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This Week in CTE

May 15th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@OECD_Edu Investing in #education matters for long-term inclusive growth, but how countries invest matters more http://bit.ly/1EKk1wf  #OECDwk    blog-thumbnail-thiswek
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RESEARCH REPORT OF THE WEEK
2015 Building a Grad Nation Report
This annual report released by Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University states high school graduation rates have reached 81.4 percent, and that the nation is on track to reach a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2020.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The Classrooms Where Students Are In Charge
The United Technical Center in West Virginia hosts area high school students every day to take part in a simulated workplace, where they learn how to run meetings, show up to work on time, work with their peers among other employability skills along with the technical skills they’d normally learn in a classroom.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK
NASDCTEc’s newest video showcases the Career Technical Education Program of Study framework and how it contributes to student success.
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PARTNER UPDATE OF THE WEEK
SkillsUSA turned 50!
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Reflections on President Obama’s Visit to Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota

May 15th, 2015

Over the weekend, President Obama became the fourth president in U.S. history to visit all 50 states during his tenure. Obama’s visited South Dakota to deliver the commencement speech at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, a huge confirmation of the President’s commitment to the community college system, and an affirmation of the value of Career Technical Education (CTE).

There, the President gave his congratulations to LATI graduates, as well as spoke about his initiative, America’s College Promise, which would make two years of community college free for students. Obama also praised Lake Area Technical Institute when he said, “Community colleges like this one can be a great place for young people to launch a career. But they’re also a great place for folks who have been in the workforce for a while.”

Michael Cartney, President of LATI, cites a variety of reasons that the school was a focus of the President’s visit. LATI boasts a graduation rate of 75 percent and an incredible 98 percent placement rate. “We feel honored and humbled that our President chose to come here to do the commencement address. The tribute he paid to our graduates and staff is huge, just momentous. [It’s the ] biggest gift he could have given our staff and students,” said Cartney. “This is a gift not only to Lake Area Technical Institute, but to all CTE. This is an acknowledgement that CTE is important and that there is a strong future for what CTE has to provide.”

Cartney explained that success is not only defined by graduation or placement rates, but also how the school is preparing students for the best careers for them. A strong commitment to career guidance and providing students with the information they need to make informed decisions on their career options has resulted in graduates earning an average yearly salary that eclipses the South Dakota median income within just five years after graduation.

In addition to guidance, the school also focuses on engaging the community and employers and industry. LATI has worked hard with the business community to improve the image of CTE and technical careers. For example, one advertisement highlights what high-tech and high-skill manufacturing jobs look like today, not the old factories students and parents often envision.

What matters most, however, is the school’s culture. “The biggest thing that distinguishes our school is our culture. We genuinely care about our students, and they are engaged and make meaningful connections here,” something that has shown to be a high indicator of success in studies conducted by Gallup, among others. “Our heritage goes back to caring about our students and working with them to be successful.”

So what does CTE look like in the future at LATI? With 11 consecutive years of growth, there is an influx of new students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators and partners. Though LATI has reveled in a variety of national accolades including the President’s visit, Cartney explains the responsibility of the school to remain concentrated on their mission, “We are staying focused on our students and that remains our way forward,” said Cartney. “It’s not about being the best, but doing the best for our students.”

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Photo Credit: President Barack Obama addresses the graduates at Lake Area Technical Institute (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

 

Early, Strong Showing for CTE, Workforce Bills in State Legislatures

May 14th, 2015

With nearly half of the state legislative sessions adjourned for the year, it’s time to take a look at how CTE is faring in statehouses across the country.

Starting in January, there were early indications that CTE would have a strong presence in the 2015 legislative sessions given its prominence in many gubernatorial budgets and State of the State addresses. In fact, by the time 46 governors had declared their legislative priorities for the year, CTE had appeared in some capacity in nearly half of these speeches and budgets with some devoting significant time to CTE and workforce development.

Then it was the lawmakers’ turn to get down to businesses. In some states, CTE champions emerged from bipartisan legislative coalitions and business groups to help bolster funding and support. (Note: These are just some of the highlights of state CTE activity so far in 2015, and are by no means all encompassing.)

