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Staff Analysis of the Workforce Preparation and Business Linkages Working Group Final Report

The following analysis sets forth the specific recommendations contained in the final report of the Workforce Preparation and Business Linkages Working Group, organized by the categories contained in the report. The staff comments and questions that follow each section are intended to illuminate those recommendations, the deliberations that led to those recommendations, and/or important information that should be considered in evaluating those recommendations: 
 

Goals of the Working Group

The Workforce Preparation and Business Linkages Working Group organized its deliberations and developed recommendations around three main themes derived from the August 2000 framework adopted by the Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education: Integration of Academic and Career Technical Education, Alignment, and Accountability. The charge to California education contained in the Framework to Develop a Master Plan for Education included the following:

California's education system must respond to the challenges of meeting the state's growing need for housing, infrastructure, transportation, other services by increasing its emphasis on career and technical education.

All students must be afforded the opportunity to participate in a cohesive and well-articulated system of career, technical, and academic preparation that prepares them to excel in roles as family members, community members and leaders, and productive workers. Career and technical education programs must have the necessary resources to provide pupils with essential skills for today's dynamic and competitive workplace. These programs must contain sufficient academic rigor to enable students to successfully modify their educational program in pursuit of more academically-oriented objectives.

For the K-12 system, it states:

  • The state must define and maintain challenging education standards for career technical education courses that are appropriate to each field of study and are sufficiently aligned with state academic content standards;
  • Every district that maintains a high school shall be responsible for ensuring the availability of a sufficient number of career and technical education courses relevant to state and regional workforce needs; and,
  • Every district that maintains a high school shall be responsible for ensuring that each career and technical education course includes reasonably current technology and equipment to ensure adequate training in the field.
For the colleges and universities, it states:
  • The statewide governing boards of California's public colleges and universities shall be responsible for defining minimum academic content for career and technical education courses that would warrant credit in their systems and enable successful transfer of a career-oriented student into a more traditional academic program.
For the business sector, it states:
  • The state should request business and industry leaders to invite the involvement of educators in strategic planning and discussions regarding (1) economic development; and (2) the provision of skill development that will be required of the future workforce.
The Workforce Preparation and Business Linkages Working Group proposes 14 major recommendations for California's educational system, grouped according to the three themes adopted by the Group and two additional special topical areas. The group decided to add the two topical areas because of the frequency with which they entered into the deliberations around the three major themes. The first five recommendations pertain to the integration of academic and career technical education. Three recommendations address alignment. Three recommendations focus on accountability. Two recommendations are offered in the area of resource requirements of career technical education programs. Finally, one recommendation is offered pertaining to the oversight of private postsecondary and vocational education institutions.

ACADEMIC INTEGRATION

Recommendation 1.1 
Integrate academics and career preparation throughout K-16. 

Recommendation 1.2
Extend School-to-Career (STC) concept across K-University. 

Recommendation 1.3 
Increase resources for career guidance and assistance to students.

Recommendation 1.4 
Expand recruitment for counselors and workforce teachers. 

Recommendation 1.5 
Improve Professional Development for Counselors and Teachers.

Staff Comments/Questions

  • These recommendations are consistent with those proposed by the Student Learning Working Group. They call for elimination of multiple tracks that expose students to very different academic content. In the aggregate, these recommendations also call for early and continuous exposure of students to careers and incorporation of career skills in the preparation of teachers and counselors. Pending questions: Should the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) be required to further modify standards for teacher preparation to incorporate contextualized instruction and internships in industry workplace sites? Should similar modifications be considered for the preparation of counseling and guidance personnel? 
ALIGNMENT

Recommendation 2.1 
The state should establish the following roles and responsibilities for a statewide system of career/workforce preparation programs in education:

  • Elementary schools shall be responsible for introducing career awareness to students.
  • Middle schools shall be responsible for initiating career exploration to students. 
  • Secondary schools shall be responsible for providing school-to-career and employment preparation opportunities to students through programs offered at school and business sites.
  • Community colleges shall be responsible for providing expanded employment training programs in conjunction with specialized courses, career certificates, and the AA degree for adults. The training may be in high schools and ROCPs and/or articulated programs leading to four-year college degrees. 
  • State-approved Private Postsecondary Institutions, Continuing Education, University Extension, Employer-provided training, and Non LEA entities, such as WIA Board Community Partners, shall provide employment training programs leading to specific jobs and that are responsive to industry requirements for professional development and license renewal.
  • Public and private colleges and universities shall jointly be responsible for preparing associate, baccalaureate, and advanced degree graduates for productive roles as problem solvers, innovators, and leaders. All three public postsecondary systems should give prominent consideration to the state's changing economic needs and to emerging workforce opportunities for graduates, as factors in academic and strategic planning. 
Recommendation 2.2 
The alignment of career technical programs should be broad in scope.

