Posts Tagged ‘ESSA’

Expanding Work-Based Learning Under ESSA and Perkins V

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

This blog was originally posted by the Education Commission of the States on the EdNote education policy blog. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

The World Economic Forum predicts that, by 2022, the widespread advancement of high-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and cloud technology will transform up to 75 million jobs. To prepare for the future of work, today’s students need to know how to navigate an increasingly fluid, technology-based workforce — and work-based learning can help them get there.

Work-based learning — which can include low-exposure activities, such as career fairs or job shadowing, or intensive, sustained experiences, such as an internships or pre-apprenticeships — helps students gain real-world skills under the guidance and mentorship of industry professionals.

While work-based learning is often delivered at the local level in coordination with education and business leaders, states play a critical role in setting expectations and scaling work-based learning for all students. With new flexibility in both the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), state leaders have the opportunity to strengthen and scale work-based learning to ensure all students can develop real-world skills.

One specific leverage point between ESSA and Perkins V is accountability. Under ESSA, states are given the flexibility to choose a measure of school quality or student success that aligns with their visions and priorities for public education. Forty states adopted measures of career readiness in their accountability systems — more than double the number of states with career readiness indicators in 2014. Of those states, 12 are specifically counting work-based learning as a measure of success for high school students.

These states can take their ESSA accountability systems into consideration as they define and set performance targets for Perkins V. When Perkins V was reauthorized in 2018, Congress gave states the opportunity to choose a secondary CTE program quality indicator from among three options, one of which is a measure of work-based learning completion. This indicator only applies to the population of students graduating high school after concentrating in CTE programs, but states can still use the opportunity to align definitions, data collection cycles and reporting between Perkins V and ESSA to elevate the importance of work-based learning in high school.

State and local leaders can also braid funding from ESSA and Perkins to strengthen and expand work-based learning opportunities for students. State leaders can start by mapping different funding streams between each of the laws and identifying critical opportunities. For example, they can use ESSA funds to train school leaders on integrating rigorous academics and work-based learning and Perkins V leadership funds to establish and scale work-based learning opportunities for students. Working in tandem, both ESSA and Perkins V can be used in service of a broader statewide work-based learning initiative.

But state leaders should ground this work in a shared vision for work-based learning. A statewide vision sets common expectations and resources for those managing work-based learning experiences on the ground and can help build consensus through meaningful and sustained employer and stakeholder engagement.

This approach has been widely effective in Tennessee, where state leaders have made a coordinated effort to define and align expectations for work-based learning in order to achieve the state’s Drive to 55 goal of increasing the percentage of adults in the state with a postsecondary credential or certification. In 2014, the state board of education mapped out a framework for work-based learning to clearly articulate the expectations and components that would make up a high-quality experience. This framework has been used at the state and local levels to drive work-based learning delivery.

In short, work-based learning is a critical strategy to help learners develop the real-world skills and experiences they need to prepare for the future of work. State policymakers can expand access to work-based learning opportunities through ESSA and Perkins V implementation by aligning data collection and accountability, braiding funding and setting a statewide vision.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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Putting Afterschool to Work: Career Exploration in Out of School Settings

Monday, June 24th, 2019

As a middle school student, Jesse Eberly first discovered his interest in computer science at an afterschool and summer learning program in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania called Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE). Now a senior at the Carbon Career & Technical Institute (CCTI), Jesse remembers building a shed the summer he joined SHINE as his first hands-on learning experience. The next year, he began taking afterschool computer classes in drafting and design on the CCTI campus, and the rest was history.

His experiences in afterschool led him to attend CCTI and specialize in Information Technology, computer engineering and networking, while still connecting with SHINE as a volunteer. Now a recent graduate of CCTI, he wants to build upon the credits he has already earned to complete a degree in cybersecurity and eventually work at the Pentagon. Jesse knows it is time to do away with the old stigma around tech schools. “If the career you want to have is offered there” he said, “it’s great.” And through his early experiences in SHINE’s afterschool and summer programs, Jesse knew what career he wanted to have.

