Posts Tagged ‘career readiness’

Despite Federal Budget Constraints, States Forge Ahead with ESSA Planning

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Earlier this year, 16 states and the District of Columbia submitted plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the Department of Education, detailing strategies to strengthen standards, accountability, teacher effectiveness and student supports. Since then, the remaining 34 states have continued work drafting their own plans. Despite uncertainty from Washington, DC, states such as New York and California are taking advantage of ESSA’s increased flexibility to promote career readiness, specifically through new accountability systems.

Despite lawmakers’ intentions to expand local flexibility, state planning has been somewhat constrained by the federal budget process. In May, Congress approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that fell short of the authorized funding for certain ESSA programs. Specifically, the Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program — which consolidated a basket of categorically-funded initiatives in order to expand state flexibility — was funded at only $400 million for the year, far short of the authorized $1.6 billion (the program is eliminated entirely under the President’s proposed FY18 budget). As such, lawmakers decided to give states the option to distribute grants competitively rather than through a formula, as is prescribed in the law. It is not year clear if states will take this opportunity, though switching to a competition may discourage smaller districts from applying.

Under ESSA, at least 95 percent of SSAE funds are to be awarded to local education agencies for one of three priorities: supporting a well-rounded education, fostering a safe and healthy school climate and providing for the effective use of technology. These funds can be used to strengthen or enhance local Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, which are covered under the statutory definition of “well-rounded education.” Although funds go primarily to the local level, states have leeway to signal how they should be used. They can also expend state set-aside funds under Title IV-A to administer technical assistance in certain priority areas. While SSAE grants provide a clear leverage point to promote CTE statewide, many states are approaching the opportunity with caution, leaving it up to local education agencies to determine how such funds will be spent.

In the Wake of April’s Submission Window, Five States — Including New York and California — Release Draft Plans

In addition to the 16 states and D.C. that submitted plans during the first window, another 20 states have released draft plans or guidelines as of June 2017. The newest states to release draft plans include Arkansas, California, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Below we examine different approaches that New York and California are taking to leverage ESSA in support of statewide career readiness.

New York’s Plan Envisions Success in College, Careers and Citizenship

Building on the state’sgraduation pathways work, one of the key threads throughout New York’s first ESSA state plan draft is ensuring all students graduate “prepared for success in postsecondary education, careers, and citizenship.” The plan envisions a K-12 system that provides rigorous instruction, positive learning environments, and appropriate opportunities and supports so that all students can succeed.

One area in the plan where this priority is reflected is the state’s accountability system, which adopts a measure of College, Career and Civic Readiness as one of two School Quality and Student Success indicators at the high school level. ESSA requires states to adopt at least five accountability indicators, four that are loosely prescribed and a fifth measure of school quality that is up to a state’s choosing. As we’ve reported in the past, many states are seizing the opportunity to measure not only college preparedness but career readiness as well.

In New York’s case, the proposed College, Career and Civic Readiness Index encourages both college and career preparation and awards bonus points for students who surpass the minimum Regents or Local Diploma requirements. Under the proposal, schools will receive full points for students who earn a standard diploma, an additional half point for students who enroll in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or dual credit courses, and a full two points for students earning a CTE endorsement, an industry-recognized credential or a passing score on an AP or IB exam (among other options).

Furthermore, the plan explicitly encourages local education agencies to use SSAE grants to offer multiple pathways to graduation and career readiness. The state plans to use up to 4 percent of its permitted set-aside funds to support local education agencies to implement this, and other, priorities. And while the plan is light on details, the state promises to support student access to extra-curricular opportunities, including “community-based internships and … sports and arts.” New York’s state plan is still in the public comment stage and subject to change prior to the September submission deadline.

In California, Local Control Accountability Plans Will Drive ESSA Implementation

California meanwhile is approaching ESSA’s increased flexibility as an opportunity to supplement ongoing state efforts. In 2013, the Golden State transformed the way it funds education using a Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to consolidate state education funding and empower local education agencies to create and implement their own strategic priorities. Under the policy, local districts are required to create Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) to set goals and plan their delivery strategies. Additionally, California last year adopted a new multi-measure accountability system aligned to the LCFF to hold local districts accountable for using state education funds effectively. Just this year the state Department of Education released a school accountability dashboard that illustrates student performance on a variety of different measures.

California’s state plan proposes to use LCFF as a vehicle to implement ESSA. The plan, appropriately titled “The California Way,” proposes to map local ESSA planning efforts against the current LCAP to create a “single, coherent system that avoids the complexities of having separate state and federal accountability structures.” Local education agencies will submit an LCAP addendum as a supplement to address additional requirements under ESSA.