  • Colorado’s 10-bill “Ready to Work” package was part of a bipartisan pledge from more than two dozen lawmakers to help those being left behind in the state’s fast-growing economy connect to training and education that can lead them to better jobs. In the end, the legislature sent eight bills to Gov. John Hickenlooper for signature. The bills establish incentives for advanced industry companies to create work-based learning opportunities, authorize a P-TECH school to be created, funds mobile learning labs that create training areas on-site for colleges and companies, and increase the number of career pathways in in-demand industries such as construction and health care.
  • State funding for K-12 CTE in Montana doubled to $2 million annually, thanks to the efforts of a group of legislators and local education leaders. The original bill proposed raising state funding to $10 million to make Montana’s CTE funding in line with nearby states.

There were also some major governance changes that would alter the way CTE and workforce development programs are delivered.

  • South Dakota lawmakers also passed a bill that would dramatically change the governance of the state’s four technical institutes – such as the one President Barack Obama visited last week. The current governing system, described as a turf war, has the technical institutes controlled by K-12 districts but funded by the state and competing with the Board of Regents, which governs the university system for students and course offerings. The new law will allow the institutes to establish their own governing body. A separate joint resolution, which will require an amendment to the state’s constitution and go before the voters in July, clarifies the roles of the institutes and the Board of Regents.
  • In Arkansas, new Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a series of three bills that made sweeping changes to career education and workforce training. The bills did the following: created the Career Education and Workforce Development Board to establish and administer a comprehensive statewide workforce education program as well as the Office of Skills Development to award $15 million in grants for workforce training programs; started a $2 million program to provide workforce training planning grants at community colleges; and established the Arkansas Workforce Development Board, which will be comprised of industry representatives.

Despite some notable CTE funding boosts, 22 states are reportedly facing budget deficits, according to a recent analysis from the Associated Press and the effects of tight budgets are being felt.

  • In Arizona, new Gov. Doug Ducey signed a “historically lean” state budget that cut universities dramatically, eliminated state aid for Pima and Maricopa Community Colleges and cut $30 million from the state’s Joint Technical Education Districts, which is the primary delivery system for Arizona secondary CTE programs.
  • Florida lawmakers wrapped up their session in early May without passing a budget – a first for the state – and thus leaving school districts in limbo. Gov. Rick Scott in March called for historic levels of K-12 funding, but as lawmakers reconvene in June to tackle the budget, it remains to be seen where it will land.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Excellence in Action: Henderson County High School

May 14th, 2015

In April, we awarded our 2015 Excellence in Action Awards to nine programs of study from across the country in secondary and postsecondary education. These programs of study were selected based on their uniquely inventive and effective approaches to stimulating student learning, offering extensive work-based learning experiences, maintaining strong partnerships with industry and community organizations, and preparing students for postsecondary and career success. We will feature a monthly blog post highlighting each award winner.

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at Henderson County High School (HCHS) in cte-careercluster-banner-humanservicesHenderson, Kentucky began in 1970 and has expanded dramatically in the past 10 years to address the complex social and economic issues that individuals, families and communities currently face. By the time students graduate, they have the opportunity to earn multiple certifications and up to nine college credits, and have gained a year of internship experience in a preschool classroom, truly preparing them for their next step be it postsecondary education or the workplace.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE AND CAREERS

A key component to the ECE program of study is the delivery of state-required and nationally-recognized HCHScredentials. These credentials are vital in a child care career and are a stepping stone for students who plan to pursue the ECE pathway post-graduation. ECE offers up to five certifications and educator Emily Johnston was the first Family Consumer Science teacher in Kentucky to obtain the Early Care and Education Trainer’s Credential so that she could teach and award the certification to her students without having to hire additional staff.

Through a partnership with Henderson Community College, students receive articulated credit upon completion of the third course in the program of study, which is equivalent to the first course in the college sequence. And, students who earn a CDA credential receive nine college credits at any institution in the Kentucky Community Technical College System in the field of ECE.

