Three identified areas: (A) a strengthened secondary CTE system; (B) an aligned career and college readiness process; and (C) a coordinated career pathway structure.
Recommendation 1: Strengthen the ability of families, including families of youth with disabilities, multicultural families, and families facing socioeconomic challenges, to access information on career and technical education and postsecondary programs so they may help their youth make informed educational decisions.
Providing information to families about career and technical education and postsecondary programs has been a common theme in the task force’s discussions. Currently, the ways families can gain access to such information is hit or miss. A strengthened system that includes a variety of dissemination strategies would improve a family’s ability to assist their youth to make well informed career and education decisions.
Recommendation 2: Examine and address barriers facing secondary students with disabilities who wish to access Postsecondary Enrollment Options in Minnesota.
MDE should undertake a meaningful examination of the processes and policies, of the state, school districts, and postsecondary institutions, that govern access to Postsecondary Enrollment Options in MN. Informal feedback from educators suggests that there are policies and procedures that act as barriers to youth with disabilities accessing these programs. The low employment rate of people with disabilities and the crucial impact of postsecondary education on employment prospects makes this a concerning issue.
Recommendation #1: In order to enhance the effectiveness of the Individualized Life Plan (ILP) process, school districts must create a plan to ensure that:
Justification: Minnesota’s Career Fields, Clusters and Pathways framework provides a structure for ensuring youth are exposed to all possible career opportunities and that they can learn about careers in a broad sense while they are young into more specificity as they get older. As they move through a sequence of exploration experiences, they can gain more clarity about what might be a best fit for them as they get closer to graduation. This also allows them to become more engaged in school because they see how their interests line up with what they are learning.
Recommendation #2: Each Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Workforce Service Area (WSA) receives funding for the equivalent of one FTE position which works closely with their regional Perkins Consortia to act as a Regional Guidance Coordinator. Their role would be to assist districts with implementing the Individualized Life Plan process into their curriculum. Specifically, they would help with creating whole-school plans for implementing grade-level curriculum around ILPs; provide professional development opportunities for school staff and community professionals that support youth; assist districts with building strong community and business partnerships that support career exploration and experiential learning opportunities; ensure that ALL students, including those with disabilities and other “special populations”, have quality ILP planning and experiences, etc.
Justification: There needs to be a statewide structure and support system to support and monitor the Individualized Life Plan process, and by placing this position in a community-based organization, this will allow for greater school-community partnerships. This would also assist with forming stronger alignment between workforce development and education.
Recommendation #3: All high school students participate in a least one community-based experiential learning experience annually, starting in 9th grade, which assists them in their ILP/ career development process.
Justification: Time and again, research tells us the value of experiential learning. Ex: “In the U.S., our goal should be to assist every young adult beginning at the end of middle school to develop an individualized pathway plan that would include career objectives; a program of study; degree and/or certificate objectives; and work-linked learning experiences…(and this) will require a sea change in the role of business and other employers.” -Pathways to Prosperity, Harvard Graduate School of Education, February 2011
Recommendation #4: Assist school districts in designing their Individualized Life Plan process by outlining the specific attitudes, knowledge and skills that students should be able to demonstrate as a result of participating in the ILP process. Consider the American School Counselor
Association (ASCA) National Standards for Students, the National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG) Framework, and other frameworks for developing a recommended logic model for ILP implementation that identifies career development activities and age-appropriate benchmarks.
Justification: School districts would benefit from a state vision for what the ILP process should look like and what benchmarks they should be assisting students in achieving.
Establish a website at DOE to act as a clearinghouse on timelines, resources and data. This site would create a common access point across the state and highlight best practices and innovative programs which support career and technical training.
This would include a jobs training task force that would update the site regularly with employment needs and training requirement.
Make funds available to train counselors/career center personnel at regular times to enhance the information offered in schools (perhaps mandated presentations)
Make funds available so that key personnel could visit school sites already providing innovative programs (Irondale, on-line resources etc.)
Require that all high schools create a unique postsecondary link to four year, two year and vocational institutions. Personnel from post-secondary programs would be available as immediate resources for staff, students and families.
Two other ideas: Fund a counselor position in each school to work specifically on Career and College readiness, fund bus costs for students attending vo-tech programs during the normal school day.
Guidance Counselors should be restructured to ensure effectiveness in reaching ALL students throughout grades 9-12 and consider increasing hire within each school based on size to accommodate this reach. Restructure to include specific cultural training per school population.
It is evident that the achievement gap between whites and people of color are drastic. It is clear that we have tools and systems in place to identify career planning but not clear that we are reaching every student consistently and documenting that reach. A more aggressive approach for counselors must be considered and assessed with monitored and specific goals attached to department or school.