Early Career Exposure Through SHINE

Afterschool programs like SHINE give elementary and middle school students the opportunity to explore and prepare for different careers by delivering developmentally appropriate curriculum. They are effective in building student’s academic and technical skills as well as social and emotional development, including employability skills like teamwork, communication and critical thinking. In fact, 77 percent of parents nationally agree that afterschool programs can help students develop workforce skills. These programs can reinforce and strengthen learning in the classroom and should be critical partners for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs or other career-focused learning.

Activities in the SHINE program, for example, are focused around high-priority occupations in health care, engineering, and green energy, giving students a chance to see how they can apply their education to in-demand careers. The program began as part of a community-wide plan to create seamless educational services from the elementary through high school system, including the area’s career and technical center and on to college.

Afterschool programs can also expose middle school students to different career opportunities they might not have considered otherwise. Skyler, another recent graduate of CCTI, has volunteered and worked in the SHINE program through all four years of high school.  She helped establish two-week summer camps with a focus on exposing middle schoolers to non-traditional careers. The camps provide opportunities for girls in carpentry, auto collision repair and engineering, and for boys in culinary arts, cosmetology and nursing. Last year at CCTI, Skyler ran into one of her former campers, a young man entering his freshman year, who had just signed up for a rotation in nursing. ‘If you hadn’t come to the camp would you have tried nursing?” She recalls asking. “Absolutely not”, he responded.

 

State Strategies to Expand Career Exploration Opportunities in Afterschool Programs

All elementary and middle school students should be able to access programs like SHINE, and state leaders play a critical role in supporting and expanding these opportunities. Many afterschool programs like SHINE are funded through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)’s 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program, which gives states the flexibility to set priorities and determine how funds will be used at the local level. With ESSA’s focus on well-rounded education, several states have opted to promote career exploration and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in afterschool programs.

In Pennsylvania, where SHINE is based, the state set the following priorities for ESSA-funded afterschool programs in its state plan: STEM education; workforce, career and college readiness; and planning for transitional, vocational/technical services. Pennsylvania is also elevating career exploration up as a statewide priority by holding schools and districts accountable for career exploration through school and district report cards, encouraging students to complete an individualized career plan by eighth grade.

Opportunities for Alignment with Perkins V

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which was reauthorized last year, also give states the opportunity to connect CTE and afterschool programs. One significant change under Perkins V is that states can now invest Perkins funds in middle school CTE programs, allowing them to begin career exploration activities in even earlier grades. To maximize the effectiveness of these activities, state leaders should consider how to bridge afterschool career exploration with school-based content and curriculum to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom.

State leaders can also take steps to foster collaboration between afterschool and CTE programs through Perkins V by engaging state afterschool leaders, aligning curriculum and resources, and encouraging local Perkins recipients to engage afterschool programs as they develop their local applications. In the national effort to expand career exploration and prepare learners for career success, afterschool programs can play a critical role.

This blog post is the first in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. It was written by Jillian Luchner from the Afterschool Alliance, Christopher Neitzey from the Afterschool Alliance and Austin Estes from Advance CTE.

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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How States Are Leveraging ESSA to Advance Career Readiness

Monday, April 1st, 2019

By now the consensus in the education community is clear: in addition to a strong academic foundation, students should be able to access other experiences in high school — physical education, the arts, Career Technical Education (CTE) — that provide added value to their education and increase the likelihood of postsecondary success.

The notion that high schools should provide a “well-rounded education” was codified in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. The law, which Congress passed with bipartisan support, provides several opportunities for integrating CTE and other well-rounded learning opportunities into the traditional high school experience, which Advance CTE has covered extensively on this blog and in our publications. More than four years after the law was passed, some states have begun to leverage these opportunities to advance career readiness  in high school.

