Posts Tagged ‘work-based learning’

States Passed 146 Policies to Support CTE in 2018

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

2018 was a significant year for Career Technical Education (CTE) at the federal and state levels. On July 31, 2018, the President signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) into law, which reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). The reauthorization of Perkins signaled a federal commitment to and a recognition of the promise and value of high-quality CTE. Additionally, at the state level 42 states and Washington, D.C., passed a total of 146 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness, reflecting a commitment from state leaders to advance CTE.

Today, Advance CTE and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the sixth annual Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE report, examining 2018 state legislative activity, including legislation, executive orders, board of education actions, budget provisions and ballot initiatives. To develop the report, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, catalogued all finalized state action and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. For 2018, the top policy areas of focus include:

In total, 30 states enacted policy in 2018 that impacted CTE funding, making funding the most popular policy category for the sixth year in a row. A number of states directed funding toward the needs of underrepresented, low-income or otherwise disadvantaged populations, including California, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and North Carolina. Washington established a scholarship program to support foster and homeless youth entering postsecondary education or pursuing an apprenticeship, among other policies that supported access and equity, and New York is funding 15 early college high school programs aligned with in-demand industries in communities with low rates of graduation or postsecondary transition.

While roughly one hundred fewer policies were passed in 2018 than in 2017, this past year’s policies still reflect a commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. A decrease in the number of CTE policies passed compared to previous years should not be misinterpreted as an indication that CTE is not a priority for states. In fact, at least 16 governors identified modernizing CTE as a priority for their states during their 2018 State of State Addresses.

As states continue to pass CTE related policies, it is important to focus on the quality of the implementation of the policies and not only the quantity. To view the previous years’ Year in Review reports click here. Advance CTE and ACTE will be joined by a state leader to discuss these policies in more depth on February 14 at 2 p.m. EST – to register for the webinar click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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College or Career? At Oakland High School, Students Don’t Have to Choose

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Students were hard at work on their laptops when we walked into the 12th grade environmental science class at Oakland High School. They were writing their senior research papers on different environmental issues in their Bay Area community, the culminating project to graduate from the Environmental Science Academy. One student was writing about the the economic impact of a diminishing bee population, another was looking into the effect of recent wildfires in northern California. And they were more than happy to show off their projects.

Oakland High School – or O-High as it is affectionately called by students and teachers – is one of several schools in California that is implementing an industry-based educational model called Linked Learning. Linked Learning is not unique – it outlines a framework for what we would consider “high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE):” an integrated pathway that combines rigorous CTE, college preparatory course work, work-based learning and wraparound student supports. But Linked Learning is quickly becoming the gold standard approach to career pathways in California. With funding from the James Irvine Foundation and strategic guidance and partnership from the Linked Learning Alliance, the approach has spread to high schools and districts across the state.

In Oakland, the power and value of Linked Learning is in the diversity of its student body. The city is situated across the bay from San Francisco and is home to an incredibly diverse community – many students are the children of immigrants or were themselves born in other countries. Recently, Oakland has experienced rapid gentrification and a steadily increasing cost of living, making it harder for families to stay in the area. To maintain Oakland’s rich diversity, O-High Principal Matin Abdel-Qawi believes it is his school’s mission to equip each and every student with the skills they need to earn family-sustaining wages so they can afford to work and live in Oakland once they graduate.

So what does this look like in practice? O-High has drawn upon the four components of the Linked Learning model to provide a student-centered experience. The school offers wall-to-wall career academies that each include:

Integrated academics with a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum:  As students progress through their pathway, they receive rigorous instruction aligned to California’s A-G college prep standards and graduate fully prepare to enroll in Easy Bay Community College, UC Berkeley, or other colleges and universities in the state.

High-quality CTE classes that prepare learners for in-demand careers: Every student enrolls in a career academy: Environmental Science, Visual Arts (VAAMP), Public Health, Project Lead the Way (engineering), Social Justice and Reform, or an academy for recent immigrants called R.I.S.E (Recent Immigrant Support and Engagement Academy). Students take math, history and other academic subjects with their pathway peers, and instructors adapt the curriculum to apply a career-focused lens.

