What is College and Career Readiness?
What exactly does the term "college and career readiness" mean?
Too often, the implied or inferred meaning is that a student is ready for college—with the assumption that college will then prepare the student for a career. Others view being "college ready" and "career ready" as synonymous, believing if a student is prepared for college, then he or she is also prepared to enter the workforce. The Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) challenges common perceptions with their definitions.
Let’s explore the ACTE definitions.
CTE and Career Readiness
The ultimate intent of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act is to provide "individuals with opportunities throughout their lifetime to develop, in conjunction with other education and training programs, the knowledge and skills needed to keep the United States competitive." Sec.2. Purpose.(7)
CTE and work-based learning (WBL) experiences help students gain academic skills, job-specific skills, and employability skills. However, to be competitive in the 21st century workplace, most students will require additional education or training after graduating from high school.
Texas College and Career Readiness Standards
For a number of years, Texas has striven to ensure that its students are prepared to transition seamlessly from high school to post-secondary education.
As part of this effort, the Texas Legislature required the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to establish vertical teams to develop College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). The vertical teams created standards for each of the four foundational academic areas (i.e., English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies).
Although the primary focus of the CCRS is academics, the standards are an excellent resource for CTE teachers to use when planning lessons. Performance indicators for each of the four foundational academic areas can be integrated into almost every WBL course.
Foundation High School Program
The TEA Graduation Toolkit includes downloadable flyers summarizing the graduation program, the endorsements, and the steps to earning a high school diploma.
The Texas high school graduation requirements can be found on TEA's website at State Graduation Requirements.
Designing Career Pathways
School counselors are responsible for helping students navigate high school and develop four-year plans for earning a diploma. A CTE program of study, however, extends beyond four years of high school to include some type of post-secondary education or training, as well as ongoing continuing education or skill development.
The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Career Preparation I and II and nearly every practicum course require students to identify employment opportunities in their career field and determine continuing education opportunities that enhance career advancement.
Teacher-coordinators can make this learning experience truly meaningful by encouraging students to create a realistic career development plan that extends beyond high school graduation.