Career and technical education in the state looks different now than it did a decade ago.
The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) has put forth new regulations and is inviting up public comment on them through Monday, Aug. 2. The proposed revisions were crafted based on months of listening to feedback from the public, said Luke Rhine, who leads the DDOE Career and Technical Education and STEM Workgroup.
The revisions — more accurately a rewrite of Code 525: Requirements for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs — are the first since 2012.
Public comment open until 8/2/21: The @DEDeptofEd has proposed revisions to the regulation for career and technical education. More info under “proposed regulations” here: https://t.co/omRxFlUxAf pic.twitter.com/sEexqDCO67
— DE State Board of Education (@DEStateBoardEd) July 13, 2021
“The world has changed a lot since then, so this regulation stems from Delaware’s combined state plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which includes a state plan for the strengthening of career and technical education for the 21st century,” Rhine told Technical.ly. “It essentially represents a partnership between state educational systems as well as state workforce systems to ensure that youth and adults have the strategic policy as well as the regulatory guidance that needs to be in place for local school systems, post-secondary institutions or workforce providers to be successful in their work.”
Looking at the regulation on paper (or onscreen), it can be difficult to see what the changes actually are — except that the previous version has been fully struck out, and the proposed regulation has a detailed definitions section at the top.
“The definitions section is meant to clearly define terms and the intent of those terms,” Rhine said. “What the definitions focus on are opportunities for youth and adult [such as] ‘registered apprenticeship,’ ‘pre-apprenticeship,’ all of those types of things.”
The next three sections lay out the creation of CTE systems, the requirements of operation, relationships with employers and best practices.
The new CTE system is connected to the Career Pathways Programs in Delaware public high schools, where students choose career training along with academics. These Pathways are far more central to most students’ education today than older programs like co-op, where students would spend part of some school days at work. Pathways are also more broad in focus, and include specialties like medicine and technology. Participating students receive high school credits, wages and experience.
“We run programs in all but two high schools [in Delaware],” Rhine said. “We’re moving toward students gaining work experience in the industry of their choice. If a student wants to enter healthcare, we want that student to acquire experience as a healthcare practitioner as early as possible.”
If you recall the old co-op or the now-defunct Diversified Occupations Program, think of the new CTE system as a more amped up version, with more choices and employers.
“This is, first and foremost, an acknowledgement of the work that’s been collectively done across our CTE system,” Rhine said. “We as a state are in a very different place that we were with our current technical education program, which is wonderful. What this essentially does is it clearly articulates the values that we will collectively adopt at a systems level. It defines expectations for local education agencies in terms of the implementation of high-quality CTE programs, and then it defines how our system will engage employers to help place youth in aligned work experiences.”
The public has been involved at every step.
“I can’t underplay the fact that this was driven by the field,” he said. “When we convene — stakeholders and students and parents, you name it — these are the values they articulated, these are the practices that they wanted to see codified.”
If you want to comment on the regulation or the revisions, email [email protected] on or before close of business on Aug. 2. You can also send a letter by post to Department of Education, Office of the Secretary, Attn: Regulation Review, 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, Delaware 19901. And you can always find the state’s monthly proposed regulations for public comment on Delaware.gov.