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The Global Aspects of the Newly Released Career and Technical Education Common Standards

I recently wrote about how the Obama Administration's the career and technical education (CTE) plan calls for better collaboration and accountability from all stakeholders, including school districts, universities, and the private sector. An education system aligned to workforce needs that produces globally competent students will propel this country forward. My colleague Heather Singmaster, looks at the latest movements in the field.

By Heather Singmaster

I had the honor of attending and presenting at the National Career Clusters Institute in Washington, DC last week. While I was there, I was one of the first to view the new Common Career Technical Core (CCTC), CTE's version of the Common Core State Standards led by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc). Like the Common Core, the CCTC work was a collaborative effort among states (42 of them) and included public comment and input from business and industry representatives, educators and others. The next step is formal adoption by the states.

What interested me were the explicit ties that were made to preparing students for a global economy. These are found in an overarching set of Career Ready Practices: 12 statements that accompany the CCTC and address the knowledge, skills and dispositions important to the workplace of the 21st century. In these, one can clearly see the definition of global competence.

Most obvious is "work productively in teams while using cultural/global competence," something that is key to a global economy where workers will be working in 24/7 global production teams. And the other aspects of global competence are represented in these Career Ready Practices:

  • Use technology to enhance productivity.
  • Use critical thinking to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Employ valid and reliable research strategies
  • Consider the environmental, social, and economic impacts of decisions
  • Communicate clearly, effectively, and within reason (here I would love to see NASDCTEc add a line about the importance of communicating in a second language).
  • Act as a responsible and contributing citizen and employee.

The last one is the one I find to be most interesting. This is a clear call for action on the part of students and something that we have found to be lacking in the Common Core State Standards. In fact, we asked the Educational Policy Improvement Center, founded by Dr. David Conley, to compare the Common Core State Standards to Asia Society's Graduation Performance Outcomes, which are the understandings, skills, and content that globally competent students should know about each discipline. These were developed over many years by faculty from across Asia Society's International Studies Schools Network, to chart innovative and effective ways in which students develop global perspectives.

Overall, the study finds that the Asia Society Graduation Performance Outcomes do relate to the Common Core State Standards, but the primary difference is in the Take Action dimension of global competence. The CCSS inconsistently address the ability of students to reflect on their learning and to develop a position of advocacy or action. Teaching for global competence focuses on creating globally competent adults able to take action to address global issues while the Common Core standards focus on creating high school graduates able to succeed in credit bearing entry-level college coursework. By including this aspect in the CTE Career Ready Practices, NASDCTEc is recognizing that our workforce needs workers able to not only think critically about problems and come up with solutions to them, but also to act upon them.

And NASDCTEc isn't the only group promoting a global competence in CTE. The International Baccalaureate organization just announced that they will offer a career-pathway certificate. IB is known for its global focus and this new certificate also encourages students to take a global perspective in their work. In line with the new Career Ready Practices, students must take a course that focuses on ethics, critical thinking and communications; study a foreign language; participate in a service-learning activity; and complete a reflective project.

All of this shows a real commitment to fulfill the vision laid out by NASDCTEc in their 2010 vision statement: "And students of all ages—youth to adult—who enroll in these programs are prepared as global citizens with an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and who are boundless in their ideas and endeavors to stimulate positive economic change."

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