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This Week in CTE

September 4th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Why We Desperately need to Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools
While the four-year college system is failing many students, career technical education programs are being cut across the country leaving high school graduates with few skills and fewer job opportunities.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK

NCCER and Build Your Future have partnered to create the I BUILT THIS video contest for professionals and instructors to highlight their construction projects and designs. Submit by October 18!
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation announced it’s CTE program, ProStart, which teaches culinary arts and restaurant management, is now available throughout the United States.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

National Council for Agricultural Education Releases Revised Content Standards

September 3rd, 2015

For the past 32 years, the National Council for Agricultural Education (The Council) has provided leadership for stakeholders in agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems education. As part of its goal of to stimulate positive growth in agricultural education, The Council recently completed a review and revision of the agriculture, food and natural resources (AFNR) Career Cluster Content Standards.

The AFNR Career Cluster Content Standards originally were developed as part of the 2003 U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Career Clusters Project. Last revised in 2009, the new version of the standards have a number of advancements, with the revision focused on ensuring that they:

  • Reflect essential and up-to-date knowledge and skills that students need to be ready for early-career success in a variety of AFNR disciplines;
  • Provide a sound basis upon which to design AFNR related Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses; and
  • Provide a sound basis for developing end of course/program assessments to measure students’ attainment of essential disciplinary knowledge and skills.

Another goal of this revision project was to identify strategies for encouraging greater adoption and use at the state and local level. One way we did this was by partnering with NASDCTEc to fully align our work to the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) Career Ready Practices and the AFNR Career Cluster standards to encourage State Directors of CTE to see them as a viable resource to build courses in the AFNR cluster and assess performance, as well as to help agricultural educators better demonstrate how their students perform within the CCTC. Prior to the 2015 revision, the correlation and alignment between this standards set and the AFNR CCTC had been vague. The standards were also cross-walked to several other key frameworks including the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Standards, and the National Standards for Financial Literacy.

The AFNR Career Cluster Content Standards provide state agricultural education leaders and educators with a high-quality, rigorous set of standards to guide what students should know and be able to do after completing a program of study in each of the eight AFNR career pathways.

State leaders and local educators are encouraged to use the standards as a guide for the development of well-planned curriculum and assessments for AFNR-related CTE programs. These standards are intended to help shape the design of all components of an agricultural education program including:

  • Classroom and laboratory instruction.
  • Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) experiences through organizations such as the National FFA Organization and the Post-Secondary Agriculture Students Organization (PAS).
  • Work-based learning experiences such as Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Programs and internships.

Just as agriculture varies throughout our nation and around the world, so will our agricultural education programs. While adoption and use of these standards is voluntary, states and local entities are encouraged to adapt the standards to meet local needs. States should explore these standards in conjunction with state and local advisory committees to determine what is most relevant and appropriate for their students in providing that all-important link between the school and the business community.

The AFNR industry is a highly technical and ever-changing sector of the global economy upon which everyone is dependent. We will continue to meet national and global demand for a safe and abundant food, fiber and fuel supply only if we invest in the growth and development of the human capital for the AFNR industry. Strong, relevant AFNR CTE programs that are informed by industry and education stakeholders are one way we can meet workforce needs now and in the future.

For further information professionals are asked to consult the standards documents online at https://www.ffa.org/thecouncil/afnr or by contacting The Council directly at 317-753-3319 or mhoneycutt@ffa.org.

This post was contributed by Mike Honeycutt, Managing Director, National Council for Agricultural Education. 

This Week in CTE

August 28th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
25 Ways to Strengthen Workforce Education
A California Community College task force comprised of representatives from community colleges, businesses, labor groups and public agencies, has released 25 recommendations to strengthen workforce education and close the skills gap in the state.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Hawaii high school students created videos around the prompt, “What does CTE mean to you?” Check out the top three finalists in the video contest.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
National Skills Coalition launched the first ever scan of sector partnership policies in all 50 states. The study found that 21 states have specific policies to support local sector partnerships. See how your state measures up.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Research Review: Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs

August 27th, 2015

In the past few weeks, a number of studies have been released focusing on jobs and careers. Below is a quick rundown of some of the most salient reports.

