, China: The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) is designing and implementing interventions to ensure that the skill level of vocational students meets the demand of employers, while increasing achievement levels and improving the self-confidence of secondary vocational students. CDRF is also collecting and analyzing data about the interventions to inform policymakers on how to further strengthen China’s vocational education system.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Equity in CTE Is Not Just About Access; States Have A Responsibility to Ensure Learner Success, Too 

October 24th, 2019

Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success Through CTEFinancial expenses, work commitments, developmental education and healthcare needs are some of the most common barriers to success for community college students, according to a survey by RISC. To minimize these barriers and bolster postsecondary credential attainment rates, Southwestern Community College (SCC) in Sylva, North Carolina has awarded 129 mini grants to help students address needs such as housing, transportation and educational expenses. 

The grants were issued as part of North Carolina’s Finish Line Grants program, which was started in 2018 using governor’s discretionary funds through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The program is administered by local workforce development boards in partnership with nearby community colleges and provides up to $1,000 per semester per student to address unexpected financial emergencies. 

The Finish Line Grant program, while relatively new, demonstrates the role states can play in removing barriers to success and supporting each learner — at the secondary, postsecondary or adult level — to achieve a credential of value and access an in-demand occupation with family sustaining wages. 

Advance CTE’s latest report, the fifth and final installment in the Making Good on the Promise series, explores other approaches states can take to ensure learner success through Career Technical Education (CTE), including: 

  • Using data-driven support systems to meet learners’ needs: To increase postsecondary credential attainment, some school districts and institutions of higher education have started deploying their data to drive a comprehensive, student-centered support system. Using a method known as predictive analytics, institutions analyze past data on the performance and behaviors of their student body to identify patterns that are correlated with success. They then use this information to identify key indicators — such as absenteeism or low grades in core academic courses — and provide proactive supports to ensure learners can make progress towards graduation or a postsecondary credential.
  • Providing integrated support services to secure wellness, academic preparation and financial stability: Like North Carolina, states can support equitable success in CTE by minimizing common barriers — such as health, academic and financial barriers — that learners encounter along their pathways. Expanding and fully funding integrated support services at both the secondary and postsecondary level can help reduce the burden on learners and ensure they can access the help they need to be successful.
  • Creating the enabling conditions for successful transitions: While completing a program or earning a sought-after credential or degree is important and should be the objective of any pathway, the ultimate measure of success is whether learners transition successfully into the next step of their career pathway, be it postsecondary education, an apprenticeship, employment or other opportunity of choice. States can support successful transitions to postsecondary education by ensuring early postsecondary opportunities such as dual or concurrent enrollment are accessible and equitable. They can also support transitions to the workforce by helping learners develop their occupational identity and expand their social networks through early career exposure and meaningful work-based learning connected to their career pathways. 

Throughout the Making Good on the Promise series, Advance CTE has explored state strategies to identify equity gaps, rebuild trust among historically marginalized populations, and expand access to high-quality CTE opportunities. 

But the work does not stop there. State leaders have a responsibility to ensure each learner is not only able to access CTE, but also feel welcome, fully participate in and successfully complete their career pathway. This means constantly monitoring learner progress and creating the conditions that are conducive for learner success. Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success through CTE aims to provide a roadmap for states to learn from promising practices and develop their own plans for achieving equity. 

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

New Skills for Youth Innovation Site Snapshots Released

August 28th, 2019

Launched in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, five-year global initiative aimed at transforming how cities and states ensure that young people are career ready. In addition to the state-based investments, which Advance CTE – in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group – has been helping to lead, JPMorgan Chase has also been investing in local innovation sites across the global.

Earlier this week, Advance CTE released snapshots on five of these innovation sites, which document the progress of the local investments that aim to identify and implement the most promising ideas in career education, with a special focus on communities with the greatest needs. While each site as their unique context, each is working to improve and expand career pathways, hands-on work-based learning experiences, and provide support for learners through sustainable partnerships between the education community and business and industry.

