With students heading back to school, it’s a great time to read the news as an educator. New developments in education and career options are usually rolled out at the start of the school year, as well as highlights from what’s working in the education sphere — and what isn’t. Below are three states that are changing the way education is being structured in West Virginia, New Jersey and Arkansas.

In West Virginia

“Seeing Hope for Flagging Economy, West Virginia Revamps Vocational Track” via The New York Times

In the heart of the United States’ rust belt lies West Virginia, a state typically known for its barren mountain landscape, poverty-stricken towns and the opioid crisis. As a state with such a bad reputation, what are schools to do with its children and the future of their economy?

Enter four high school teachers who are about to change the education sphere for students in West Virginia. Over the summer, these teachers attended a simulated-workplace summer training program at Marshall University that will help pave the way to a successful future for students. What’s a simulated-workplace, you may ask?

In this format of vocational schooling, students punch in and out of school, like a time clock you would see in a workplace. In addition, students are assigned professional roles in industries commonly seen in West Virginia, such as coal, health and fracking, and they’re given vacation days to use at their leisure!

In New Jersey

“Lawmakers call for major expansion of N.J.’s vo-tech schools” via NJ.com

According to some vocational schools in New Jersey, demand for enrollment is high but unfortunately, they have to turn away students. In an effort to bring their technical schools into the 21st century and beyond, schools are using their cash to make improvements to the curriculum.

Although this sounds like it could be a negative issue, it’s probably better for the long run. Not only does the state want to make sure students are fully equipped with the skills they need, but they want to train more students to work in manufacturing and bio-tech — two fields that are expected to grow in the future.

In Arkansas

“Ark. Students Get Early Start on Career Planning” via EdWeek

At the conclusion of the last school year, 8th grade students at Wynne Junior High School participated in a “job shadow” day. Students were scattered all over town, shadowing veterinarians, doctors, farmers, police officers and more.

The state of Arkansas is hoping that giving kids this opportunity early in their education will encourage them to make better and clearer decisions about their future career path. Not only do schools organize job shadow days, but the state has college and career coaches on hand to some of their middle and high schools. These coaches work with students to craft college and career plans that will empower them to make more informed decisions about their future.