By: Steve Gratz
I had the opportunity to be part of the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) Commission on Career-Technical Education that brought together legislators, educators and experts from across the United States to explore how to build career pathways leading from high school to good-paying jobs, training programs and postsecondary education in high-demand fields. Moreover, it focused on answering the question, "How do we help more young people earn credentials and degrees that matter in today’s economy?"
Labor market economists project that by 2020, two-thirds or more of all jobs will require some postsecondary education — either a certificate, a credential or a degree at the associate level or higher. At present, however, the SREB’s analyses of educational attainment data suggest that millions of young Americans are being left behind in the transition from high school to college and well-paying jobs. Significant numbers will never graduate, and many who do go on to college will not complete a credential with value in the marketplace. Furthermore, according to the Snapshot Report - Yearly Success and Progress Rates, fewer than 35 percent of all college-going students graduate on time.
For many young people, high school may be the last chance they have to acquire foundational literacy and math skills and earn a credential of value in the workplace. For these students, it is absolutely essential that we figure out how to get them into early advanced programs that will help them earn credentials. States can put more students on accelerated paths to credential attainment by offering career pathways in settings that blur the lines between high school, higher education and the workplace.
The commission’s report, Credentials for All, offers eight actions that can help reach the goal of doubling the number of young adults who hold relevant credentials or degrees by the age of 25.
Eight Essential Actions for Building Relevant Career Pathways
Action 1 — Build bridges from high school to postsecondary education and the workplace by creating rigorous, relevant career pathways driven by labor market demand.
- Combine a college-ready academic core with challenging technical studies and require students to complete real-world assignments.
- Align three stages of learning — secondary, postsecondary and the workplace — through strategies like dual enrollment and work-based learning.
- Create guidance systems that include career information, exploration and advisement, and engage students in ongoing career and college counseling beginning in the middle grades.
- Allow students to choose accelerated learning options in settings that provide the extended time needed to earn advanced industry credentials that lead to further education and training and high-skill, high-wage jobs in high-demand industries.
Action 2 — Expect all students to graduate academically ready for both college and careers.
Action 3 — Select assessments of technical and workplace readiness standards that offer long-term value to individual students, employers and the economy; carry college credits; and are directly linked to more advanced certifications and further study.
Action 4 — Provide all high school career pathway teachers, especially new teachers from industry, with the professional development and fast-track induction programs they need to meet high academic, technical and pedagogical standards and enhance students’ academic and technical readiness for college and careers.
Action 5 — Adopt a framework of strategies to restructure low-performing high schools around rigorous, relevant career pathways that accelerate learning and prepare students for postsecondary credentials and degrees.
Action 6 — Offer early advanced credential programs in shared-time technology centers, aligning their curricula, instruction and technology with home high schools and community and technical colleges.
Action 7 — Incentivize community and technical colleges and school districts to double the percentage of students who earn certificates, credentials and degrees by setting statewide readiness standards and aligning assessment and placement measures with those standards. Other strategies: Use the senior year of high school to reduce the number of students who need remediation, retool developmental education, adopt individualized support strategies for struggling students and improve postsecondary affordability.
Action 8 — Design accountability systems that recognize and reward districts, high schools, technology centers, and community and technical colleges that double the number of young adults who acquire postsecondary credentials and secure high-skill, high-wage jobs by age 25.
The alarming statistic in the Snapshot Report - Yearly Success and Progress Rates led the Ohio Department of Education to create a unique opportunity for seniors prior to graduation — the Senior Only Credential Program. Seniors who participate in this program have the opportunity to earn in-demand credentials in fields related to their career pathways that would serve as an “insurance policy” should they be one of the 65 percent who don’t persist and graduate on time from college. For example, in the health care sector, nursing is an in-demand job and many high school graduates head off to college with a goal to become a registered nurse. If we overlay the previous statistics, we may infer that fewer than four out of every 10 students will not persist and graduate on time. In this example, students could earn credentials including, but not limited to, medical assistant, STNA and phlebotomist. While this may not be their ultimate career goal, these credential are in a related field, they are in-demand in Ohio, and they would help the student earn a wealth-building wage should they have to postpone their college education for a period of time.
In addition to the Senior Only Credential Program, the Ohio Department of Education has created numerous resources for districts to utilize to help all students be more successful as they transition to post-high school endeavors. You can read about many of these resources at our Career Connections webpage.
In an effort to stimulate conversation through the ExtraCredit blog, I offer up the following questions and look forward to reading your comments.
Dr. Steve Gratz is senior executive director of the Center for Student Support and Education Options at the Ohio Department of Education, where he oversees creative ways to help students in Ohio achieve success in school. You can learn more about Steve by clicking here.
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- How do we help more young people earn credentials and degrees that matter in today’s economy?
- What can you do to increase the number of high school graduates who successfully reach their chosen career pathways?
- What barriers do you face if you would implement the eight action steps?
- What does it mean for all students to graduate academically ready for both college and careers?
- What changes need to occur in accountability systems to recognize and reward districts that double the number of young adults who acquire postsecondary credentials and secure high-skill, high-wage jobs by age 25?
