Posts Tagged ‘Middle grades’

Middle Grades CTE: Policy

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

There is widespread agreement that high school is too late to begin to expose learners to careers and the foundational skills needed to access and succeed in careers, but there remains a lack of consensus about what Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness should entail at the middle grades level. 

Advance CTE, with support from ACTE, convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup of national, state and local leaders to identify the core components of a meaningful middle grades CTE experience. This collaboration resulted in Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE and a companion blog series exploring each of the core programmatic elements of middle grades CTE defined in the paper. In this last entry in the blog series, we will examine effective middle grades CTE policy.

Policy actions often play a critical role in expanding access to high-quality middle grades CTE opportunities. Through effective policy actions, state CTE leaders can remove barriers that may prevent learners from accessing middle grades CTE opportunities, ensure there is adequate funding to support middle grades CTE, and create environments to incubate and scale middle grade CTE opportunities.

In 2014, H.B. 487 was enacted into law in Ohio, requiring schools to provide CTE courses in seventh and eighth grades by the 2015-16 school year. As a result, Ohio became one of the only states that requires the availability of CTE courses to middle school students at scale. Districts that do not want to offer middle school CTE must submit a public waiver to the Ohio Department of Education. Since the passage of the law, Ohio has seen a dramatic increase in access to CTE programs, with 21,551 students participating in middle grades CTE in 2015 and more than 73,728 students participating in middle grades CTE in 2017.

Similarly, In 2017, the Maine Legislature passed L.D. 1576, which updated the state’s definition of CTE to include language about middle school, effectively allowing middle school students in grades six through eight to participate in CTE. To expand access to middle grades CTE, the Maine Department of Education developed a Middle School CTE Pilot program, which allows institutions to apply for grants to pilot CTE opportunities that provide hands-on and interactive activities to middle grades students, as further described in an earlier entry in this blog series. 

Numerous states plan to leverage the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which allows states to use Perkins funding to support CTE as early as the fifth grade, to expand access to CTE opportunities for middle grades students. For instance, Massachusetts is awarding Perkins V reserve funds to eligible agencies to better integrate career planning from the middle school through the high school levels. In its Perkins V state plan, Florida provides guidance to include aligned middle grades CTE programs within programs of study and allow middle grades students to take high school-level CTE courses early. 

As state leaders reflect on effective middle grades CTE policy, they may consider the following questions:

For additional resources relevant to CTE educators in the middle grades, check out the Middle Grades CTE Repository, another deliverable of this Shared Solutions Workgroup. To learn more about policy actions state leaders can take to advance middle grades CTE, read Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Middle Grades CTE, Uncategorized
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Middle Grades CTE: Standards, Curriculum & Assessment

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

There is widespread agreement that high school is too late to begin to expose learners to careers and the foundational skills needed to access and succeed in careers, but there remains a lack of consensus about what CTE and career readiness should entail at the middle grades level.

Advance CTE, with support from ACTE, convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup of national, state and local leaders to identify the core components of a meaningful middle grades CTE experience. This collaboration resulted in Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE and a companion blog series exploring each of the core programmatic elements of middle grades CTE defined in the paper. In this first entry in the blog series, we will examine the core programmatic element of standards, curriculum and assessment.

As the backbone of a robust middle school CTE experience, middle grades CTE curriculum should ensure that students are exposed to careers across all 16 Career Clusters®, supplemented by opportunities to dig deeper into career areas of interest. Curriculum and assessments should be based on clear, consistent standards that integrate academic, employability and, where appropriate, foundational technical skills and align to other relevant standards across the education continuum.

A number of states have developed, or are in the process of developing, standards for middle grades CTE and career development. Idaho has taken a rigorous approach to this work, partnering with Education Northwest to gather input from stakeholders through a statewide survey, regional focus groups and research on middle grades standards in other states. This process has led to a set of standards organized around three questions—“Who am I?” (self-evaluation), “What’s out there for me?” (career exploration) and “How do I get there?” (future planning). Ten schools will pilot the standards and associated materials in the 2020-21 school year.

In addition to standards development, states have created curriculum, lesson plans and assessments to help bring CTE and career exploration into the middle grades. For instance, Nebraska has developed a Career Development Model and Toolkit that includes a library of lesson plans for PK-12 learners that can be filtered by each of the state’s career readiness standards. The Technical Assistance Center of New York has developed rubrics to support CTE teachers in assessing life/career competencies in the middle grades. Teachers can create their own customized rubrics.

On the local level, Peoria Unified School District in Arizona has built a two-year curriculum for seventh- and eighth-grade students called Technology, Life & Careers (TLC). The TLC curriculum includes classroom- and lab-based instruction across multiple CTE subject areas as well as career assessments and interest inventories, work-based learning experiences and career and technical student organizations. The program culminates with students taking a deep dive into their career areas of interest and beginning their state-mandated Education and Career Action Plans.

As you reflect on this element of middle grades CTE in your state, district or school, consider such questions as:

For additional resources relevant to middle grades CTE standards, curriculum and assessment, check out the Middle Grades CTE Repository, another deliverable of this Shared Solutions Workgroup.

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Middle Grades CTE
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