Career Pathways and Technical Education Task Force

Recommendations List: October 28 Meeting

Three identified areas: (A) a strengthened secondary CTE system; (B) an aligned career and college readiness process; and (C) a coordinated career pathway structure.

Richard Rosivach

1. Modify PSEO guidelines to allow a broader range of students to access post-secondary educational opportunities. MNSCU should redefine access based on particular programs of study/entry level classes and learning environments rather than grade, class rank, ACT and Accuplacer scores. Students attending four year universities on their campuses may need to demonstrate a different level of readiness than students taking a concurrent enrollment course on a high school campus that is co-taught by Higher Ed. and secondary faculty.
2. Extend funding for K12 concurrent enrollment students to provide a transition bridge to Higher Ed. Many students take one or two technical education classes but then do not proceed to advanced training in part because they must choose between further technical education classes and the liberal arts and sciences (which more closely mirror state standards). This model will also support English Language Learners, students on IEP’s and those in need of credit recovery as they transition to Higher Ed in a supported environment. As a practical matter, this would change the definition of graduation from high school.
3. Incent business investment in new technology that is shared with educational institutions in public-private partnerships. MNSCU cannot keep up with the pace of change and businesses need to be encouraged to make purchases of significant physical capital to expand production. Developing sustained partnerships between industry and educational institutions will also allow greater access to technical education because it can be located closer to the students especially in greater Minnesota.
4. Make credit for work based learning clear and meaningful by permitting pre-approval for apprenticeships and other work based learning options. This will clarify if the learning that is occurring is actually preparing students for college and career (these could be authorized under the rigorous course waiver). Through on-going apprenticeships (with trade unions for example) these pathways can be clear and well established.
5. Incent employers to develop "hire then train" models to better align workforce needs and educational programs in public-private partnerships. This could be accomplished through tax credits, deductions and direct grants

Sean Roy

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.

Commissioner Cassellius

1. Set up schools in districts that are called "upper early college" schools.
• Schools are funded as K-12 and must be innovative,
• Use integrated learning environments for students age 17-21 to access programming in career fields before graduating from high school,
• Consider blending in ALC and other Learning Year, Extended Day, Accelerated and Target Services programs to fund,
• Option for making them charter schools.
2. Explore changes in the compulsory attendance age—now age 17, adult diploma, and high school reform to see how it can work with current school funding that allows districts to educate students ages 17 - 21.
• Use school district autonomy to "outsource" or "contract for educational services" with local colleges.
3. Restructure large high schools into small learning communities around career themes i.e. Career Academies.
• Follow rigorous curricula that include academic and career-oriented courses,
• Offer opportunities to participate in work-based learning activities.
4. Revise Rigorous Course Waiver statute to allow school districts greater autonomy to create career pathways and allow greater flexibility such as:
• Defining school calendars,
• Determining teacher licensure requirements for each program.
5. Create virtual county school districts throughout the state to address the following needs of students:
• Dropout prevention,
• Comprehensive counseling services both academic and social/emotional including career planning,
• Provide wrap-around family support services including language acquisition,
• Mental health programming/health services,
• Integration programming and services,
• Coordinate transportation and other non-educational services,
• ABE programming and services.

Alyssa Klein

Recommendation #1: In order to enhance the effectiveness of the Individualized Life Plan (ILP) process, school districts must create a plan to ensure that:

• All middle school students understand Minnesota’s six career fields and identify possible interests within these by the end of 8th grade.
• All high school students understand Minnesota’s sixteen career clusters and participate in experiences each year which allow for further exploration and reflection of interests and skills within these.
• All seniors identify a career pathway which matches skills and interests and have mapped out a post-secondary plan for moving through this pathway prior to graduation.

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.

Julie Halverson

1. Request that the Legislature provide an adopted, common definition of Career and College Readiness” in the state of MN as a framework for educational institutions to speak a common language. “What is the knowledge and what are the skills we want students to have at high school graduation?”
2. The Legislature should provide adequate funding for many recommendations that result from this Task Force and also make competitive grants available for the redesign of MN schools into smaller communities for rigorous, relevant and responsive learning; learning that is contextualized and integrated, and applied for all students; regardless of race, income, and/or zip code, so that they can become the “world’s best workforce”.
3. And then consequently, legislation should develop Policy Requiring LEA’s to develop schools that are not seen as anomalies, but instead the norm. Schools/districts characterized as the norm would:
a. Develop and implement a systematic, consistent, developmental and age appropriate, integrated career education curriculum K-12 (using National Career Development Guidelines and Guidance and Counseling Standards); learning which is accessible to all learners which includes practical application activities and incorporates the use of an electronic tool and provides resources for students/parents/educator-advisors-mentors.
b. Implement the use of individualized learning plans for K-12 students to blend academic achievement and career development with student aspirations/dreams/goals. Student Plans should be revisited at minimum, annually.
c. Require the development and use of an electronic portfolio for each student, K-12 that is transportable beyond high school.
d. Provide ongoing career assessment/surveys for students in grades 5-12 and improve the use of the results of the assessment in designing more individualized learning opportunities for students.
e. Implement Advisory Programs in schools beginning no later than grade 6. Provide staff development for educators for successful implementation. Advisory programs should host learning activities that help students to develop 21st century skills/generally desired employability skills/leadership skills/volunteerism and citizenship skills. (i.e. general academic knowledge in core areas, skills in problem solving and decision-making, critical and creative thinking, communication, and create learners who are responsible and self-directed, as well as civic-minded.
f. Adopt a model of career fields/ pathways in MN to provide consistency in language and communication for all parties when partnering with one another as we help to prepare our youth for that larger thing called “life”.
g. Fund pilot applications for schools to develop career academies, magnet programs, or other career-themed educational offerings as model programs in the state of MN.
h. Create and provide secondary course registration guides around larger Career Fields/Pathways (using those or similar to those found in the MN Chart developed by MDE/MNSCU) that will inform and guide students and their parents/guardians in course selection and intended to help learners build skills and competencies that can support their postsecondary interests, career interests and longer term aspirations.
i. Provide at least one work-based learning opportunity for every student prior to leaving high school-rethink credit requirements and time that may exist for those in 12th grade who desire to remain in the high school. (requires community partners to step-up to provide the opportunities to the students)
j. Rethink bells, schedules, calendars, setting and seat time in schools as well as teacher licensure requirements to allow more flexibility in teaching and learning.
1. Secondary education should partner with postsecondary education to provide virtual and blended learning opportunities for students across the state. (online service provider requirements would need revision)
2. Postsecondary institutions in MN should set a standard fee charged for contracted PSEO agreements with secondary schools.
3. Postsecondary institutions in MN should develop and adhere to a standardized credentialing process for secondary instructors to teach concurrent courses in the high school.
4. All postsecondary institutions in MN should partner with LEA’s in providing and paying for a college entrance exam for all 11th graders.