The five snapshots:

Dallas, Texas has launched the Dallas County Promise to remove barriers to college and in-demand careers for Dallas County youth

Denver, Colorado’s CareerConnect is a district-wide initiative to redesign the K-12 experience to provide hands-on learning to all students.

Detroit, Michigan has committed to a district-wide expansion of career pathways across the city’s high schools.

New Orleans, Louisiana’s YouthForce NOLA is coordinating a city-wide effort to build career pathways that result in meaningful credential attainment for all high school students.

South Bronx, New York has four investments in place to expand access to and success through work-based learning in health care, transportation and logistics, and technology, as well as to build a data infrastructure to measure career readiness.

Advance CTE will be releasing another five snapshots on some of JPMorgan Chase’s international investments and a summary report in the coming months.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Approaches and Considerations for Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality in Perkins V

July 24th, 2019

It is common practice in the private sector to use big data to improve efficiency, strengthen product quality and better target services to customers. Can data also be used to improve the quality of public education, specifically Career Technical Education (CTE)?

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) gives states the opportunity to use data more strategically to improve quality and equity in CTE. While states have been collecting data for years on student performance in CTE programs, Perkins V pushes them to make more informed decisions about program approval and alignment, equity and access, and program improvement. In particular, states can drive program improvement through the new secondary CTE program quality indicator, a state-selected measure that will be included in each state’s accountability system starting in the 2020-21 program year.

To help states select and define a robust measure of secondary CTE program quality, Advance CTE – in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign; the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of the National Skills Coalition; Education Strategy Group; and the Council of Chief State School Officers – developed a series of short briefs highlighting each of the three indicator options:

  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having attained a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having attained postsecondary credits in the relevant CTE program or program of study earned through a dual or concurrent enrollment program or another credit transfer agreement.
  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having participated in work-based learning.

Each brief examines the pros and cons of each indicator, describes different state approaches, and offers meaningful considerations for implementation. The reports also draw on survey data from one of Advance CTE’s latest report, The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness to describe common approaches to collecting and validating program quality data.

Choosing a secondary CTE program quality indicator is a decision state leaders should not take lightly. This choice will send a clear signal to the field about state priorities for CTE and create an incentive structure that will be in place for years to come. To make an informed and thoughtful decision, state leaders should consider:

  • What is the statewide vision for CTE and career readiness?
  • What do stakeholders identify as priorities?
  • Which experiences are equitably available to learners across the state?
  • Is there any evidence to demonstrate which experiences are more highly correlated with positive post-program outcomes?
  • What information is currently available at the state level?
  • Are the data reliable, accurate and well defined?
  • How can the program quality indicator align with other metrics the state is collecting?

The Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality briefs are available in the Learning that Works Resource Center at this link. Advance CTE is also available to provide input and expertise to states as they select and define their Perkins V accountability measures.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

New Tools to Drive Quality and Equity through the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

June 27th, 2019

One of the most significant and exciting changes introduced in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is the new comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). The purpose of the CLNA is to support data-driven decisionmaking and more closely align planning, spending and accountability activities under Perkins V. The results of the local needs assessment must form the foundation of the local application and drive local spending decisions.

The CLNA presents an incredible opportunity for states and locals to bring focus and purpose to their Career Technical Education (CTE) offerings and programs. At the same time, it will take an incredible lift from state and local leaders to truly maximize the CLNA. To support states in this undertaking, Advance CTE convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup, with support from the Association of Career and Technical Education and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Workgroup – comprised of state and national leaders – is charged with informing and contributing to the development of resources and tools for the benefit of all states, as they guide local recipients in conducting rigorous CLNA that drive program quality, equity and access.

Today, Advance CTE is releasing the first two deliverables from this Workgroup: Driving Quality & Equity in CTE: A State Guide to Developing the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment Template and a State Needs Assessment Crosswalk.

