Getting To Know: Advance CTE’s Initiatives to Improve CTE Data Quality

January 26th, 2021

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Austin Estes! Austin is the Manager of Data and Research at Advance CTE. Austin oversees Advance CTE’s strategy for data quality and effective use. In this role, he supports state CTE leaders by developing resources, reports and tools and delivering technical assistance to help improve policy and practice related to CTE data.
During his time at Advance CTE, Austin has led efforts related to rural CTE, work-based learning, equity in CTE, industry-recognized credentials and accountability.

Q: Through your work at Advance CTE, what are some barriers states face when effectively reporting data?

A: First and foremost is getting access to good, quality data. We surveyed the State CTE Directors back in 2018 and found that, while many of them are able to collect and report the required indicators for Perkins, there are challenges with validating the data with administrative records. A lot of data is self reported, and it can be really challenging to link learner-level data across education levels to see where learners end up after they complete their programs. The findings from that survey are published in our report The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness

Another big challenge is using and communicating data effectively. Some states like Kentucky are doing really great work putting data to use. The Kentucky Center for Statistics has developed really powerful CTE feedback reports and other data tools, and has worked with the Kentucky Department of Education to train different stakeholders to understand and use these data assets. But this takes a lot of work and time. Late last year Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education, developed a set of design principles and a communications toolkit to help state leaders develop effective reporting tools and tell the story behind their data. These resources will be particularly useful as states begin to share out their Perkins V data.

Q: How does Advance CTE work to improve CTE data quality?

A: Our team is working on two major efforts right now to improve CTE data quality. The first is the development of a comprehensive policy benchmark tool for data quality. The tool is designed to help state leaders evaluate the design and effectiveness of their career readiness data ecosystem and identify action steps to improve the quality and use of data. The tool will be released as an interactive microsite in February and was developed with input from some of the smartest thought leaders working at the state and national level. 

The second effort is the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative, or PDI for short. With support from ECMC Foundation, Advance CTE is working closely with a cohort of states to implement innovative strategies to improve CTE data quality at the postsecondary level. Lessons from the PDI will be shared out more broadly through a postsecondary data community of practice and through resources and publications. 

Q: What is the parallel between effective data reporting and high-quality CTE for each learner – of any background, age and zip code?

A: I think it’s important first of all to acknowledge the distinction between data and insights. You can have all the data in the world, but if you can’t make sense of it and use it to improve policy and practice, it’s worthless. State leaders have a critical role to play in ensuring that practitioners and policymakers can make meaning of their data and use their data to improve CTE program quality and equity. 

One example of this is conducting a proportionality analysis to compare enrollment in CTE programs to the overall learner population. If one out of 10 students in a high school is classified as a learner with disabilities, but only one out of 20 CTE students is, then you might want to adopt new recruitment strategies to minimize barriers to accessing CTE for learners with disabilities. This is just one example of how data can lead to insights, which can inform action.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

 

 

Legislative Update: New ED Appointees and Extension of Student Loan Payments

January 22nd, 2021

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced new political appointees this week, following Wednesday’s inauguration. Read below to learn about who this included, as well as the new extension of federal student loan payments and the latest updates to the College Scorecard. 

ED Announces Senior Biden-Harris Appointees 

On Thursday, ED announced new senior appointees to the department, including: 

  • Sheila Nix, Chief of Staff;
  • Claudia Chavez, White House Liaison;
  • Suzanne Goldberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach, Office for Civil Rights (serving as acting Assistant Secretary);
  • Ian Rosenblum, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary);
  • Emma Leheny, Principal Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel (serving as acting General Counsel); 
  • Donna Harris-Aikens, Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning, Office of the Secretary; 
  • Ben Miller, Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff; 
  • Ben Hale, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, Office of Communications and Outreach (serving as acting Assistant Secretary); 
  • Rich Williams, Chief of Staff, Office of Postsecondary Education; 
  • Greg Schmidt, Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel; 
  • Jasmine Bolton, Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights; and 
  • Alex Payne, Special Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs.

