Legislators are looking to increase student enrollment rates to a 2nd program

One of Governor DeSantis’ first actions when he assumed his position was signing House Bill 7071 (2019) creating what is known as the SAIL to 60 Goal (Strengthening Alignment between Industry and Learning): to increase the percentage of Florida working age adults holding high-value postsecondary degrees, certificates, or training experiences to 60% by 2030. Understanding the workforce demands of our country and state, students have a variety of post high-school educational opportunities at their disposal. Since 2019, the Legislature has both expanded current workforce and CTE programs and created new ones. Some of these options for students include the creation of the Open Door Grant Program, the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program, and the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program.

Florida has designated 17 career clusters, many of which include opportunities for students to “stack” credentials, as they work to earn their desired certification or degree. These stackable credentials can allow a student to begin their journey in the K-12 system and go up to the state college or state university system level. However, as a matter of state policy, Florida lacks comprehensive seamless pathways that would allow students to continue their transition through higher education.

There are some statewide agreements, in addition to local agreements, but nothing as robust as the state’s 2+2 transfer system for state college to state university transfer. As the state continues to expand these workforce education opportunities for students and they earn certifications in high school, technical colleges, and state colleges, we need expanded, uninterrupted pathways to ensure students do not lose prior credits they earned and can articulate these CTE credentials to degrees. This is one of FCAN’s advocacy areas. This FCAN research brief shares how these additional pathways can maximize CTE and use it as a tool for workforce development.

On Tuesday, December 5th, the Senate Education Postsecondary Committee focused their meeting on CTE articulation agreements, with a presentation from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) and a panel discussion with members from the Department of Education, Orange County Public Schools, and Valencia College.

OPPAGA reviewed their recent report on career statewide articulation agreements. Some of the major findings, as presented in this committee meeting, are:

  • Geographic availability of programs varies, and limits some students from enrolling in specific courses of study.
  • 1% of credential completers went on to enroll in a second credential program, therefore 91.9% of credential completers are “one and done.”
  • Additionally, only 5.0% of students who went on to enroll in a second credential program actually completed it.

These findings show that the share of students who take advantage of the current statewide articulation agreements in their CTE pathway is relatively low. Expanding current statewide frameworks, while also encouraging additional local partnerships, can help students better navigate their career education after high school and ensure they are taking advantage of stackable credentials. In their report, OPPAGA listed their recommendations that could lead to improvements. These include:

  • Providing more robust enrollment and completion data to the Articulation Coordinating Committee.
  • Improving marketing initiatives so students are aware of these opportunities.
  • Developing a framework for stackable credentials.

Valencia College and Orange County Public Schools highlighted their innovative TechExpress program, covered in the FCAN research brief above. This program is modeled after Direct Connect, the Valencia to UCF transfer pathway. TechExpress students at Orange Technical and Osceola Technical have access to Valencia advisors who help review their career options, assist with applying and enrolling at Valencia, and are also able to transfer up to 27 credits, based on their degree program.

Legislators were surprised to see the low enrollment rates shared by the OPPAGA study and looked to the TechExpress program as a model. Florida’s legislative session kicks off on January 9, and this may be a focus for the Senate Education Postsecondary Committee.

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