Posts Tagged ‘graduation requirements’

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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Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania Adopt New Policies to Help Learners Graduate Career Ready

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Long after the tassels are turned, the podiums are packed away, and the diplomas framed and positioned on the wall, state policymakers are hard at work devising new policies to help the next class of high school students graduate career ready. Whether through career readiness expectations,  Career Technical Education (CTE) graduation endorsements or alternative CTE graduation pathways, helping learners build the skills they need to be successful in their future careers is a priority for policymakers in Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

In Illinois, a new Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) framework comes on the heels of 2016’s Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act. That legislation, designed to enhance the Illinois education system to better prepare learners for college and the workforce, adopted a number of strategies including a competency-based learning pilot, college and career pathway endorsements, and supports for educators and district leaders. Specifically, the law directed the Illinois State Board of Education and other state agencies to identify expectations for students between grades 8 through 12 to be prepared for success after high school. Under the law, these expectations would need to focus on career exploration and development; postsecondary institution exploration, preparation and selection; and financial aid and financial literacy.

Earlier this month, the Illinois State Board of Education formally released the newly-developed PaCE framework, outlining guidelines for college- and career-focused activities at each grade level. Many expectations are aligned to a student’s self-identified career pathway. By the end of 10th grade, for example, students are expected to participate in a mock interview, create a sample resume, and identify an internship opportunity related to their career pathway. However, career exploration is emphasized in earlier grades through Career ClusterⓇ interest surveys and career exploration days. Though use of the framework is voluntary, it is designed to empower local educators and administrators to better target supports to students to ensure they are on track for success after graduation.

Missouri’s New CTE Diploma Endorsement Celebrates Student Achievement

Meanwhile, the Missouri State Board of Education outlined requirements for the state’s new CTE graduation certificate. The certificate program, authorized under 2016’s SB620, is designed to recognize the value add that CTE provides, helping equip students with the technical and employability skills to be more competitive in both college and the workforce. The legislature specifically called on the State Board of Education to work with local school districts to ensure the certificate program does not incentivize tracking, or “separating pupils by academic ability into groups for all subjects or certain classes and curriculum.” Rather, the legislation emphasizes program quality, encouraging local school districts to rely on industry-recognized standards, skills assessments and certificates.

In June, the Missouri State Board of Education finalized requirements for a CTE diploma to recognize students who, in addition to completing their core graduation requirements, focus in a CTE area of study. True to the intent of the law, the requirements above all emphasize achievement. Students are only eligible to receive a CTE endorsement if they, among other requirements, maintain a 3.0 GPA in their CTE concentration, earn an industry-recognized credential or a passing score on a technical skills assessment, complete at least 50 hours of work-based learning, and maintain an attendance record of at least 95 percent throughout high school. By prioritizing student success and achievement, Missouri’s CTE diploma requirements appropriately recognize that CTE enhances the traditional high school experience.

Alternative Assessments for CTE Concentrators in Pennsylvania

Finally, CTE students in Pennsylvania will have more flexible pathways to graduation after lawmakers amended a yet-to-be-implemented examination requirement. The change comes in response to a 2014 State Board of Education rule that required students to pass Keystone examinations in Algebra I, Biology and Literature before graduating. Although the requirement was scheduled to apply statewide for the graduating class of 2017, the legislature last year decided to delay implementation to give the Department of Education enough time to identify alternative assessment opportunities for CTE students.

Under the original policy, students who failed to pass the Keystone examinations could demonstrate competency through project-based assessments in order to meet graduation requirements. However, with low Keystone pass rates and high participation in the burdensome project-based assessment alternatives, the legislature soon realized that additional options needed to be explored.

The new law, HB202, provides CTE concentrators an exemption to the Keystone graduation requirement if they 1) complete grade-based academic requirements and 2) either complete an industry-based certification or demonstrate likelihood of success based on benchmark assessments, course grades and other factors. To meet the industry-based certification requirement, CTE concentrators will be able to choose among state-approved credentials in their area of focus, including National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) examinations.  

While alternative graduation pathways that recognize learners’ career goals help to expand options for high school students, it is important that academic rigor is not the price of flexibility. Graduation requirements should continue to be rigorous and ambitious to ensure all learners are set up for success after graduation, whether they choose to pursue college or careers. The Pennsylvania Department of Education can continue to uphold rigor in CTE programs by ensuring that grade-based academic requirements and selected industry-based certifications are high quality and appropriately reflect the competencies learners need to be successful regardless of their chosen pathway. 

Meanwhile other states have adopted new policies related to CTE and career readiness, including:

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

With Career Technical Education (CTE) in the spotlight and a priority among state leaders across the country, high school graduation requirements are a common leverage point for policies that aim to increase assess to, incentivize participation and recognize success in CTE programs of study.