Recommendation 2.3 
The structure of a career/workforce preparation system should reflect a tightly-coupled network model, characterized by relatively autonomous nodes of education/training providers, intermediary industry, trade, and professional organizations; strategic connections to the labor force; and a high level of communication among network members.

Staff Comments/Questions

  • The group advocates improved alignment between and among education providers at all levels and between education providers and the employment sector. It offers a set of differentiated responsibilities to facilitate the recommended alignment. Pending Questions: What measures should the state consider to evaluate the extent to which increased alignment is indeed occurring? What would be the most effective mechanism(s) for the state to use to achieve increased alignment?
  • Some California community colleges have partnered with high schools in the past to align career technical education programs, known as 2+2 programs; others have extended such partnerships to include baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, commonly known as 2+2+2 programs. Pending questions: What have been the outcomes of these previous efforts? How do these 2+2 and 2+2+2 programs differ from the alignment being recommended by the Group? Are there other examples of efforts to align programs between and among education providers in the state? If so, what lessons can be learned from those experiences?
  • Pending issue: The Group's rationale for Recommendation 2.3 is quite similar to that advanced by the Emerging Modes working group that the state encourage education providers to extend teaching and learning opportunities to community-based sites, which could include industry work sites that meet the state's Uniform Building Codes.
ACCOUNTABILITY

Recommendation 3.1 
The state should expand the current workforce report card to include K-University programs.

Recommendation 3.2 
The state should expand student data collection system and link to postsecondary institutions and the Employment Development Department (EDD).

Recommendation 3.3 
The state should focus some portion of postsecondary funding on program/certificate/degree completion, time to completion, and education/labor market outcomes rather than only enrollment.

Staff Comments/Questions

  • The Group's recommendations in this area are consistent with those put forward by other working groups. 
  • The workforce report card developed pursuant to Senate Bill 645 (statutes of 1997) has included the participation of all levels of public education except UC, which has argued that it does not consider itself in the business of workforce preparation. Pending question: should the state explicitly designate professional education as workforce preparation and request UC to formally participate?
  • Pending question: Should the state alter its fiscal support of public colleges and universities, particularly in the area of workforce preparation, to incorporate performance funding for some portion of the annual state investment?
RESOURCES

Recommendation 4.1 
Any proposed funding model must recognize in its formula for adequacy:

  • The costs of recruiting, education and professional development for staff in career technical programs, and career technical learning strategies; and
  • The costs associated with the instructional facilities and equipment required to delivering instruction in career technical programs.
Recommendation 4.2 
Consideration should be given to granting the educational segments flexibility in their internal allocation of funds to address the higher costs associated with career, technical and scientific instruction and contextualized learning more broadly. Specifically:
  • The differential cost of recruiting, education and retaining teachers, faculty and support staff in career, technical and scientific disciplines;
  • The differential costs associated with the instructional facilities and equipment required to deliver instruction in career, technical and scientific fields; and
  • The differential costs associated with contextualized learning, including laboratory, field and applied industry experiences.
Staff Comments/Questions
  • The traditional manner in which the state funds its public schools, colleges, and universities averages the costs of high- and low-cost programs into an average appropriation per FTE student and institutions are allowed to expend funds received differentially to support their instructional programs. Pending questions: Should the state consider additional funding for some career technical programs over others? What criteria should be used to make such determinations? 
  • The evolution of technology occurs at such a rapid pace that it is likely the state could never support currency in the equipment available to public schools, colleges, and universities for their career technical education programs. Accordingly, equipment currency should be a shared responsibility with industry partners and education providers. Pending question: Should the state consider incentives for industries to meet the needs of its educational partners to achieve instructional and training equipment within a generation of current standards?
PRIVATE POSTSECONDARY

Recommendation 5.1 
The Joint Committee should conduct a review to determine the most efficacious and effective placement of governance for the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE).

Staff Comments/Questions

  • More than 400,000 Californians have chosen to enroll in state-approved private vocational and degree granting institutions in the state. Despite the state approval and eligibility of some of these institutions to participate in the state's Cal Grant program, students enrolled in these institutions are unable to transfer credits completed to any public or regionally accredited college or university. Pending questions: Should the state continue to approve these institutions without explicitly incorporating them within the state's education system? Are educational providers of any type, that are approved by the state to offer academic degrees or workforce preparation, appropriately placed under the oversight of a non-educational entity?