Career Pathways and Technical Education Task Force

Experiential Learning Recommendations

Recommendation 1: MDE in collaboration with DEED and postsecondary systems should develop and maintain a website profiling careers and employment trends and outline the educational paths necessary for success in these fields. This should be linked to required testing in all schools (PLAN and Explore). A state-led focus on trends using on-line resources for students and families would be more efficient than having each district compile the information.

Options for implementation:

1. Create an inventory of existing sate-funded resources (ISEEK, SLEDS etc.) that profile employment trends (regional, statewide, and sub-state), career information (online and paper) that provides a more effective and easy way for accessing education/career pathway information.
2. Use the Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE), funded through the separate World's Best Workforce (WBWF) legislation, for promoting regional workforce trends and opportunities for experiential learning. Additionally, when developing a partnership between MDE RCES and DEED regional workforce centers, include experiential learning in that partnership discussion. Investigate if the added functionality requires or is enhanced only with a legislative change does MDE have the statutory power to include experiential learning within the RCEs.

Recommendation 2: Expand course offerings similar to the Minnesota Virtual Academy that include career clusters as well as strategies for post-secondary options and make them available to students and districts throughout the state. Allow the granting of on-line credit and include a list of Minnesota businesses who will support field experiences and internships

Options for implementation:

1. Expand the Minnesota Virtual Academy to include career clusters as well as strategies for post-secondary options. (Comment: This format is easily accessible to Minnesota families and schools and would supply a strong resource base from which schools could differentiate programs (including granting on-line credit for high school diplomas).
2. Establish a resource list of Minnesota businesses the state level to support field experiences and internships. (Comment: This master list, based on business and industry needs, would help guide not only student choices, but also create critical data for post-secondary institutions as they develop programs to meet workforce needs. The alternative is to create lists at the individual district level but that is time consuming.)
3. Build a career pathway experiential learning dashboard that includes information about the Common Course catalogue, dual credit options.
4. Fund the GWDC “Experiential Learning Exchange” concept - an online platform that facilitates the matching of students and adults to experiential learning opportunities, including internships, apprenticeships, and other forms of experiential learning, in all industries and regions.

Recommendation 3: Create a standardized experiential education process that includes career exploration opportunities either through a specific class for credit in high school or through embedded “on-the-job” opportunities within classes. Provide ways to implement this throughout the year including during the summer. Individualize this with assessment data to meet a student’s educational needs. Students should be required to have an experiential learning experience to graduate from high school.

Options for implementation:

1. Adopt a uniform and standard definition for experiential learning such as the following: To include but not be limited to work site tours, job shadowing, rotations, mentor relationships, entrepreneurship, service learning, internships/co-ops, apprenticeship and employment (Comment: should we take this definition to the legislature or should it be tightened.)

Note: This would give under-performing students an opportunity to earn credit while also developing job skills. Pre-approved “on the job” experiences could take place during the school year or summer and if used with PLAN and Explore data be individualized to meet student needs.

2. Revise Minnesota statute 120B.024 CREDITS to require a minimum amount of credits in experiential learning for graduation from high school. This requirement cannot preclude the possibility of students earning credit for learning in a non-classroom based learning experience. (Comment: Allow granting of online credit based on standards completion. Value 80 hours of experiential learning as a single credit but making sure that the added credit requirement be part of total elective credits, and not reduce the number of required (core) academic subject credits.)
3. MDE, in collaboration with DEED and other appropriate state agencies and the business community will develop sample experiential learning programs of excellence which showcase the variety of ways students may demonstrate mastery of the adopted standards. At a minimum these programs must include a:
a. classroom-based model
b. work-based model
c. service-learning model

Other aspects of sample experiential learning programs are: the providing a co-mentoring of the student in the experiential education opportunity. That is, pair the student with a teacher-mentor as well as a work-place mentor to supplement the experience. Also, provide the student a school based "counselor"/someone to talk with, if needed, during the experience. The experiential learning experience: should have clear expectations of what is anticipated, expected, and provided by the business and the school.

4. Any adopted K-12 standards must take into consideration (i) academic (ii) technical and (iii) employability skills development embedded within the experiential learning process. Also, they must take the whole six-year experience from 9th grade to at least the second year of the post-secondary (for example the program of study model under the federal Carl D. Perkins Legislation), including an experiential learning component that is embedded into other curricula and integrated the now-required student career and college plans, and providing opportunities to industry-based certifications.

Recommendation 4: Explore the option of a small business tax credit for each 80-hour field experience/internship opportunity that is successfully completed by a high school student. The student would also receive credit based on successful completion.

Options for implementation:

1. Offer businesses a small tax credit based on their participation in the experiential learning process (Comment: Tax credits for internships bring with them restrictions on hiring (due to tax law) that have the unintended consequence of businesses not hiring interns. For example, if a business has an existing intern, they cannot keep that intern if they want the tax credit; they have to hire a new one. It should also be noted that not all members of the sub-group support the above recommendation.)
2. Investigate workplace regulations such that experiential earning can be accomplished. (Comment: One of the largest obstacles to experiential learning for students on the shop floor are the OSHA and insurance regulations for anyone under age 18. Another big one are finding/vetting students, which can be overcome through the experiential learning exchange).
3. As an alternative to the tax credit, establish a competitive grant or an experiential learning fund to strengthen school district/community experiential learning programs and partnerships. Examples such as the MPS STEP-UP internship program, GenesysWorks, Bridges Academy, the Minnetonka Vantage program, etc. are already in operation.

Recommendation 5: Provide staff development (and/or teacher training) to meet the needs of coordinating the experiential program and participants, including establishing the mentoring process, and evaluating the standards that are covered and determined met in the off-site experiences.

Options for implementation:

1. Require experiential learning/career planning training as part of teacher training programs.
2. Require teachers to participate in workplace-related experiences as part of continuing education unit (CEU) requirements.