In 2013 and 2014 alone, 23 different states made adjustments to their high school graduation requirements with some direct impact on Career Technical Education (CTE) course taking or credentials. It should come as no surprise that the requirements look very different from state to state.

NASDCTEc’s newest policy brief, Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements, explores common approaches to offering or requiring CTE courses and assessments within a statewide set of graduation requirements, offers illustrative examples of state-level policies and elevates implementation issues for consideration.

So what did we find?

Regardless of the approach, some common implementation considerations emerged, such as having processes in place for ensuring equality of rigor and quality across pathways and assessments; providing flexibility to allow students to engage in CTE programs of study without having to give up other areas of interests, such as the arts, foreign languages or other academic courses; ensuring students have the opportunity to take the full range of courses that will prepare them for college and careers; and publicly reporting the percentage of students earning the various endorsements to understand their value.

Read the full report to learn more about state graduation requirements and see how your requirements compare.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director

 

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy, Publications, Resources
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Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 6)

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Catching Up SeriesEditor’s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this year’s major state legislative activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be found here as well as the previous installments. For a comprehensive look-back at the 2013 legislative sessions, check out the “2013 CTE Year in Review,” which was published jointly by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education in March.

Within K-12, state legislatures were very active this year, making several changes to programs and high school graduation requirements, to name a few.

Programmatic Changes

Georgia lawmakers amended the state’s Youth Apprenticeship Program through the “Work Based Learning Act,” to increase the number of students and employers participating in such programs in order to produce a “successful twenty-first century workforce,” according to the bill’s text.

Florida also expanded its collegiate high school system by requiring each Florida College System institution to work with the district school board in its designated service area to establish one or more of these programs beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. Additionally, the programs must include an option for students in grades 11 or 12 to earn a CAPE industry certification and to successfully complete 30 credit hours through dual enrollment toward their first year of college.

In Mississippi, lawmakers approved a new pilot program for middle school dropout prevention and recovery. School districts that receive a “D” or “F” rating are eligible to participate if selected by the state Board of Education. The pilot’s purpose is to reengage students and increase the state’s graduation rates through an educational program that provides vocational technology and other instructional models that are self-paced and mastery-based, provide flexible scheduling and a blended learning environment with individualized graduation plans.

Graduation Requirements

Washington lawmakers directed the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop curriculum frameworks for a selected list of Career Technical Education courses with content in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that is considered equivalent to high school graduation requirements in science or math. The law also requires that course content must be aligned with industry standards and the state’s academic standards in math and science. Increasing CTE course equivalencies has been a priority of Washington Governor Jay Inslee. The frameworks are to be submitted to the state Board of Education for approval and implementation for the 2015-16 academic year.

Much like Florida’s change to its graduation requirements in math, Arizona school districts are now allowed to approve a rigorous computer science course to fulfill a mathematics credit for graduation.

As part of its “Alaska Education Opportunity Act” and Governor Sean Parnell’s priorities for this year’s legislative session, lawmakers repealed the state’s high school exit exam and replaced it with a college or career ready assessment such as the ACT, SAT or WorkKeys.

As districts look to implement these new requirements, a new report from ACT may bear some useful insight. In 2005, Illinois lawmakers changed the states’ graduation requirements to a minimum of three years of math and two years of science. ACT found that these new requirements had no significant impact on college-readiness test scores in math and science, though there was a slight improvement in college enrollment. ACT says that these findings suggest that advanced coursework alone isn’t enough to improve student learning.

Next time in the “Catching Up With…” series

This will be the last post for legislatures that wrapped their sessions by May 9. In the weeks to come, we’ll take a closer look at major CTE-related bills from the remaining 25 state legislatures. Stay tuned to learn more!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

By Andrea Zimmermann in Legislation
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State CTE Policy Update

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

State Map

Last month, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a bill into law mandating three years of both mathematics and science for graduation (up from two years of each).  The bill also allows for more flexibility in how mathematics and science requirements can be met; a computer science course, for example, can count as a mathematics credit and certain CTE courses may apply towards either content area as well. Wisconsin already has a process in place for awarding academic credit for technical courses (the CTE equivalency credit), which is now being expanded.

Also in December, Washington DC became the ninth “state” to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), joining Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

A state legislator in Indiana recently announced new work on a bill that would offer a new diploma focused on CTE. While details are limited at this time, the bill would create a process for CTE-focused courses and curricula to be developed that would allow students to meet the 20 credits currently required by the state’s default graduation requirement – the Core 40 – more flexibly.