So how will California’s ESSA plan support career readiness? For one, the current accountability system includes a career and college readiness index. Interestingly, and unlike most other state proposals thus far, the index will count toward the state’s academic success indicator, along with student performance and growth on assessments. While the State Board of Education has blessed the indicator, it has yet to determine how it will be measured. Current considerations include dual enrollment, AP exam performance, IB exam performance and CTE pathway completion. Additionally, California’s plan points to other recent initiatives — such as the state’s three-year, $900 million CTE Incentive Grant Program — that are designed to enhance and expand regional CTE pathways in the state.

What New York’s and California’s ESSA state plans tell us is that states are taking full advantage of newfound flexibility to align federal initiatives with their own efforts. In the case of California and New York, both states have undergone work in recent years to revise graduation and accountability policy to better promote career readiness in high school. Others should consider how to align opportunities under ESSA to support their own state and local initiatives.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in News, Public Policy
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Effective Stakeholder Engagement Requires More Than a Broad Communications Plan

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

March 30, 2017

Sustainable and successful transformation of state career readiness systems, including but not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE), requires engagement with a variety of stakeholders who are deliberately working to share ownership. Lead agencies must engage those from industry, who may be new to policy-making, not only to generate buy-in but also to reach state goals for transformation.

To help with this work, Advance CTE created a tool based off of two tools created by CCSSO in June and November 2016. This tool, developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative and generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., guides users through nine steps in planning effective interactions with specific stakeholders:

Each of these steps is designed to guide users through the entire process of building interactions with stakeholders that will explain their efforts thoroughly and present requests for stakeholder assistance clearly and convincingly.

While this tool should not replace broader communications and stakeholder engagement plans, it enhances their effectiveness by allowing for coordination in focusing and formalizing messages and interactions. The tool also helps with prioritization of stakeholder engagement efforts through the use of a stakeholder map that measures the level of support and the level of influence of each stakeholder. By completing this worksheet and keeping all information on stakeholder engagement in this one place, users will be better prepared to implement communications related to CTE and career readiness reforms.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Publications, Resources
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Measuring Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: Where to Start

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) affords states the chance to strengthen their accountability systems by adopting multiple measures of school success rather than relying on an antiquated test-based system. Buoyed by this flexibility, state agencies across the country are exploring strategies to integrate career readiness indicators into their accountability systems. While some states have made considerable progress in this arena, others are left wondering where do we start?

To help states navigate this new territory, Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers convened a workgroup of accountability experts and tasked them with identifying and recommending robust metrics to measure career readiness. Their recommendations, released earlier this month in a brief titled Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, detail four possible measures of student career readiness:

The brief further outlines strategies for measuring and valuing each of these measures, demonstrating how states can implement and gradually increase the sophistication of their measurement indicators. Lessons are also drawn from states such as Ohio, Kentucky and California that have made headway toward adopting and implementing career-focused accountability indicators in recent years.

Moving forward, JPMorgan Chase & Co. aims to support state efforts to adopt these recommendations and enhance their career-focused accountability through New Skills for Youth, a cross-state initiative to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers.

Expanding Access to Postsecondary Learning

Separately, students who earned dual credit in Oregon schools were more likely than their peers to graduate from high school, enroll in college and persist through their first year. That’s according to new research from the Research Education Lab at Education Northwest examining dual credit participation between 2005 and 2013. While the study reveals a correlation between dual credit attainment and positive outcomes, the authors note equity gaps in participation across student subgroups. Dual credit earners in the study were more often white, female and not on the federal free and reduced lunch program.

Equitable access to higher education is not a new issue, but it can often be exacerbated by performance-based funding formulas. Without careful design, such formulas can encourage two-year and four-year colleges to be more selective with who they admit into their programs. According to the Center for Legal and Social Policy (CLASP), states should adjust their postsecondary formula weights to counteract selectivity and encourage more open access to postsecondary education.

Odds and Ends

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Research, Resources
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Career Readiness Partners Gather in Washington, DC to Collaborate and Learn

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Career readiness can be achieved through statewide systems change — but it will take a unified effort from national partners working together to achieve that vision. That, at least, was my takeaway from Monday’s “Career Readiness in K-12 and Beyond” meeting hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) at the National Guard Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The meeting brought together nearly forty partners representing non-profit organizations, foundations, government agencies, think tanks and companies to raise awareness about ongoing initiatives and to coalesce around a shared vision. With numerous efforts already underway at the national, state and local levels, I could feel the energy in the room around the subject of career readiness.

Former Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday kicked the meeting off by sharing the background of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force. The task force launched in 2014 when Holliday was president of CCSSO, and in which Advance CTE’s Kimberly Green participated along with a number of State CTE Directors.  The task force released a report, titled “Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students,” with recommendations for states to transform their career readiness systems. Currently, CCSSO — along with Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, with funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co. — is leading the  New Skills for Youth initiative to implement the task force’s recommendations in 24 states and D.C. We recently launched the Learning that Works Resource Center in support of the initiative, and if you haven’t visited the Resource Center yet, I highly recommend doing so.

