Career Pathways Alliance Recommendations Getting Legislative Attention

Bob Kefgen's picture

In June, the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance (MCPA) convened by Governor Snyder announced a series of recommendations intended to promote and expand career technical education. Recently, these recommendations are getting more attention as two House committees heard presentations from the Michigan Office of Talent and Economic Development (TED) and Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

While the recommendations are geared toward CTE, several items will have broader implications, potentially impacting the MMC, district's school improvement plans (SIPs), and Michigan's teacher certification requirements.

Below is a breakdown of the MCPA recommendations with the greatest potential to impact Principals. Where details are available beyond the Alliance talking points (e.g. legislation drafted or introduced, MDE rule changes, etc.) we've noted it and linked to additional resources where they exist. You can also download a full cope of the recommendations (along with other materials and information) on the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance website.

The Recommendations

Of the nineteen total proposals put forward by the Alliance, nine recommendations—which fall into into four categories—stand out.

MMC Changes

Three of the changes call for alterations to the Michigan Merit Curriculum, one adding a new requirement, two others allowing new substitutions.

  • The Alliance recommendations call for amending the MMC to include a new "career exploration and job readiness" course that all students would be required to take in the 7th, 8th, or 9th grade. However, draft legislation obtained by MASSP would implement this requirement by mandating that districts adopt a yet-to-be-designed state career readiness program, rather than creating content standards or course requirements and allowing districts some flexibility in implementation.
  • Allowing computer science to count as a world language is one of two substitutions proposed in the recommendations. It is unclear from this talking point whether the Alliance intended specifically to endorse this simple and limited substitution, or whether they actually meant to endorse legislation (HB 4315-16) that passed the House this spring which would combine the world language and VPAA requirements into a new 3 credit electives block that could be fulfilled with a variety of options including computer science. Either way, it would mean a change to the world language requirement.
  • The other proposed substitution would be to allow career health programs to count as health and/or physical education. Similar to the world language proposal, it is unclear whether the Alliance talking point should be taken at face value or whether it is an endorsement of legislation (HB 4317) already in process that would allow CTE students who take 30 hours of OSHA workplace safety training to substitute that experience to the semester health requirement.

New SIP Requirements

Two recommendations (both already enacted via an executive directive of State Superintendent Brian Whiston) add new, mandatory components to school improvement plans. The executive directive does not provide details for how MDE will implement either of these pieces.

  • Schools will have to incorporate a plan for ensuring meaningful and consistent use of students' Education Development Plans (EDPs) into their SIPs. The intent is to elevate the "productive use" of EDP's.
  • A new career exposure plan would also have to be included in school's SIPs. The plan must include a series of milestones for students at every grade level. The intent is to "increase opportunities for career discovery."

CTE Teacher Shortage

The Alliance proposed a series of recommendations intended to alleviate the teacher shortage in CTE fields.

  • The recommendations call for expanding the allowable use of uncertified teachers. Superintendent Whiston's already-issued executive directive will allow non-certified CTE instructors to teach for up to 10 years before they are required to obtain a certificate. Draft legislation obtained by MASSP would take this a step farther and allow districts to indefinitely employ uncertified CTE instructors if they are unable to find a qualified candidate.
  • A second proposal, which is not yet tied to any legislation, would remove the financial penalty for CTE instructors who wish to come back and teach after retirement.
  • The final recommendation in this category would be to create a condensed teaching certificate specifically designed for CTE instructors. Michigan already has a law allowing alternative pathways to teacher certification, but it is little used and primarily designed for programs like Teach for America. Presumably, this law would need to be amended, though no legislation has yet been drafted.

CTE Credential Mandate

The Alliance recommended a new mandate that all state-funded CTE programs lead to an industry recognized credential. While many CTE programs already provide students who complete a full course sequence the opportunity to earn a credential, not all do. The impact of the proposal is unclear since it is not tied to any legislation and not covered in Supt. Whiston's executive directive. However, depending on how it is implemented, this recommendation seems likely to have a disproportionate impact on smaller programs, particularly those run at the local district level and those in counties without a CTE millage.

What's Next

As is often the case with these types of initiatives, the devil is in the details. Their impact on students, educators, and schools will depend largely on how they are implemented. Many of the recommendations have yet to move past talking points. None of the legislation that has been introduced or drafted is close to the finish line and all is likely to change before it passes. Superintendent Whiston's directive gives us some indication of how MDE intends to move forward, but—even there—many details are still undefined.

Be assured that MASSP is following this situation very closely and will keep members updated as things develop.