Of note, Harris-Aikens held a leadership position at Advance CTE from 2002 to 2003. Full bios of each appointee can be found here

President Extends Pause on Federal Student Loan Payments 

Almost immediately following Wednesday’s inauguration, President Joe Biden directed ED to extend the pause on federal student loan repayments and collections and keep the interest rate at 0%. COVID-19 emergency relief flexibilities are also extended through September 30, 2021. 

ED Updates College Scorecard 

Last week, ED announced new updates to the College Scorecard. Information on how well borrowers from individual colleges and universities are progressing in repaying federal student loans is now available on the site. Additionally, there is data on how borrower cohorts are progressing in the repayment process at different intervals. This includes the percentages of borrowers who fall under these eight loan repayment statuses two years after entering repayment: paid in full, making progress, delinquency, forbearance, default, not making progress, deferment and loans discharged.  

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: Biden Stimulus Proposal and Relief Funding Available from ED

January 15th, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden shared a new COVID-19 (coronavirus) stimulus proposal. Read below to learn more about how education is included in that bill, as well as additional information on availability of funds for the latest relief package that was signed into law. 

Biden Shares New Stimulus Proposal

On Thursday evening President-elect Joe Biden shared a proposal for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. This would include $170 billion for K-12 and higher education to support Biden’s goal of “safely reopening a majority of K-8 schools in the first 100 days” of his presidency. That amount is broken down in the following way:

  • $130 billion would go to elementary and secondary education for safe reopening of schools and additional supports. This funding can be used for activities such as reducing class sizes, modifying spaces to allow for social distancing, closing the digital divide and hiring counselors to support students as they transition between remote and in-person learning. A portion of this funding must also go to students in low-income areas that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, as well as to a COVID-19 Educational Equity Challenge Grant that will go to state, local and tribal governments to partner with stakeholders.  
  • $35 billion would go to expanding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. This funding will be designated to public institutions, as well as public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This money can support distance learning, ensuring colleges have the resources and protocols necessary since the pandemic and providing emergency grants to students. 
  • $5 billion would be for a Hardest Hit Education Fund, that will go to governors to disperse to the students most significantly impacted by the pandemic across early childhood education, K-12 and higher education. 

The full legislative text has not been released yet. Advance CTE will share additional information as it becomes available.  

ED Provides More Information on COVID-19 Relief 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has continued to make funding available for the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) that was passed at the end of December. As a reminder, the bill included close to $82 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund, comprised of $53 billion for the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and $4.1 billion for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. 

On Thursday, ED announced that $21.2 billion for the HEERF is now available. Of that amount, $20.5 billion is for public and non-profit colleges and universities, and $681 million is for proprietary schools. Public and non-profit schools can use this funding for activities such as student supports, technology costs and faculty trainings. Proprietary schools can use this funding to provide financial aid grants to students. If an application was submitted by an institution for the HEERF through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, no additional application needs to be completed. More information can be found here

ED also announced the availability of GEER funding. Of the GEER Fund, $2.75 billion is designated for the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) award, with the rest going to supplemental GEER awards. The EANS funding can be used to safely reopen schools, address learning loss and continue instruction. EANS awards will be allocated to each governor based on the state’s share of low-income school-age youth enrolled in non-public schools. ED shared that after governors submit an EANS application they can expect a response within 24 hours. The GEER awards will be allocated based on the formula used in the CARES Act. Additional information can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

State of CTE: CTE Instructors in Perkins V State Plans

January 14th, 2021

In October 2020, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities,” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their Career Technical Education (CTE) systems. 

Attracting and retaining qualified and diverse CTE instructors remains one of the most persistent challenges facing states. Last year, ACTE held a Teach CTE Summit to more closely examine teacher pipeline challenges, surfacing numerous key issues and recommendations. According to previous Advance CTE research on this issue, 86 percent of State Directors reported a moderate or severe CTE teacher shortage in at least one Career Cluster at the secondary level, and a further 60 percent indicated the same at the postsecondary level. 

