Posts Tagged ‘Core Plus’

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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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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