Education Leaders Praise New Legislation to Support Innovation in Career and Technical Education

March 17, 2016

Hilary McLean, Executive Vice President | Linked Learning Alliance
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Jason Amos, Vice President of Communications | Alliance for Excellent Education 
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Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Career and Technical Education Excellence and Equity Act, new legislation that would support innovation in career and technical education and redesign the high school experience for historically underserved students. In response, recognized leaders in the college and career readiness movement offered support for the legislation and urged its swift adoption.
"There is a mismatch between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers," said Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise. "This bipartisan legislation casts a wide net, bringing in employers, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation's high school graduates to make the high school experience more engaging for students and more relevant to today's job market."
Although the national high school graduation rate is at an all-time high of 82 percent, far too many students are unprepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. According to a recent report from Achieve, nearly 80 percent of college instructors and 60 percent of employers say that public high schools fall short in preparing students for postsecondary education and the job market.
"We are proud to stand with these leading educational organizations in support of the Career and Technical Education Excellence and Equity Act," said JD Hoye, president of NAF, a national network that brings together the business and education communities to provide high school students access to opportunities that will help make them college, career, and future ready. "It has been NAF's priority to join with prominent companies to align high school education with future workforce needs, by offering both academic and work-based learning experiences that provide students with key skills for high demand jobs. Additionally, the Career and Technical Education Excellence and Equity Act provides a key underpinning to NAFTrack Certified Hiring-a promise made by major corporations to give special consideration to college students and eventual job applicants who, as high school graduates, earned the NAFTrack certification. America's corporations will quickly witness a return on that investment, as today's students become the future leaders of their workforces tomorrow."
The Career and Technical Education Excellence and Equity Act would help close these gaps by creating a grant program that would fund partnerships among school districts, employers, and institutions of higher education. Students participating in these programs would graduate from high school with an industry recognized credential or credit toward a postsecondary degree or certificate, as well as be better prepared to enroll in a postsecondary education program aligned with their career path without the need for remediation.
"This legislation will help ensure more equitable access to postsecondary education and the workplace." said Gary Hoachlander, president of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. "When students are motivated and engaged in high school, they learn more and are much less likely to need remediation for success in college and career."
The legislation would fund a variety of activities, including
  • integration of rigorous academics with career and technical education in courses that meet state university admissions requirements;
  • professional development between core academic teachers and career and technical education teachers;
  • employers as partners in program design, curriculum development, program evaluation, and assessment of student work; and
  • a continuum of work-based learning experiences, such as job shadowing, internships, and pre-apprenticeship programs for students to develop essential workplace skills.
"The Linked Learning Alliance applauds Senators Kaine, Portman, Baldwin, and Capito for addressing disconnects between high school and college that lead to students facing remediation-a major obstacle for postsecondary retention and degree attainment," said Christopher Cabaldon, President of the Linked Learning Alliance, a statewide coalition of education, industry, and community organizations dedicated to improving California's high schools and preparing students for success in college, a career, and life. "We support this bill's intention to better prepare students for college and career through the integration of rigorous academics, career and technical education, work-based learning, and supports for students. By supporting stronger partnerships between industry and schools, the updated Perkins law will help more students accelerate attainment of postsecondary degrees while gaining the twenty-first-century skills that employers demand."