Posts Tagged ‘California’

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: How Are States Addressing Industry-recognized Credential Attainment?

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Industry-recognized credentials are an essential component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. They indicate the entry-level competencies learners need in a given career field and signal to employers that an individual is prepared for work. But in the midst of a global pandemic, with nearly every state issuing, to varying degrees, stay at home orders that have resulted in school closures and limited access to testing facilities, how can learners continue to earn industry-recognized credentials? 

Over the last decade, there has been a groundswell around industry-recognized credentials. Driven by the Lumina Foundation’s campaign to ensure that 60 percent of U.S. adults hold a credential beyond high school by 2025, nearly every state has set its own postsecondary credential attainment goal. What’s more, many states are also counting industry-recognized credential attainment in their high school accountability systems or are promoting credential attainment through programs such as Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program. 

Challenges for Industry-recognized Credential Attainment

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) threatens to stall many of these policies and initiatives. The requirements for earning an industry-recognized credential vary by type and by provider, but are hard to deliver remotely. Industry-recognized credentials commonly require one or a combination of the following:  

As states have shut down one by one, credentialing opportunities have slowed to a trickle. School districts, institutions of higher education and training providers have been challenged to offer the learning and practical experiences learners need to be eligible for credential exams. Further, testing providers have had to shut their doors or limit access in order to comply with stay at home orders. 

The State Policy Response

The implications of this credentialing slowdown are myriad. For one, many states have baked credential attainment into high school graduation requirements, accountability systems and postsecondary performance-based funding structures. These requirements will need to be waived or loosened in a way that limits harm to learners. In Ohio, the Department of Education has already amended high school graduation requirements for learners pursuing industry-recognized credentials and is allowing learners to earn credentials as soon as it is safe to do so – even if they already have been awarded a diploma. 

Other states are exploring remote proctoring so learners can sit for an industry-recognized credential exam at home. Florida issued guidance for at-home testing for industry certifications, which will allow learners to access exams for credentials on the state-approved Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) list as long as the credential providers meet certain conditions. However, while a number of credential providers are now offering online proctoring opportunities that are secure and monitored, the technology is expensive to scale and requires the learner to have access to a computer and reliable internet at home. 

The second implication is that credentialing is slowing down at a time when states hit hardest by the coronavirus are experiencing a critical shortage of licensed healthcare workers. In response, governors are issuing emergency licensing waivers in order to permit nursing and medical students as well as retired professionals or those with expired licenses to support the relief effort. In California, for example, the state Board of Registered Nursing has developed guidance on different roles nursing students can play in the field based on competencies developed through prior course taking. 

Finally, with economists already predicting a severe economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus, states will need to accelerate credentialing opportunities for learners transitioning back to work. Even as schools and testing facilities remain closed, states can start thinking now about their economic recovery plan and how to bolster industry-recognized credential attainment in the months and years ahead. 

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

By Austin Estes in COVID-19 and CTE
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New Research Shows Positive Employment Outcomes for CTE Learners

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

One of the most important considerations for learners choosing to enroll in secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs is whether that pathway will lead to a successful career and a good salary. The new Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) requires states and local recipients to set goals around post-program outcomes for CTE concentrators. Several recent studies suggest that learners are finding gainful employment and increased salaries after completing CTE programs. 

A study in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice analyzed data from the California Community Colleges CTE Outcomes Survey. Using three years of survey data from over 46,000 former CTE participants, the researchers found that these learners reported positive employment outcomes and obtained greater increases in wages than they were earning before beginning their program.

Another study using administrative data on a cohort of high school CTE concentrators from Washington State found that CTE learners who go on to college, compared to non-CTE learners, are significantly more likely to enroll in and complete vocational programs. They are also more likely to earn postsecondary credentials such as associate degrees and industry certifications, especially in the applied Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and public safety fields. Additionally, secondary CTE learners who do not go on to college are also more likely to obtain full-time employment within the first three years after graduation compared to non-CTE learners. 

