New bills aim to improve college and career partnerships

New bills aim to improve college and career partnerships

(Calif.) College and K-12 administrators would be required to work together to both expand and improve local college and career partnership programs under two bills pending before the state Senate.

Both bills, authored by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, aim to improve outcomes for high school students participating in a local College and Career Access Pathways partnership program.

Currently, such partnerships are meant to develop seamless pathways from high school to community college for career technical education or preparation for transfer.

SB 563 would establish a pilot program to reduce barriers and enhance participation of school districts in CCAP partnerships. The pilot would include three community colleges–one located in Northern California, one in Southern California, and another in the central region–and up to 5 high schools located near each college. Participants would be selected by the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

According to Roth’s office, while partnerships between school districts and community college districts have increased in recent years, participation in dual enrollment statewide has not reached the levels needed to substantially improve college-going rates and degree or certificate attainment.

His second bill, SB 586, would require the governing boards of a school district and a community college district that have entered into a CCAP partnership to consult with their local workforce development board to better align the available pathways with the state’s current and future employment needs.

Throughout the country, the adoption of college and career ready standards has given new prominence to career technical training as an option for all students–especially as employers in many fields have expressed concern over a lacking labor force as older workers begin to retire. More and more, districts are working with local community colleges to develop programs that reflect some of the most in-demand fields within the state or region.

In Ohio, for instance, Toledo high school students can earn an emergency medical technician credential upon graduation–which local officials said could help fill a much needed staffing gap in local fire departments.

Meanwhile, in Texas, where a need for primary care doctors has emerged, students will have the opportunity to take courses that will prepare them for various health care professions. In Maine, fire officials have sought out in recent years to develop high school-level firefighting programs to train and recruit young people for short staffed stations.

And throughout the country, states with large farming communities have promoted pathways focused on sustainable agriculture and food systems, while others in need of highly qualified technical specialists have promoted science, technology, engineering and math pathways.

Other bills on the education committee’s agenda include:

  • SB 499, which would establish the California-Grown for Healthy Kids Program in an effort to increase the number of free school meals served with California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • SB 541, which would require every K-12 school in the state to conduct at least two lockdown drills per year. Former- Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill–AB 1747–last year that requires schools to develop safety plans in order to prepare and respond to violent incidents on or near school sites. That bill originally also called for schools to hold at least one active shooter drill each year, but that provision was dropped prior to the bill reaching the governor’s desk.

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