Editorâ€™s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this yearâ€™s major state legislative activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be foundÂ hereÂ as well as the previous installments. For a comprehensive look-back at the 2013 legislative sessions, check out the â€œ2013 CTE Year in Review,â€ which was published jointly by NASDCTEc and theÂ Association for Career and Technical EducationÂ 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.
Georgia lawmakers amended the stateâ€™s Youth Apprenticeship Program through the â€œWork Based Learning Act,â€ to increase the number of students and employers participating in such programs in order to produce a â€œsuccessful twenty-first century workforce,â€ according to the billâ€™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 â€œDâ€ or â€œFâ€ rating are eligible to participate if selected by the state Board of Education. The pilotâ€™s purpose is to reengage students and increase the stateâ€™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.
Washington lawmakers directed the stateâ€™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 stateâ€™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 Floridaâ€™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 â€œAlaska Education Opportunity Actâ€ and Governor Sean Parnellâ€™s priorities for this yearâ€™s legislative session, lawmakers repealed the stateâ€™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 statesâ€™ 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 isnâ€™t enough to improve student learning.
Next time in the â€œCatching Up Withâ€¦â€ series
This will be the last post for legislatures that wrapped their sessions by May 9. In the weeks to come, weâ€™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