By: Chris Woolard
The end of August is always a bittersweet time of year as the end of summer combines with the excitement and nervousness of a new school year. I still get butterflies, and I know how anxious my own kids are for the new challenges ahead. My three are so excited about going to school (maybe not so much the earlier alarm clock), but they are ready to go.
One issue that has been getting more attention, not only in Ohio but nationally, is the importance of addressing the needs of students who miss a significant amount of school. It may be common sense that students need to be in school, but data and research is starting to add much more insight into just how important it is. Students are missing more and more instructional time, and it’s having a very real impact on the way that our students are able to learn, grow and be successful.
Every day can’t feel like that first day, but every day is still important
Chronic absence is more than just attendance, as it focuses on students who miss a significant amount of instruction. In Ohio, we define it as students who miss more than 10 percent of the days in a school year. This adds up. It could be two days of every month or longer stretches throughout the year, but regardless, that translates into big chunks of missed instructional time. A student who habitually misses a day here and there but adds up to 20 days over the course of a year may have much different needs than a student who misses three straight weeks of school. This makes it a challenge for students to keep up and for teachers to be able to keep pace. Chronically absent students are less likely to be readers in the early grades and less likely to graduate. In some parts of our state, nearly one-third of students are chronically absent.
There are many reasons why students are chronically absent beyond just illness — bullying, homelessness and other family situations to name a few. But there are many more reasons why students may not be regularly present in school. These are serious issues that require community efforts across sectors to address.
Across the country, many schools and organizations are coordinating efforts to help communities address their unique concerns. There are some fantastic examples of schools working with community partners to provide dental clinics, after-school programs and mental health services. Cleveland’s recent campaign included support from the Cleveland Browns and focused on students who were missing a few days of school per month.
The U.S. Department of Education recently released a toolkit to help guide the conversation with health care providers, juvenile justice authorities, nonprofits and other community partners. Attendance Works is a project working with many states and districts to help develop proactive strategies. Its effort to call attention to these issues through September Attendance Awareness month includes many resources and promotional materials.
What can communities do? Attendance Works has created a list of 10 things communities can do to help address chronic absenteeism. But it starts with making sure that school attendance is a priority for your own children. You also can get involved in your neighborhood schools and see what they need. Help students find ways to connect school to their passions. Volunteer as a mentor, support a club or offer to drive a carpool in your neighborhood. Every school is unique and will have different needs, but the common thread is that the school should be a place where students are safe, supported and engaged in classroom instruction.
As a parent, I know how disruptive it is to our family schedule when one my kids misses a day or two of school and the work that goes into getting back to our routine. As a state, we want all Ohio students to be ready for success when they graduate from our schools. With data, we can understand some of the factors that can be hurdles for that goal. Chronic absence is one of those hurdles. We are looking closely at the data to better understand how many students are chronically absent, why they are chronically absent and what we can do to get them back in class.
Chris Woolard is senior executive director for Accountability and Continuous Improvement for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Chris by clicking here.
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By: Guest Blogger
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to identify and provide comprehensive support to improve their lowest-performing schools, but gives them more flexibility to choose what strategies to use to reach that goal. This creates opportunities for states to partner with school leaders, teachers, and parents to pursue innovative ideas for moving education forward for all students. It also presents some challenges, among them:
What strategies have proven successful in accelerating the growth of all students?
For more than a decade, Battelle for Kids has brought together nearly 100 urban, suburban, and rural Ohio school districts to collaborate and innovate around promising practices for student success through the SOAR Learning & Leading Collaborative. We also partnered with the Ohio Department of Education to sponsor regional workshops featuring the promising practices of teachers and leaders in districts that have had great success in closing achievement gaps and improving student growth. And, we surveyed and held discussions with central office staff, principals, and teachers from high-growth buildings and districts in Ohio to help all educators learn what works to accelerate student learning.
Five high-growth strategies emerged from our engagement with these districts that could help schools across the country improve learning opportunities for their students:
1. Limit goals and initiatives to focus on student learning.
One of the most consistent characteristics of high-performing schools is their ability to cut through the noise and stay focused on the core mission of educating students. While remaining compliant with state and federal requirements, high performing schools continually evaluate what they’re doing and will eliminate or suspend initiatives that are not directly contributing to improved student learning.
2. Strategically leverage time, talent and resources.
Rather than viewing time as a never-ending challenge, educators in high-performing schools embrace the challenge of time as an opportunity to optimize their strengths and refine their focus. Their most important questions are: What are our priorities, and how can we use time differently to better focus on our priorities? Effective and purposeful teacher collaboration is also an essential element in high performing schools. These schools also have implemented Multi-Tier Support System/Response to Intervention (MTSS/RTI) with fidelity. High-performing schools squeeze out every possible minute during the school day for high-quality instruction in math and reading, intervention and enrichment time, and teacher collaboration.
3. Develop a balanced assessment approach.
Nearly every high-performing school we discovered stressed the importance of developing the capacity of teachers to use formative instructional practices, design sound assessments, and use data from short-cycle/common assessments to understand where students are, where students are headed, and what students must do to get there. A rigorous, balanced assessment system is the only way to understand connections between the curriculum, standards, and how those concepts translate into student learning. Although this work is difficult and challenging, high-performing schools never abandoned their focus on pedagogy.
