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Catching up with … State Legislatures (Part 4)

Catching Up SeriesEditor’s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this year’s major state legislative activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be found here and thepreviousinstallments. For a comprehensive look-back at the 2013 legislative sessions, check out the “2013 CTE Year in Review,” which was published jointly by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education in March.

As STEM education and jobs continue to garner attention across the country, state legislatures this spring devoted funds, attention and policy language to help increase awareness and opportunities for students in this critical field.

In Utah, lawmakers directed the state’s STEM Action Center to award competitive grants to school districts and charter schools to fund STEM-related certification programs for high school students.  The legislation calls for successful grantee programs to include preparing high school students to be job ready for available STEM-related positions and result in a “nationally industry-recognized employer STEM related certification.” The law also allows grantee schools to partner with community colleges or a private sector employer to provide the certification program.

Drawing from a 2012 report calling for improvements to the state’s STEM education and workforce, Oklahoma lawmakers passed legislation for the new “Oklahoma – A STEM State of Mind” program. The legislation creates a designation for a city or region to be named a “STEM community or region” as a means to shore up the awareness about STEM fields and jobs in Oklahoma. Those seeking to be designated a STEM community or region must a gather a broad base of stakeholders from the area to form partnerships with education and industry as well as develop and execute action plans for improving STEM education and training. The act, which was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in April, codifies part of the state Department of Education’s STEM strategy, and specifically cites that the state’s CTE centers should be included in these efforts.

Legislatures in Oklahoma and Washington also passed laws changing high school graduation requirements to allow students to take STEM or STEM CTE courses as an equivalent for a traditional math or science credit. Iowa lawmakers dedicated $1 million to STEM internships with Iowa employers that will be administered through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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