Lastly, a study of admissions and learner outcomes within Connecticut’s system of 16 stand-alone CTE high schools found that males who attend a technical high school are 10 percentage points more likely to graduate than comparable males who attend a traditional high school. Male learners attending technical high schools in Connecticut also have approximately 31 percent greater post-graduation quarterly earnings, higher 9th grade attendance rates and higher 10th grade testing scores than comparable males. There was no evidence that female learners had significantly different outcomes based on the type of school attended. 

As CTE month comes to a close and states finalize their Perkins V plans and invest substantial resources in CTE programs, the findings in these three studies highlight the value that CTE programs have in positive academic and employment outcomes for learners. Additionally, these findings reaffirm the value CTE programs have in preparing learners for the real world and the many postsecondary paths they can pursue. The Washington State and Connecticut studies found that CTE concentrators were slightly less likely to go on to college than comparable learners but still more likely to earn vocational credentials, obtain full-time employment with higher earnings, and have better attendance and test scores than comparable learners. State leaders are encouraged to continue investing in these programs proving to work for learners in their states. 

Other Notable Research 

A report on Idaho’s education and earnings gap revealed that those with bachelor’s degrees earn substantially more in income than those with less education. Among its recommendations, the report suggests the state adopt explicit policies encouraging school districts to develop secondary CTE course sequences or certified programs focusing on two to three specific career pathways that play to their local strengths. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

By Brian Robinson in Uncategorized
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States Passed 146 Policies to Support CTE in 2018

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

2018 was a significant year for Career Technical Education (CTE) at the federal and state levels. On July 31, 2018, the President signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) into law, which reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). The reauthorization of Perkins signaled a federal commitment to and a recognition of the promise and value of high-quality CTE. Additionally, at the state level 42 states and Washington, D.C., passed a total of 146 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness, reflecting a commitment from state leaders to advance CTE.

Today, Advance CTE and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the sixth annual Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE report, examining 2018 state legislative activity, including legislation, executive orders, board of education actions, budget provisions and ballot initiatives. To develop the report, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, catalogued all finalized state action and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. For 2018, the top policy areas of focus include:

In total, 30 states enacted policy in 2018 that impacted CTE funding, making funding the most popular policy category for the sixth year in a row. A number of states directed funding toward the needs of underrepresented, low-income or otherwise disadvantaged populations, including California, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and North Carolina. Washington established a scholarship program to support foster and homeless youth entering postsecondary education or pursuing an apprenticeship, among other policies that supported access and equity, and New York is funding 15 early college high school programs aligned with in-demand industries in communities with low rates of graduation or postsecondary transition.

While roughly one hundred fewer policies were passed in 2018 than in 2017, this past year’s policies still reflect a commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. A decrease in the number of CTE policies passed compared to previous years should not be misinterpreted as an indication that CTE is not a priority for states. In fact, at least 16 governors identified modernizing CTE as a priority for their states during their 2018 State of State Addresses.

As states continue to pass CTE related policies, it is important to focus on the quality of the implementation of the policies and not only the quantity. To view the previous years’ Year in Review reports click here. Advance CTE and ACTE will be joined by a state leader to discuss these policies in more depth on February 14 at 2 p.m. EST – to register for the webinar click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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College or Career? At Oakland High School, Students Don’t Have to Choose

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Students were hard at work on their laptops when we walked into the 12th grade environmental science class at Oakland High School. They were writing their senior research papers on different environmental issues in their Bay Area community, the culminating project to graduate from the Environmental Science Academy. One student was writing about the the economic impact of a diminishing bee population, another was looking into the effect of recent wildfires in northern California. And they were more than happy to show off their projects.

Oakland High School – or O-High as it is affectionately called by students and teachers – is one of several schools in California that is implementing an industry-based educational model called Linked Learning. Linked Learning is not unique – it outlines a framework for what we would consider “high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE):” an integrated pathway that combines rigorous CTE, college preparatory course work, work-based learning and wraparound student supports. But Linked Learning is quickly becoming the gold standard approach to career pathways in California. With funding from the James Irvine Foundation and strategic guidance and partnership from the Linked Learning Alliance, the approach has spread to high schools and districts across the state.

