Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Personalized and Flexible Learning

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All learning is personalized and flexible.

States across the nation are moving towards the direction of competency-based learning systems, but too often this work is undertaken with the mindset that academic and CTE courses are separate systems.

Academic and CTE courses and curricula must work together to provide a seamless, flexible and personalized path for learners from secondary to postsecondary and careers. This requires states to fully align academic and CTE standards across K-12 and postsecondary, and to expand competency-based systems so that all learners may access them.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

  • Identify, build and scale policies and models that fully integrate academic and technical expectations and experiences;
  • Identify, build and scale models of K-12 and postsecondary competency-based systems; and
  • Fully align secondary and postsecondary programs of study to ensure seamless transitions.

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders focus their attention on personalized learning and systems alignment, they have access to multiple resources.

Principle in Action

  • Washington: Core Plus
    • Developed in partnership between OSPI, the Boeing Company and the Manufacturing Industrial Council, Core Plus is a two-year, industry-developed curriculum that helps students graduate with skills in the manufacturing and skilled trades. While initially the Core Plus curriculum did not satisfy state high school graduation standards, the legislature passed a law allowing for course equivalencies to be developed. These course equivalencies ensure that learners graduate having received both rigorous academic and technical content.
  • Tennessee: Standards Revision Process
    • Beginning in 2012, Tennessee overhauled the state’s Career Technical Education (CTE) standards, bringing them into alignment with the newly adopted K-12 standards and embedding the standards within full and rigorous programs of study. The process took place over three multi-step phases. The second phase of this process involved aligning and integrating all state CTE standards with K-12 academic standards. State CTE standards are now embedded within academic standards and allow teachers the time and flexibility to unpack them appropriately.

Relevant Resources

  • Seizing the Future: How Ohio’s Career and Technical Education Programs Fuse Academic Rigor and Real-World Experiences to Prepare Students for College and Careers
    • This brief from Achieve demonstrates Ohio’s progress in developing strong policies for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs to promote rigor, including college- and career-ready graduation requirements for all students, integrated college and career pathways, partnerships with workforce partners, and clear public-reporting systems. This brief describes those state-level efforts and highlights individual CTE programs that are thriving across the state. This resource can be instructional not only for state policymakers aiming to create CTE-friendly policies, but for local and regional program implementers as well.
  • Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements
    • This brief from Advance CTE highlights a few ways in which states are exploring embedding and elevating CTE programs, assessments and experiences within their statewide graduation requirements. Throughout the brief, a number of challenges and issues for consideration are raised, notably having processes in place for ensuring quality 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; and ensuring students have the opportunity to take the full range of courses that will prepare them for college and careers.
  • CTE Dual Enrollment: A Strategy for College Completion and Workforce Investment
    • Participation in Career Technical Education (CTE) dual enrollment coursework in high school has the potential to improve outcomes for traditionally underserved students—and enrollment is on the rise. In the 2010-11 school year, half of the schools offering dual enrollment also offered dual enrollment with a specific CTE focus. This policy brief from the Education Commission of the States (ECS) provides a framework for integrating CTE into dual enrollment programs.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

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