Secondary, Post-secondary, Continuing Education and possibly DEED must be brought to the table when identifying training/dual credit opportunities OR employer entry-level job placement needs.
Some students are not interested in going straight to college for various reasons, however; employment must be an option and the continuing education unit of MnSCU can help to identify entry-level certificate training options along with the needs of the high school and identifying high growth industry trends from DEED. Continuing ed is able to quickly create programming to meet employer needs and introduce students into the college environment.
I believe bold changes must be made to,
1 )Close the achievement gap,
2 )Utilize assessment tools to determine training needs that lead to jobs, career or college, and then,
3) Align partnerships within each district to ensure training to meet employer needs.
The way that I see it we must make systemic changes that will provoke how our guidance counselors meet with all students. These changes must be monitored and measured for effectiveness to include an aggressive approach in meeting minority placements (internships/jobs/career track/college.) This may mean that guidance counselors only work with students for career development and not as a counselor. Possibly changing the name from Guidance Counselor to Career Development Advisor and leave counseling to individuals with a background in behavioral sciences. These CDA’s will be the conduit to faculty/staff/post-secondary and continuing education and employers to introduce students to careers of interest. Similar to what is being done in colleges currently. As the CDA’s identify the needs of their individual school population (realizing that not all needs will be met, but possibly a majority OR based on the schools focus area,) the CDA’s will collaboratively work with post-secondary and DEED and bring employers to the table to discuss internship and job training programs.
I believe that changing this one area, assessing what Guidance Counselors actually do on a day-to-day basis, tearing it down and re-constructing their roles…then building policy to ensure a process that gets everyone at the table, will narrow our achievement gap and help employers understand what schools/DEED can help them with (which will help to build training where and when it’s needed.) I think you can see the cause and effect with the last statement.
Also, cultural training is strongly warranted. Many of our students are still not being taught by people of color when more indications of a diverse workforce is vastly approaching. I am not talking diversity training, I am speaking of specific culture training to help all of us understand the African American, African, Hmong, Somali, Hispanic culture. Why is this important?
Ex: Our continuing education department is providing cultural training currently for The City of Minneapolis, Regulatory Affairs Department in Chinese and Somali culture training. They have determined that knowing how to communicate effectively, and how to deal with conflict with this population will allow better partnership with residences and businesses and hopefully alleviate the need for conflict. The City is seeing value in this type of training within a department that is customer facing. Our school system must receive training and on-going training to be able to serve our diverse population more appropriately.
Lastly, I think we should only have one last brief panel. Possibly 30-45 minutes to hear what Guidance Counselors do (or a job description could suffice for review.) First generation students and teachers from rural and metro areas.
I believe that if we are doing our part and can demonstrate that we are doing everything possible by demonstrating that we have met with each student on a consistent basis throughout their education then the parent involvement issues will become a moot point. Please don’t read this that I am saying that we should mitigate this practice – absolutely not – parents should be involved with their child’s education. What I am saying is that some parents are involved and others are not but the school system will continue to engage regardless!
Below are the MSCA recommendations.
Provide career exploration 9-12 grade students at Community and Technical colleges. This could be modeled after the “Cities Connections” program that St. Paul city schools had with St. Paul college before funding was eliminated.
Recommendation 1: Expand access to Minnesota's Postsecondary Enrollment Options for a wider range of students, including students with disabilities and those experiencing academic failure and at risk of dropping out.
Additional flexibility and broader use of the PSEO program would potentially benefit a wider range of student needs. Given the current understanding that by 2018, 63 percent of labor market jobs will require some postsecondary education, and 90 percent of all new jobs in growing industries with high wages, at a minimum, will require some postsecondary education. This expansion would also open up greater access to CTE courses for 10th-12th graders and also open access to students with disabilities who remain in school through age 21, and beyond what is regarded as 12th grade.Given the demand for higher skilled workers, an expansion is warranted.
Recommendation 2: Implement Minnesota's college and career readiness standards through middle and high school courses that address sound career development principles pertaining to three major skill areas: academic knowledge, employability skills, and job-specific skills.
To support the implementation of essential college and career readiness knowledge and skills, the MDE should consider developing and requiring that that a course (1-3 credits) be offered at some point during middle school and high school for all students. A middle school course could be offered for students in grades 7-8 focused on career exploration in relation to personal interests, goals and knowledge of career pathways. A high school course could then be offered for students at some point in grades 10-12 focused on career planning and preparation. These courses could be specifically aligned with college and career readiness standards.