In Oakland, the power and value of Linked Learning is in the diversity of its student body. The city is situated across the bay from San Francisco and is home to an incredibly diverse community – many students are the children of immigrants or were themselves born in other countries. Recently, Oakland has experienced rapid gentrification and a steadily increasing cost of living, making it harder for families to stay in the area. To maintain Oakland’s rich diversity, O-High Principal Matin Abdel-Qawi believes it is his school’s mission to equip each and every student with the skills they need to earn family-sustaining wages so they can afford to work and live in Oakland once they graduate.

So what does this look like in practice? O-High has drawn upon the four components of the Linked Learning model to provide a student-centered experience. The school offers wall-to-wall career academies that each include:

Integrated academics with a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum:  As students progress through their pathway, they receive rigorous instruction aligned to California’s A-G college prep standards and graduate fully prepare to enroll in Easy Bay Community College, UC Berkeley, or other colleges and universities in the state.

High-quality CTE classes that prepare learners for in-demand careers: Every student enrolls in a career academy: Environmental Science, Visual Arts (VAAMP), Public Health, Project Lead the Way (engineering), Social Justice and Reform, or an academy for recent immigrants called R.I.S.E (Recent Immigrant Support and Engagement Academy). Students take math, history and other academic subjects with their pathway peers, and instructors adapt the curriculum to apply a career-focused lens.

A continuum of work-based learning experiences: Throughout their pathway, students have the opportunity to engage with industry experts through field trips, guest lectures and offsite internships with nearby institutions like the Alameda County health system, which regularly hosts students from the Public Health Academy. In 2018, 1,393 students participated in career awareness activities and 145 completed an internship.

Wraparound supports to guide learners along their pathway: Perhaps the most remarkable element of O-High’s Linked Learning academies is the extensive mentorship and wraparound supports students can access. A wellness center on campus provide medical and dental services to students, ensuring that health is not a barrier to success. The high school is also home to a Future Center that helps students apply for college, perfect their resume, and identify and apply for scholarships.

The Linked Learning approach has had a notable impact on O-High student outcomes. In 2018, 81 percent of students graduated and 70 percent enrolled in college within one year. Part of this success is attributable to the high school’s absolute focus on equity. School leaders take special care to ensure that enrollment in each pathway reflects the broader student population, with parity across ethnicity, gender and disability. And in 2010, Oakland Unified launched the Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) to support and develop young black males throughout the district. As a result, the African American graduation rate at O-High jumped from 58 percent in 2014 to 90 percent in 2018.

As states prepare to implement the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), they will have a unique opportunity to redefine what high-quality CTE looks like and ensure equity is front and center in the statewide delivery of CTE. There are a lot of lessons to draw from Linked Learning. For one, Linked Learning’s integrated career pathway approach, mixed with work-based learning and wraparound student supports, is a tried-and-true framework for a strong CTE program. States can replicate this approach and free up resources to expand access to work-based learning and student supports.

Further, O-High’s intense focus on equity should be instructive to other school, district and state leaders. In Oakland, equity means more than expanding opportunity. It means ensuring that each and every learner is supported, welcomed and successful in their given career pathway. With wraparound services to support students’ health, academic and career needs, Oakland High School delivers on its promise to graduate students prepared to stay and contribute to their diverse community.

Thanks to Oakland High School, the Linked Learning Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education for organizing the Linked Learning site visit.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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California, Oklahoma and Virginia Invest in CTE

Friday, September 28th, 2018

The majority of 2018 state legislative sessions have come to a close. During these legislative sessions, states enacted budgets that illustrate a continued commitment to invest in Career Technical Education (CTE) and opportunities for learners to earn credentials that translate into high-skill, in-demand occupations.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed a Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget that invests millions in CTE-related programs and initiatives. The budget includes $164 million ongoing funds to establish a K-12 specific component within the Strong Workforce Program, an initiative that aims to improve CTE programs and increase the number of learners enrolled in CTE programs that culminate in high-wage, in-demand jobs. The budget also includes $6.7 million in funds to offer 338 additional CTE programming slots and to expand CTE to thirteen additional sites in California.