A continuum of work-based learning experiences: Throughout their pathway, students have the opportunity to engage with industry experts through field trips, guest lectures and offsite internships with nearby institutions like the Alameda County health system, which regularly hosts students from the Public Health Academy. In 2018, 1,393 students participated in career awareness activities and 145 completed an internship.

Wraparound supports to guide learners along their pathway: Perhaps the most remarkable element of O-High’s Linked Learning academies is the extensive mentorship and wraparound supports students can access. A wellness center on campus provide medical and dental services to students, ensuring that health is not a barrier to success. The high school is also home to a Future Center that helps students apply for college, perfect their resume, and identify and apply for scholarships.

The Linked Learning approach has had a notable impact on O-High student outcomes. In 2018, 81 percent of students graduated and 70 percent enrolled in college within one year. Part of this success is attributable to the high school’s absolute focus on equity. School leaders take special care to ensure that enrollment in each pathway reflects the broader student population, with parity across ethnicity, gender and disability. And in 2010, Oakland Unified launched the Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) to support and develop young black males throughout the district. As a result, the African American graduation rate at O-High jumped from 58 percent in 2014 to 90 percent in 2018.

As states prepare to implement the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), they will have a unique opportunity to redefine what high-quality CTE looks like and ensure equity is front and center in the statewide delivery of CTE. There are a lot of lessons to draw from Linked Learning. For one, Linked Learning’s integrated career pathway approach, mixed with work-based learning and wraparound student supports, is a tried-and-true framework for a strong CTE program. States can replicate this approach and free up resources to expand access to work-based learning and student supports.

Further, O-High’s intense focus on equity should be instructive to other school, district and state leaders. In Oakland, equity means more than expanding opportunity. It means ensuring that each and every learner is supported, welcomed and successful in their given career pathway. With wraparound services to support students’ health, academic and career needs, Oakland High School delivers on its promise to graduate students prepared to stay and contribute to their diverse community.

Thanks to Oakland High School, the Linked Learning Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education for organizing the Linked Learning site visit.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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Work-based Learning is Predictive of Future Job Quality, According to New Study

Monday, December 10th, 2018

The Brookings Institution looks at employment outcomes for low-income learners

It’s a question that has puzzled education researchers for decades: what is the right mix of experiences in early adolescence that is most predictive of future career success and lifelong learning?

For the longest time, the rule of thumb has been “get a bachelor’s degree and you’ll get a good job.” But we know that there are other experiences on the path to a four-year degree (such as participating in work-based learning or earning an industry-recognized credential) that are just as powerful in preparing learners for their future careers. What are these experiences? And how should they be delivered to maximize learner outcomes?

New research from the Brookings Institution sheds a little bit of light on this question. The study looks at different factors that are correlated with economic success among 29-year-olds from “disadvantaged” backgrounds. The study finds that:

Specifically, the researchers find that participating in “relationship-focused CTE” (a term they use to refer to work-based learning and other activities where students interact with industry mentors) is significantly related to higher job quality scores at age 29. This would seem to suggest that building relationships with industry mentors and completing work-based learning at an early age can help learners, particularly low-income learners, get a leg up on their careers. While the data do not provide a full picture of the quality of work-based learning in the study, the evidence is promising.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers define “disadvantaged adolescents” as those who, when they were between the ages of 12 and 18, had a family income equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line; did not have a parent with more than a high school education; had a mother who was a teenager when her first child was born; or whose family received public assistance. They defined job quality based on four factors: earnings, benefits, hours of work and job satisfaction.

CTE Research Roundup

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Research, Resources
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New Research Sheds Light on the Value of Credentials, Dual Credit and Apprenticeships

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

It is common knowledge that earning a postsecondary credential, particularly in a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand industry, can help learners land good jobs. But how do learners get there? New research sheds light on the different pathways learners take to get to a good job and the economic returns of credential attainment.