The U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Transportation: Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry
This joint report, building on the collaboration across these agencies to better align career pathways initiatives and efforts, details the potential employment opportunities throughout the transportation industry, broken down by subsectors, occupations, career areas and geography. A core finding is that transportation industry employers are expected to hire and train roughly 4.6 million workers, an equivalent of 1.2 times the current workforce, to meet the needs of growth, retirement and turnover in the next decade.

Jobs for the Future: Promising Practices in Young Adult Employment
Jobs for the Future has released a series of three briefs to support ways in which education, employers and workforce development can better collaborate to combat the chronic high unemployment of our youngest adults. They released case studies on an EMT Career Pathway program in New Jersey; automotive and manufacturing Career Pathways in Wisconsin and Virginia; and a multi-disciplinary career exploration program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, each of which detail the specific actions taken by employers and workforce development leaders.

Center on Education and the Workforce: Good Jobs Are Back: College Graduates Are First in Line
The latest report from Georgetown’s Center for Education and the Workforce focuses on how many of the jobs created since the Great Recession are “good jobs,” which according to the Center:

  • Pay more than $53,000 annually for a full-time, full-year worker (more than 26% above the median earnings of all full-time, full-year workers, which is $42,000), and
  • Typically are full-time (86%), offer health insurance (68%), and provide an employer-sponsored retirement plan (61 percent).

CEW Good JobsThe report finds that 2.9 million of the 6.6 million jobs added over the Recovery are “good jobs,” most of which require at least a bachelor’s degree. Consistent with many of the Center’s other reports, “Good Jobs Are Back” finds that individuals with a high school diploma or less as the most likely to suffer during and beyond the Recession and Recovery.

Young Invicibles: Best Jobs for Millennials
Focusing on careers that will provide millennials with the greatest opportunities, Young Invincibles analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data using three criteria: projected occupation growth by 2022, median wage and “Millennial share,” or the percentage of the total jobs in that occupation held by young adults aged 18-34. Based on the criteria and a ranking system, the report found that physician assistants, actuaries, statisticians, biomedical engineers and computer and information research scientists were the five best jobs out there for young adults. Across the list of the 25 best jobs identified, over half are “STEM” and nearly all require some education and training beyond high school, a number of which require less than a four-year degree.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Welcome to Oklahoma’s new State CTE Director Dr. Marcie Mack!

August 26th, 2015

We are pleased to welcome Oklahoma’s newest State Director of Career and Technology Education Dr. Marcie Mack!

State Director Mack’s career in career and technology education began in 1994 in the business and industry services area at Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma. After earning her master’s degree in telecommunications management at Oklahoma State University and then doctorate in educational administration and leadership, Dr. Mack moved into the role of information systems manager and business and information technology instructor.  In this role, she built the network infrastructure for the tech center while also developing and deploying a district-wide technology plan.  In addition, she taught four business and information technology classes for secondary and adult students in computer maintenance, computer programming, web design and computer networking, and developed curriculum for advanced technology instruction based on industry needs.  She advanced to director of technology and subsequently became assistant superintendent of Autry Technology Center in 2006.

Dr. Mack’s experience in the classroom combined with her understanding of administration and information technology prepared her for current role as state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, a role she assumed in February 2015.

One of Dr. Mack’s goals is to support the Oklahoma workforce initiative, Oklahoma Works, positioning the state agency to address the workforce needs of the Oklahoma in high-demand areas.  Dr. Mack sees the strong relationships Oklahoma’s career and technology education programs must nurture with business and industry to grow the state’s economy and ensure that students are prepared with the academic and technical skills to fill the state’s skills gap.  Last year alone, the system served more than 6,600 companies in various ways, including business and industry training.  In addition to building and sustaining relationships with business and industry in the state, she has led new and continuous improvement initiatives, including the creation of a state-of-the-art data system to support the half million annual enrollments in CareerTech offerings.  Learn more about Oklahoma CareerTech here.