The meeting quickly jumped from national to state and local efforts. For me, the most impactful part of the event was when Ghafoor Siddique, an Aerospace Instructor from Sno Isle Tech in Washington, spoke about developing an aerospace program for high school students. Siddique had been working for Boeing doing commercial flight tests when he was recruited by Sno Isle Tech. The program relies on the Core Plus curriculum, which was developed by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, the Boeing Company, the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle and other companies. The curriculum uses industry-validated knowledge, skills and abilities to help students develop technical skills related to a particular career field.

Siddique also told us how, with support from his students, he launched an in-house aircraft maintenance company that services private planes, using profits to buy equipment for the class. This allows students to learn hands-on how to build and repair aircraft, while simultaneously allowing the school to sustain the aerospace program despite potentially prohibitive equipment costs. In the first few years since the program was launched, Siddique reported that several of his students had gone on to work for Boeing. The company, one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers, is based in Seattle, Washington.

Such programs are part of the reason why there is growing enthusiasm across the states for career readiness. That enthusiasm was clearly present among the attendees at Monday’s meeting. In between panels, we had the opportunity to share our own work and identify opportunities to collaborate with one another. We learned about efforts ranging from developing apprenticeship programs to encouraging adoption of industry credentials, each in support of the larger goal of improving career readiness for tomorrow’s workers.

Next month, states in the New Skills for Youth initiative will gather in Washington, DC to share their progress and outline their plans to transform career readiness systems back home. While only ten states will qualify for the next round of funding, many will follow through on their action plans, recognizing the need and importance of an educational system that prepares students for the workforce. Such aspirations are the reason why classes like Siddique’s can succeed.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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Illinois Tackles Career Readiness with New Education Bill; Meanwhile North Carolina Creates Credential Incentive Program

Tuesday, 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:

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

By Austin Estes in News, Public Policy
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Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part I)

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

This week, two leading education organizations – the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Trust – have published new research that illustrates how K-12 CTE can and should be used to create meaningful education experiences that prepares students for future success in college and careers. First up, an analysis of high school transcripts to pull back the curtain on college and career readiness.

Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates

In “Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates,” Ed Trust finds that while students may graduate high school, too many are leaving with no clear path forward.

For nearly a decade, college and career-readiness for all students has been the foundational rhetoric of U.S. education, but high school transcripts show that this rhetoric didn’t bear out in reality for most graduates in 2013. In fact, fewer than one in 10 recent graduates had taken a foundational set of courses necessary to be both college- and career-ready. Additionally, the data shows that 47 percent of graduates completed neither a college- nor career-ready course of study. The study defined college- and career-courses of study as the standard 15-course sequence required for entry at many public colleges, as well as three or more credits in a career-focused area such as health science or business.

Of those who had completed a course of study, only eight percent in those graduates completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Further, less than one-third of graduates completed a college-ready course of study and just 13 percent finished a career-ready course sequence. Because seat-time is not a sufficient indicator of readiness, the report also looks at who in the college- and career-ready cohort, particularly students of color or disadvantaged backgrounds, had also demonstrated mastery of the curriculum. When looking at mastery, an additional 14 percent of graduates fail to meet this benchmark.

Rather than aligning high school coursework with students’ future goals, the report found that high schools are continuing to prioritize credit accrual, which reinforces the idea that high school graduate is the end goal in a student’s educational journey. The report identifies state-, district-, and school-level levers including transcript analysis, master schedule, credit policies and graduation requirements.

To truly prepare students, school structures, culture and instruction must shift to prepare students for postsecondary studies aligned to their career interests, and this can be done without risk of recreating a system of tracking students into prescribed pathways.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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By Andrea Zimmermann in Research, Uncategorized
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CTE Research Review: Career Readiness for All

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

PathleasttakenThe Center for Public Education has analyzed the National Center for Education Statistics’ Education Longitudinal Study to look at a student group that is often ignored in major research studies – the one in five students who do not immediately enroll in college after graduating from high school. Be sure to check out the first installment of this research series, which looked at the characteristics of this group.

Now, CPE has released its second installment – this time attempting to gain insight into “career readiness” for high school graduates by looking at various job-related and social outcomes of this same group of non-college goers by the time they reached age 26. In fact, the data showed that “credentials” and being well prepared in high school matter, particularly for non-college goers who:

Specifically, researchers found that advanced courses, such as Algebra 2 and advanced biology, and an CTE focus can have an impact on non-college going students’ likelihood to have a good job and engage in society. If those same students earn a professional credential, then the scale shifts in favor of the non-college goer, meaning they are actually more likely to be employed, earn good wages and vote than their peers who attended college. Further, better preparation also had a greater impact on black graduates than their white and Hispanic peers, showing that higher credentials can be the key to closing the employment and wage gap.