The Computing Education Blog analyzed the 2013 data on the AP Computer Science exam and found that in three states – Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming – no female students took that AP exam, and the state with the highest percentage of female test-takers (Tennessee), females still only represented 29% of all test takers. Additionally no Black students took the exam in 11 states - Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Given the high demand in the IT field – from computer support specialists and programmers to designers and engineers – these trends are particularly troubling, although a nunber of states, such as Wisconsin (as described above) and Washington, are trying to upend this trend by allowing AP Computer Science courses to count towards core math and science requirements.

And, finally, in news that will impact a number of states, ACT has announced they will be phasing out the Explore and PLAN tests, their 8th and 10th grade tests, which are aligned with the 11th grade ACT. This decision marks a shift for ACT away from their current assessment system to Aspire, their new line of 3-8 assessments, which will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  Alabama has already begun using the Aspire system this school year, the first and only state to fully commit to the assessment system at this time.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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State CTE Policy Updates: Texas Edition

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

State Map

Earlier this month, Governor Perry of Texas signed into law five major education bills all of which are related to or directly impact Career Technical Education (CTE) in the Lone Star state. Below is a high-level summary of each of the bills.

HB 5
The most significant bill is the 100+ page HB 5, which addresses a wide array of issues, many of which have a direct impact on Career Technical Education in the state.  The most significant changes are that students now only need to take five end-of-course exams for graduation, down from 12 exams, and revisions to the high school graduation requirements. While the end-of-course assessments used to count towards 15% of a student’s grade, a student’s performance on the assessments can no longer be used for this purpose or to determine class rank (which is significant given Texas’ policy of open access to public institutions of higher education for those students in the top 10% of their class or “the 10 percent rule”).

As far as the changes to the graduation requirements, currently, all students are automatically enrolled into the Recommended High School Program, a curriculum set at the college- and career-ready level and aligned with most admissions requirements at the state’s public four-year institutions. Students can choose to opt down into a lower diploma track. Texas was the first state in the country to adopt such graduation requirements at the college- and career-ready level for all students.

Under the new system, however, students will be automatically enrolled in the “Foundation” program, requiring four years of English; three credits in mathematics (including Algebra I and geometry), science (including biology and chemistry or physics), and social studies; two credits in the same language (including computer programming languages); five elective credits; and one fine arts credit.

Students can also pursue CTE-focused endorsements in STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, and Multidisciplinary Studies, which requires a fourth year of math and science (or advanced CTE courses), two additional elective credits, and some concentration of CTE courses, which is largely undefined in the legislation. Students can also graduate with “distinguished level of achievement” by completing the Foundation requirements plus a fourth year of mathematics (including Algebra II), a fourth credit of science, and an endorsement.  Importantly, only students who graduate at the “distinguished” level will be able to take advantage of the automatic state college admissions under the top 10 percent rule.

A few other key provisions include:

HB 2201: Increase in Advanced Technology and Career-Related Courses
This bill requires that the State Board of Education identifies and approves at least six advanced CTE and/or technology application courses that may satisfy the fourth credit of mathematics (required for endorsements and the distinguished-level diploma.  The Act specifically mentions personal financial literacy as one option of an acceptable course.

The law also changes earlier language, allowing students to substitute their third and fourth years of mathematics and science courses with “advanced career and technical course[s] designated by the State Board of Education as containing substantively similar and rigorous and academic content.” Finally, this bill directs the State Board to establish a process for reviewing and approving applied science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses to count towards students’ mathematics and science requirements, after they have completed Algebra I and biology. [Note: This bill has been wrapped into HB 5].

SB 441: Texas Fast Start Program
This bill requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to identify and develop models to support “fast start” programs at Texas’ junior colleges, state public colleges, and public technical institutions that effectively enable students to obtain postsecondary certificates and degrees at an accelerated pace. The fast start programs can incorporate competency-based learning techniques, must be accessible to a range of adult leaners, and must be deployable statewide.

HB 3662: Texas Workforce Innovation Needs Program
This bill establishes the Texas Workforce Innovation Needs Program to provide districts and institutions of higher education opportunities to create and offer innovative programs designed to prepare students for high-demand careers. The awarded programs must focus on student engagement through competency-based learning anchored in the goal of students earning postsecondary certificates or degrees and incorporate CTE dual enrollment or early college opportunities. A major goal of this bill is to develop model programs and practices that can be shared statewide.  The Act takes effect in September 2013; it is unclear exactly when sites will be selected.

HB 842: CTE & College Credit
This bill clarifies and broadens the state’s current dual enrollment policy to allow students to earn concurrent academic credit for a course or activity, including an apprenticeship or another training program, that leads to an industry-recognized credential, certificate or associate’s degree and is approved by the Texas Higher Education Commission.  The bill goes into effect for the 2013-14 school year.