The underlying causes for these shortages most often relate to the difficulties CTE programs have in competing with the private sector for the same pool of qualified instructors, along with the fact that many universities have closed their CTE teacher preparation programs in recent years. As is the case in other sectors of the economy, the CTE teacher workforce is also aging rapidly.

At the same time, the demands on CTE instructors are rigorous. CTE instructors need strong technical knowledge and industry expertise, effective classroom management and pedagogical skills, and cultural competency to support and engage each learner on an individual basis.

Without a qualified pool of CTE professionals, one that is responsive to the needs of each learner, our country cannot effectively educate learners and prepare the future workforce. Attracting, retaining and fully developing a strong cadre of CTE professionals is therefore a crucial ingredient CTE systems need for success, and this need is reflected throughout states’ Perkins V plans.

Based on Advance CTE’s analysis of state Perkins V plans:

  • Nearly three-quarters of all states (36 total) are providing targeted professional development for specific groups of educators, administrators or other CTE professionals. 
  • Forty-five percent of states are including quality instructors in their definitions for size, scope and quality (SSQ).
  • Forty-seven percent of states are going beyond the requirements laid out in the law to prioritize supporting CTE professionals in their comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA).
  • Twenty-seven percent of states are developing explicit CTE instructor recruitment plans.
  • At least seven states are addressing licensure barriers and/or are developing new pathways to licensure as an approach to strengthening CTE instructor pipelines. 

Key Innovations

  • Oregon aims to recruit teachers from cultural and linguistic backgrounds that reflect the state’s learner population. To achieve this goal, the state plans to partner with the Educator Advancement Council, a statewide education network focused on ensuring that the state has high-quality, well-supported and culturally responsive educators. Through this partnership, Oregon aims to create a comprehensive strategy focused on recruitment efforts in underrepresented and underserved communities. In addition to this work, the state is clarifying alternative pathways that lead to the CTE teaching profession as a means to attract industry experts and potentially further diversify the field.
  • Oklahoma is dedicating more than half a million dollars annually to provide targeted scholarships for individuals seeking teacher and administrator certifications. As part of its wider efforts in this space, the state has developed a new teacher institute that provides a full year of training, coaching and mentoring for new CTE instructors. Oklahoma also makes use of a statewide learning management system — CareerTech’s Master Educator platform — to structure and provide professional development that promotes continuous learning and improvement of its CTE teachers. Finally, the state is working with local universities to provide shorter-term courses and online programs conducive to incumbent CTE teacher needs.

The Work Ahead

One area of future work is ensuring that the CTE instructor workforce is representative of the learners they serve. Only five states included any explicit recruitment activities focused on diversifying the CTE teaching field in their Perkins V plans.

Recruiting, developing and retaining qualified teachers and faculty are critical for CTE programs to be successful. As noted previously, instructors are among the most important in-school factors that contribute to the success of learners. No single policy or strategy will fully address the challenges facing states with regards to this issue. Some of these challenges have to do with issues outside the realm of CTE, such as broader terms negotiated by labor and management (e.g., teacher/faculty pay scales or tenure requirements), lack of teacher preparation programs at universities, and accreditation requirements or limitations. Only through a coordinated set of approaches can states begin to make progress on this critically important topic. Through the Perkins V planning process, states have certainly started to make significant progress in this area.

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Alisha Hyslop, Senior Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education
Catherine Imperatore, Research Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education

 

Communicating CTE: Utah’s Tools to Sell CTE and Build Local Champions

January 12th, 2021

As the nation heads into a year of difficult fiscal environments and budgetary shortfalls across all levels of government, it is more important than ever that Career Technical Education (CTE) stakeholders are equipped with effective tools to sell CTE to key stakeholders. 

Empowering leaders to tell and understand the benefits of CTE has been Utah State CTE Director Thalea Longhurst’s mission since entering her leadership role in 2014. “In so many instances, I find that it is not that our policymakers don’t want to invest in CTE, it is that they don’t have all the pieces to connect the dots of how the system works, what the jargon means, and what the outcomes are. That has serious consequences for policy, and we wanted to fix that”, said Longhurst. 