Expanding Opportunities for Each Child in Ohio

One often overlooked opportunity in ESSA is the Direct Student Services (DSS) provision. DSS allows states to set aside up to 3 percent of their basic Title I grants to help local education agencies expand access to advanced coursework and CTE. Only two states — Louisiana and New Mexico — opted to use the allowance in their submitted ESSA plans. But they were soon joined by Ohio, which decided in 2018 to leverage the DSS allowance to launch a new grant program called Expanding Opportunities for Each Child.

The program has two primary objectives: developing and expanding access to career pathways that culminate in high-value credentials and promoting access and success in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). These objectives are aligned with Ohio’s strategic priorities for secondary education, which emphasize postsecondary readiness and preparation for college and career. Ohio’s decision to use the DSS allowance was based on the idea that freeing up additional resources would help local education agencies better support student achievement and transitions to post-high school pathways.

In July 2018, Ohio awarded more than $7.2 million in three-year grants to 17 recipients. Fourteen will be conducting career pathways development and three will be expanding access to AP and IB courses. A second round of applications is expected to be issued later in the 2018-19 school year.  

Building Capacity for STEM Learning in Georgia

Though the Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program, Congress authorized funding to the tune of $1.6 billion to enhance well-rounded education, school safety and the effective use of technology in schools. While the program has not been fully funded by Congress, it still provides significant resources to help schools deliver a well-rounded education, including CTE and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

While most states have left the determination of how to spend Title IV funds up to local leaders, some have issued guidance or put together trainings to help schools leverage their resources in service of statewide priorities for career readiness.

Georgia is one such example. In its ESSA plan, the state committed to using Title IV funds to strengthen school counseling, computer science and STEM. Since then, Georgia has used Title IV funds to hire two full-time STEM coordinators, one in the southwest region and one in the southeast region. The coordinators are working to build STEM learning opportunities for schools and strengthen STEM pipelines in their areas. Additionally, Georgia has allocated Title IV funds to develop an online STEM incubator learning pathway to help district and school leaders navigate the process for certifying STEM schools.

Curating CTE Open Educational Resources in Nebraska

Another state that is using Title IV funds to boost career readiness is Nebraska. Leaders in the state are using Title IV funds to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. This is a key feature of the state’s new Open Educational Resources (OER) Hub, which was launched in February 2019 and provides open access resources aligned with Nebraska’s college and career ready standards.

The work is still in the early stages, but Nebraska hopes to build out the CTE resources in the OER Hub later this summer by engaging CTE teachers to share, curate and develop rigorous digital resources that can be adopted and modified in the classroom. The state will provide stipends and cover travel expenses for participating CTE teachers. While this work is starting with three career areas — business, marketing, and management; communication and information systems; and human sciences and education — Nebraska plans to expand the resources to the remaining three state-identified career areas soon.

States made bold commitments in their ESSA plans to expand access to advanced coursework and career pathways. This is best demonstrated by the fact that 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state and federal accountability systems. But few states are going the extra mile to align ESSA implementation with their plans for career readiness. Ohio, Georgia and Nebraska demonstrate three different approaches states can take to advance career readiness through ESSA.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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The Number of States Counting Career Readiness Has More than Doubled Since 2014

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

In a strong signal of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness in high school, 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state or federal high school accountability systems. Fewer than half as many – 17 – were measuring career readiness just five years ago.

The sophistication and design of the measures has evolved as well, and many states are working to intentionally link their accountability systems with high-quality career pathways.

That’s according to a new analysis from Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, Achieve and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The report, the third edition in the Making Career Readiness Count series, uses a four-pronged framework that was developed by an expert workgroup and outlined in the report Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems  to categorize how states are measuring college and career readiness.