$224 million a year. That’s how much more money the most recent cohort of graduates from Tennessee public colleges and universities can expect to make every year compared to non-credential holders. That figure comes from a new report published by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in June. The report attributes much of the wage gains to the impact of community and technical colleges across Tennessee.

While a postsecondary credential pays a premium for graduates, many learners work through college. In fact, according to a new brief from the National Center for Education Statistics, 32 percent of students at public 2-year colleges worked full-time while enrolled in the 2011-12 school year. The study also finds that students were more likely to complete a degree if they worked 20 hours or less a week compared to students who worked full time or did not work at all. The study did not say whether or not these students were working in fields related to their program of study, however.

Learners can start working on their postsecondary credential even before they graduate high school. New research from the University of Texas system shows just how much of an impact dual enrollment has for Texas students. According to the study, dual credit students had higher college graduation rates and higher GPAs than their peers. And students who entered the University of Texas system with credits from both Advanced Placement and dual credit classes were five times as likely as their peers to graduate in four years.

Yet learners often do not complete their credential at their initial institution. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 38 percent – or 1,069,243 students – in the fall 2011 cohort transferred within six years. The study also revealed this startling statistic: only 5.6 percent of transfers from two-year colleges leave with a certificate or associate degree.

Postsecondary credentials reinforce the technical and academic skills learners will exercise in their future careers. But employers often look for candidates with a more rounded skill set that can only be learned through experience. A new survey from Bloomberg Next finds that 43 percent of employers say new recruits lack the soft skills to be effective, skills like teamwork, critical thinking and adaptability.

One way to build these skills is through work-based learning experiences like internships and apprenticeships. Adults in the U.S. are increasingly recognizing the value of apprenticeships. The American Staffing Association reports that 94 percent of Americans say that apprenticeships are helpful in leading to a new career and 62 percent even think apprenticeships make people more employable than going to college.

At any rate, learners have multiple pathways to lifelong career success – be it through an apprenticeship, a two-year college or a four-year university – and should be empowered to choose the path that is right for them.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Research
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New Resources: Designing Meaningful Career-Ready Indicators (Part 2)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

Earlier this summer, Advance CTE in partnership with Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), released two profiles highlighting how states were integrating career-ready indicators into their accountability systems, specifically Progress towards Post-High School Credential and Assessment of (college and career) Readiness.

Today, we are releasing the final two of these profiles aligned with the remaining categories in  Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences and Transitions Beyond High School. The Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences profile focuses on how states like Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina are measuring work-based learning within their accountability system, while the Transitions Beyond High School profile explores how Colorado and Missouri are holding schools accountable for learners’ post-high school success in college and careers. While these are newer indicators and less likely to be included in states’ accountability systems, they are a critical to measuring college and career readiness in learners.

Read all four of the Career-Focused Indicator Profiles here and stay tuned for an update to Making Career Readiness Count (3.0) soon:

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Resources, Uncategorized
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Connecting Rural Learners to the World of Work in Livingston, Montana

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Livingston, Montana is a small ranching community of about 7,000, just north of Yellowstone National Park. Most of the town’s economic activity revolves around agriculture and tourism — being so close to Yellowstone brings in lots of travelers. Bozeman, which is about 30 miles away hosts a growing manufacturing and photonics industry. Despite these opportunities, students at nearby Park High School don’t always interact with industry leaders in the area, limiting their ability to explore different career options and weakening the talent pool for local business owners.

Last year Meagan Lannan, then manager at the Livingston, Montana Job Service office, along with several community leaders, decided to step in and ask educators how best to support a new work-based learning program to help close the gap and connect young learners with industry mentors. After studying states like Tennessee, Washington and California for inspiration and strategies, she built a coalition of key partners to launch a work-based learning program and engage more than 260 high school students in their first year.