The State Guide helps states identify the major decision points that will impact the design, development and implementation of their CLNA and related local application.  It provides guidance around key decisions such as: how should states structure the template? Who is required to complete the comprehensive local needs assessment? What evidence will be required? How will the CLNA connect with the local application and local uses of Perkins V funds?  The State Guide also provides a bank of questions to draw from to help states create a template that elevates and addresses state and local priorities.

The State Needs Assessment Crosswalk is designed to support state-level discussions about and the coordination of state- and federally required needs assessments, such as the required under Perkins V, the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The crosswalk tool is available in both in Excel and Google spreadsheet.

There will be a second set of deliverables from the CLNA Shared Solutions Workgroup released later this summer.  All of Advance CTE’s and partners’ Perkins V resources can be found here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Perkins V: How can states strengthen the career development continuum?

May 9th, 2019

One of the significant changes in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was the removal of a restriction in Perkins IV that prohibited funding from supporting Career Technical Education (CTE) programs for students below the seventh grade. In Perkins V, this prohibition is replaced with a prohibition on funding below the “middle grades” (as defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which includes grades five through eight). Given this, states now have the flexibility to decide if and how Perkins V funds should be leveraged for CTE in the middle grades. Importantly, CTE in the middle grades can be an avenue for the improvement of the beginning of the career development continuum: career awareness. And with a stronger focus on career guidance and advisement throughout Perkins V through both planning and spending at the state and local levels, Perkins V also provides an opportunity to examine and improve efforts from career awareness all the way to career training. How can states strengthen the full career development continuum? Check out the reports and profiles below to learn more.

REPORT: Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success: To help states unpack the potential approaches to expanding and ensuring high-quality middle school CTE options, this report from Advance CTE examines state approaches to middle school CTE. The report concludes with major considerations for states when implementing or expanding middle school CTE.

REPORT: The State of Career Technical Education: Career Advising and Development: This report (and related infographic and webinar) features the findings from research that Advance CTE conducted in partnership with the American School Counselor Association about what’s working, and what isn’t, at the state and local levels in regard to career advising and development. Policy recommendations based on these findings are also included in the report.

FACT SHEET: CTE and Student Success Initiatives: This fact sheet from Advance CTE provides an explanation of why and how CTE and student success initiatives should be integrated to make both more successful.

POLICY PROFILES

  • Arkansas: College and Career Coaches: The Arkansas College and Career Coach program provides career counseling, financial guidance, and college and career supports to 7th-12th grade students in the state. The program reaches three out of every four students and has contributed to an increase in college-going rates.
  • Ohio: 2014 Education Reform Bill (HB487): Ohio’s HB487 is an expansive education reform bill, addressing a wide array of topics including career guidance, expanding CTE in the middle grades, graduation requirements and industry-recognized credentials.
  • Texas: San Jacinto College Pathways Project: San Jacinto College implemented a guided pathways model in 2015. This involved categorizing its 144 total degree and certificate programs into eight meta-majors that align with the 16 Career Clusters ®, as well as the Texas Legislature’s five endorsed career areas.

Looking for additional resources? Please be sure to check out the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Navigating the Stormy Waters of Career Readiness Data: New Report Highlights Opportunities for States to Improve their CTE Data Systems

April 18th, 2019

How many girls of color earned an industry-recognized credential in Information Technology last year? What types of work-based learning experiences lead to the best wage outcomes for learners from low-income families? How many graduates from Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in advanced manufacturing go on to work in their field of study?

A strong, well-aligned data system allows State CTE Directors and other state leaders to answer these questions and more. But according to the latest State of CTE report, The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness, these data systems are not meeting the need for data-informed decision making.

While the report finds that 86 percent of State CTE Directors believe improving and enhancing their CTE data systems is a priority, only 45 percent say they have the information they need to assist in making decisions about CTE program quality and other initiatives at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. Making decisions about CTE program quality and equity without sufficient data is tantamount to sailors navigating the stormy seas using old maps and constellations rather than modern GPS technology.