As part of their third (articulated) course – Child Development Services II – students are also expected to complete 180 hours of work-based learning and a capstone project.

MEANINGFUL PARTNERSHIPS

The ECE program has built an incredible array of highly engaged partners at the local and state levels. Employers like the Little Stars Child Care, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center and Riverview School provide work-based learning opportunities in the community. From its inception, the Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center was designed to incorporate the ECE program at Henderson County High School, where students take a nine-week training course and work in the preschool classroom to gain daily, hands-on experience.

Little Colonels Daycare, located at HCHS, offers students in grades 9-11 hands-on experience one day per week. This gives students the opportunity to learn how children develop from ages 0-3 and gain workplace readiness skills to prepare them for their senior year, off-site work-based learning requirement.

IMG_0191Additionally, HCHS has a strong relationship with the University of Kentucky Quality Enhancement Initiative, which provides higher educational opportunities for students post-graduation and funding for the Commonwealth Child Care Credential (CCCC) and the CDA for students who stay in the ECE field.

Through stellar partnerships and a commitment to providing students with opportunities to participate in work-based learning experiences, 100 percent of students graduated high school, 18 percent earned an industry-recognized credential and 68 percent enrolled in postsecondary education. Additionally, lead teacher in the program, Emily Johnston, was recently named Teacher of the Year in Henderson County, Kentucky.

All awardees were honored at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Learn more about Henderson County High School’s Early Childhood Education program here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

May 8th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
@APS_Foundation
“If you’re in business in CO & not investing in education, then you’re not in business in CO.” -Kelly Brough of @DenChamber #GradNation
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
School Reform for Rural America
With one in four rural children living in poverty, and the vast majority of the 50 U.S. counties with the highest child-poverty rate being rural, it is clear that much is to be done to improve the education system in rural communities.
Read More

MEDIA OF THE WEEK
This week we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week with this video. Thankful to all of our CTE educators out there!
Watch the video

REPORT OF THE WEEK
The Economic Value of College Majors analyzes 137 college majors and their economic benefits. The report includes a list of key findings, one of which is that the top-paying college majors  like STEM and business earn $3.4 million more than the lowest-paying majors such as early childhood education and the arts, over a lifetime.
Read More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE: The Choice for All Students

May 7th, 2015

HeadshotFriends of CTE guest blogger is Dr. Vince Bertram is president and CEO of Project Lead The Way and the New York Times bestselling author of “One Nation Under-Taught: Solving America’s Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Crisis.”

In three and a half years as CEO of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), I’ve visited all 50 states and Washington, D.C., been in hundreds of schools, and talked with thousands of teachers and students. People often ask me whether PLTW is or should be considered a CTE program. My response is simple—all education should be Career and Technical Education (CTE).

I recently participated in a gathering of our nation’s education leaders focused on college and career readiness. By the conclusion of the meeting, we realized the real focus should be on career readiness. After all, students take many different pathways en route to their careers, but a successful career is the end goal. As a result, we must focus on career readiness for all students.

It makes sense, then, that CTE should be at the center of career preparation—not a separate program for some students, but an education for all students. CTE programs help students explore careers and develop valuable skills—skills that are relevant, in high demand, and lead to high-wage careers.

Staying relevant

With career and technical education, we must ensure that the programs we offer are relevant to the job market and teach applicable skills across all sectors. Career readiness is not necessarily about a specific career, but rather a skillset that leads to opportunities. Through hands-on, activity-, project-, and problem-based learning, students—as early as elementary school—will develop critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills. As students progress through grades K-12, they can explore career paths, be mentored, and develop strong technical skills.

It’s about skills

CTE programs and educators are doing some of most important work in our economy. There is a growing realization across the United States— from governors to federal policymakers, and from local educators to the business community—that CTE is essential for our students, states, and nation. It is also becoming clear that education is not just about earning four-year college degrees, many that lead to underemployment and massive student loan debt. Rather, education must be about developing skills—skills that lead to the greatest career opportunities.

