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Baldwin, Kaine and Portman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Career Readiness in Schools

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Career Ready Act of 2015, legislation that would help ensure students are college and career-ready by strengthening school counseling programs and encouraging states to keep track of career readiness factors implemented in school districts.

The Career Ready Act of 2015 amends the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA) to encourage states to keep track of school districts’ use of “career readiness indicators,” which are factors that demonstrate a student’s preparedness for postsecondary education and the workforce, such as CTE course completion and the number of students earning postsecondary credentials while in high school. Currently, all 50 states track districts’ efforts to instill academic knowledge for college preparation, but less than half of states publicly report on career readiness indicators. By tracking and publishing this data, businesses and workforce leaders will be better-informed about the level of career preparation in a given state or region. Additionally, the bill amends the current Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant program to fund professional development for school counselors and train them to use information on the workforce needs of the local community to help guide students toward in-demand career paths.

“As the demand for a workforce with highly-technical skills continues to grow, I’m proud to support bipartisan legislation that ensures our students are offered courses that will help prepare them for our 21st century Made In Wisconsin economy,” said Baldwin. “The Career Ready Act will allow students to be career-ready on graduation day with a solid foundation for any further training needed to enter the field of their choice.” 

“By keeping track of efforts to prepare students for the careers of the 21st century, we encourage states to place an emphasis on career and technical education because employers will see this data and locate their operations in regions with a high-skilled workforce,” Kaine said. “While focus on academic knowledge is essential for college preparation, public reporting on the attainment of technical skills, postsecondary credentials and other signs of career readiness demonstrates a commitment to preparing all students for future careers regardless of their postsecondary education plans.”

“We can better prepare our students for the jobs of the 21st century by improving links between high school and postsecondary education,” said Portman. “While much focus is given to traditional college preparation, career readiness programs are also critical to help students obtain a job in a high-demand career field – and we must do better at encouraging states to highlight these opportunities.”

The Career Ready Act has been endorsed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Association for Career and Technical Education, and the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc).

Baldwin has been a strong advocate for improving career readiness and Career and Technical Education in the reauthorization of the ESEA. Previously, Baldwin introduced the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) Act to help schools transform learning systems by utilizing innovative technology and support educators in using technology to increase college and career readiness. Baldwin also introduced the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act to eliminate low-quality and unnecessary assessments from nation’s classrooms and better align the remaining tests to curriculum.