So how did Lannan mobilize her town to go all in on work-based learning?

She started by securing buy in and support — including funding — from key business and education leaders in Livingston. After getting commitment from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the Montana State University Park County Extension, and Park High School, Lannan established a memorandum of understanding to clarify the roles of each partner. She also secured an agreement from the Arthur Blank Foundation, the charitable organization of Home Depot founder and philanthropist Arthur Blank, for four years of funding for a work-based learning facilitator pilot program.

Leveraging the relationships she cultivated at the job service office, Lannan was able to mobilize a network of Livingston business leaders to drive and provide work-based learning opportunities for high school students. It took a lot of time and effort to build and nurture these relationships, but Lannan’s hard work paid off. Once the community recognized the value and critical role in connecting learning with work, business leaders were on board.

In total, more than 260 work-based learning experiences were brokered through the first year of the pilot program. Experiences ranged from low-touch engagements such as guest speaking to more intensive internships, apprenticeships and more. Some employers even came into the classroom to teach a few classes under the teacher of record before leading students on a tour of their facilities. While several work-based learning experiences were in industries like agriculture or manufacturing that are considered high-demand in the Livingston area, students had the opportunity explore a variety of different careers. One student learned about wolf tracking in Yellowstone National Park. Another partnered with a local business to learn about sound wave engineering.

Providing work-based learning opportunities can be a challenge in rural communities, which often have a small employer base and limited industry presence. But, as Livingston, Montana discovered, a successful work-based learning program hinges on the support and buy-in of the community. Rural business leaders are often ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and, as Lannan puts it, help “raise the barn.” It just takes a thoughtful, coordinated strategy to generate buy in, secure sustainable funding and connect learners with the world of work.

To help state and local leaders develop a comprehensive plan to improve access to high-quality work-based learning and career pathways in rural areas, Advance CTE developed and released a rural strategy guide earlier this year. The guide, part of the CTE on the Frontier series, provides five strategies for rural leaders to replicate Livingston’s approach:

Ensuring access to high-quality career pathways in rural areas is a persistent challenge facing state and local leaders — but communities like Livingston, Montana defy the odds, recognizing the value of work-based learning and committing to expanding opportunities for students.

Thanks to Meagan Lannan, Work-Based Learning Facilitator Lead, for providing input into this story.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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States Passed 241 Policies to Support CTE in 2017

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

2017 was a banner year for Career Technical Education (CTE). Overall, 49 states and the District of Columbia passed a total of 241 policies related to CTE and career readiness, a marked increase from 2016. But while it is encouraging to see a groundswell of enthusiasm for CTE at the local, state and national levels, how will states leverage CTE’s momentum and ensure that state action translates to better outcomes for students?

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the fifth edition of the annual State Policies Impacting CTE report, examining activity from 2017. To develop the report, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state actions and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. For 2017, the top five policy areas of focus include:

Funding was at the top of the list for the fifth year in a row. Policies in this category include a $16 million one-time appropriation for CTE equipment grants in Tennessee, the development of a productivity-based funding index for Arkansas institutions of higher education and a workforce development scholarship authorized through Maryland’s More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017. With few exceptions, state legislatures renewed or increased appropriations for CTE programs and related activities. 

There was also a lot of activity related to data, reporting and accountability, largely due to state work around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2017, 35 states identified measures of career readiness in their federal accountability systems, and many of these measures included industry-recognized credential attainment, dual-credit completion and work-based learning participation.

While 2017 set a new high-water mark for state activity, a look across the past five years of this report illustrates that states are doubling down on a few policy priorities.

With the exception of 2015—when fewer states passed policies related to Industry-recognized Credentials or Data, Reporting and Accountability—these five policy areas have been the top priorities for states every year that this report has been published. This is no surprise, given that much of the conversation in the CTE field over the past five years has centered around accountability, credentials of value, dual enrollment and work-based learning. Even compared to recent years, states were more active in 2017, and there was a spike in the number of states adopting new legislation or rules in these policy areas.