Recommendation 3: Create flexibility and identify multiple, equally rigorous paths to satisfy Minnesota's proposed career readiness assessments (end-of-course-exams) for all students in grades 8-12.
MDE has proposed eliminating the negative consequences associated with students failing to pass state MCA, MCA-Modified, MTSA and GRAD exam to receive a standard high school diploma. The proposed college readiness assessments are basically what many other states have adopted and are termed end-of-course-exams and for Minnesota would cover the academic areas of math, reading, writing and science. As such, these are courses identified as college readiness courses and specific state academic standards aligned to these courses. Of concern is that not all students get into these courses and it would be important for MDE to track this issue. There, however, alternative methods that could be adopted to ensure that all students have an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in relation to the state's college and career readiness standards. A few of these include integrating academic and career and technical education courses, allowing students to produce portfolios that document attainment of specific standards, using performance based assessments (e.g., students projects, presentations before local panels), and other means. Any alternative would need to be based on the same beliefs, premises, and requirements as other career readiness assessments (end of course exams).
Basic standards achievement is essential to student success post high school; choice of testing piece(s) to be used to best measure at an ongoing pace essential data is imperative.
The Employers need from new employees at entry level positions include the ability to speak clearly, read with understanding, write legibly and/or being able to 'write an understandable message' using an electronic transmission if available in a particular setting; as well the characteristics of trustworthiness, determination to do a good job, the ability to work on and with a team, and flexibility.
Communication to students / parents regarding Access:
·Increase communication to students and parents on the availability and benefits of pursuing CTE, PSEO and post-secondary courses and programs during high school.
** Have appropriate career counseling available and at ready for students who do not have the parental or custodial involvement necessary, not only to be aware of the opportunities, but to be certain these students have the guidance to make them successful, especially if falling within the lower of the 30-70th percentile. (ie, a program for those students needing access assistance)
Begin including these opportunities in parent communication as soon as is worthwhile: middle school certainly; would late elementary, just an FYI or "what do you want to be", or is this point in their education too early?
·Review, and revise as necessary or appropriate, state regulations governing the ability of high school students to participate in apprenticeships and other employment-based opportunities.
Employers' barriers are often regulation and insurance related.
Internships face the same barriers unless we mean office-related. Today, with the minimum number available, these office positions often go to post-secondary/college level students who are potential employees.
Cost reduction to schools/students:
·Provide state supplemental aid for student participation in PSEO – reducing the “cost” to school districts by 50%.
This appears to be the delicate balance: funding. The people I talked with in education included "it's about money".
For the student:
. Provide reimbursement for travel related educational costs to students (low income) for these programs.
An encouragement to participate and not have the additional cost when travel money is an issue for a student.
Summer opportunities for students:
·Expand summer programming and opportunities. If current funding for student participation is generally tied to the K-12 school year, supplemental funding would be necessary for student “tuition” costs if they participate in a summer post-secondary program/course(s).
Perhaps these programs are already available, but I do not believe so.
Expand "summer opportunities" to enhance school-year learning, as an additional opportunity for success, or to provide potential career education opportunities.
These could also counteract and make productive time that now provides little summer employment or internship opportunities for high school students in many areas of the state.
·As needed, broaden eligibility criteria for continuing education credits for CTE instructors – include industry certifications.
·Provide licensure flexibility so post-secondary CTE instructors can provide direct instruction to high school students.
Bring flexibility both ways if possible, increasing flexibility for qualified high school instructors, and to the high school level from postsecondary instruction.
Industry certification: manufacturing if possible as well as office-type certifications (ie Microsoft).
Licensure seems to be, to a non-education person, a sticking point:
Re-evaluate and expand student’s opportunities to meet high school chemistry or physics requirement for graduation.
Evaluate the requirement that all high school students are required to take Algebra II.
Teacher preparation institutions need to require a career counseling course for all teachers, Kindergarten through Postsecondary.
All agencies and organizations providing services related to this task force initiative must be aligned.
I'm suggesting that we try to improve the quality of our teachers (not that I think we have many bad teachers) by seeking ways to encourage teachers to get master’s degrees in their content area. Only 1 out of three teachers who gets a master’s in Minnesota gets one in the area they teach. In Finland, one of the top ranked education systems in the world, every teacher must have a master’s in their subject area. We hear much about the need to bring better teachers into education. I believe many of the suggestions are well intentioned but will not have the desired effect. I think that what I'm suggesting could have a real impact. What I've struggled with is how to encourage teachers in Minnesota to do it. We can't pass a blanket mandate therefore we need to look at incentives. What kind? That's where I've been hung up. I'd appreciate it if you could at least float this idea at the next meeting. We have to start somewhere