4. Use multiple measures to inform improvement.
High-performing schools understand the importance of using multiple measures, including growth measures, to improve teaching and student learning. Sir Ken Robinson says if you focus too much on one set of data, you may miss lots of other strengths, talents, and innovation happening in your district. These schools collect and analyze data from year-end state tests, surveys of teachers, parents, students, and other internal and external stakeholders, as well as data from other districts against which they benchmark their performance.
5. Empower teachers and develop leaders.
You may have heard that “Culture trumps strategy.” So what is your strategy for developing a great culture? A common theme across high-performing districts and schools is strong leadership at all levels. Empower means to give or delegate power, enable, or permit. High-performing schools empower, coach, and support their teachers. They also establish ambitious goals and hold high expectations for every staff member. By allowing teachers to help create the world in which they work, greater levels of engagement and ownership follow.
As states and school districts prepare for full implementation of ESSA in the 2017‒2018 school year, these promising practices can serve as a guide to educators across the country for moving education forward and helping all students succeed.
Read Five Strategies for Creating a High-Growth School for more examples and suggested practices from high-performing schools.
Bobby Moore is a Senior Director of Strategic Engagement at Battelle for Kids. Connect with him on Twitter at @DrBobbyMoore. This post originally appeared on the Battelle for Kids Learning Hub on March 3, 2016.
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By: Emily Passias
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we all were asked as kids. Parents and educators want their students to be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, but too many students in Ohio aren’t getting started on learning the technical and professional skills they need until after they leave high school. Here at the Ohio Department of Education, we’re working to identify new and creative ways to ensure our students are ready for their futures.
And we need your help! We’re currently seeking input from Ohioans via our brief, online New Skills for Youth survey on how well our system of career preparation is working for our students, businesses and communities. We’ll use this information to develop a plan to ensure that Ohio students have the best career preparation in the country and that Ohio businesses have the workforce they need to succeed.
Parents: What opportunities would you like to see for your children in order to ensure they’re ready to achieve their dreams after high school?
Employers: What are the key skills you’re looking for in your employees? What could be done to support your engagement with schools in helping to develop your future employees?
Teachers, counselors and school administrators: What kind of career preparation already is going on in your schools? How can we support and expand these efforts? How can we help connect you with local businesses?
College and university staff: How are you connecting with high schools? How are you connecting with Ohio businesses? What can we do to make the transition between high school, college and the workforce as smooth as possible?
Community members at large: How can schools better prepare students for their futures in order to build stronger communities?
Our goals are big; we want all students to have the knowledge and skills they need to reach their aspirations, whether that includes college, the military or entering a career after high school.
We value your experience and ideas as we build our plan for the future. Your input will help ensure all Ohio students are equipped with the skills they need — whether those be technical skills or professional skills — to unlock their maximum potential and achieve their goals. Please take a few moments to complete our New Skills for Youth survey!
New Skills for Youth Phase One Snapshot: Ohio
Dr. Emily Passias is director of the Office of Career-Technical Education at the Ohio Department of Education, where she focuses on state policies aimed at preparing students for college and careers. You can learn more about Emily by clicking here.
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By: Julia Simmerer
The Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Educator Licensure has seen many changes over the last several years. These changes always have Ohio’s educators in mind, making the process faster and easier for you. As such, we’d like to review how we have improved the licensure process.
Our office now spends less than a week processing licensure applications thanks to a new application process rolled out at the beginning of 2014. This process, which is entirely online, makes it more efficient for educators to apply for and receive teaching credentials.
Screenshot of the CORE dashboard, where educators can apply for licenses, view their current credentials and more. Click to enlarge.
All required information is now submitted online in the Connected Ohio Records for Educators (or CORE), a platform that educators and the department already use for other, various interactions. Educators and their districts can view credentials online at any time of the day, beginning the minute they are issued. The credentials display with consistent, verified, up-to-date information.
This streamlined approach allows districts to get educators in classrooms working with Ohio students easier and faster than before. Since July 2015, the new application process already has issued nearly 130,000 Ohio educator credentials.
The Office of Educator Licensure also has benefited from this improved system; we have seen a significant decrease in the amount of time it takes to process applications. Today, it takes our office five to seven business days to process most applications, and in many cases, applications may be processed in as little as one to two days! For licensure specialists, this allows for more time answering important questions and providing guidance to educators and administrators. This additional time is very valuable to Ohio educators and our specialists who have received more than 38,000 telephone calls this year alone.
We continually look to improve the licensure experience of Ohio teachers as they transition through different stages of their careers. Our work is highly customer-service driven, and we know the more efficient and effective we are, the more time and energy educators can spend toward enriching Ohio’s schools.
You can find more information about the Office of Educator Licensure, by clicking here.
Julia Simmerer is senior executive director of the Center for the Teaching Profession at the Ohio Department of Education, where she oversees the implementation of policies and programs that support Ohio’s teacher and leader corps. You can learn more about Julia by clicking here.
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