Moving forward, we must impress upon decision-makers the critical nature of this work. In the last several decades, CTE has suffered from a stigma that it is “the other choice.” Today, we find ourselves with 4 million unfilled jobs, over 8 million people who are unemployed, and millions more underemployed because they lack appropriate skills. To solve this crisis, and to ensure the United States remains a strong and prosperous nation, we must rethink the way we view education. Career and Technical Education is not just for some students, it’s for all students.

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. Want to provide your perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education? Contact [email protected] 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Spring Wrap-Up Edition (Part II)

May 5th, 2015

cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150A lot has happened this season on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), new CTE-related legislation and various announcements from the Obama Administration. As summer draws closer, we wanted to take a moment and re-cap all of the exciting activity going on in Washington D.C. as we look ahead to what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part II in a two part series of springtime legislative updates. 

Implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

On April 16th, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services (DOL, ED, HHS) formally published a long overdue series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). These NPRM’s are a proposed set of rules developed by the Obama Administration that would govern the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). They were released in five parts:

  1. Unified and combined plans, performance accountability and the one-stop system (DOL/ED)
  2. DOL-administered activities (DOL only)
  3. Title II adult education and family literacy activities (ED only)
  4. Miscellaneous program changes (ED only)
  5. State vocational rehabilitation services program, state-supported employment service programs and limitations on the use of subminimum wage (ED only)

 

The National Skills Coalition recently released a helpful summary and webinar overviewing the main elements of this proposal. Moreover, DOL recently released a Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) that outlines the governance-related activities that States must complete by July 1st of this year. As a reminder, all of WIOA’s required implementation dates can be found here.

While the five NPRM’s cover the full spectrum of WIOA implementation, the most relevant proposal for the CTE community is the first NPRM listed above, jointly developed and released by both DOL and ED. This NPRM seeks to provide additional guidance to states as they choose to pursue the unified or combined planning options available under WIOA, a clearer articulation of two of WIOA’s common performance metrics— “indicators of effectively serving employers” along with “measurable skills gains”— and attempts to provide clarity regarding the sharing of infrastructures costs for WIOA’s One-Stop system of which postsecondary CTE is a required partner.

Published in the Federal Register on April 16th, the Obama Administration has opened up these NPRMs for public consumption and comment. Responses to the department are due no later than June 16, 2015 and can be submitted here by following the on-screen instructions.

NASDCTEc and its partners plan to provide formal comments on the issues outlined above in the coming weeks and will continue to monitor and engage with the federal rulemaking process as it continues throughout the rest of this year.

CTE Legislation Round-Up

In March Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, introduced the Next Generation High Schools Act (NGHS), a bill that would create a $300 million competitive high school redesign program to increase the number of students who graduate college-and-career ready by connecting schools with comprehensive, evidence-based reform models similar to those found in CTE.

Specifically, the bill would support applied learning instructional approaches and rigorous CTE curriculum to overhaul high schools in an effort to boost graduation rates and increase student achievement. NASDCTEc supported the introduction of this bill and has fully endorsed the proposal. A press release on the legislation can be found here and more information is located here. In a recent op-ed article, Senator Baldwin reiterated her intent to introduce additional CTE-related legislation further on this year.

Last week Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Go to High School, Go to College Act which seeks to increase student access to postsecondary education. The bill would incentive early college and dual / concurrent enrollment models offered at the high school level by expanding federal Pell Grant program eligibility to qualifying students to pursue these opportunities.

A companion bill sponsored by Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Chris Gibson (R-NY) has also been introduced in the House. NASDCTEc has fully supported and endorsed this legislation and applauds these lawmakers’ commitment to providing a quality postsecondary education to all students. More information on the bill can be found here and a press release from Senator Portman’s office is located here.

Updates from the Obama Administration

Last week, ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) released a fourth round of non-regulatory guidance for issues surrounding the implementation of the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins). Common questions regarding the law’s implementation and corresponding answers, along with the three previous versions of this Q&A, can be viewed on OCTAE’s newly renovated Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

OCTAE has also recently released a summary report of the responses ED, DOL, and HHS received from last year’s request for information (RFI) on quality career pathway development and implementation. NASDCTEc, along with 140 other stakeholder groups, provided comment during this solicitation. View the full report here.

