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Work-Based Learning

Career-Based Learning Experiences and Work-Based Learning

For a thorough discussion of CBLEs (including WBLs), see the Wisconsin Guide to Implementing Career-Based Learning Experiences.

Career-based learning experiences (CBLEs) – These include the universe of ACP business-connected experiences and opportunities that allow K-12 students to participate in career awareness, career exploration, or career development.

Work-based learning experiences (WBLs) – WBLs are a subset of CBLEs that meet the quality and rigor requirements for career and technical education (CTE) as defined in the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

Reporting Work-Based Learning

For the purposes of state reporting, DPI follows the Perkins V definition of work-based learning which is as follows:

Work-based learning means a sustained interaction 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.

In order for a career education or career-based learning experience to be considered a qualifying work-based learning experience for data reporting purposes, specific criteria must be met. This guidance is provided to assist with accurate reporting for Perkins accountability. Work-based learning experiences must meet the following criteria:

  1. Involves sustained interactions, either paid or unpaid, with industry or community professionals
    • Sustained = minimum of 90 hours, can be rotated among employers and/or positions, employer is engaged throughout the experience. Can take place in one semester, an entire year, the summer, or even a six-week period.
    • Interactions must be more than just observing and include direct communication and involvement with industry or community professionals
  2. Takes place in real workplace settings (as practicable) or simulated environments at an educational institution
  3. Fosters in-depth, firsthand engagement with the tasks required in a given career
  4. Aligns with a course (generally speaking should be a minimum of one semester). It is highly encouraged to provide credit for the work-based learning experience as well as credit for the school-based course.
  5. Must include a training agreement between the student, employer/business, and school that defines the roles and responsibilities of the student, the employer, and the school.
  6. Business and education partners work together to evaluate and supervise the experiences, which must be documented with training or learning plans and evaluation forms.

As a result of these requirements, districts should only report WBL programs and experiences if all of the criteria listed above are met. Map each experience with an appropriate program type (certified or noncertified) and the appropriate program name. Certified work-based learning programs (Youth Apprenticeship, State Co-op, and Employability Skills Certificate) are designed to meet all six criteria. School districts, however, should verify that noncertified WBL programs meet all six criteria listed above before including participating students or courses in WBL program data reporting.


For questions about this information, contact Karin Smith (608) 267-3161