However, states are increasingly taking measures to ensure that CTE courses provide challenging content to prepare students for both postsecondary studies and work. Legislation recently enacted in Arkansas provides yet another example of this trend. H.B. 1620 (a.k.a. Act 743) calls for schools to make available "a rigorous career and technical education program of study that links secondary education and postsecondary education and combines academic and technical education in a structured sequence of courses". It directs the department of career education to work with the department of education and department of higher education to develop college and career readiness program standards for CTE courses.
Under the new legislation, the college and career readiness program standards for CTE should include:
- Business/education partnerships to support CTE program design, implementation and maintenance
- "Sustained, intensive and focused" professional development for teachers, administrators and faculty to undergird CTE program design, implementation and maintenance
- Accountability and evaluation processes to collect quantitative and qualitative data on CTE program components and student outcomes to gauge each program's effectiveness
- Sequences of secondary and postsecondary courses to help students transition into postsecondary without need for remediation or duplicate classes.
Under the legislation, the state will create these technical skills assessments, which must measure student attainment across multiple points in a student's CTE program, include performance-based items to the extent possible. Among other purposes, these technical skills assessments must be used to evaluate the quality of high school CTE programs.
Here's hoping additional states look to efforts in Arkansas and other states as what is possible in holding students to high, real-world expectations in CTE programs.