In March, the Obama Administration announced the launch of their “TechHire” initiative which will provide $100 million in competitive grant funding through DOL to create partnerships between employers, eligible training institutions, and local governments.  Funded by DOL’s H1-B visa fees, the initiative seeks to invest in innovative, data-driven programs that provide participants specific occupational training. More information on available grants is expected later this year, but an overview of the effort can be found here.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and the Aspen Institute announced the launch of “Communities that Work Partnership”, a new joint effort that seeks to promote industry-led training and workforce development programs. Supported by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s (Commerce) Economic Development Administration, the announcement is part of Commerce’s ongoing “Skills for Business” initiative that is aimed at preparing workings for job opportunities in in-demand occupations and industry sectors. More information on the announcement, how to engage with this work, and relevant deadlines can be found here.

Sector partnerships are one of the new points of emphasis under WIOA. In an effort to support the creation and expansion of these partnerships, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has announced in a recent TEGL the availability of $150 million in grant funding for state agencies responsible for administering Title I programs and activities under WIOA. Funds may be used for the planning of individual sector strategies, related program services, and administration. More information is available from the National Skills Coalition’s blog.

Last week, the White House hosted its first-ever “Upskilling Summit” to bring together the employer and education communities. The event also marked the unveiling of a new report on how the Administration plans to promote a series of public-private partnerships aimed at supporting workers of all ages and background’s as they seek to secure high-skill, high-wage jobs. Read the report here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Spring Wrap-Up Edition (Part I)

May 4th, 2015

cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150A lot has happened this season on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As summer draws closer, we wanted to take a moment and re-cap all of the exciting activity going on in Washington D.C. as we look ahead to what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part I in a two part series of springtime legislative updates.  

The Federal Funding Landscape

As shared previously, President Obama formally kicked-off the FY 2016 budget and appropriations process this year with one clear message to Congress— end sequestration in order to make vital reinvestments in our nation’s domestic discretionary programs. At present, federal funding is constrained by specific limits required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These limits, also known as caps, are in place for each federal fiscal year and well into the next decade. They require Congressional appropriators to stay within those limits and if funding legislation exceeds those caps, the additional funds above each annual BCA cap are “sequestered” to bring them back down within the BCA funding ceiling for that particular year.

The President’s budget proposal requested billions of dollars above these caps, calling for new investments in many programs, including CTE. While the Administration requested flat-funding for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) basic state grant program (BSG), it has sought an additional $200 million in funding for the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF)— a proposed competitive grant program for consortia of CTE stakeholders and employers— as well as an additional $2 million to administer this new program. NASDCTEc’s response to the budget can be found here.

Since that time, Congress has been crafting budget resolutions— frameworks outlining the planned spending for the year and years to come— that would adhere to the BCA caps and essentially freeze FY 2016 funding at near current levels. In doing so, funding increases for most programs (including Perkins) become even less feasible and could further squeeze many education and workforce development programs which have already been cut dramatically since 2010.

Despite these unfavorable headwinds, well over 100 members of Congress signed two separate letters to Congressional appropriators urging them to make a strong investment in the Perkins Act’s BSG program in FY 2016. NASDCTEc has applauded the work of CTE Champions Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) in the House and the Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate for spearheading these efforts in both Chambers of Congress. The letters, similar to NASDCTEc’s own FY 2016 request, have urged Congressional appropriators to increase Perkins funding to pre-sequester levels— approximately $5 million above what the program received in FY 2014 and 2015. Make sure to thank your members of Congress for supporting CTE! Find out who signed-on here and here.

As the FY 2016 budget and appropriations cycle continues, check back here for updates and analysis for what the CTE community should expect from the federal funding environment.