What is the cause for this gap?

For one, state data systems are not sufficiently aligned across the secondary, postsecondary and workforce sectors. According to the survey, less than half of State Directors say their CTE data system is “mostly” or “fully” aligned with secondary data systems, 28 percent with postsecondary data systems and 18 percent with workforce data systems.

Ensuring learners are prepared with the skills and experiences they need for high-wage, high-skill employment in in-demand occupations is a shared responsibility among secondary education, postsecondary education and the workforce sector. Yet too many states continue to use disparate data systems for collecting, validating and accessing learner-level data. Using disparate systems not only increases the data collection burden for local leaders but also threatens the quality of the data and the ability of state leaders to use their data effectively.

Another critical challenge is improving the methods for collecting and validating learner-level data. Too many states rely on self-reported information without confirming that learners successfully completed a work-based learning experience, verifying that the industry-recognized credentials reported on school data submissions were awarded by credential providers, or documenting that learners earned postsecondary credit for completing dual or concurrent enrollment in high school.

Notably, 61 percent of states say they use student surveys – which have notoriously low response rates and are difficult to validate – to determine whether secondary learners go on to meaningful employment after they graduate. Thirty-three percent report the same for postsecondary learners.

This information is not easy to obtain and requires clear data sharing partnerships with employers, credential providers and other state agencies. But improving the methods of collecting and validating CTE data gives critical decision makers confidence in their use of data and ensures learners, educators and community members can trust decisions that are made on their behalf.

There are clear skies ahead, however, if states leverage implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) to improve the quality and effectiveness of their career readiness data. Perkins V pushes states to improve data collection and reporting and make more data-informed decisions about CTE program quality and equity. As states begin the months-long process of vision setting, stakeholder engagement and plan development for Perkins V, they should consider the opportunity to improve their CTE data systems by auditing their current practices, establishing and formalizing data-sharing partnerships, and embedding data-informed decision making in policy and practice.

Equipped with strong, well-aligned data systems that are reinforced by trusted methods of collecting and validating data, State Directors can use their data to chart out a path to success for learners in their state. Otherwise the institutions, learners and communities they serve will be left unmoored.

The State of CTE report is based on a national survey of State Directors and examines how states are collecting, validating and using career readiness data. This resource was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. This resource was developed in partnership with the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of the National Skills Coalition, and the Data Quality Campaign.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Checking in on New Skills for Youth States: How States Have Set their Sights on Access and Equity

March 26th, 2019

The Met, a work-based learning focused technical center in Providence, Rhode Island, serves about 800 students across the state. It is also one of eight recipients of Rhode Island’s new Innovation and Equity grant program, a $1.2 million program to help local districts identify and support populations that are underrepresented in high-skill, in-demand career pathways. Using funding from the Innovation and Equity grant program, the Met is working to recruit low-income learners into the Finance program and help them earn high-value credentials that have immediate value in the labor market.

Access and equity is a priority for Rhode Island and its nine peer states in the New Skills for Youth initiative, a focus that is highlighted in a new series of state snapshots released today. In 2017, each New Skills for Youth state was awarded $2 million to help transform career readiness opportunities for learners in their states. After spending the early part of the initiative establishing partnerships and laying the policy groundwork for success, states turned to implementation, with a focus on equity, in 2018.

Some states are focusing on including learners with disabilities in high-quality career pathways. For example, Delaware piloted a new program in 2018 called PIPELine to Career Success to remove barriers for learners with disabilities to access work-based learning experiences. The program is a two-year process in which school districts identify barriers to access, examine their root causes, and then implement strategies to close access gaps. The Delaware Department of Education has made grants available to three pilot districts and hopes to scale the approach across the state in the future.