So what lessons can be drawn from this year’s state policy review? For one, the enthusiasm for CTE is real. State legislatures, governors and boards of education are coming to recognize what the CTE community has known for years: that high-quality career preparation helps learners develop academic, technical and professional skills and results in positive rates of graduation, postsecondary enrollment and completion, and ultimately career success. 

But it is also important to make a distinction between the quantity of policies passed and the quality of their implementation. 2017 was a record year for state CTE policy, but now comes the true test. State leaders should follow through on the policy commitments made in 2017 by sustaining funding for critical programs, identifying and adopting policies to ensure CTE quality, and taking time to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of existing policies.

A copy of the report, State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review, is accessible in the Learning that Works Resource Center. Advance CTE and ACTE are also hosting a webinar on January 31, to unpack findings from this year’s review (registration for the webinar is at capacity, but a recording will be available following the webinar at https://careertech.org/webinars).

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Legislation, Public Policy, Publications, Research
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States Enhancing Career Preparation through Work-based Learning, Accountability and Graduation Pathways

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

It is possible that 2017 will be a pivotal year for Career Technical Education (CTE). With planning underway to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 recently introduced in the House, states are taking advantage of a policy window to advance new legislation and enhance CTE quality. 

At the moment, Advance CTE is tracking more than 200 bills, regulations and actions across the states that are relevant to the CTE community. Although it is too early to identify major trends — or even know for certain if the proposals we are tracking will ever cross the finish line — what is clear is that there is an evident and growing interest in strengthening CTE at the state level. Recently, new laws in Maryland, Indiana and Arizona aim to strengthen apprenticeships, accountability and alternative pathways to graduation.

Maryland Aims to Expand Apprenticeships and Measure Completion through Accountability System

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan approved the More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017. A jobs Act, the legislation aims to strengthen the state workforce by

Additionally, the law requires the state board of education to establish career readiness performance goals for CTE program completion, industry-recognized credential attainment and completion of a registered or youth apprenticeship. The state board must also work on a method to value apprenticeship completion in the state accountability system. Under the legislature’s recommendations, completion of a state-approved apprenticeship would be valued the same as earning a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam.

The More Jobs for Marylanders Act is part of Gov. Hogan’s Maryland Jobs Initiative, which aims to strengthen Maryland’s workforce and create new jobs. Under the initiative, Gov. Hogan also plans to expand Maryland’s Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) program, which was launched last year with the opening of two locations in Baltimore. Another bill passed by the legislature this year specifies requirements for the program and establishes a planning grant to help districts design and launch P-TECH programs.

Arizona State Board Approves Seventeen Measures of College and Career Readiness

Over in the Grand Canyon State, the Arizona State Board of Education approved a comprehensive (albeit somewhat confusing) college and career readiness indicator to include in the state’s accountability system. The indicator (details start on p. 75 of the state board’s meeting minutes) will make up 20 percent of the overall accountability score and will include no less than seventeen separate measures of college and career readiness. Measures will include (but are not limited to)

The indicator will also include college readiness measures such as earning a passing score on the SAT or earning dual credit. The total college and career readiness score for a school will be calculated across the entire graduating student cohort, with schools able to earn additional points for students who complete both college and career readiness activities.

Indiana Students Will Have More Graduation Options Starting in 2018

Meanwhile, Indiana’s newly-elected Governor Eric Holcomb ushered in a few CTE reforms during his inaugural legislative session. SB198 restructures the state’s CTE funding schedule using a three-tiered classification system that recognizes wages and industry demand for the specified pathway. The law requires the Department of Workforce Development to set the wage threshold and classify the types of CTE programs eligible to receive funding at each level.

Furthermore, the bill creates a pilot program to integrate career exploration activities into the eighth grade curriculum using the state’s Career Explorer system. The program will be piloted in 15 schools, with the aim of expanding statewide beginning in the 2018-19 school year.  