The four categories used in the analysis provide a blueprint for states to develop and evolve rigorous measures. They each outline three levels that build upon one another, from Fundamental, to Advanced and Exceptional. The categories are:

Overall, the most common measure used across the states is Assessment of Readiness, with thirty states and the District of Columbia valuing experiences that are aligned with the Destination Known recommendations. Another 12 states include out of sequence measures that are aligned with this indicator but do not include the Fundamental measure, attainment of state-defined college- and career-ready level on a high school summative assessment. The vast majority of states counted under the Assessment of Readiness category are measuring industry-recognized credential attainment.

Another commonly used measure is Progress Toward Post-High School Credential. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia include measures aligned with the Destination Known recommendations, and another 22 states include out of sequence indicators. A number of states include either pathway completion or dual enrollment coursework in their accountability plans without requiring that experience to be accompanied by the completion of a state-defined college- and career-ready course of study, which is the Fundamental measurement in this category.

Twelve states include a Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences measure in their state or federal accountability systems, often looking at work-based learning participation. Eight states include information on Transitions Beyond High School, reporting either postsecondary enrollment or postsecondary enrollment without the need for remediation.

With all of the progress states have made, there is still room to strengthen and improve measures of career readiness. For example, states should be explicit about how career readiness components – such as work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials and dual enrollment – align to each other and to a students’ career pathways. They should also be transparent with their data and put thought and care into designing accountability systems that value and encourage the experiences that are best aligned with the outcomes they want for students. These and other opportunities are discussed in the report, Making Career Readiness Count 3.0.

The even harder work ahead is to support all students in their preparation for and transition to college, career and life. Regardless of the path students choose to pursue, they need to be transition ready. State and federal accountability systems can and should be used to highlight areas for improvement and connect programs and students with the supports they need to be successful.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Advance CTE Resources, Public Policy, Publications, Research, Resources
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This Week in CTE

Friday, November 30th, 2018

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

The U.S. Department of Education has approved plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for all states and territories. They have also released guidance for new state leaders who want to amend their state ESSA plans. According to the guidance, states will need to submit an update with redlined language and a cover letter summarizing any changes. New plans will need to be submitted by March 1, 2019 to be considered.

With plans approved, reports are being published with a focus on how equity is being addressed in these state plans including the progress being made towards implementation. Read our blog to learn more about those reports.

To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that affects Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

The Every Student Succeeds Act: What is in it? What does it mean for equity?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, originally passed in 1965, was reauthorized by Congress in December 2015 and renamed the Every Student Succeeds Act Watch this video to get a brief overview of the meaningful levers that education leaders, parents, members of the business and civil rights communities, and advocates can use to advance education equity.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Seizing the Moment: A District Guide to Advance Equity Through ESSA

The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program, Chiefs for Change, EducationCounsel, and Education First partnered to create Seizing the Moment: A District Guide to Advance Equity Through ESSA. This package of tools identifies potential barriers to equity and opportunities to utilize federal funds to strengthen local equity priorities. The purpose is to provide ways ESSA can be used to break down silos between traditional federal programs and local initiatives to advance equity in education. This framework provides an accompanying brief for each of the following: equity priorities:

  1. Leveraging School Improvement to Advance Equity
  2. Ensuring Equitable Funding
  3. Increasing Access to Effective Teachers and Leaders
  4. Supporting English Learners
  5. Increasing Access to Advanced Coursework
  6. Addressing Disproportionate Discipline Practices
  7. Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
  8. Improving Access to High-Quality Instructional Materials

Learn more about this tool here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

By Nicole Howard in Uncategorized
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In Idaho and Indiana, Governors Celebrate Successes and Make Bold Commitments for CTE in the Year Ahead

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

The 2018 legislative session is heating up and, as is tradition in many states, Governors have kicked off the season by laying out their policy agendas in their annual addressed to their state legislatures. Last year, career readiness emerged as a top priority for most states, with 24 governors elevating Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce training in their speeches. Already, it looks like that trend will continue in 2018.

