The Perkins Act
The law (section 113(b)(A)(ii)) says each state must develop an indicator relating to “student attainment of career and technical skill proficiencies, including student achievement on technical assessments that are aligned with industry-recognized standards, if available and appropriate.” This will require a more consistent approach to measuring technical skill attainment, using assessment instruments that are valid and reliable, and that are based upon industry-recognized standards, where they are available. States are not required to use industry-based credentials for every program, nor are they required to use exactly the same measurement approach for all their programs. But, whatever assessments approaches are used should be based on standards (when such standards are available) and must meet criteria for validity and reliability. This means that the assessment approaches must accurately and consistently measure the attainment of technical skills across programs in the state.
The Colorado Plan
CCCS believes that, when fully developed, an upgraded technical skills assessment system will allow greater comparability and accountability for program improvement. However, Colorado is hesitant about the capacity of existing data on technical skill attainment to accurately reflect CTE program quality. There are significant limitations regarding the availability of affordable and appropriate assessments and whether data derived from many industry-based assessments can be accessed and inputted in the CTE accountability system.
CCCS believes that a prudent, efficient, and thoughtful approach to secondary CTE student assessment will involve several phases.
- Staff research, training and development about content, instruction and assessment industry alignment;
- Capacity building with CTE teachers about content, instruction and assessment industry alignment;
- Piloting state- or teacher-developed assessments;
- Analysis of piloted assessments;
- Readjustments of assessment strategies based on pilot results; and
- Implementation of content, instruction and assessments that are aligned with industry standards.
For postsecondary assessments, CCCS staff and postsecondary field partners will continue to investigate how and when test results might be provided to the State directly from industry-assessment providers or how and when test results might be provided by postsecondary faculty. Postsecondary CTE programs are already required to meet valid and reliable assessment standards through regional accreditation systems. Given the relatively strong position of postsecondary CTE assessments, the bulk of CCCS resources will focus on development of secondary CTE student attainment measurement systems.