Gov. Holcomb also signed HB1003, which, in addition to replacing the state’s ISTEP test with a new program (ILEARN will be implemented in the 2018-19 school year), establishes alternative pathways to graduation. Starting June 30, 2018, students that meet the Indiana Core 40 requirements and demonstrate college and career readiness — to be determined by the state board of education — will be eligible to receive a high school diploma. Previously, students were required to complete a graduation examination. Former State Superintendent Glenda Ritz praised the measure, saying it would give “students many options to achieve an Indiana diploma tailored to their graduation goals.”

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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New Credential Registry Aims to Bring Transparency to a System in Crisis

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

We’ve seen a lot of activity this year at both the national and local level to expand and systematize the use of industry-recognized credentials (including our own brief on credentials of value, which you can check out here). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics even released a helpful guide that describes different types of credentials and their prevalence in different industries. While credentials can serve as a useful signal of workforce competency that is recognized by both educators and employers, many learners face a credentialing marketplace that is as confusing as it is expansive.

To address this crisis, the Lumina Foundation in 2015 helped launch the Connecting Credentials Initiative, a collaboration designed to advance a well-functioning and sustainable credentialing system. Last month, the initiative revealed a 7-point action plan, based on input from more than 100 stakeholders, that articulates a vision for such a system.

credential_registry_2016One group already working to advance this vision is an organization called Credential Engine (formerly the Credential Transparency Initiative), which last month announced the launch of a national credential registry. The registry is designed to allow job seekers, employers and educators alike to access information about myriad credentials in various industries. The registry uses common terminology and guidelines for organizations to publish comparable information, and provides free and open access. While the system is currently being piloted in 60 sites with plans to expand in the future, we look forward to seeing how employers, job seekers and third-party accreditors alike will use the platform to contribute to a more transparent credentialing system.

Transparency is a key element in a successful credentialing system, particularly when it comes to identifying stackable credentials. According to new research, longer-term credentials are associated with higher earnings, though the return varies on a sliding scale depending on the length of time and effort required to earn the credential. Job seekers must be equipped with the right information to obtain stackable credentials that enable them to enter and exit the labor market at various points, building on their education and experience as they go.

Promising Practices in Work-based Learning

Meanwhile, the National Skills Coalition (NSC) and New America have both sparked dialogue about engaging the nation’s youth in work-based learning. NSC recently released a report titled “Promising Practices in Work-based Learning for Youth” that profiles four exemplar programs using work-based learning as a strategy to engage underserved and at-risk youth. One of the organizations profiled in the report, Urban Alliance, is a youth services organization operating out of Baltimore, Chicago, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Urban Alliance not only connects youth with paid internships through its flagship High School Internship Program, but also provides professional development and linkages to career and postsecondary pathways as well. NSC draws on this and other examples to identify four common policy elements for a strong work-based learning program:

In a similar vein, New America announced a project to study opportunities and challenges facing the nation’s youth apprenticeship programs and to develop a set of recommendations. In a blog post, the organization lays the groundwork and begins to identify the most prevalent challenges to expanding apprenticeships to youth. For one, the American apprenticeship system is aimed primarily at adults. With the average apprentice at nearly 30 years old, New America aims to challenge the old guard and find a way to extend these opportunities to younger learners.  

Odds and Ends

pew collegeWhose Job Is It? According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans believe the public K-12 education system is responsible for ensuring the workforce has the right skills and education to be successful in the economy. Interestingly, the same study found that 67 percent of four-year degree holders believe their education prepared them for the workforce, compared to 58 percent for two-year degree holders and 78 percent for professional and technical certificate holders.

Rate Yourself. Building on its College and Career Readiness Organizer, CCRS released a self-assessment scorecard to help state policymakers identify gaps and opportunities for preparing K-12 students for postsecondary success. Based on the needs identified in the survey, the scorecard provides additional resources to help states and districts in their college and career readiness efforts.