In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter celebrated the work of his higher education and workforce development task forces, which were both authorized by executive order early last year, and committed to implementing their recommendations. These include hiring an executive officer for higher education, expanding capacity at postsecondary technical schools, incentivizing high school CTE programs, and expanding CTE offerings to 7th and 8th grade.

Meanwhile, Governor Eric Holcomb laid out an agenda for CTE in his address to the Indiana state legislature earlier this week. In December, the State Board of Education adopted new pathways to graduation that elevate the role of work-based learning and CTE in high school pathways. In his address, Gov. Holcomb celebrated this decision and committed to making the high school diploma even more meaningful by developing K-12 computer science standards, investing in professional development for teachers, and establishing a state work-based learning and apprenticeship office with the goal of doubling the number of work-based learning opportunities in the state by 2019.

In other states, governors committed to expanding tuition-free college, investing in work-based learning opportunities, and supporting programs like Jobs for America’s Graduates that connect at-risk youth with education and training opportunities. While only a handful of states have held their 2018 state of state events already, more than half of these speeches are scheduled to take place in January.

New Money for High-demand CTE Programs

After a busy 2017, states are turning to the work of executing new policies and programs. In last year’s session, the Indiana legislature outlined a revised CTE funding formula to better align resources with workforce demand. Under the tiered funding structure, programs receive more money if they are in demand and lead to high wages. The new funding formula will not go into effect until July, but programs are already seeing changes to their designations and are anticipating funding shifts.

In Michigan, new funding for CTE will soon make landfall through a $5 million competitive grant initiative. The initiative was authorized in November by the legislature and is part of a $12.5 million appropriation for CTE equipment upgrades. Grants will be awarded to school districts in partnership with institutions of higher education and are designed to strengthen high-quality career pathways in high-demand, high-wage fields.

Register for Upcoming Advance CTE Webinars

Finally, Advance CTE has a few webinars on the schedule related to state CTE policy:

(January 17, 3:00pm ET) Leveraging ESSA’s Momentum to Advance Career Readiness: This webinar will share the findings from Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group’s full analysis of ESSA state plans and explore trends across all states. Participants will also hear from state leaders in South Dakota and Rhode Island who are using their ESSA plans to build and capitalize on momentum around career readiness. Participants can register here.

(January 31, 2:00pm ET) State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review: Join Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education to unpack findings from the “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review” report. The webinar will explore recent trends in state CTE policy and examine how the CTE policy landscape has changed over the past few years. Participants can register here.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy, Webinars
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ESSA Marks A Watershed Moment for Career Readiness, But States Leave Many Opportunities On the Table

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

This year marked a pivotal moment for K-12 education. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, state leaders have spent the last two years reexamining and strategizing they way they deliver K-12 education. Now that the last ESSA plans have been written and submitted, we finally have a national picture of state priorities for education, including how K-12 education systems will support and reinforce career preparation opportunities.

One of the key priorities for ESSA is alignment and conformity across different federal and state systems. ESSA gives states the flexibility to hold schools accountable, measure student outcomes, and provide supports and technical assistance in a way that is aligned with their own priorities. States are encouraged to streamline services across Career Technical Education (CTE), workforce development and higher education and truly support learners to achieve career success.

Today Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group released an update to Career Readiness & the Every Student Succeeds Act: Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans. The report examines state plans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see how states are taking advantage of key opportunities to support career readiness. Overall, two key takeaways rise to the surface:

Kentucky’s plan, for example, draws on economic priorities to undergird accountability and supports across each of the different titles in the law. The plan describes the five key industry sectors in the commonwealth of Kentucky and clearly articulates the role that CTE and K-12 education play in preparing learners for success in the modern workforce. Kentucky’s accountability system reinforces this priority by measuring and holding schools accountable for key career readiness metrics, including industry-recognized credential attainment, CTE dual credit completion, apprenticeships and more.