Dave Adney

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.

Amy Walstein

1. Improve alignment of postsecondary degree and credential program curriculum with target occupations and employer needs. Using labor market data, determine CTE programs with a proven return on investment, in terms of meeting needs and students’ academic success and employability, and utilize resources to strengthen and scale-up those CTE programs. Start delivering curriculum for those in-demand CTE programs at the secondary level.
2. Improve student demand for CTE. Strengthen postsecondary enrollment options. Advertise benefits of gaining college credits at the middle-school and high-school levels. Expand credit opportunities to all schools receiving state grant funds. Connect students with meaningful experiential learning opportunities and map CTE career pathways.
3. Facilitate better alignment between K-12 and post-secondary institutions. Resolve funding issues between K-12 and postsecondary. Develop statewide credit transfer agreements between K‐12 and MnSCU.
4. Improve skilling-up opportunities for CTE teachers (e.g. continuing ed credit and salary schedule adjustments for skills classes and industry externships)

Julie Warner

1. Allow schools districts that have state approved CTE programs of study access to additional funding, similar to ALC extended day or extended year funding to support work-based learning programs.
2. Revise Rigorous Course Waiver statute to allow school districts more autonomy to define their school calendar, credits for learning and teacher licensure requirements.
3. Increase the CTE levy/revenue to 40% of salary and supplies.
4. Support with additional funding small multi district CTE cooperatives, career academies or early CTE colleges programs that offer approved CTE programs of study.

Sonja Simpson

Recommendation 1:

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.

Recommendation 2:

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.

Recommendation 1.2: 

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. 

*** Added

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!

Jim Bierma

Below are the MSCA recommendations.

1. School counselors should be on the college and career readiness leadership team at every high school.
2. High school students should take at least one career assessment and explore postsecondary options for their careers of interest each year.
3. Districts work toward the goal of one school counselor for every four hundred students in order to help lead college and career readiness programs.
4. Comprehensive college and career readiness programs should address the academic, admissions, career, financial, and personal/social domains each year in high school.

Ed Schones

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.

David Johnson

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).

Sharon Jensen

Bottom Line:
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?

Regulation review
·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.

 CTE licensure:
·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.

· Backmapping was mentioned, that is back-mapping required high school standards to what is taught through certification programs, that standards can be taught in multiple settings and strategies – what’s needed is showing that all standards are taught/learned.
·  Flipped instruction use was also mentioned – example:  higher education faculty producing the digital content which is then delivered in the high school.  Higher education faculty would also be responsible for “grading” student performance.

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:

· Who teaches what and who can teach these courses that we want available for student post secondary (14+) success provided at a convenient location.
· Who has the authority to make these changes, or even allow this content taught at a high school level.

Sue Boehland


Re-evaluate and expand student’s opportunities to meet high school chemistry or physics requirement for graduation.


· Small districts may offer only chemistry or physics, not both. This may be dependent on the licensure of the teacher, teacher interest, or time in a teacher’s schedule. This forces students to take what is offered and may not be the optimum course for their career interest and pathway.
· Many Career and Technical programs include aspect of chemistry and/or physics, taught in an applied setting, within the context of the Program of Study. Therefore these standards are more applicable to a student’s Program of Study. These courses should be transcripted as completing applicable course standards.

Recommendation 2:

Evaluate the requirement that all high school students are required to take Algebra II.


· While three years of high school math may be important, math courses other than Algebra II may be more appropriate for students, dependent of their Program of Study.
· Math related to a CTE Program of Study and taught within that POS, possibly by CTE instructors needs to be considered. Example: math required in Machining is different than Algebra II.

Recommendation 3:

Teacher preparation institutions need to require a career counseling course for all teachers, Kindergarten through Postsecondary.


· It is the responsibility of all teachers to prepare students for their future career. It needs to begin early and be continuous.
· Until the time when our districts have the appropriate student/counselor ratio, and have counselors trained specifically to be “career counselors”, all teachers have a role to play in preparing our students for careers.

Recommendation 4:

All agencies and organizations providing services related to this task force initiative must be aligned.


· All students deserve and are entitled to equal services. There is a need to eliminate duplication. This allows for financial and service efficiency.
· Any student deliverables need to be portable and follow the student through stages of their education and career.

Dean Urdahl

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