Additionally, the budget provides $100 million one-time and $20 million ongoing funds to establish a statewide online community college. Currently, 2.5 million adults in California between the ages of 25 to 34 only have a high-school diploma, despite an estimated 65 percent of jobs requiring some form of postsecondary education and training beyond high school by 2020. The online community college will provide a cost-effective way for working adults in that age range to earn short, career ready credentials.

In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin signed a Fiscal Year 2019 budget that increases the amount of funds appropriated to the State Board of Career and Technology Education by more than $12 million when compared to last year’s budget. This investment aligns with the the state’s efforts to build and strengthen career pathways through the Oklahoma Works initiative, which aligns education, resources, training and job opportunities to bolster Oklahoma’s workforce.

Virginia’s 2018-2020 biennial budget provides an additional $2 million in grant funding each year for the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program. This program, created in 2016, covers up to two-thirds of the cost of a noncredit workforce training program, requires the Board of Workforce Development to maintain a list of credentials and noncredit workforce training programs in high-demand fields, and encourages participating institutions to award academic credit for credentials earned.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Uncategorized
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Advance CTE Releases Report on Postsecondary CTE Program Quality

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

With the majority of “good jobs” that pay a family-sustaining wage requiring at least some college education — such as a technical certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or another credential of value — ensuring the existence of high-quality postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and pathways is more important than ever before in preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.  

Although postsecondary programs are typically considered to be the purview of individual institutions, supported by academic freedom and local control, states have an important role to play in ensuring that each learner has access to only high-quality and relevant programs, notably by leveraging program approval and program evaluation policies and processes. Today, Advance CTE released Driving Quality in Postsecondary CTE: Approval and Evaluation Policies, a report that explores how states are leveraging this role to ensure quality.

Without question, states and postsecondary systems and institutions face unique challenges and opportunities in the quest to ensure program quality and relevance. These challenges include a variety of governance and delivery models, state and federal requirements, and multiple layers of program approval through regional and occupation-specific accreditors. At the same time, states, systems and institutions have meaningful opportunities to support and fund those programs that are best serving learners and their communities’ workforce needs.

Advance CTE’s report also explores a few specific state examples:

Check out Advance CTE’s report to learn more about ensuring quality in postsecondary CTE programs.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Publications, Research, Resources
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Getting to Know… California

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: California

State CTE Director: Donna Wyatt, Director, Career and College Transition Division, California Department of Education

About California: California is a state that doesn’t just give lip service to career readiness; it fully commits to preparing learners for meaningful careers. Last summer, the Career and College Transition Division underwent a significant reorganization that elevated the role of career readiness within the Department of Education. The state legislature has also appropriated more than $1.4 billion in the past few years to support Career Technical Education (CTE) and career pathways across the state through various initiatives and grants.

In California, CTE is delivered through comprehensive high schools, career academies, community colleges and 74 Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs). California recognizes 15 industry sectors loosely organized around the National Career Clusters framework, including state-specific sectors such as fashion and interior design. While programs are developed and administered locally, there are seven technical assistance centers across the state that support local districts to evaluate and improve their program offerings. These efforts are guided by a framework of 11 elements of a high-quality CTE system that are outlined in the state’s Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) state plan.

Notable in California – College and Career Indicator: In 2016, the California Department of Education unveiled a new school dashboard with various measures of school performance to provide transparency for students, families and communities. The dashboard is designed to satisfy school accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Included in the dashboard is a College and Career Indicator to rate schools on their success in preparing learners for post-high school transitions. Currently, schools are evaluated on only three levels — prepared, approaching prepared and not prepared — that include measures such as CTE pathway completion and dual enrollment.

While the dashboard was implemented with only three levels for this indicator, efforts are underway to define what it takes for students to be “well prepared” for college and careers. State leaders in California are working to define this level and are exploring options such as work-based learning participation and industry-recognized credential attainment.

