The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) commits to launching an ambitious career readiness initiative to align K-12 career programming with the high-skill, high-demand needs of business and industry to better prepare students for postsecondary success. CCSSO and Education Strategy Group (ESG) will provide a comprehensive and coherent system of supports that combines technical assistance and access to best practices to help states implement recommendations made by CCSSOs 2014 Career Readiness Task Force. The three-tiered system will differentiate levels of services to states based on the commitments they make and the outcomes they seek to reach:
- Tier 1: Light support, led by CCSSO, to benefit all states and the broader field through research, case studies, tools, and best practice models housed in a comprehensive Career Readiness Resource Center
- Tier 2: Deeper technical assistance for ten states, led by ESG and supported by CCSSO and experts in the field, through convenings, a virtual community of practice, field-learning experiences, and site visits
- Tier 3: Innovation pilots, led by ESG, for a problem-solving team comprised of leading minds in states and expert organizations to generate collective solutions in complex recommendation areas
Tier 2 states will commit to measureable progress in the three priority recommendation areas, forming cross-sectoral teams with State Education Agency leaders and leaders from employer and postsecondary communities, developing comprehensive career readiness work plans, and undergoing rigorous self-assessment to establish a baseline and key progress indicators for their work. Tier 3 team members will collaborate extensively with members from other states, experts in the field, and the employer community to advance high-impact work related to state accountability systems, work-based learning, industry credentials, and the design and development of career pathways.
In addition, CCSSO will work in partnership with organizations that can help states effectively implement the recommendations, such as leaders in the business community to help identify industry credentials and certifications with labor market value in high-need, high-skills industries and embed them within career pathways.
The efforts will enable ten state teams to develop and implement career programming changes that will increase the number of students who graduate high school prepared for postsecondary education and training and roles in high-skill, high-demand fields.
Year One: July September 2015:
Tier 1: Not yet started
Tier 2: Develop tools for Tier 2 work; Establish ten committed cross-sectoral teams; Officially launch Career Ready Initiative (CRI)
Tier 3: Not yet started
October December 2015:
Tier 1: Launch Career Readiness Resource Center with initial set of tools and best practices
Tier 2: Identify state-specific baselines and progress indicators; Host one-on-one problem solving sessions (on-going throughout project); Launch virtual community of practice (on-going throughout project); Complete state team CRI work plans
Tier 3: Work with Tier 2 states to identify areas worthy of addressing in Tier 3 innovation pilots
January March 2016:
Tier 1: Collect and curate additional tools and materials for resource center; Present early accomplishments from Tier 2 states with full CCSSO membership
Tier 2: Articulate process to adopt career-focused indicators in state accountability systems; Develop mechanism or procedure to bring education and employer communities together; Convene state teams and expert partners to report state progress, provide peer and expert feedback, and develop strategies for challenges and obstacles
Tier 3: Recruit and establish three specialized teams focusing on top three areas of need in field; Launch Tier 3 work with clear identification of the challenges and plan for solution development
April June 2016:
Tier 1: Collect and curate additional tools and materials for resource center; Summarize relevant legislative action from state sessions and present to full membership
Tier 2: Perform critical site visits to examine state efforts in practice and provide technical assistance to strengthen and improve them (annual event throughout project); Evaluate Year 1 state team performance (annual priority) and revise Year 2 plans accordingly
Tier 3: Progress report for each Tier 3 team
Year 2: July September 2016:
Tier 1: Collect and curate additional tools and materials for resource center (on-going)
Tier 2: Support implementation of year 2 state plans; Conduct field learning experience to examine strong business/state relationships
Tier 3: Short-cycle Tier 3 projects complete work and issue report; Longer cycle Tier 3 projects continue work
October December 2016:
Tier 1: Collect and curate additional tools and materials for resource center
Tier 2: Convene state teams to report progress to CCSSO community
Tier 3: Mid-cycle Tier 3 projects complete work and issue report
January March 2017:
Tier 1: Create record of Tier 2 and 3 work for inclusion in Center; Collect and curate additional tools and materials for resource center
Tier 3: Determine whether completed Tier 3 projects are worthy of implementation investments
April June 2017:
Tier 1: Collect and curate additional tools and materials for resource center
Tier 2: Convene teams to share progress and strategies; Evaluate Year 2 state team performance and revise Year 3 plans accordingly
Tier 3: Longer Cycle Tier 3 project completes work and issues report
Year 3: July September 2017:
Tier 2: Support implementation of year 3 state plans; Field learning experience to examine model career pathways
Tier 3: Determine whether to launch new Tier 3 work based on needs identified by states; Determine whether completed Tier 3 projects worthy of implementation funding
October December 2017:
Tier 2: Convene states to share progress with field
April June 2018:
Tier 2: Convene state teams to strategize and share progress
July September 2018:
Tier 2: Complete analysis of states progress over 3 year project and disseminate publicly
U.S. secondary schools must provide young people with the knowledge, skills, and experiences that will enable them to lead productive, fulfilling lives. In todays economy, being well prepared means continuing education or training beyond high school. By 2020, almost two-thirds of jobs, and nearly all high-paying jobs, will require postsecondary education or training. A high school diploma is simply no longer enough.
With an October 2014 unemployment rate of 5.9%, an estimated 9.3 million Americans were out of work. More troubling still, 14.3% of 16-24 year olds were unemployed. Yet there were 4.8 million job openings. In a recent survey, 54% of American companies reported having openings for which they could not find qualified workers. The U.S. education system is not keeping up with the skill needs of its knowledge-based economy, and the supply of quality career-technical education programs has not kept pace with demand.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Task Force on Career Readiness released recommendations in 2014 to elevate K-12 career readiness programs and strengthen their quality and relevance. More than 40 states endorsed the recommendations, and many signaled the need for implementation support across three recommendations: 1) prioritizing career readiness in state accountability systems by adopting career-focused indicators; 2) enlisting business and industry as a lead partner in identifying high-skill, high-demand sectors and designing pathways to develop necessary knowledge and skills; and 3) ensuring pathways culminate with a postsecondary degree or credential with labor market value.
States also suggested a need for intensive, collective problem solving to make headway on some of the remaining recommendations that present more complex challenges, such as developing higher-quality and more precise career-focused indicators, expanding work-based learning opportunities, and developing a model process to determine which industry credentials have labor market value.
Career education in too many secondary schools tolerates low expectations and is misaligned with the evolving needs of the labor market. The results are an increasingly pronounced skills gap that plagues American businesses and dead ends for students who rely on career preparation programs as their ticket into the middle class. Transforming school systems to make career readiness a priority will require state school chiefs to work in partnership with business, governors, and postsecondary leaders in unprecedented ways.