Search for elusive career readiness measure continues

Search for elusive career readiness measure continues

(Calif.) For nearly a decade, state education officials have sought a reliable way of measuring how well schools were preparing the millions of high school seniors that will forgo college and instead will enter the work force.

Now, as a new governor takes office and appoints new members to the California State Board of Education, that work continues with a board study session scheduled for early next month.

The effort, which dates back at least to 2012, is critical given that nearly 40 percent of high school graduates do not go directly to college, and the statewide a dropout rate is more than 10 percent.

Those percentages are even more striking among the state’s at-risk school populations—low income students, English learners and students with disabilities.

Thus, after the Common Core State Standards were adopted in California and the state moved to update its assessment system, the state board also had to develop a new accountability system. As part of that restructuring as well as the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, the decision was made under former Gov. Jerry Brown to build an accountability system that relied on multiple measures of student and school success.

The California Dashboard, which debuted in 2017, is the web-based tool the state uses to communicate the results of the new accountability system.

As one of six measures included in the Dashboard, the College/Career Readiness Indicator is intended to represent how well high school graduates are prepared to either go on to college or join the workforce.

The college side of the measure has never been an issue. Test scores and participation in advanced curriculum are well-established measures of college preparedness. The problem has always been how to measure work readiness.

The state has made some progress. Student outcomes related to career technical education has been included in the indicator as well as participation in military leadership programs. But more than two years ago, the state board directed the California Department of Education to find additional tools for measuring career readiness.

According to a memo to the board from the CDE released earlier this month, a department working group continues to grapple with the assignment. Among the more promising ideas is the development of certification programs for specific industry-related learning.

The CDE is also looking at apprenticeship programs as well as state and federal job training.

The department has been collecting data on these and other work-based learning activities for about the last year. Expectations are that once enough information has been collected, the data will be analyzed. The CDE hopes to make recommendations to the board about the additional measures sometime in the next year.

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