CTE and College, Career, and Civic Readiness: The Role of State Boards

On May 14, 2014, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) hosted the Webinar “CTE and College, Career, and Civic Readiness: The Role of State Boards.” The objective was to ascertain and highlight the different roles state education boards play in guiding career and technical education (CTE). To achieve this objective, speakers with in-depth knowledge in these areas convened to share their experiences and practices.

Kimberly Green, Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, began with a brief history of CTE and explained how it has changed profoundly since its beginnings in the 1920s as vocational education. To illustrate these profound changes, she contrasted vocational education to what we now call CTE: Vocational education was focused on a small number of students for a limited number of industries while today’s CTE applies to all students in every industry; vocational education emphasized a few jobs where CTE is for all careers; and vocational education was an alternative to academics whereas CTE aims to align with and support academics. Green also stated that more than 12.5 million students are participating in CTE programs and that these programs have connections to every industry sector. She maintained that CTE has been effective in developing career readiness because of its essential features:

  • Helps the U.S. remain competitive in the global economy.
  • Honors connections with employers.
  • Prepares students for a career in an economy that is constantly changing.
  • Uses data (e.g. achievement data, systems data, labor market data, etc.) effectively to make good decisions regarding CTE implementation.

In regard to the role of state boards, Green cited a recent study revealing that secondary and post-secondary CTE programs often have different drives, agencies, and standards and that it is diverse with no shared definition of standards. This allows states to exercise authority – especially at a secondary level – in terms of defining CTE education.

Debe Terhar, President of the Ohio State Board of Education and Steve Gratz, Senior Executive Director at the Ohio Department of Education shared how Ohio is directing the role of CTE in the state. Tehar and Gratz described how Ohio is moving ahead with pathways that will begin the process of embedding career connections into the curriculum in a way that exposes students to different industries and connects learning to real jobs. Tehar and Gratz also discussed the Ohio State Board of Education’s role in implementation and accountability through highlighting a report card developed in conjunction with stakeholders. This report card measures:

  • Technical skill attainment.
  • 4 year graduation rates.
  • Post program outcomes in industry credentials.
  • Dual enrollment, honor diplomas, and other measures of college and career readiness.

Gratz also shared Ohio’s future direction for CTE touching upon the need for program-level data, increased linkages between districts and CTE programs, and doing more to highlight CTE-specific opportunities.

Kenneth Mason, Board Member of the Georgia State Board of Education (GADOE), gave detailed examples of what Georgia’s state board has been doing to expand Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE). Mason explained how Georgia had a lot of outdated vocational courses that needed to be revised. Their state board began looking at what skills were needed to feed workforce development, which led them to create 17 career clusters. Their career cluster model aims to assist students with:

  • Transitioning from middle school to high school to college.
  • Blending rigorous academics and technical preparation.
  • Career development.
  • Options that allow students to experience many aspects of business and industry.

Mason also discussed the structure of the GADOE’s advisory committee, which assists with industry certification of CTAE programs and offers opportunities for students to receive industry recognized credentials. Georgia also leveraged their academic index for college and career readiness and performance to expand CTE in the state. The academic index is used to help get students on a pathway and assists with accountability. In addition, Georgia is taking part in the Southern Regional Education Board’s High Schools that Work initiative, which focuses on integrating academics with career technical studies and workplace experiences.

To access full Webinar content and information click here.

Jeremy Rasmussen is a project associate at the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.


Photo credit: Flickr

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