Career Readiness & The Every Student Succeeds Act

Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans

To achieve success in tomorrow’s workforce, all students need more opportunities to gain college- and career-ready knowledge, skills and experiences while in school, as well as attain some education or training beyond high school. State leaders recognize this shift and are devoting significant attention to increasing the number of high school graduates that are college and career ready.

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View or download the full report Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans in Round 1
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The Every Student Succeeds Act sets the stage for states to strengthen and expand their commitment to improve career readiness for all through efforts to align high-quality secondary and postsecondary CTE pathways, collaborate with business and industry to expand work-based learning experiences, integrate academic and technical standards and hold schools accountable for their progress.

The following provides a summary of key opportunities with ESSA for states to expand and improve career readiness, and highlights states that took advantage of these opportunities in the first round of the ESSA state plan submissions around five critical areas:

  • Title I Long Term Goals
  • Title I Standards and Assessments
  • Title I School Accountability Rating System
  • Title II Teacher Professional Development; and,
  • Title IV Student Supports for Well-Rounded Education

For more information, check out the report’s coverage from Education Week and The 74 Million.

Key Takeaways from Round 1 ESSA State Plans

  • States used the accountability provisions as the most direct – and most leveraged – vehicle for incorporating career readiness in their plans. Eleven states have included (or plan to include) a career-focused measure in their high school accountability rating systems, with another three states committing to explore such a measure in the near future. 
  • Fifteen states signaled that a well-rounded education should include, and that federal funds should be used locally to support, CTE and career readiness through Title IV.
  • However only five states described specific state-level activities to support career readiness, STEM and/or dual enrollment under Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. And, seven states identified career readiness as a priority for the 21st century Community Learning Centers competitive funding under Title IV, Part B.
  • Two states identify opportunities under Title II to support blended academic and technical professional development for teachers, although neither specified any funding.
  • Only two states plan to leverage the Title I direct student services set-aside to expand CTE, AP and IB pathways.

The U.S. Department of Education set two deadlines for state ESSA plan submissions – April and September. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia elected to submit a plan in “round 1.” This brief documents where the opportunities to improve career readiness in K-12 exist within ESSA, which states included efforts to address career readiness in their plans and identifies potential approaches that could be replicated by the nearly two-thirds of states yet to submit an ESSA plan. Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group intend to update this document in the fall to incorporate round 2 state submissions.