Notable in California – California Career Pathways Trust: The California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) is a multi-million dollar grant program authorized in the 2013-14 state budget to accelerate the development of regional 9-14 career pathways. Between 2014 and 2015, grants of up to $15 million were awarded to 87 sites, which include partnerships between high schools, colleges and businesses.

According to a 2017 evaluation of CCPT, more than 800 discrete school-level pathways were developed or strengthened in the first year of the initiative, including in both community colleges and high schools. Many of these included CTE course sequences, work-based learning and student support services. Further, many sites reported that the partnerships established through their CCPT work led to lasting relationships and collaboration with key industry leaders.

While selected sites are continuing to receive funding through CCPT, the program was designed as a one-time investment to accelerate regional career pathways work. Day-to-day CTE programs and career readiness activities are supported through the CTE Incentive Grant program and the Local Control Funding Formula.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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State Policy Update: How States Are Working to Increase Credential Attainment

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Strategies Include Promise Programs, Reverse Transfer and Postsecondary Credential Attainment Goals

The demand for Bachelor’s degrees may be overinflated in the labor market, but the number of jobs requiring at least some postsecondary education or training is growing. According to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, nearly all of the jobs created since the recession have gone to workers with more than a high school education. As such, many states have adopted programs and policies since the recovery to help learners obtain the knowledge, skills and credentials necessary to succeed in today’s workforce.

This month, California joined the ranks of Tennessee, Oregon, Rhode Island and New York after Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation into law establishing a California Promise program. The program is designed to reduce barriers to entry for California college-goers by providing tuition-free community college to first-time students who enroll full time and complete a FAFSA form. Under the legislation, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office would be responsible for administering the program and developing a funding formula to support the program’s objectives.

Although the California Promise program has been signed into law, the program is still subject to state appropriations. The California General Assembly estimates that the program would serve 19,000 students at a total cost of $31.1 million.

Meanwhile, Mississippi is the latest state to help Bachelor’s degree candidates obtain associate’s degrees. The program, called Complete 2 Compete, aims to increase the number of Mississippians with postsecondary credentials by identifying students who either have completed enough credits to qualify for an associate’s degree or are on the cusp of completing a degree. Many postsecondary and adult learners with their sights set on a four-year degree don’t realize that they’ve already earned enough credits for another award. Under the program, some 28,000 students already qualify to receive an associate’s degree without any further education or training.

Increasingly, states are looking to reverse transfer programs like Mississippi’s to help postsecondary and adult learners get recognition for the education they have completed. According to research from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), these programs help struggling students who would not otherwise complete a four-year degree earn a postsecondary credential.

States Set Ambitious Postsecondary Attainment Goals

Separately, the number of states with ambitious goals for postsecondary credential attainment is growing. In September, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education released an update to the 2012 Master Plan, setting a postsecondary credential attainment goal of 66 percent of adults by 2025. The goal is accompanied by four strategies to increase learner success in Colorado colleges and universities:

  1. Increase credential completion
  2. Erase equity gaps
  3. Improve student success
  4. Invest in affordability and innovation

 

New Jersey and Vermont also released goals to increase postsecondary credential attainment to 65 percent and 70 percent respectively by 2025. In New Jersey, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Education jointly launched a new campaign to help increase the credentialed population. The campaign, titled “65 by ’25: Many Paths, One Future,” will seek to engage colleges, universities, businesses and state officials through regional summits to devise strategic plans to achieve the goal.

In Vermont, Governor Phil Scott announced the launch of a new initiative called 70x2025vt. With guidance and support from a 25-member council of employers, educators and state officials, the initiative aims to create a college-going culture, remove barriers to access for underrepresented populations, increase college preparedness, and ensure high school students enroll in and succeed in postsecondary education. To monitor progress along the way, Vermont has identified six indicators of progress, including college aspiration and postsecondary/career integration experiences (including work-based learning).

The need for skilled workers has grown in the wake of the Great Recession. Now, more than ever, postsecondary education and training is a prerequisite for a family-sustaining job. With the recovery of the national economy, these states are working overtime to help their residents gain the skills they need for career success.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Commitment Across Systems

Friday, August 11th, 2017

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All systems work together to put learner success first.

