Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

In Round 2 ESSA States, A Clear Vision for Career Readiness Helps Anchor Implementation Strategies

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to articulate long-term goals for student academic achievement, graduation rates and English language proficiency. Yet some states have opted to go beyond federal requirements to describe a comprehensive vision for the future of K-12 education. In some cases, this helps anchor the plan and provides opportunities for cohesion across different title programs.

As the remaining 34 states prepare for next month’s submission deadline, several — including Pennsylvania and South Dakota — are taking the opportunity to refine their statewide vision. These states are leveraging the ESSA stakeholder engagement and planning process to chart out a new, aspirational future for education, one that puts career readiness front and center.

Pennsylvania Aims to Increase CTE Enrollment to Prepare All Learners for Postsecondary and Workforce Success

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), for example, describes its mission as preparing all learners for “meaningful engagement in postsecondary education, in workforce training, in career pathways, and as responsible, involved citizens.” PDE goes on to elevate the importance of career ready pathways for student success. This framing sets the tone for the rest of the state’s proposed ESSA plan, and is echoed through the state’s accountability, technical assistance and grant administration strategies.

Under accountability, Pennsylvania calls for a career readiness indicator to measure the implementation and completion of career exploration activities in elementary, middle and high school. Additionally, the state proposes a new public-facing report card called the Future Ready PA Index that will monitor and report out a variety of career readiness metrics. Metrics identified through stakeholder engagement include participation in advanced coursework (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment), and the number of students earning industry-recognized credentials.  The inclusion of these metrics in Pennsylvania’s public reporting and accountability system demonstrates the state’s commitment to career preparation at all levels of education.

The plan also identifies funding sources through different ESSA title programs and outlines strategies to braid funds and promote certain career preparation activities. These strategies are organized around four guiding priorities, one of which is to ensure well-rounded, rigorous and personalized learning for all students. Specifically, the plan proposes to increase participation in advanced coursework, promote access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education (STEM), and support meaningful career pathways, aiming to increase enrollment in state-approved CTE programs by five percent annually. With this clearly articulated vision, PDE urges local education agencies to braid funds through Title I, Title II and Title IV to support related efforts. Specific encouraged activities include hiring and training qualified career and college counselors to help learners make informed decisions about their career paths.

South Dakota Plans to Expand High-Quality CTE Pathways

Similarly, preparing all graduating high school student for postsecondary education and the workforce is one of four K-12 milestones identified in South Dakota’s ESSA plan. The importance of CTE and career preparation is not lost. In fact, South Dakota commits to providing learners with multiple pathways to demonstrate readiness for college, career and life after high school.

Like Pennsylvania, South Dakota plans to use its accountability system to achieve this vision. The state aims to refine it college and career readiness indicator, originally adopted in the 2012-13 school year, to value learners who graduate ready for both college and careers. The indicator includes two metrics — assessment of readiness and progress toward a post high school credential  that count students completing advanced coursework such as CTE, AP and dual credit as well as those earning passing scores on college entrance examinations.

What is notable about South Dakota’s ESSA plan is that CTE is drawn out as a strategy throughout different parts of the plan, illustrating the extent to which CTE is core to South Dakota’s vision. For one, South Dakota plans to provide technical assistance to schools identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement to help them develop and expand high-quality CTE pathways. The justification for this strategy is that CTE students have higher graduation rates. Additionally, South Dakota aims to launch pilot schools that provide work-based learning experience, early postsecondary opportunities and robust career guidance and supports for students. And, under Title IV, Part A (the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants), South Dakota plans to set aside state funds to help local education agencies expand high-quality CTE pathways.

ESSA gives states a clear opening to reorganize their priorities and vision for K-12 education. Newfound flexibility under the law allows for state-appropriate strategies that reflect stakeholder input and are aligned with other statewide initiatives. However, ESSA plans will only be as effective as states make them. By setting clear goals and connecting efforts and strategies, states can organize their ESSA implementation efforts to support career readiness and success.

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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CTE Research Review Part I

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve brought you an update on relevant research from the field. There’s so much to cover we’ve broken it into two parts.

A Look at Postsecondary Education

From the New America Foundation, researcher Mary Alice McCarthy challenges the artificial distinction between education and training and calls for “upside-down degrees” to reinvent the outdated concept of what the postsecondary education experience can be.

McCarthy offers reforms to state and federal education policies to create this flipped paradigm. She also points to states and institutions that are building pathways to four-year degrees that start with a career-training program. Others are developing “applied” bachelor’s degrees to help students build on and extend their technical expertise.

Other postsecondary-focused research:

Research from the Center for Education and the Workforce

New from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW), you can take advantage of their new State Initiative, which is a portal to help states use data more effectively to inform policy and planning around education and careers.

Don’t miss CEW’s other new reports:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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Kicking Off #CTEMonth

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

CTE Month is off to an incredible start! Only four days in, the #CTEMonth hashtag has already been used 1,500 times on Twitter in posts that feature CTE facts, photos of students at work, resources to use during the month, and support from advocates in fields spanning education, policy, funding, business, media, research, and more.

We asked NASDCTEc members and Learning that works for America campaign users how they were celebrating, and are blown away by the submissions. During the month of February, you can expect to see a post every Thursday showcasing how people are simultaneously raising awareness for and celebrating CTE at the local, state and national level around this year’s theme, “Opportunities for Career Success.” 

For our inaugural 2016 CTE Month post, we’ll kick off by highlighting how a few states are promoting CTE during the month.

Tools to Raise Awareness & Educate

Wisconsin is encouraging their networks to celebrate CTE Month in variety of ways, one of which includes providing accessible and easily adaptable tools for schools and CTE organizations to use such as the 2016 CTE Month logo, a state-wide social media calendar, and a variety of proclamations from FBLA, FCCLA, FFA and SkillsUSA declaring February CTE Month. They also have support from Tony Evers, the State Superintendent, who authored an editorial discussing the importance of CTE in Wisconsin.

Maryland also supplied a ton of resources to their state network including a sample news release, template to create a student profile, CTE Month certificate and a public service announcement. Additionally, they suggested ways to acknowledge CTE Month at both the high school and middle school levels.

While students and educators are clear audiences to engage, Maryland is also acknowledging the value of school counselors as partners in promoting CTE, and invited school counselors across the state to participate in a free webinar sponsored by Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce called, “What Counselors Should Know about 21st Century Competencies.”

Missouri is utilizing the radio to get their CTE message across, by launching 30 second radio spots running in large, medium and small markets throughout the month to provide the general public with more information about CTE.

In Michigan, all Department of Education employees were asked to use the Learning that works for Michigan logo in their e-mail signatures. You can join the campaign and receive your own state-specific Learning that works logo here.

Recognizing & Honoring Success

CTE Month is not only about raising awareness, but also celebrating the successes of all that it takes to makes a CTE program great.

Oklahoma is honoring the contributions made by CTE teachers by distributing a hardcopy booklet, which was given to legislators at the Capital during CTSO day on February 2. A digital version is featured on Oklahoma Horizon, a weekly television show’s website, and throughout their social media.

Pennsylvania is partnering with the Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators to recognize each of the student organizations at a celebratory dinner for CTSO students and Pennsylvania legislators. Additionally, award recipients of the state’s newest awards program –  the Career and Technical Education Excellence Award, which recognizes high schools and career and technical centers where 75 percent of students have achieved advanced technical assessments – will also be in attendance.

Let us know what you are doing for CTE Month by emailing kfitzgerald@careertech.org, or tagging us in your Twitters posts @CTEWorks.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate  

By Katie Fitzgerald in CTE: Learning that works for America, Resources, Uncategorized
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