 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

August 21st, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

NJ County Vocational-Technical Schools Lead Newsweek’s ‘America’s Top High Schools’ List
Newsweek’s 2015 “America’s Top High Schools” list, six of the top ten schools are New Jersey county vocational-technical schools one of which is a 2015 Excellence in Action award winner. In all, 15 New Jersey vocational-technical schools are included in the top 150 (out of 500) high schools speaking to the high caliber of CTE in the state.
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REPORT OF THE WEEK

Despite the increasing demands placed on professionals in the education sectors whether in public education, government agencies, foundations or nonprofits to manage the K-12 education system, professional development opportunities are consistently left on the backburner. EdFuel released a report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Tomorrow Education Leaders Already Work for You, diving into the benefits and necessity of training and educating education leaders.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

While women represent 50 percent of the labor force, only 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce are women. To celebrate and promote women in this sector, the STEP Ahead Awards program by the Manufacturing Institute launched the Women in Manufacturing award recognizing women at all levels of the industry. Nominate someone you know today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review: Leveraging CTE within Competency-Based Education

August 20th, 2015

CBPA new brief from Achieve and NASDCTEc argues that states can and should leverage CTE when considering how to move K-12 education toward a system marked by mastery, not time. The paper, “Building a Strong Relationship between Competency-Based Pathways and Career Technical Education,” identifies the opportunities for collaboration and strengthened relationships as well the challenges of creating an integrated system.

Competency-based pathways (CBP) have the potential to open new opportunities for students to learn and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways. To do this, students should be able to access engaging learning opportunities that are grounded in application and relevant to their career goals – a central focus of CTE. This is why state leaders should consider how to ensure that CBP and CTE systems are aligned and mutually reinforcing.

In fact, states that intentionally include CTE in their vision for CBP can use its inherently competency-based elements to help break down the classroom walls that separate academics from CTE, and by doing so, can value learning where it happens and create opportunities for teachers to collaborate and innovate.

Leverage points can include:

  • Contextualized learning environments for all students
  • Self-directed pathways anchored in students’ career interests and inclusive of the full breadth of college- and career-ready knowledge and skills
  • High quality experiential learning opportunities
  • Project-based learning as a platform for instruction
  • CTE as a component of assessments to authentically measure student learning

The brief also offers key points of consideration for states moving toward an integrated CBP system:

  • Incorporating CTE at the outset helps break down the historical silos that still exist within the education system
  • Ensuring equitable student access to high quality CBP across CTE areas
  • Building capacity for districts, schools and educators to transition to an integrated CBP system
  • Overcoming data and reporting challenges to capture student proficiency where it happens, especially when it happens beyond the traditional school walls
  • Recognizing that some elements of CTE programs are still beholden to time
  • Crafting a thorough, well-executed communications plan to build buy-in and understanding

The brief includes state examples from Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Read more about how states are implementing CBP here.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE on the Campaign Trail

August 19th, 2015

2014-11-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-washington-dc-back-Marko-BerndtThe 2016 Presidential election has, unsurprisingly, begun nearly a full year before voters are expected to go to polling booths next November. As the primary season begins in earnest, candidates from both Parties have begun to touch on Career Technical Education (CTE) in a variety of ways.

Earlier this year the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as part of the teacher union’s candidate endorsement process, had the current three Democratic candidates for President—Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)— fill out a candidate questionnaire on a wide array of education topics. Of particular note was a question pertaining to CTE and the federal government’s role in supporting high-quality CTE programs.

Bernie Sanders voiced incredibly strong support for CTE in response to this question saying, “[CTE] programs are vital pathways to middle-class, family-supporting jobs. I believe it is in our national and economic interest to ensure quality CTE programs are available to every American, and effectively aligned with the needs of the 21st century workforce. Accordingly, I strongly support fully-funding the Perkins CTE program. In addition, if elected, I would work to revolutionize our nation’s approach to workforce development and technical education to build effective, attainable pathways for young people to pursue middle class careers.”

Martin O’Malley gave a similarly compelling answer, pointing to his work as Governor of Maryland saying, “My administration would launch a new, comprehensive national program for CTE, starting in high schools, and in partnership with community colleges and employers. This builds on successful efforts launched by the Obama Administration, where schools partner with employers – who also provide financial support – to train students and workers for the positions they need to fill now. Our program will require greater federal investment, but we will see far greater returns – in good jobs created and filled, and in reduced spending on higher education. CTE training is an equal alternative to a four-year college degree, and we must treat it as such.”

AFT eventually ended up endorsing the former Secretary of State and First Lady, Hillary Clinton, who promised to lay out a clear CTE plan for her campaign in the coming months stating, “. . . I will lay out my ideas for a comprehensive proposal to train millions more workers over the next decade. I am exploring a number of options to incentivize CTE [sic] programs and help provide grants to train workers for the 21st century economy.”