One of the first initiatives Longhurst pursued was advocacy training programs for local CTE educators and advocates. The state conducted workshops lead by advocacy experts to help CTE supporters explain and market CTE programs and outcomes to policymakers and administrators. 

Another goal of the Utah CTE Department was to create a ‘one stop shop’ for data-based outcomes about CTE program enrollment, completion, work-based learning and attainment. As a result, each year the state office creates an At-A-Glance fact sheet with colorful graphics and statistics to help advocates and policymakers understand the benefits of CTE in Utah. Two things that make Utah’s fact sheets unique is that individual fact sheets are created for the state and regional level as well as each locality, and the inclusion of definitions for common CTE terms such as concentrator, certification and work-based learning that those outside of the CTE field may not be familiar with to ensure stakeholders can connect the outcomes to the education system as a whole. 

Now on its fourth version, the fact sheets are used by the Governor’s Office, legislators, and employers, and many advocates have come to rely on this resource. “I just had an administrator call me last week asking when the new local fact sheets would be available because they wanted to use them in a school board presentation saying ‘We really need them’, shares Longhurst. “Our resource has a little bit for everyone that is involved in CTE, and it is gratifying to see that data and transparency is valued.” She hopes that as the state’s CTE data system capabilities expand that a dashboard and additional data points will be available to identify more successes and areas for growth. 

Finally, the team identified that CTE recruitment is a priority for educators, but one they often do not have time to plan for. As part of Utah’s participation in Advance CTE’s grant, Strategies for Attracting Students to High-Quality CTE, a Recruitment Guide was created with basic steps to develop a marketing plan, tips for industry engagement and social media campaigns, and ready-made recruitment events that can easily be adapted to meet local audiences. 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As CTE advocates and educators face more challenges than ever to execute high-quality and equitable CTE programs, we hope these tools are helpful templates to building knowledgeable CTE policymakers and champions in your state. 

Communicating CTE is a new series where Advance CTE is exploring how states are leading the way in communicating about the value and benefit of CTE to key stakeholders. Read the first posting in the series here

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

This Week in CTE

January 9th, 2021

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

CTE PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, a virtual K-12 academy in Michigan, has seen an increase in enrollment for CTE courses. As a result of the pandemic, many students have responded to local labor market needs, and taken an interest in the health science Career Cluster®

One Health Science Instructor at the academy, AJ Krey, mentions, “it’s a program for all students that are interested in anything medicine.” More information can be found in this article published by WBKB-TV 11. 

WEBINAR SERIES OF THE WEEK

The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education announced their upcoming webinar series on CTE in the middle grades. The first of two webinars will be held on January 27, 2021. Click here for more information and to register. 

CTSO OF THE WEEK

SkillsUSA has opened their application window for the National Technical Honor Society/ SkillsUSA Scholarship. Both organizations strive to uphold the other’s mission by providing learners with scholarship opportunities that contribute to their educational experience.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and that each learner excels. SkillsUSA provides educational programs, events and competitions that support CTE in the nation’s classrooms.

More information on the scholarship and how to apply can be found here

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 

This week, the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents shared this video to aid in career exploration and the awareness of Ohio‘s 49 career centers.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.

View more Legislative Updates from this week here

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE examines the ways in which states can foster and sustain meaningful employer engagement to strengthen their CTE systems for all students. States can use this resource to evaluate best practices and strategies for engaging the employer community.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

View The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

The State of CTE: Advancing Quality Credentials Through Perkins V

January 8th, 2021

In October, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their CTE systems. One finding of this report is the emerging state focus on credentials of value.

Perkins V introduces a new secondary program quality indicator as one method available to states to ensure program quality. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value), and postsecondary credit attainment (dual enrollment and articulation) — all of which are components of a high-quality CTE program of study, in addition to other critical elements like rigorous standards, quality assessments, and alignment to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand career opportunities. States’ increasing focus on credentials shows up in many aspects of their Perkins V plans, as shown in the chart below. That should come as little surprise. Credentials that are valued in the labor market can serve as an important component of any quality CTE program. They serve as anchors for the exit and re-entry points within CTE programs and career pathways, providing learners with a valuable way to signal their knowledge and skills to prospective employers and other postsecondary educational institutions. 

