Progress in defining when students are career-ready

Progress in defining when students are career-ready

(Calif.) For almost three years, California education officials have struggled to find an array of performance indicators that could measure when a student is ready for the work place.

While refinement no doubt will continue, a memo from the California Department of Education released last week suggests there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The CDE has proposed adoption of eight indicators to help evaluate students who are unlikely to go to college and instead want to be prepared to get a job after high school.

As planned, five of the indicators could be put to use as soon as this coming fall with the remaining to be included over the next two years.

The career readiness measures are critical to a new accountability system built by the Brown administration and state schools chief, Tom Torlakson over the past four years.

The system, characterized by multiple measures of school and student performance, has been translated into a web-based dashboard for quick and easy use by parents and community stakeholders.

Although California has been lauded as a national bellwether in the use of multiple measures to evaluate schools, the career readiness indicator had been elusive.

Test scores, advanced placement exams and participation in college preparation classes were quickly identified as measures for college-bound students. For most of the last two years, however, only two indicators–industry certificates and completion of career technical courses, or CTE—were recognized for use in evaluating students that were headed into the job market.

After much effort, the CDE has produced several new ideas that they would like the state board to consider at their March meeting.

State Seal of Biliteracy: Created in 2012, the biliteracy designation is awarded to students who have attained proficiency in speaking, reading and writing one or more languages in addition to English. Use of the seal as part of the accountability system could be accomplished by fall, 2018.

Articulated CTE courses: Articulated CTE courses are ones that have been identified as meeting community college standards. This measure could be ready by the fall, 2018.

Golden State Seal Merit Diploma: This diploma recognizes school graduates who have demonstrated their mastery of the high school curriculum in English, mathematics, science and U.S. history along with the remaining two subject areas selected by the student. It too can be ready by fall, 2018.

Stand-alone courses such as Emergency technician or certified nursing assistant: The CDE said this measure is still being developed but could be included next fall.

Leadership/Military Science: Better known, perhaps, as a component of higher education, the leadership courses are intended to prepare students for careers in the U.S. Army. Proposed inclusion date is the fall, 2018.

Acceptance into the military: The CDE said that this data is not yet collected by the state but could be by 2019.

Work-based learning and internships: Perhaps the most closely-linked indictor to career-oriented students, this measure would draw from specific activities such as an internship tied to a CTE pathway, including the number of hours completed. The CDE estimates that this data would take until 2020 before becoming available.

Industry certification: The CDE reported that industry certificates may prove the most challenging to data to collect, noting that community colleges have been working on vetting and obtaining certificates for some years without success. Not expected until 2020.

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