Turning our attention to the Republican candidates for President, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), declared at a campaign event this past weekend at the Iowa State Fair that he plans to be “the vocational education president.” Emphasizing the importance of middle skilled jobs, he went on to say that “These are good paying jobs”— “a welder makes more than a political science major, and you borrow a lot less money and go to work a lot sooner.”

Throughout the day today, the Seventy Four, a new non-profit news website co-founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, hosted six of the Republican Candidates for President for 45 minute interviews exploring a broad swath of issues facing K-12 education today. While most of these interviews focused on hot-button topics such as the common core state standards, the role of teachers unions, school choice, parental involvement, and the appropriate role of the federal government in education, most of the candidates devoted some of their time to issues related to CTE.

Jeb Bush started things off speaking about his various education achievements as Governor of Florida. In particular he noted that student disengagement remains an enormous problem in high schools and that allowing students to “major” in secondary school, as they can in college, could be a way to address the “boredom” issue. He argued that if classwork were contextualized more effectively and delivered in an applied fashion, that students would be more engaged with their coursework. The former Florida Governor also spoke highly of the potential competency based education has in ensuring that students are learning and for holding schools and teachers accountability for that progression. Later on in the day, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal echoed these same sentiments.

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP), was up next speaking about the need to support innovation to drive continuous improvement in education. Taking a page from her private sector experience, she focused a portion of her remarks on the need for employers to engage with schools and educators to deliver a high quality education for students. Internships and mentorships—something that HP supported in certain local school districts during her time as the CEO— were key elements of what she had to say on how to improve the U.S. education system.

Governor John Kasich followed, focusing his interview answers on many of his state’s educational programs and achievements, particularly in the urban areas of Ohio. He began by declaring that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education—a recurring theme throughout the day— does not work for the 21st century economy. Noting that students learn at different rates and in different ways, he championed “personalizing” the high school experience by contextualizing classwork to spur student excitement for their education. Further into his interview, Governor Kasich highlighted the importance of employer engagement with schools, pointing to a successful corporate-sponsored mentorship program in a school in Cincinnati which now boasts a 97 percent graduation rate.

Governor Scott Walker’s interview focused quite a bit on the role of teacher tenure and unions, as well as how technology has changed the way students learn. Walker went on to say that technology is an important catalyst for innovation in education and argued that it should be used in a way that tailors curriculum to students’ particular interests and needs as a way to personalize their learning experience—something that was vocally supported by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who participated right after.

Walker went on to say that education is both a moral and an economic obligation for the next President. Much like Senator Rubio this past weekend, the Wisconsin Governor spoke at length about the important role education should have in preparing students for middle skilled jobs. He pointed to the significant contributions community and technical colleges make to the available pool of talent in the U.S. and argued that they were essential to ensuring that the skills needs of employers are effectively met. He ended his remarks on an aspirational note, suggested that more students should consider postsecondary and career pathways that may not require a four-year degree.

All of the interviews have now been posted and can be viewed here. This October, the Seventy Four will be hosting the Democratic Presidential candidates for the same sort of conversation. Be sure to check back here when they take the stage and for more coverage of the wider 2016 field as they continue to talk about CTE within their respective platforms.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Excellence in Action: Upper Valley Career Center

August 19th, 2015

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program of study at Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC) in Piquo, OhioIMG_7816 is entering its 20th year as strong as ever. Winners of the 2015 Excellence in Action award in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster, and recent attendees of the Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education event at the White House, UVCC’s HVAC program of study is a true model program with extensive job placement opportunities, exemplary partnerships and strong alignment with multiple college degrees and certification programs.

In 2014, 100 percent of students, almost half of which are low income, earned postsecondary credit and an industry recognized credential, and graduated high school. This feat is in due in part to the over 40 engaged organizations that provide curriculum support, internships for students, externships for teachers and donate time and equipment. “It has been a rewarding to see this program grow in size and achievement, but equally gratifying to see so many students of the program grow into adulthood as successful, professional contributors to the HVACR industry,” said Ken Monnier, VP, A/C Engineer at one of UVCC’s most dedicated employer partners, Emerson Climate Technologies.

