Texas lawmakers would make changes to CTE accountability

Texas lawmakers would make changes to CTE accountability

(Texas) School accountability would include student achievement in career technical education pathways under a bill moving through the Texas State Legislature.

Currently under the state’s A-F grading system, schools can only count students who have successfully completed a career certification program, but advocates note that such a system doesn’t account for the students who are making good progress toward earning a certificate.

HB 1388 would make changes to the state’s accountability system to allow schools to count students who have completed a sequence of CTE courses that add up to four or more credits that consisted of at least two courses in the same career cluster, including at least one advanced course.

“Student achievement in career and technical education currently is counted only when a student obtains an industry certification,” according to a staff analysis of arguments in support of the bill. “However, few industry certifications are available or attainable at the high school level. The bill would recognize the value of students beginning a course of study that could lead to an industry certification or other postsecondary credential.”

Although CTE was once considered a fallback option for students who were unlikely to continue their education or earn a college degree, the pathway has gained support throughout the country as a way to fill the need for skilled workers in various industries.

In some communities, efforts are being made at the local level to target specific needs. In Maine, for instance, high school-level firefighting programs were developed to help train and recruit young people for short staffed stations. And in states with large numbers of rural schools, including Nebraska, Idaho and South Dakota, lawmakers have increased funding to expand CTE and encouraged schools to partner with local industry leaders.

And a new school completely focused on preparing students for comprehensive health care professions is being developed in Texas, as a need for primary care doctors has emerged in the state.

In addition to preparing students for careers, studies have also shown academic benefits to participation in CTE.

Last year, researchers from the University of Connecticut found that low-income students are likely to score higher on standardized tests and graduate at much higher rates when they attend schools that emphasize career education.

The Texas A-F school accountability system approved last year by the federal government grades schools and districts on factors in three categories–student achievement, student progress and closing the gaps.

The changes called for in HB 1388 would be made to the student achievement indicator.

The bill has received support from about 20 organizations, including the Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas School Alliance, Texas State Teachers Association, a handful of districts, and other advocacy groups throughout the state.

It is now pending before the state’s Senate education committee.

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