Governor Steve Bullock today highlighted Montana’s efforts to expand career pipelines and ensure students are college and career ready during a panel conversation at the 2017 National Forum on Education Policy, hosted by Education Commission of the States (ECS).
“Here in Montana, we are preparing our students to be college and career ready in today’s economy and for tomorrow’s jobs,” said Governor Bullock. “We are strengthening pathways for students, even while they are still in high school, to explore careers through work-based learning and to get a head start on a certification or degree through dual enrollment.”
As Chair of ECS for the past two years, Governor Bullock dedicated his chair’s initiative to promoting and improving dual enrollment opportunities. During the panel, he shared with the audience how dual enrollment can be an effective tool in saving students and families money on higher education costs and outlined Montana’s strategies to increase dual enrollment opportunities by:
- Increasing the number of high school teachers who are qualified to teach dual enrollment classes at high school;
- Building capacity as well as depth of content to increase the variety of classes that are offered;
- Exploring ways to decrease costs by encouraging colleges to offer free dual credit classes at high schools;
- Including a college and career readiness metric in the state’s accountability system.
As a result of these steps to strengthen dual enrollment in Montana, the number of students enrolled has grown by 130% over the past 5 years. More than 5,000 students enrolled in dual credit courses across the state this year, growing by over 1,000 students from the previous year and hitting the goal set by Governor Bullock to increase enrollment. Last year, Montana families saved $4 million in future tuition costs.
Governor Bullock also highlighted the state’s efforts to meet the specific training needs of employers through work-based learning and apprenticeships. He encouraged other states to coordinate and facilitate work-based and apprenticeship opportunities with employers and with colleges to find innovative ways to bridge the gaps that have made it difficult for businesses to find the right workers, with the right qualifications.
“Our states have an incredible opportunity to strengthen public education and the talent pipeline if we look beyond the four-year degree and develop multiple pathways for students and workers to be successful in their careers and fill the high-demand, good-paying jobs businesses need to grow,” Bullock said.
Following the panel, Governor Bullock turned over his chairmanship to Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi who will serve as the 2017-2019 ECS Chair.