The commitment to expanding credentials shows up in many aspects of state Perkins V plans, based on Advance CTE’s analysis: 

  • 43 percent of states (22 total) have selected recognized postsecondary credential attainment as at least one of their secondary CTE program quality measures.
  • 41 percent of states are requiring credentials as part of the state’s program approval process.
  • 27 percent of states reference developing or maintaining state-developed lists of approved credentials of value to ensure that credentials are quality and valued by the labor market.

Which Credentials States Promote Matters

Despite their popularity, credentials are not all created equally. As ExcelinEd found in its research, states are in very different places in terms of the ways that they identify, align, prioritize and measure credentials of value earned by students across secondary and postsecondary systems. Consider that prior to Perkins V state plan approval:

  • Many states do not collect data on credentials earned by K-12 and postsecondary students.
    • Just over half of all states (30) submitted K-12 quantitative data on the attainment of credentials for phase 2. 
  • No state is highly aligned in terms of supply for credentials earned by students and the demand for those credentials in the job market. 
    • Only 18% of the credentials earned by K-12 students in this analysis are in-demand by employers or are associated with occupations that pay a base wage of $15 per hour. 

While these findings show that all states can improve their policies related to credentials of value, Perkins V offers states a platform to increase their focus on credentials of value as a critical component of high-quality CTE programs of study that lead to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers. 

State Innovations

  • In preparation for its Perkins V plan implementation, Texas developed a set of rigorous programs of study that are aligned to high-wage, high-skill and high-demand occupations. They include vertical alignment to postsecondary programs and, where appropriate, stackable credentials valued by employers. 
  • Pennsylvania’s Perkins V plan builds upon a 2019 amendment that requires all statewide articulation agreements, including those that award credit for industry-recognized credentials, to be reported and accessible to students in an effort to increase transparency of how credentials can help accelerate students along a career pathway
  • Michigan is using the Reserve Fund to establish a competitive grant application process to identify credentials and align them with the course standards for CTE programs of study.

The Work Ahead

It is promising that states have included various references to credentials of value in their Perkins V plans. To help ensure they address core issues of quality and alignment, Credentials Matter offers six high-level recommendations for all states to develop statewide systems and processes that prioritize high-value credentials. 

States should be lauded for making plans to include and improve access to industry credentials as part of comprehensive CTE offerings. Their next step is to execute on the implementation strategies that will ensure these offerings pay dividends to students and families, while maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and equity. 

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Melissa Canney, Innovation Policy Director, ExcelinEd

Legislative Update: CTE Increase in FY21 Appropriations and COVID-19 Stimulus Package

January 7th, 2021

In the final days of 2020, the full Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bill and COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package were signed into law. Read below to learn more about what this means for Career Technical Education (CTE) and education funding. 

Congress Increases CTE Funding for FY21

Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of FY21- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.  

Stimulus Bill Provides Funding for Education 

In the final days of 2020, Congress passed and the president signed into law a new $900 billion COVID-19 (coronavirus) stimulus package. This bill includes close to $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund that was created to prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic. The Education Stabilization Fund is broken down into three categories that follow the structure of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed in March 2020. 

  • Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, $54.3 billion
    This funding goes to states through the state education agency (SEA) using the approved application from implementation of the CARES Act. Funding will be allocated to each state per Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). At least 90% of funds will be directed to local education agencies (LEAs) in the proportional amount to what’s received under Title I Part A of ESEA. Activities authorized by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is one of the authorized uses of the ESSER Fund, as well as Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title VII Subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support and Assistance Act. Additional allowable uses of funds include activities such as: purchasing educational technology; professional development; addressing learning loss and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care. Reporting by the state on use of these funds is required within six months of receipt of funds.U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on Tuesday that funding has been made available for the ESSER Fund. State allocations can be found here. The Education Stabilization Fund Portal will track how states and districts are spending this money.
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund, $22.7 billion
    This funding will go directly to institutions of higher education for costs associated with coronavirus response and to provide financial aid to students. Funding will be allocated to institutions in the following way: 89% to public and private non-profit institutions through a formula that takes into consideration factors such as Federal Pell Grant recipients; 7.5% for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs); 0.5% for institutions with unmet needs related to the pandemic, as determined through an application process; and 3% for institutions under Section 102(b) of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Uses of these funds include activities such as defraying costs associated with the pandemic, carrying out student supports authorized by HEA to address needs related to the pandemic and financial aid to students. $1.7 billion of the HEER Fund is dedicated to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and MSIs.  
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, $4.1 billion
    Governors are able to use this funding for early childhood education, K-12 education or higher education. $2.5 billion of the GEER Fund is dedicated to Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools. State distribution is split 60% by the population of individuals ages 5 through 24 and 40% by individuals counted under section 1124(c) of ESEA. GEER funding can be used for purposes including: providing emergency support to LEAs selected by the SEA in order to continue providing education services and to support the LEA; providing emergency support grants to institutions of higher education and to provide support to any other institution of higher education, LEA or related entity.

Some additional provisions in the stimulus package include $7 billion for broadband access and $30 million for student aid administration. 

Through this bill Pell Grant eligibility is restored for formerly incarcerated individuals. Advance CTE has been advocating for this policy change, and is pleased to see the removal of the Pell Grant ban.  

The bill’s maintenance of effort provision requires that states keep the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) funding at least at the percentage of the state budget for the average of FY17, FY18 and FY19.  

Advance CTE will continue to monitor implementation and provide updates on future guidance. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Full FY21 Appropriations Bill, COVID-19 Relief Package

December 22nd, 2020

This week, Congress voted on a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bill to provide federal funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, along with a COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package. Read below to learn about the details of this bill, as well as the Rural Tech Project finalists. 

Congress Passes FY21 Appropriations and COVID-19 Stimulus Bill 

Written by Hannah Neeper, Policy Research Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

With only days remaining in 2020, Congress reached an agreement on a long-awaited additional relief package related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and coupled it with the FY 2021 omnibus appropriations bill to finish the federal appropriations process for the year. The massive bill, providing approximately $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and approximately 1.4 trillion for regular spending across the federal government in FY 2021, passed in the House in two parts by votes of 327-85 and 359-53 and in the Senate by a vote of 92-6 on Monday evening.

The COVID-19 portion of the bill provides a wide range of resources across the federal government, including money for another round of stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, additional Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, COVID-19 testing and other various aspects of relief aid. For education specifically, the Department of Education will receive $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, significantly more than was included in the CARES Act in March but well short of needs expressed by educators around the country. Out of that funding, $54.3 billion is for K-12 (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund) and can be used for a variety of activities, including school facilities repairs and improvements,addressing learning loss among students, and any activities authorized under other federal education legislation, including Perkins. Higher education will receive $22.7 billion, while the flexible Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund will receive an additional $4.1 billion. Many more details on the distribution and use of these funds will be coming in the new year. In addition, we are likely to see additional proposals to address unmet needs as the Biden Administration comes into office. President-elect Biden stated this package “is just the beginning. Our work is far from over.” in response to the agreement. 

Within the appropriations portion of the bill, there was more good news for CTE! The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill included a $52.25 million increase for the Perkins Basic State Grant, bringing the new total to $1.334 billion for CTE. This increase serves as the fourth straight for the Perkins Basic State Grants, which provides a strong indication of the growing support for CTE on Capitol Hill! This funding increase will ensure a strong base of support for CTE through Perkins funding, with COVID-19 relief funds supplementing for more immediate and one-time costs. 