The report also profiles state plans for Title II, Part A funding, which supports the development of teachers and school administrators, and Title IV, which provides critical funding to expand access to opportunities for a “well-rounded education.”

State leaders have completed the tremendous work of engaging stakeholders, identifying priorities and developing strategic action plans to drive education in their states. Now they are tasked with implementing those plans. Given the growing profile of CTE and the elevated role of career readiness in state ESSA plans, the path ahead is promising. But now is the critical time to act, and states should ensure that they fully leverage all of ESSA’s opportunities and follow through on the commitments they made in their plans.  

In addition to the report, a supplemental appendix profiling specific state strategies and an infographic of key takeaways are available to download.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy, Publications, Research
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Leveraging Federal Policy to Strengthen Rural CTE

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

New Resource from Advance CTE Identifies Key Leverage Points

Today Advance CTE released a new cheat sheet to help state leaders identify and leverage federal policy to strengthen rural CTE. The brief, developed as part of Advance CTE’s CTE on the Frontier initiative, examines policy and funding intersections between the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The resource is designed as a conversation starter to help state leaders align supports and services in their states.

Rural America is home to 9.1 million K-12 students and more than half of the nation’s school districts. Many of these students do not go on to earn a postsecondary credential or degree. Only 28 percent of rural adults above the age of 25 held at least a 2-year degree in 2015, compared to 41 percent of urban adults.

CTE can help close this gap and prepare rural learners for the world of work. Already, states are adopting creative measures to ensure programs are high quality, connect rural learners with authentic work-based learning experiences, expand the breadth of options available in rural institutions and strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline. Many of these efforts are supported with state and local funds, but states are also leveraging Perkins reserve funds as well. 

The reserve fund is one of many leverage points in federal legislation that states can use to strengthen CTE in rural areas. Under the Perkins Act, states can set aside up to 10 percent of local funds to provide formula or competitive grants to recipients with either rural populations, high numbers of Career Technical Education (CTE) students or high percentages of CTE students. In Montana, state leaders have used the reserve fund to strengthen Big Sky Pathways in rural schools and focus dollars and supports on state priorities such as expanding dual credit opportunities.

According to a recent survey from Advance CTE, 38 state CTE directors reported using the reserve fund option in 2017, and 27 of those said that supporting rural students is one of the focus areas for their reserve funds this year. States can change their reserve fund priorities from year to year, but the fact that more than half are using the fund to augment rural CTE efforts is a testament to the need in rural communities.

Another example of how federal education programs can be leveraged to support rural communities is the Rural Education Achievement Program under ESSA, which provides supplemental funds to rural schools and districts that can be used to support other local activities. With ESSA’s renewed focus on career readiness and well-rounded education, schools and districts can use these funds to design and expand CTE programs of study, provide professional development for CTE and academic teachers, expand dual credit opportunities, and more. By braiding funds, aligning policy priorities, coordinating service delivery and working to remove barriers across programs, state leaders can better meet the needs of rural learners.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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States Can Strengthen Career Readiness Under ESSA; Will Round Two States Seize the Opportunity?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Nearly two years of planning came to a head on Monday as states hit the second plan submission window under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Under the law, states are required to engage in stakeholder consultation and develop a comprehensive, statewide strategy for spending and holding districts and schools accountable for billions of dollars in K-12 federal education funding.

Secretary Betsy DeVos’s Education Department is now responsible for reviewing and approving state implementation plans. However, review of the first round of state plans is still ongoing and four round two states have been granted an extension due to this year’s catastrophic hurricane season. Since the initial submission window in April of this year, Sec. DeVos has publicly approved 14 out of 17 plans, with Michigan, Massachusetts and Colorado still waiting for approval. The department is expected to approve those plans shortly. Among the states scheduled to submit plans this week, Texas, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina — each still reeling from the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma — have been permitted to submit their pans later this fall.

