This article is part of a monthly roundup that outlines curriculum-related state education policy news.
Curricula requirements across states continue to evolve as lawmakers and experts gain a better understanding of Generation Z's educational needs. Before adjourning their legislative sessions, many states passed laws to ensure today's youth are prepared for tomorrow's job market, and that they have the social and emotional skills necessary to navigate the world outside the classroom.
Here's a list of some of the most notable legislation, listed by topic, along with the most recent updates:
Apprenticeship and CTE programs
Many states are finding benefits in preparing students not only through content, but also through hands-on opportunities needed to provide skills in fast-growing industries. About 8.8 million high school students, or nearly half the U.S. high school population, were enrolled in one or more career and technical education courses in the 2017-18 school year, up from 7.6 million in 2007-08. But only 25% of students take courses that could lead to jobs in the nation's biggest fields.
While interest in CTE programs is growing, it is clear that states are looking for new ways to make courses relevant to booming industries and more accessible to students.
In Alabama, the Industry Recognized and Registered Apprenticeship Program Act ensures the state department of education will continue to receive and administer career and technical education funding, and it also aligns apprenticeship models with in-demand career pathways.
Arkansas' SB 522 requires the Office of Skills Development and Career Education to develop a catalog of nationally recognized credentials and programs of instruction for every high school. It also requires the same office to work with the state's department of education and encourage collaboration between stakeholders from state agencies, relevant businesses, workforce development programs and the education industry.
California's SB 586, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month, requires school districts and charters looking to partner with community colleges for the purpose of developing school-to-college CTE pathways to first consult with local workforce development programs, aligning career pathways with local and state employment needs.
Lawmakers in Rhode Island amended The Rhode Island Board of Education Act to require curricula that encourage "real-world application" by integrating CTE and work- and project-based learning opportunities throughout.
West Virginia's HB 2004 requires superintendents to work with the commissioner of labor to develop standards and procedures for applying training hours acquired through public school CTE programs, apprenticeships or employer-sponsored training programs to certification or licensure. It also requires the board of education to provide information to parents and students on programs of study and curriculum in high school that could lead to industry-recognized credentials or associate's degrees.
In Idaho, SB 1106 allows select charter schools with approved CTE programs to receive the same additional state funding as other schools in the charter’s district for the purpose of funding the programs. It also allows the division overseeing CTE programs to partner with a state digital learning academy to develop statewide virtual CTE delivery.
With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, many states are putting into place laws that spread awareness through curriculum.
While New Mexico's Safe Schools for All Students Act allows every school to create its own bullying prevention policy, it allows for schools to implement progressive discipline measures, including the restorative practice of participation in skill-building and resolution activities such as social-emotional cognitive skill-building and resolution circles. The legislation also requires each school to establish an annual bullying prevention program, which will be a part of the state's health education content standards and include benchmarks and performance standards.
Texas' SB 11 requires every school district to incorporate instruction on cyberbullying and digital citizenship into its language arts curricula. It also requires mental health and suicide prevention education to be part of health and nutrition curricula.
Lawmakers nationwide are also continuing their efforts to make instruction more culturally inclusive, although recent legislation proposed in California that pushed for the inclusion of Laotian history and cultural studies in instruction on the Vietnam War was shot down by the governor after passage in both chambers.
Additional legislation suggests scattered efforts in states like New York and California to include instruction on topics like civic outreach and voter engagement, mental health and suicide prevention, and sexual abuse, violence, and its awareness and prevention.