February 14, 2012
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Career Readiness
Initiative to Lower Dropout Rate and Prepare Students for Careers
Effort Showcases Career Technical Education to Help Economy
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today unveiled his Career Readiness Initiative, designed to help lower dropout rates and provide graduates with the career readiness skills needed to pursue further education and training, be prepared to enter the workforce, and help the state rebound from its economic recession.
The multi-faceted Initiative is aimed at integrating career technical education (CTE) into today's high school curriculum and helping link students with California business and industry. Torlakson outlined the Initiative at the Educating for Careers/California Partnership Academies conference, "Pathways to Success," at the Sacramento Convention Center Tuesday as part of CTE Month.
"The ongoing budget crisis and an 18 percent dropout rate mean we have to take action to help our students—and our state's economy," Torlakson said. "Career technical education is a proven way to ensure more of our students, especially those who are deemed 'at risk,' succeed after high school."
The Initiative puts into action recommendations contained in Torlakson's A Blueprint for Great Schools, released last year. The Blueprint described the need to increase the personalization of instruction and engagement of students through career-themed Linked Learning pathways. Linked Learning blends rigorous academic instruction, high quality CTE courses, work-based learning experiences, and support services to help students succeed. The Initiative includes strategies for increasing the number of career academies within high schools, re-crafting high school curriculum to include career readiness components, and showcasing best practices that meld CTE and academic course work.
A recent report Profile of the California Partnership Academies 2009-2010 [http://casn.berkeley.edu/downloads/CPA_Report_2009-10.pdf] (PDF; 4MB) found that 95 percent of seniors participating in California Partnership Academies (CPA)—career academies supported by local business-education partnerships—go on to graduate, compared with 85 percent of their peers. The report also found that African American and Hispanic students graduated at significantly higher rates from CPAs than from the general high school population. Among Latino seniors, the CPA graduation rate was 94 percent, the statewide rate 80 percent; among African American seniors the CPA graduation rate was 92 percent, compared with the statewide rate of 76 percent.
These statistics are even more impressive considering that state law requires each academy to enroll no less than 50 percent at-risk students. About 57 percent of these students graduate completing the University of California a-g college preparatory course work required for admittance to our state's four-year universities, compared with 35 percent of graduates statewide. About 88 percent plan to attend two- and four-year college after graduation.
"Our CTE programs are tried and proven, and it just makes sense to build on these successes," said Torlakson, who plans to showcase successful schools and support policies to expand these approaches. "We need to do everything we can to help our students achieve career and college success, and help us return California to its rightful place as an economic powerhouse and global leader."
To learn more about the Career Readiness Initiative, please visit Career Readiness Campaign - Initiatives & Programs. For more information on Torlakson's A Blueprint for Great Schools, please visit A Blueprint For Great Schools - Initiatives & Programs.