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Common Standards Released for Career and Technical Education

You've heard tons about the common standards in mathematics and English/language arts that have been adopted by all but four states. You've heard, also, about the science frameworks that are intended to support shared standards in that subject. Now there are common standards in career and technical education.

Released this week at the National Career Clusters Institute, the "Common Career Technical Core" is an attempt to ensure that career and tech-ed standards are of top quality in all states.

Their design was led by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, or NASDCTEc. The organization says it sought input from about 3,500 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia, including those in higher education, K-12, and business, to shape the standards.

The standards are divided up into 16 career clusters that represent different industries, and subsets of pathways within each cluster.

To give you a flavor, here's a couple of examples from the Hospitality & Tourism Career Cluster: Students should be able to describe the key components of marketing and promoting hospitality and tourism products and services, and identify potential, real and perceived hazards and emergency situations, and determine the appropriate safety and security measures in the hospitality and tourism workplace. Within the "recreation, amusements & attractions career pathway" in that strand, students should be able to "explain admission and traffic-control procedures used to manage and control individuals, groups, and vehicles in recreation, amusement, and attraction venues."

There are also a set of 12 overarching "career-ready practices" that detail knowledge, skills, and 'dispositions' necessary for a successful launch into the workplace, such as modeling integrity, ethical leadership, and effective management, and communicating "clearly, effectively, and with reason."

The NASDCTEc hopes states will adopt the standards. Its next step is to conduct an analysis of how each state's career-tech standards differ from the set it just released.

Career and technical education has been sparking a lot of thought in recent years, as the old vocational education is being phased out in favor of more rigorous alternatives that seek to give students the demanding academics they need, but do it through a more hands-on, career-oriented lens. Programs like ConnectEd in California aim for this blend, arguing that it keeps students engaged while giving them all the training they need to pursue an array of options, from associate degrees and certificates to a four-year college path.

For more on this, see a blog post by my colleague Caralee Adams at College Bound, who tells us about a new initiative by Harvard University, Jobs for the Future, and six states to assess the job market and offer training geared to those jobs. This grew out of last year's very controversial Harvard report about what to offer students who might not opt for a baccalaureate degree.

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