Other states are working to expand access to advanced coursework for underserved populations. Rhode Island Innovation and Equity program is one such initiative. Another is Ohio’s Expanding Opportunities for Each Child grant. The state leveraged a rarely used allowance in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which lets states set aside up to 3 percent of their Title I funds for Direct Student Services grants, to award more than $7 million to 17 sites in economically disadvantaged communities. The grants are designed to either develop and expand career pathways or improve access to advanced coursework (including AP, IB and CTE).

Additionally, New Skills for Youth states are embedding equity as a core principle in both policy and practice. Several states are implementing statewide initiatives in support of academic and career planning, and they have focused their training, guidance and supports to emphasize the importance of equity. Others have built considerations about equity into their criteria for designating – and funding – high-quality career pathways. These steps ensure that questions of equity and access are addressed at every stage, from design to implementation.

The 2019 calendar year is the final year of this stage of the New Skills for Youth initiative. As states look beyond the end of the initiative, one question that is front and center in the year ahead is how they will secure commitment and funding to keep the focus on career readiness. States have made a lot of progress, and the efforts they have taken to embed equity in policy and practice will have a lasting impact for years to come. But state leaders understand they must continue to elevate this work as a priority to ensure their efforts in New Skills for Youth can be sustained and scaled in the future.

The state snapshots were developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

The Number of States Counting Career Readiness Has More than Doubled Since 2014

March 19th, 2019

In a strong signal of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness in high school, 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state or federal high school accountability systems. Fewer than half as many – 17 – were measuring career readiness just five years ago.

The sophistication and design of the measures has evolved as well, and many states are working to intentionally link their accountability systems with high-quality career pathways.

That’s according to a new analysis from Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, Achieve and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The report, the third edition in the Making Career Readiness Count series, uses a four-pronged framework that was developed by an expert workgroup and outlined in the report Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems  to categorize how states are measuring college and career readiness.

The four categories used in the analysis provide a blueprint for states to develop and evolve rigorous measures. They each outline three levels that build upon one another, from Fundamental, to Advanced and Exceptional. The categories are:

  • Progress toward Post-High School Credential: Student demonstration of successful progress toward credentials of value beyond high school.
  • Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences: Student completion of state-defined co-curricular experience(s) aligned to students’ academic and career plans.
  • Assessment of Readiness: Students scoring at the college- and career-ready level on assessment(s) that are validated by higher education and industry.
  • Transitions beyond High School: Successful student transition includes placement into postsecondary education, training or the workforce within 12 months of graduation.

Overall, the most common measure used across the states is Assessment of Readiness, with thirty states and the District of Columbia valuing experiences that are aligned with the Destination Known recommendations. Another 12 states include out of sequence measures that are aligned with this indicator but do not include the Fundamental measure, attainment of state-defined college- and career-ready level on a high school summative assessment. The vast majority of states counted under the Assessment of Readiness category are measuring industry-recognized credential attainment.

Another commonly used measure is Progress Toward Post-High School Credential. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia include measures aligned with the Destination Known recommendations, and another 22 states include out of sequence indicators. A number of states include either pathway completion or dual enrollment coursework in their accountability plans without requiring that experience to be accompanied by the completion of a state-defined college- and career-ready course of study, which is the Fundamental measurement in this category.

Twelve states include a Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences measure in their state or federal accountability systems, often looking at work-based learning participation. Eight states include information on Transitions Beyond High School, reporting either postsecondary enrollment or postsecondary enrollment without the need for remediation.

With all of the progress states have made, there is still room to strengthen and improve measures of career readiness. For example, states should be explicit about how career readiness components – such as work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials and dual enrollment – align to each other and to a students’ career pathways. They should also be transparent with their data and put thought and care into designing accountability systems that value and encourage the experiences that are best aligned with the outcomes they want for students. These and other opportunities are discussed in the report, Making Career Readiness Count 3.0.

The even harder work ahead is to support all students in their preparation for and transition to college, career and life. Regardless of the path students choose to pursue, they need to be transition ready. State and federal accountability systems can and should be used to highlight areas for improvement and connect programs and students with the supports they need to be successful.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

 

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