Update Career and Technical Education - Presidential Opportunity Agenda

Thomas Shaw's picture
Opportunity Nation is calling on the next president to work with Congress to advance policy initiatives that would expand and improve high-quality career and technical education for all students by:
  • Ensuring increased collaboration and coordination between secondary and postsecondary institutions
  • Ensuring increased collaboration between CTE and the private sector
  • Aligning CTE programs with regional and State workforce needs
  • Exposing students to career and work-based learning opportunities
  • Rewarding evidence-based practices with a focus on programs that can be scaled and replicated, and leverage more support from the private sector
National Academy Foundation (NAF), one of Opportunity Nation’s coalition members, knows the value of high-quality CTE in preparing students to succeed. NAF has developed an industry-focused curriculum as well as work-based learning experiences that focus on five high-growth fields: finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. More than 6,000 business people volunteer in classrooms, act as mentors and provide NAF students paid internships. Employers recognize the value of these experiences, as it is crucial for America’s corporations to invest in the future of our students and the future of their workforces.
Thirteen of America’s top companies, including KPMG, Lenovo, and Verizon, have committed to NAFTrack Certified Hiring, a promise to give special consideration to college students and eventual job applicants who, as high school graduates, earned NAFTrack Certification.
 
NAF transforms the high school experience by infusing industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experiences into its coursework, which ensures that students graduate high school and are college, career, and future ready. By engaging in project-based learning, students are able to witness the connection between lessons learned in the classroom and how their skills and talents can be applied to the professional world, all while learning from successful adults and mentors who have been in their position.
 
During the 2015-16 school year nearly 89,000 students attended 716 NAF academies across 36 states. In 2015, NAF academies reported 98 percent of seniors graduated and 92 percent of those graduates intended to pursue post-secondary credentials or degrees.
 
Another Opportunity Nation coalition member, Citizen Schools, partners their volunteer group of educators with public middle schools in low-income communities to offer more opportunities for students to gain valuable CTE skills. Students select two apprenticeships each semester where they explore new fields and career opportunities alongside community volunteers through hands-on, project-based learning. The students may work with these volunteers on projects like programming smartphone applications, filming and editing documentary films, engineering solar cars, and creating marketing campaigns. Citizen Schools’ combination of activities is designed to build student academic and 21st-century skills; provide students with access to successful community members, resources, and experiences; and inform student beliefs about connections between hard work, education, and success.
 
Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign comprised of more than 350 cross-sector organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America. Opportunity Nation’s mission is to restore the promise of the American Dream by ensuring that all Americans – regardless of where they were born – have the opportunity to thrive.http://opportunitynation.org/who-we-are/ 
 
Check out this and other ideas in our coalition’s 12-point plan Restoring the American Dream: A Presidential Plan to Expand Opportunity.