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State Policies Encourage CTE and Career Readiness


June 3, 2013

State Policies Encourage CTE and Career Readiness

By: Ann Ultsch, ACTE intern, and Catherine Imperatore

In order to ensure that students graduating from high school are college and career ready, states are placing a higher priority on CTE, according to a report released earlier this year by the Education Commission of the States.

States offer incentives to schools to encourage career readiness, including:

  • "carrot" policies, which encourage students to earn industry-based certifications, gain work experience and/or pass workplace assessments.
  • "stick" policies, which incorporate CTE measures in school and district accountability.
  • supports to students who are at risk of not being career ready.

For instance, Louisiana, Kentucky and Virginia have integrated real-world credentials or work experience into the requirements for receiving a CTE diploma, a CTE endorsement on a standard diploma or a CTE certificate. To earn Ohio's diploma with honors, students must meet seven of eight criteria, one of which is completing four units of a CTE program that leads to an industry-recognized credential, apprenticeship or postsecondary credit.

On the "stick" side, North Carolina has added to its accountability measures the percentage of CTE concentrators who graduate and receive a Silver Level Career Readiness Certificate, and Indiana includes the percentage of students earning an industry certification as one indicator of a school's college and career readiness score.

Some states, such as Virginia, are also blurring the lines between traditional academic programs and CTE by enabling students to substitute an industry certification or state licensure exam for some end-of-course assessments. Minnesota has encouraged dual enrollment by allowing students in the 10th grade and higher to enroll in a Minnesota college-level CTE course; if they earn a C or higher, they can continue to enroll in postsecondary courses, up to a limit. In addition, Kentucky requires that dual credit Kentucky technical college courses be included on students' official transcripts and accepted at all colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

We applaud these examples of state innovation in CTE and career readiness policies!

Ann Ultsch was an intern with the ACTE Public Policy Department in winter and spring 2013. She is a student at Wittenberg University in Ohio studying political science and English.

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