K-12, College, and Workforce: Improving Connections in the Education Pipeline
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To prepare students for the 21st century workforce, states are looking to create seamless systems of education that begin supporting students to be college and career ready from their first day of school. This requires alignment, coordination and communication between several education and workforce sectors. Colorado is one state moving the needle to strengthen their pipeline by getting these sectors to work together, aligning policy and programs to guide students to success.
The Colorado Example
At NCSL's 2013 Spring Forum, leaders from Colorado spoke to participants about what Colorado is doing to strengthen the connections between K-12, college, and workforce sectors, and where more work needs to be done. Some of the policy areas discussed included aligning standards and assessments between K-12 and higher education, developing longitudinal data systems and processes to share information, creating a statewide education master plan, and creating career pathways and sector partnerships to connect education to jobs.
Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia is the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Before his appointment by Governor John Hickenlooper in January 2011, Garcia was president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and energized the campus by considering nontraditional solutions to longstanding issues. Garcia provided an overview of the state's plan to connect their sectors in meaningful ways to enable better communication and use data to ensure students are moving through the education pipeline successfully. He sat down with NCSL staff to discuss these initatives and how state legislators are supporting this work.
Geri Anderson currently serves as the vice president of Academic and Student Affairs and Provost for the Colorado Community College System. In the role of chief academic and student affairs officer, Anderson provides leadership for all community college academic and student affairs policy review and development, ensuring the development and enhancement of high-quality career and technical and transfer education programs through on-going program review, assessment of student learning, and high academic standards. Anderson provided information on how Colorado is better connecting education to Colorado's workforce needs through sector partnerships and career pathways. She also highlighted work being done to reform developmental education and save students time and money in order to complete college.
K-12 to Higher Education Alignment
- SB 212 (2008) | Postsecondary Education Alignment Act: Requires various state agencies to work in close collaboration to create a seamless system of public education standards, expectations and assessments. Required State Board of Education and Colorado Commission of Higher Education to create a description of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness. Additionally, required CCHE to revise remediation and admission policies to align with definition of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness.
- SB 163 (2009) | K-12 Accountability: Includes use of postsecondary and workforce readiness in district accreditation plan. Aligns accountability and accreditation measures and procedures, assigns specified related duties to the State Board of Education in regard to accountability to include measuring student academic growth, school district and charter school accreditation contracts, public school restructuring, school and district academic growth indicators, school performance monitoring, education related data, and school and district turnaround plans.
- SB 256 (2009) | Individual Career & Academic Plans (ICAP): Section 17 requires the State Board of Education to establish standards for Individual Career & Academic Plans for students and their parents or legal guardians to explore postsecondary career and educational opporutnities, align their coursework and curriculum, apply to postsecondary institutions, secure financial aid, and ultimately enter the workforce.
- SB 24 (2006) | Use of K-12 Identifier in Higher education: Requires a postsecondary institution that is eligible for the college opportunity fund program to begin using as the student's primary identifier the unique identification number assigned to the student while enrolled in the elementary to secondary education system.
- HB 1364 (2008) | Longitudinal data systems alignment: Adoption of an interdepartmental data protocol. Directs the Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the Office of Information Technology created in the Governor's office to convene the Data Protocol Development Council consisting of representatives from executive branch state agencies. Authorizes each state agency to share data collected in the course of its powers/duties to other state agencies, agencies within legislative and judicial departments, political subdivisions and nongovernmental entities/individuals.
- HB 1285 (2009) | Creation of statewide education data advisory group: Duties of group include recommendations to the CIO and data advisory board on protocols/procedures for sharing education data among education agencies; recommend data element standards for individual student records; recommend electronic standards for sharing data among education agencies; recommendations for development of a statewide P-20 education data system; and protocols for responding to data requests.
- SB 53 (2013) | Requires ongoing submission of K-12 data to Higher Education and allows for full connection of datasets and access for higher education systems/colleges.
- HB 1319 (2009) | Overhauled and dramatically expanded the state’s concurrent enrollment programs, program enrollment grew by 250 percent following the adoption of this bill. The bill also included provisions to make remedial courses available to 12th graders as part of concurrent enrollment and created the ASCENT (Accelerating Students Through Concurrent ENrollmenT) program. ASCENT allows students who are eligible to graduate instead remain enrolled in their high school and earn both a high school diploma and college certificate or associates degree over a five year extended high school experience.
- SB 285 (2009) | Included career and technical education as options for concurrent enrollment programs.
- HB 1155 (2012) | Measures to increase the timely completion of postsecondary degrees; clarifies the commission on higher education's authority to adopt a remedial education policy and directs the commission to ensure the remedial education policy is aligned with the academic admission standards; relates to an institution's performance contract.
Performance Funding & Statewide Master Planning
- SB 52 (2011) | Establishes general goals for the statewide system of higher education and directs the Commission on Higher Education to articulate and specify the goals for each state institution of higher education; requires private institutions of higher education that receive state money through stipends or other student financial aid will enter into memorandums of expectations; establishes metrics and collects data from the institutions to measure their success.
Educational Pathway to Workforce
- HB 1061 (2012) | Skills for Jobs Act: Directs the Department of Higher Ed to create an annual report to assess projected state workforce needs, projected number of people receiving the credentials necessary for those positions, gaps that are not met by current available education/training programs, as well as any private or public institution that could address those gaps through new programs or expansion of existing programs. Institutions encouraged to use report to plan their offered courses of study. Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Regulatory Agencies and any other needed entity the Department of Higher Ed deems necessary, are to provide the available resources, data, and consultation to create the report.
- HB 1165 (2013) | Creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Pathway: Requires the community colleges in conjunction with the department of labor and employment, the state work force development council, the department of higher education, and the department of education, to design a manufacturing career pathway for the skills needed for employment in Colorado's manufacturing sector.
- HB 1005 (2013) | Basic Ed and Career and Tech Ed Pilot Program: Directs the community colleges, area vocational schools, the department of education, and local workforce development programs, to implement a pilot program of 20 career and technical education certificate programs that combine basic education in information and math literacy with career and technical education.