Not all state plans have gone without controversy either. The extensive plan development process surfaced differences of opinion between various policymakers and stakeholders. In a few cases, state governors refused to sign their state plans before they were submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. While states are required to provide the governor 30 days to review and comment on the plan, ESSA does not explicitly require the governor’s approval.

Career Readiness in ESSA

As Advance CTE has discussed at length, there are several leverage points within ESSA — most of them new in this version of the law — that policymakers can use to drive career readiness in their states. The primary leverage points include:

While 11 of the first 17 submitted state plans included (or plan to include) a career-focused measure in their high school accountability rating systems, states overall missed the opportunity to fully leverage ESSA to maximize career readiness. Only five states describes specific state-level activities to support career readiness, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and/or dual enrollment under Title IV, Part A. And only two states identified opportunities to support blended academic and technical professional development under Title II, Part B.

Nevertheless, there is still flexibility for state and local leaders to go beyond what is specifically laid out in their ESSA plans to adopt career readiness strategies and prepare learners for post-high school transitions. Local education agencies must develop their own strategic plans for using ESSA funds. Depending on their local context, school districts may elect to prioritize work-based learning, credential attainment and CTE programs of study.

In the coming months, Advance CTE will review the 34 remaining ESSA plans to determine where and how states are making connections between ESSA and career readiness. This analysis, to be released later this year, will update this summer’s “Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans” report.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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In Ohio, Policymakers Modify Graduation Requirements, Expand Credential Options

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

When Ohio state legislators passed HB487 in 2014, their intention was to increase flexibility, strengthen the rigor of high school examinations and provide more opportunities for learners to graduate ready for careers. Among other reforms, the bill formalized three pathways to graduation that would go into effect for the graduating class of 2018 (those students starting grade 12 this fall). These pathways include earning a remediation-free score on a college entrance examination, earning a cumulative passing score on seven end-of-course exams, or earning certain state-approved industry-recognized credentials.

But when local superintendents raised concerns about the policy earlier this year, state policymakers made critical last-minute changes and adopted additional graduation options. The concern was largely rooted in the idea that new end-of-course examinations were more difficult than previous versions and that many students would fall short of the full points needed to earn a diploma. Local leaders worried that the state graduation rate would fall by as much as a third under the new requirements.

In responses to this concern, Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and the State Board of Education identified a temporary solution that would provide additional flexibility and delay full implementation for a year. That modification was officially adopted and authorized by the legislature in the fiscal year 2018-19 operating budget, passed in June. Under the policy change, students in the class of 2018 will have two additional opportunities to earn a high school diploma. Under one pathway, students will still have to earn 20 course credits and take end-of-course exams, but they can also graduate by meeting at least two of the following:

An additional pathway allows students to earn a diploma by completing end-of-course examinations, finishing at least four courses in a state approved CTE program of study, and either earning a proficient score on technical skill assessments, earning an industry-recognized credential or completing 250 hours of work-based learning. While these changes only apply to the graduation class of 2018, the state hopes to develop a long-term solution soon.

Ohio Students Now Have More Options to Earn Industry-Recognized Credentials

Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Education expanded options for students on the credential graduation pathway by adopting 49 new industry-recognized credentials. The current list spans 13 career fields ranging from health to hospitality and tourism. To be added to the list, credentials must either be aligned with in-demand occupations in Ohio or be submitted for consideration by members of the public.

To help learners take full advantage of the industry-recognized credential pathway and cross the finish line with credentials in hand, Ohio is also implementing a senior only credential program. The program is designed to help high school seniors who have met most of their graduation requirements round out their senior year and graduate career ready. Participating students can choose from several credentials — such as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Approved Veterinary Assistant credential or the American Medical Certification Association Phlebotomy Technician Certification — that can be earned within a year or less. The senior year credential program is a key piece of Ohio’s career readiness strategy under the New Skills for Youth initiative.

Elsewhere, States Authorize New Grants, Modify Course Requirements and Finalize ESSA Plans

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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