Below are some additional funding levels in the appropriations bill that are important to CTE educators: 

  • Adult Education: $674,955, an increase of $18,000 from FY 20 level
  • Pell Grants: $5,435 for the maximum award, an increase of $150 from FY 20 level
  • Federal Work-Study: $1,190,000, an increase of $10,000 from FY 20 level
  • Career Pathways for Youth Grants: $10 million, level funded from FY 20 level 
  • Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG): $45 million, an increase of $5 million from FY 20 level
  • Apprenticeship Grant Program: $185 million to support registered apprenticeships, an increase of $85 million from FY 20 level

In addition, there were several changes to federal programs impacting postsecondary education included within the bill. For example, the ban on Pell grants for incarcerated students is eliminated and there are provisions to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

ED Announces Rural Tech Project Finalists 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the five finalist teams for the Rural Tech Project- an initiative with the purpose of advancing technology education and supporting rural educators. Each of the finalist teams will receive $100,000 and move on to the second phase of the challenge, which will take place from January through July 2021. During that time each team will create a detailed program plan and build partnerships. The finalist teams include: 

  • iLead Academy (Carrollton, Kentucky);
  • Louisa County Public Schools (Mineral, Virginia);
  • Premont Independent School District (Premont, Texas);
  • Ravenna High School (Ravenna, Michigan); and
  • Woodlake High School (Woodlake, California).

Meredith Hills, Senior Policy Associate for Federal Policy

Reflecting on Advance CTE-Lumina Discussion on Human Work & CTE

December 21st, 2020

Last week, Advance CTE hosted a discussion with Lumina Foundation’s President & CEO, Jamie Merisotis, on his new book, “Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines” and what it means for Career Technical Education (CTE). The conversation between Jamie Merisotis and Kimberly Green, Advance CTE’s Executive Director, was far reaching, covering topics from how we help learners gain empathy to the unlikelihood of a robot, zombie apocalypse.

A couple of key points that really stood out to me were:

  • The need to break down the silos of “education” and “training.” As Merisotis put it: “Neither training devoid of broader learning nor education devoid of preparation for work is going to get people what they need.” The false dichotomy that training prepares people for work and education is a more “pure” endeavor is simply holding us back and making our systems less cohesive and responsive.
  • The importance of building deep and abiding service into our education pathways and workplaces. This goes beyond requiring or offering community service within a CTE program or as a corporate social responsibility effort, but rather making service part of the overall lifelong learning experience. By engaging directly with those being impacted by one’s work, individuals can gain empathy and understand how to better support and serve clients going forward.
  • Everything we build as advocates, policymakers, industry partners or practitioners needs to have a racial equity lens. If we don’t address racial equity head on – as we have failed to do for decades – the inequities and systemic racism will only worsen.
  • No, the robots are not coming to take all of our jobs! Technology always creates more jobs than it destroys and supports a broader “cycle of creative destruction and renewal,” according to Merisotis.  CTE must continue to be nimble and focus on those skills, competencies and functions that are uniquely “human,” including how to work along side technology.

Following the discussion, Advance CTE members broke into small-group discussions to unpack the conversation and reflect on what it meant for them and their CTE programs and policies. One discussion focused on CTE’s role in the future of work and how CTE is well positioned to take on a stronger role in these conversations given our positioning at the nexus between education and industry. CTE should be spearheading these conversations and intentionally engaging with employers to discuss how they can value their human workers differently.

There was also some healthy discussion around how prevalent “human work” will be in the future, given how many examples we still see of human work being devalued in our current workforce and economy and the ever-growing attention to being more efficient and productive and the work regularly being shifted to machines.

Finally, members dug into the challenges related to technology, recognizing we still have a lot to learn about the role of technology in teaching and learning. We need to work through the ongoing fear many have of technology and what it means for work in the future, how much the CTE field still needs to learn about emerging and cutting-edge technologies, and the fact that technology was not in place to support the transition to remote learning during COVID-19. Members also discussed the importance of ensuring equity is attended to in the design of new technologies. For example, we must have measures in place so that the algorithms within artificial intelligence programs are not perpetuating discrimination or inequities.

A special thank you to Jamie Merisotis and his team at the Lumina Foundation for partnering on such a great event for Advance CTE members!

View the recording of the full discussion here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

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