The STEM of Success. The Education Commission of the States released a STEM Playbook last month as part of its “SepSTEMber” campaign. The playbook identifies three core components of a successful STEM strategy: statewide coordination; adequate, reliable funding; and quality assurance or program evaluation.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Research, Resources, Uncategorized
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Advance CTE Releases Guide for Building and Scaling Statewide Work-based Learning Systems

Friday, October 14th, 2016

WBL_GuideIn a recent nationwide education poll, 90 percent of surveyed Americans said it is extremely or very important for schools to help students develop good work habits. In turn, state education agencies have begun to focus on both college and career readiness to help prepare students for their futures. One popular strategy is work-based learning, which allows students to reinforce and deepen their classroom learning, explore future career fields and demonstrate their skills in an authentic setting.

Today, Advance CTE released a comprehensive guide — building on the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” policy series — to help policymakers develop and implement a statewide vision for work-based learning. The guide provides key considerations and guiding questions to walk state policymakers through the steps of building and scaling a high-quality work-based learning system, drawing on examples from states such as Tennessee and West Virginia to highlight innovative solutions to common challenges. The paper not only builds upon earlier briefs in the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” series, but also ties them together into one comprehensive and easy-to-use guide.

To get started, states must develop a statewide vision for work-based learning and get buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. Tennessee, for example, embarked on a campaign to overhaul its work-based learning programs and establish a framework that would be more inclusive and relevant for students in the state. This resulted in a new, shared vision that prioritizes career exploration, career advisement and hands-on learning for all students — not just those enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE) classes.

Yet setting a vision is only the first step. To ensure the vision is implemented successfully, states must create a policy environment that allows work-based learning programs to thrive. One of the biggest challenges that states face in expanding work-based learning opportunities is overcoming legal barriers, such as child labor laws and safety requirements, that make businesses reluctant to hire high school students. New Jersey demonstrates how state agencies can work together to develop a regulatory framework that supports, rather than inhibits, work-based learning opportunities. One product of inter-agency collaboration in the state is the New Jersey Safe Schools project, a comprehensive health and safety training for CTE teachers.

The guide further explores how states can expand work-based learning by partnering with intermediaries to facilitate partnerships between educators and employers for the ultimate benefit of a student’s career exploration and skill development. Intermediaries can be either independent organizations or, in the case of Georgia’s Youth Apprenticeship Program (YAP) Coordinators, individuals who are based within the school or district. Georgia’s YAP Coordinators are funded by a competitive state grant and help support the full range of work-based learning activities for local students.

WBL GraphicOnce a statewide vision is in place and early implementation has begun, state policymakers should consider how to measure and scale work-based learning. There are two common approaches states take to building a comprehensive measurement and data-collection system: a systems-level approach that examines and evaluates the quality of the program, and a student-level approach that measures student learning and skill attainment. Through its School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative, Massachusetts has built a system to collect pre- and post-evaluations of student skills to determine both the professional and technical skills that students gain over the course of their work-based learning experience. This allows the state to assess difficult-to-measure student outcomes such as accepting direction and constructive criticism or motivation and taking initiative.

Collecting and evaluating program data enables states to not only identify promising practices but also to scale them statewide so that all students can access high-quality work-based learning experiences. One example profiled in the guide is West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace program, which began in 2013 as a pilot program in 20 schools across the state. The Department of Education gradually scaled the program, spending time evaluating and refining processes and policies along the way, to reach 60 schools — and more than 500 classrooms — by 2015.

There is no single way to build and scale work-based learning programs, but Advance CTE’s latest publication, “Connecting the Classroom to Careers: A Comprehensive Guide to the State’s Role in Work-based Learning,” can help states get started. The guide identifies essential strategies in work-based learning programs across the states and provides key takeaways and guiding questions to help states tackle common barriers. While work-based learning is a proven strategy to help students build technical and professional skills, policymakers should draw on examples from other states to thoughtfully build and scale a high-quality work-based learning system.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Austin Estes in Publications, Research, Resources
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