St. Augustine State Senator Travis Hutson filed comprehensive legislation furthering ongoing legislative initiatives that promote career and technical education (CTE), with a focus on work-based learning linked to local employment opportunities for Florida students in Grades 6-12.
“In 2008, only 803 students in the entire state of Florida earned national industry certifications in our high schools. Last year, over 100,000 students earned these valuable work-based credentials across 17 Career and Technical Education Pathways, covering everything from Architecture and Agriculture, to Tourism and Technology, to Manufacturing and Marketing,” said Senator Hutson, who filed SB 240. “This legislation builds on these in-demand, widely successful programs, by creating regionally-targeted links between work-based learning and real jobs in high-demand fields. There is a clear connection between engagement in CTE and graduation, as students who take several related CTE courses have a nearly 100 percent graduation rate. Again, we are taking that amazing record one step further, creating more avenues to both college credit and professional credentials that will help CTE students have a head start as they pursue college and career opportunities after high school.”
Expanding Work-Based Learning Opportunities with Links to Local Industry
SB 240 specifies that each school board must provide all students in high school with the option to enroll in at least one work-based learning opportunity, which may include diversified education, preapprenticeships, and apprenticeships. Under the bill, schools, local workforce boards, community or faith-based organizations, and trade associations can sponsor student apprenticeships.
To create additional opportunities for work-based learning and apprenticeships in local communities, the bill establishes regional education consortia with representatives from local businesses and education institutions. The consortia would meet and report to the local workforce development board, with the goal of linking local educational programs to specific industry and employment needs in a community. The bill encourages business participation in work-based learning opportunities by streamlining the process for businesses to take advantage of workers’ compensation benefits for providing work-based learning opportunities to high school students.
The Department of Education would convene a workgroup to identify and develop secondary and postsecondary pathways to a career in CTE subject areas.
Funding To Incentivize and Promote Career and Technical Education in Grades 6-12
The bill provides $100 million for the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program for schools to fund the creation or expansion of career and technical education programs.
To adequately reward school districts for promoting CTE engagement in middle school, the bill removes a caps on bonus funding for middle school students who earn industry certifications.
For more than a decade, Florida has provided additional funding for K-12 schools, state colleges, and career centers whose students earn industry certifications. SB 240 maintains this bonus funding, but further links education to jobs in the economy with a higher incentive for certifications with higher anticipated wages, rather than the current $1,000 for all certifications.
Under SB 240, the State Board of Education would adopt tiers for each certification based upon the anticipated average wages of the highest earning occupation to which the certification is linked. Bonus funding will be available for CTE dual enrollment courses that lead toward industry certifications and also when students complete a three-course sequential industry certifications in a program.
To promote apprenticeships, the bill removes barriers in the administration of the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program, which provides grants to establish or expand apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
Encouraging Seamless Student Progression Throughout CTE
The bill requires the academic and career plan developed in middle school to be updated for students annually, to keep students focused on postsecondary education and careers throughout middle and high school.
Students who complete a middle school CTE program or an industry certification would have the opportunity to continue a sequential CTE program in the same concentration in high school if the program is offered by the school district at any high school in the district.
In order to graduate from high school, students are currently required to complete at least one credit in fine or performing arts, speech and debate, or practical arts. The bill removes the practical arts option, and allows students to satisfy this graduation requirement by completing a CTE credit. Additionally, options are expanded for students to earn credit toward high school graduation through extracurricular participation in career and technical student organizations such as the Florida Future Farmers of America and the Florida Future Educators of America.
Under the bill, school boards would inform parents of apprenticeships, diversified education opportunities, CTE courses and programs, industry certifications, and the costs and benefits of these programs compared to other college and career pathways. This information will enable parents and students to have more informed conversations to help guide the student’s planning and decision-making about their education and career.
The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability will review approved statewide articulation agreements so students can be informed about how their CTE courses can translate to credit towards postsecondary degrees and professional certifications.
Recruiting Career and Technical Education Teachers
The bill provides flexibility from certification requirements for school boards in hiring non-degree teachers of career and technical education courses by removing the 6-year experience and training requirements. A person who holds an industry certification in a subject matter area may serve as an adjunct teacher as an alternative to the requirement of passing a subject area exam.
To recognize the work of our teachers, the bill also requires district school boards to give teachers credit toward continuing education requirements for supporting students in extracurricular career and technical education activities.
“More than a decade ago, Florida began the transformation to link education to the realities and opportunities of the economy. Under the leadership of Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, in 2013 the Legislature passed the Career and Professional Education Act, which began the process of promoting industry certifications in K-12 education, with financial incentives for schools that help students learn skills that directly lead to jobs,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican. “A decade later, under the leadership of President Wilton Simpson and Speaker Chris Sprowls, Florida transformed our workforce system, making it easier for consumers to access services and career planning, and to register for job training. The legislation Senator Hutson is filing today builds on this tremendous progress by creating additional partnerships between local schools and businesses, expanding opportunities for students to gain on-the-job experience in meaningful, high-paying fields needed in our growing communities.”