Rising to the Challenge?

A new survey from Achieve asked college faculty and employers who teach or hire recent high school graduates about their preparedness for college and careers. This is the second release of Achieve’s Rising to the Challenge survey. The first release, from late 2014, examined recent high school graduates’ views on their own preparedness. The full survey is an update to a similar survey Achieve conducted in 2004.

The results reveal many parallels to the students’ own responses – in short, that there is a pervasive opinion that public high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the expectations they will face in college and the workplace. Contrast those responses with those from the 2004 survey, and the picture becomes even bleaker.

All three groups – college faculty, employers and students – all agreed that to improve preparedness:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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Adobe’s Hiring for the Future Report Carries Implications for CTE

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Last month, Adobe surveyed 1,068 American hiring managers seeking insight into what the gatekeepers of tomorrow’s careers believe are the most critical skills, habits and credentials for job-seekers in the 21st century labor market.

The result? An overwhelming number of responses emphasizing the importance of digital literacy, creative thinking, problem-solving and flexibility. Hiring managers rejected the notion that students in technical fields fundamentally lack the creativity succeed (only 36% agree), but even more believe that positions requiring technical skills also benefit from creative thinking (81% agree).

Technical skills are still viewed as one of the top three factors identified as having gained the most value over the last five years (46% identified as one of top three skills gaining value), suggesting that competency remains crucial to employer hiring decisions. Also in the top three, however, were problem solving/critical thinking (51%) and creativity/innovation (47%).

Taken as a whole supports the need for more high-quality CTE, with its emphasis on skill building through career pathways and comprehensive, integrated programs of study. modern approach

Unsurprisingly, many policies prioritized by CTE programs of study, including internships, mentors and courses specifically designed to prepare students for the world of work by teaching both broad and specific skills, ranked high on the list of proposed solutions to boost preparedness (see chart, at right).

Other findings concur with similar past surveys of employer needs, including the impression that students are underprepared for jobs when entering the workforce, with 69% of hiring managers agreeing that new job seekers lack the necessary skills for success and 61% calling lack of communications skills as a top factor in underpreparedness.

Read the full report here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

By Evan Williamson in CTE: Learning that works for America, Research
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Poll finds overwhelming support for more CTE, internships in high school

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013A new PDK/Gallup poll released Tuesday showed 87 percent of Americans believe high school students should receive “more education about possible career choices.” Further, a majority of Americans agreed that the factors that help students get a good job include working on a real-world project, possessing employability skills such as teamwork and dependability, and having a mentor or advisor.

These results came from the second installment of the 46th annual PDK/Gallup poll. Be sure to check out our coverage of the first data release here, which primarily focused on the Common Core State Standards.

The findings add to a growing cadre of support for CTE in preparing students for success in both college and careers. The disaggregated survey results were filtered into the following categories: national total, public school parents and political affiliation.

Public school parents strongly agreed that high school students should be required to participate in at least one paid or unpaid internship and should be allowed to earn credits toward graduation from instruction they receive outside of school or online. However, results were mixed about whether students should specialize in a career area of their choice during high school.

Given the enthusiasm shown here for exposing students to more career opportunities, there are clear opportunities to continue educating parents and the public about the benefits of CTE and further breakdown the mentality of CTE as an either/or decision for students — particularly when it comes to preparation for college and careers.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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PARCC Sets Benchmark to Define Academic Preparation Necessary for College and Career Readiness

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Governing Board and the PARCC Advisory Committee on College Readiness (ACCR) have established a common benchmark to define the academic preparation necessary for college and career readiness.

Recently, the groups voted unanimously to adopt a College- and Career-Ready Determination (CCRD) policy and Policy-Level Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs). Agreement on a CCRD policy and the PLDs in mathematics and English language arts/literacy is a significant milestone in the development of the next generation assessments, according to a recent PARCC announcement.

The CCRD policy defines the level of academic preparation in English language arts/literacy and mathematics students need to be successful in entry-level, credit-bearing courses in two- and four-year public institutions of higher education. Such institutions include technical colleges that award degrees or credentials aligned to entry requirements of middle- or high-skilled jobs.

Further, students who achieve at the CCR level on the secondary assessments will be able to enter directly into certain entry-level, credit-bearing courses in those subject areas without needing to take placement tests.

The CCRD policy recognizes the importance of academic preparation, but also notes that a focus on that area alone does not encompass the full range of knowledge, skills, and characteristics that students need to be successful. Skills and traits such as persistence, motivation, time management, employability skills and technical skills also are essential. The CCRDs aims to serve as one among many tactics to support students as they work to be college and career ready.

Learn more at http://www.parcconline.org/about-parcc.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By Erin in News
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