HB 809: Employment Information for Secondary School Students
This bill requires the Texas Education Agency to provide employment projection data to school districts in support of CTE planning based on data received on a quarterly basis from the Texas Workforce Commission.

There has been significant coverage of these policy changes – some positive, some not-so-positive (including this piece from Representative Mark Strama: Why I Voted Against HB 5) but now the hard work begins of implementing the education overhaul.

 

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy
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State CTE Policy Updates

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

State MapThis past month, there has been overwhelming action on the Career Technical Education (CTE) front across states, with major bills passing in Texas, Colorado, Vermont, Alabama, Washington and Oklahoma as well as bills pending in Michigan and North Carolina. As Texas had a number of CTE-related bills pass in the last few weeks, we’ll post a separate blog on Texas’ CTE policy changes later this week.

CTE Funding in Alabama
Last month, Alabama passed a $50 million bond issue to support technology and Career Technical Education programs. The bonds will likely be sold next year, with $10 million divided among schools based on the technology programs of offered; $20 million distributed based on the number of CTE students at each school; and the final $20 million to be distributed through grants. While this has a direct positive impact on CTE program across the state, all students will benefit from a new investment in technology.

Colorado’s Competency-based Graduation Requirements & Career Pathways
The Colorado State Board of Education revised the state’s graduation requirements in May, putting in place competency-based requirements, which hinge on students’ mastery of content rather than seat time.  The state has created “graduation guidelines,” outlining ways in which students can demonstrate mastery in the four major content areas (English, mathematics, social studies and science), such as earning a certain score on the ACT, PARCC or statewide assessment; passing a concurrent/dual enrollment course; or passing an AP/IB exam. Starting in 2015-16, the state will allow certain capstone experiences to count and by 2013-13, the state will develop a list of potentially eligible industry-based certificates that may count towards competency in various content areas.  Local education agencies are expected to set their own district-level requirements in alignment with the state policy.

Colorado also passed a bill directing the state board for community colleges and occupational education, with K-12 and postsecondary partners, to design a career pathway for students in the manufacturing sector. The pathway must include industry-validated stackable certificates, multiple entry and exit points, and allow a student to earn income while progressing through the pathway.

Maryland’s Degree Goals & Statewide Transfer Agreements
Maryland recently passed “The College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013” formalizing the Governor’s postsecondary degree goals (55% adults will have an associate’s degree by 2025) and requiring statewide transfer agreements between the state’s two- and four-year institutions of higher education. Specifically, the bill calls on the Maryland Higher Education Commission to develop and implement a transfer agreement where, by 2016, at least 60 credits earned by a student at any community college towards an associate’s degree will be transferable to any public higher education institution for credit towards a bachelor’s degree and a reverse transfer agreement where at least 30 credits earned by a student at a four-year institution will be transferable to a community college.

The Act also requires all public institutions of higher education to create graduation progress benchmarks for each major, which includes scheduling guidance, credit and course criteria, and schedules for regular periodic reviews of student progress. Finally, the bill requires four years of mathematics for students in high school and institutionalizes the PARCC assessments by requiring all students to be assessed using an acceptable college placement cut score by 11th grade to determine if they are ready for credit-bearing coursework in English/Literacy and mathematics.

The Maryland legislature also funded Governor O’Malley’s $2 million Early College Innovation Fund to incentivize early college access programs for students pursuing CTE and/or STEM disciplines. Specifically, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will generate competitive grants to fund partnerships of local school systems and higher education institutions to create early college high schools or other forms of early college access. Priority would be given to proposals that provide students with credentials (in the form of degrees, certificates, and certifications, as appropriate) in fields for which there is high demand in Maryland.

Oklahoma’s Competency-Based Graduation Requirements
Oklahoma recently updated their graduation requirements, broadening each of the content area course requirements to be met by “units” completed or “competencies” demonstrated by students. As such, students can receive course credit for demonstrated proficiency rather than just instructional time moving forward.

Vermont’s Flexible Pathways Initiative
A new bill in Vermont creates the Flexible Pathways Initiative, establishing statewide dual enrollment and early college programs. This bill amends the state’s high school completion program by allowing flexible pathways students to pursue pathways to graduation that include applied or work-based learning opportunities, including internships. It also calls for career exploration to no later than seventh grade for all students.

Computer Science in Washington
Last month, Governor Inslee in Washington signed a bill allowing an AP Computer Science course to count towards students’ mathematics or science requirements for graduation.  Washington already allows districts to adopt course equivalences for CTE high school courses towards a full or partial academic credit; this bill requires districts to allow AP computer science courses to count as mathematics or science courses. For the computer science course to count towards a mathematics credit, however, the student must have already completed or be currently enrolled in Algebra II.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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