The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, also known as Perkins V, defines work-based learning as "sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in real workplace settings, to the extent practicable, or simulated environments at an educational institution that foster in-depth, firsthand engagement with the tasks required in a given career field, that are aligned to curriculum and instruction."
The Texas Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, a collaboration of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commission, has identified work-based learning as a strategy for supporting efficient and flexible pathways to earning a high-value credential linked to high-wage, in-demand jobs. The three agencies aim to collectively expand work-based learning experiences by 1) accelerating the development of high-quality work-based learning experiences that provide participants with meaningful opportunities; and 2) supporting engagement by industry partners. For more information, please visit the Tri-Agency website.
The Texas Education Agency encourages shared ownership in providing work-based learning experiences to all students from elementary through secondary and into postsecondary. Shared ownership expands beyond the school district and includes community, regional, and statewide partners.
Work-Based Learning Framework
In 2020, the Texas Education Agency released the first iteration of a Work-Based Learning Framework. As the Tri-Agency Initiative works to enhance work-based learning throughout the state, this framework is expected to be updated soon. In the meantime, TEA believes this framework provides a solid foundation for defining and delivering high-quality work-based learning experiences to all students in K-12.
The Work-Based Learning Continuum, as defined by the Work-Based Learning Framework 1.0 comprises 4 key phases:
- Career Awareness
- Career Exploration
- Career Preparation
- Career Training
The framework also identifies the following Pillars of Work-Based Learning Success:
- Ensuring a high level of engagement with local workforce boards and employers
- Ensuring that work-based learning opportunities are aligned to regional labor market demand
- Establishing systems/tools/processes to monitor and measure work-based learning experiences and inform continuous improvement
- Creating an environment where strong collaboration exists between core academics, career and technical education, and the work-based learning coordinator
- Having dedicated staffing roles to support work-based learning efforts
- Creating a school culture which is supportive of work-based learning with buy-in from teachers, school counselors, and administrators
Click here to review the Work-Based Learning Framework 1.0
Work-Based Learning Initiatives
Work-Based Learning is infused into several TEA initiatives. These initiatives aim to support students’ career development and leverage work-based learning as an opportunity to support students in informed career decision making and career preparation. These initiatives include:
- GEAR UP
- College and Career Readiness School Model: P-TECH Blueprint (Benchmark 5)
- College and Career Readiness School Model: T-STEM Blueprint (Benchmark 5)
- Effective Advising Framework
- Texas Regional Pathways Network (TRPN)
Texas CTE Resource Center lists work-based learning in the main navigation menu and provides various resources related to work-based learning that are relevant to many stakeholders. This resource also provides a free CTE Work-Based Learning Course that introduces basic laws, rules, and procedures relevant to teaching career and technical education (CTE) courses that involve work-based learning at the secondary level in Texas.
*Please note: if you are teaching a Career Preparation or Career Practicum course and need to complete the Work-Based Learning Course for a professional development requirement, this training can be found on TEALearn as of August 3, 2021. Please visit the CTE Professional Development webpage for more information.
Texas OnCourse Academy has over 30 learning modules for school counselors and advisors, including modules on work-based learning at the middle school and high school levels, to support students’ academic and career development and prepare for college and career success. Visit the Academy to learn more about a school counselor’s role in work-based learning through effective advising and comprehensive school counseling programs.
The Texas Regional Pathways Network (TRPN) external webpage provides links to resources related to each of the seven components of high-quality career and education pathways. Resources linked on this webpage are relevant to all stakeholders, including workforce boards, industry partners, higher education institutions, and K-12 educators.