UVCC will be featured during a session at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual CareerTech VISION conference in New Orleans, LA in November. Don’t miss the chance to hear from this best practice program and register for the conference today. You can also learn more about UVCC’s HVAC program here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: A Pile of Work Awaits Congress in September as the CTE Presidential Scholars Program Continues to Take Shape

August 18th, 2015

United States CapitalThe annual Congressional August recess is in full swing, with most lawmakers and staff spending the time off in their districts and home states with constituents. This four week respite from the daily Congressional grind will be short-lived, as lawmakers will be faced with a tremendous amount of work upon their return to Capitol Hill. In addition to the fast approaching September 30th deadline to fund the federal government and programs, Congress will also have to raise the debt ceiling sometime later this fall, renew funding for public works and infrastructure projects, weigh in on the Administration’s Iran deal, successfully conference an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill, and address a host of other outstanding issues all in the coming months.

Ironically, the heavy workload this fall is a product of Congress’ own making—many of these issues were considered as recently as this year and were temporarily put aside as compromise proved to be too difficult. As a result, lawmakers will likely be grappling with many of the above issues simultaneously and the ones related to federal funding, such as the need to raise the debt ceiling and fund federal programs for FY 2016, will likely have resolutions that are closely intertwined. While a clear path forward is still far from certain, Congressional leadership will be weighing many different options. However, with only 10 legislative days left when they return, a “Continuing Appropriations Resolution” or CR—a temporary extension of current funding levels into the next federal fiscal year— is growing increasingly more likely.

Lying at the heart of this stalemate are Republicans and Democrats who remain at odds over the sequester caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These limits on federal spending, have hampered Congress’ ability to piece together the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government. Without changes to the underlying BCA legislation, a move appropriators from both Parties say they want, finding compromise on FY 2016 funding has been extremely difficult.

With the upcoming ESEA conference between the House and the Senate scheduled to follow the current recess, this current impasse over funding will likely be significant hurdle for the conferees to overcome as this battle will likely play out before or during those talks.

NASDCTEc has continued its work on both of these fronts where we have encouraged lawmakers to retain the important CTE provisions found in both the House and Senate ESEA bills while separately calling for an end to the damaging sequester caps that have undercut the federal investment in CTE.

As Congress spends its time meeting with their constituents this month, NASDCTEc invites the wider CTE community to reach out to their members of Congress to reinforce importance of these two goals as the summer draws to an end. Be sure to check back here as things continue to develop.

The JOBS Act—Making Pell Work for Students

Prior to the August recess, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus and a long-time champion of CTE, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 1900)—a bill that would extend Pell grant program eligibility to students enrolled in qualifying short-term training programs.

Under current law the Pell Grant program— like other federal financial aid available under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA)— is not available to students taking “noncredit courses.” Postsecondary CTE programs, which typically offer certifications or other postsecondary credentials, often fall under this category. Current Pell Grant program eligibility requirements have a minimum seat-time of 300 instruction hours over the course of at least 16 weeks. This frequently leaves out short-term postsecondary CTE programs which are essential to equipping students with the relevant skills needed for the 21st century economy— something that NASDCTEc encourages Congress to address during the reauthorization of HEA.

The JOBS Act seeks to address this issue by reducing those program length requirements by half, to at least 150 clock hours over a period of 8 weeks. In order to qualify, programs must be offered at a postsecondary institution, which would include area CTE centers and community colleges, lead towards the completion of a recognized postsecondary credential (as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), and be aligned to area workforce needs.

NASDCTEc was extremely pleased to support and endorse this legislation upon its introduction and remains hopeful that these ideas make their way into the wider reauthorization of HEA. Read more about the bill here.

Presidential Scholars Program Continues to Take Shape

As we shared a few months ago, President Obama signed an amendment to Executive Order 11155—a move that expanded the existing Presidential Scholars program to include up to 20 CTE students each year in the program.

The first year of this expansion will take place in the upcoming 2015-16 school year where the Chief State School Officers will nominate CTE scholars based on five criteria: academic rigor, technical competency, ingenuity / creativity, and the degree to which the student represents “the nation’s economic sectors and demographic characteristics.”

Student nominations are due from each Chief State School Officer by October 15, 2015 where the next step of the process will require additional application materials from selected students. By May 2016, the Commission on Presidential Scholars will announce the list of students to be honored at the White House in June.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) has encouraged State CTE Directors to engage with their State’s chief school officer ahead of the nomination process and to more widely disseminate the announcement. More detailed information can be obtained on OCTAE’s PCRN website and general information about the expansion can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

 

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