State Policy Update: Virginia, Idaho pass major CTE legislation

Back in January, we shared highlights from this year’s State of the State addresses, particularly in Virginia and Idaho where the states’ governors made Career Technical Education (CTE) a key part of their 2016 legislative agendas. Three months later, some of those proposals have made their way through the legislative process to be signed into law earlier this month.


In his State of the Commonwealth address earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe outlined a new vision for the state’s education and workforce development systems to equip students with the skills needed to be successful in today’s labor market, and called for increased collaboration among government, business and education. To do this, McAuliffe pointed to industry-recognized credentials and competency-based education, saying, “you cannot build an economy for 2050 with a 1950s approach to education.”

Since then, Mcauliffe has signed a host of education and workforce bills, which will strengthen articulation agreements and establish a grant fund to help students cover two-thirds of the cost for a noncredit workforce training program. Of particular relevance is SB336, which intends to restructure the high school experience for Virginia students starting in the 2018-19 school year to be based on mastery rather than seat-time and includes work-based learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their graduation pathway. The final plan will be determined by the State Board of Education, but broadly, the bill instructs the state board to:

  • Collaborate with K-12, higher education, and private industry stakeholders to identify the skills that students need upon graduation;
  • Shift high school instruction to teach core competencies during the first two years of high school;
  • Establish graduation pathways of a student’s choosing that provide opportunities for internships, externships, and credentialing; and
  • Allow districts to substitute industry certification and state licensure exams for the state’s end-of-course assessments.


For its part, Idaho has also been hard at work to expand CTE since Gov. Butch Otter made CTE a priority in his State of the State address in January. Among other things, Otter proposed to increase funding for technical colleges, career counseling and STEM education.

Since then, the Idaho legislature passed SCR134, which supported Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s postsecondary attainment goal for 60 percent of residents age 25-34 to have a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020. The resolution also urged public and private sectors to collaborate on programs to support postsecondary pathways for young Idahoans. Separately, the legislature also allocated $3.8 million to expand capacity for CTE programs at Idaho’s six technical colleges and graduate more students into high-demand fields such as health care, information technology, mechatronics and transportation.

Other highlights from Idaho (we know, there are a lot!) include:

  • A language amendment in SB1210 that changes “professional-technical education” to “career technical education”;
  • Increased funding for CTE instructors that hold a specialist certificate (HB630);
  • A budget increase of 10.4 percent for the state’s Division of Career Technical Education (HB625); and
  • An additional $5 million to improve college and career counseling for high school students.

While the Virginia and Idaho legislatures have both adjourned for the year, 25 states remain in session. We will continue to keep a close eye on these remaining states in the coming months and share major CTE policy changes as they happen. Stay tuned.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate


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