In order to deliver high-quality CTE for all learners, state systems must work together at every level. Secondary and postsecondary must work together and with agencies that handle workforce and economic development issues. All of those agencies must also engage with employer partners and local districts and institutions to inform the design, validation and implementation of CTE programs.

This engagement should include a common vision and goals, along with shared terminology and data, so that each system can function together efficiently.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders place their focus on cross-sector coordination, they have access to multiple resources related to secondary and postsecondary partnerships, governance, accountability systems and statewide longitudinal data systems.

Principle in Action

Relevant Resources

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Uncategorized
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States Pave Way for More Flexible, Integrated Pathways to Graduation

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE reinforces the principle that all learning should be personalized and flexible. Education should meet learners where they’re at, allowing them to pursue pathways and experiences aligned to their career interests. To that end, a number of states this summer have taken steps to expand flexible pathways to graduation by amending graduation requirements and exploring opportunities to enhance career advisement and integrate workforce skills throughout the K-12 curriculum.

In Connecticut, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy signed SB1026, amending graduation requirements set to take effect this year. Those requirements were adopted in 2010 in an effort to raise expectations, but were too prescriptive in terms of which courses learners would need to take to graduate. Specifically, the requirements increased the minimum number of credits needed to graduate from 20 to 25 and specified that students would need to earn eight credits in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), nine credits in humanities, three in career and life skills, and three and a half in other areas, including a senior demonstration project.

The new law makes some changes to the required number of credits but ultimately provides school districts and learners more flexibility on the path to graduation. For one, students will now be required to earn nine, not eight, credits in STEM, but local school boards have the liberty to choose which courses qualify. Additionally, the law gives students the option to receive credit by demonstrating subject matter competency through alternative means, such as work-based learning, Career Technical Education (CTE), virtual learning and more. And instead of the senior demonstration project, learners must complete a mastery-based diploma assessment.

Washington Takes Credit Equivalencies Statewide

Over on the west coast, Washington State’s budget for the 2017-19 biennium includes provisions to accelerate the state’s ongoing credit equivalency work. Under the enacted budget, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is directed to help expand and support the implementation of course equivalency credits statewide. This builds upon an ongoing state effort to streamline graduation pathways and allow students to earn math and science credit by demonstrating competency through technical coursework. Since 2015, the State Board of Education has established course equivalency frameworks for 32 courses, including the Core Plus curriculum, a model developed in partnership with the Boeing company to help students develop knowledge and skills in manufacturing.

Additionally, the budget provides for a competitive grant fund to help school districts implement the course equivalency frameworks, such as by developing rigorous assessments, raising awareness and providing professional development for educators.

Rethinking Education and Workforce Development in Idaho, Michigan and California

Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Idaho, Michigan and California to align K-12 education with workforce development priorities. In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter’s Workforce Development Task Force, launched by executive order in January, released its findings and recommendations from a five-month study into the state’s workforce development needs. Among the task force’s recommendations are strategies to connect K-12 education to career pathways, strengthen career advisement in the state, expand CTE programs and apprenticeships, and incentivize schools to integrate workforce skills into secondary curricula.

In Michigan, the Career Pathways Alliance —  a Governor-led, cross-sector effort — released a series of 16 recommendations to dramatically strengthen career preparation at the secondary level. Proposals range from continuing a statewide communications campaign to enhancing career counseling efforts and introducing more flexibility into the Michigan graduation standards, an effort currently making its way through the state legislature. While many of the Alliance’s recommendations require legislative approval, State Superintendent Brian Whiston issued a directive immediately after the recommendations were released to begin implementing some of the strategies.  

Meanwhile, California is taking steps to develop and integrate computer science standards into K-12 curricula. The state’s budget directs the superintendent to convene a Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel to provide recommendations for implementing K-12 computer science standards. Specifically, the panel’s recommendations, which are due to the superintendent by July 2019, will address professional development for teachers, define principles for meeting the needs of K-12 students, and identify strategies to expand access to computer science education.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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