Moving Past No Child Left Behind

The 114th Congress has been in full swing this spring, bringing with it warmer weather in D.C. and, surprisingly, the possibility of a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize one of the largest federal education laws in the country. While tourists have flocked to the Capitol to gaze at the Cherry Blossoms, Congress has been eyeing the possibility of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)— more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The primary source of federal funding for K-12 education throughout the country, the law has been due for renewal since 2007, but has languished in a Congressional limbo due to widespread disagreement on how to appropriately navigate the nation’s education system out of the NCLB era.

As with all federal education and workforce legislation, the first step in the ESEA reauthorization process has been for the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) and the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to develop and pass proposals to renew and reform the current law.

In the House the Student Success Act – successfully passed on a partisan basis by the full Chamber in the 113th Congress— was reintroduced in the early part of this Congress and passed the HEW Committee on a contentious, partisan basis. This legislation proposes to dramatically dissolve a majority of the current federal role in education, giving those responsibilities back to the states and their educational districts. Widely opposed by House Democrats and the Obama Administration, the Student Success Act made its way back to the House floor for the Chamber’s full consideration in the early part of this year. Despite the backing from House Republican leadership and many in their Caucus, the bill was removed from consideration after outside conservative groups began opposing the legislation for not doing more to diminish the federal role in education. Since that time, the House has not made future plans to consider the Student Success Act. You can learn more about the bill and the HEW Committee’s plans for it here.

In the Senate, the process seemed to be unfolding in much the same way. In January the new Chairman of the HELP Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), introduced a discussion draft to reauthorize ESEA and was similar in many respects to the House’s proposal. Following this, an impromptu meeting at a favorite D.C. eatery between the Chairman and the new Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), led to bipartisan negotiations on compromise legislation. The product of these months-long negotiations is the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA)— the first bipartisan proposal for ESEA reauthorization in the 114th Congress.

ECAA was successfully marked up by the HELP Committee in April and included an amendment from Senator Baldwin (D-WI) to add a requirement that student attainment of CTE proficiencies be incorporated into the law’s mandated report card system. ECAA also requires alignment between CTE standards and core academic standards which is an encouraging step as NASDCTEc works towards the further integration of the two.  The bill would also eliminate the harmful “highly qualified teacher” provision from current law— a significant priority for NASDCTEc in this reauthorization. Another encouraging aspect of ECAA was the retention of elementary and secondary education counseling programs in Title IV of the legislation. Aspects of the Career Ready Act (S. 478) and the Career Choice Act (H.R. 1079)— both supported and endorsed by NASDCTEc— found their way into this section of the proposed legislation before clearing the HELP Committee.

The path forward for ESEA remains long and full of potential roadblocks. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see this level of compromise on such a large piece of federal legislation. ECAA is widely expected to be considered by the full Senate sometime in the two weeks before or after the Memorial Day recess. However, the path forward for the Student Success Act in the House remains much more uncertain, throwing the wider reauthorization process into question. As this process continues, check back here for updates and analysis of this reauthorization process.

Part II of this legislative update will be released tomorrow morning.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE

May 1st, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@AsiaSocietyPGL Australian Education Gives All Students Skills for the Workplace http://asi.as/5cLEDS  #CTEblog-thumbnail-thiswek @CTEWorks thanks for the post!
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Baldwin: Technical Education can Boost our Workforce
Senator Tammy Baldwin makes the case why Career Technical Education (CTE) is a high priority for her work in the U.S. Senate.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Learn more about President Obama’s Upskill Initiative providing workers with the education and skills they need to be successful in the workplace through the White House report and fact sheet.

NASDCTEc RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Looking for an introduction to CTE? Visit our CTE Videos page to brush up on your CTE knowledge.
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 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Inside International CTE: Australia’s Challenges and Advice

May 1st, 2015

This interview with Dr. Phillip Rutherford, one of the world’s leading experts on VET/CTE training and education systems, explores the CTE/VET system in Australia. He has been central in the introduction of such systems in many countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and the Middle East. The interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc and is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on Ed Week.

  1. Every system has its challenges – what are yours? What are some solutions you are looking to implement?

What was once one of the best CTE/VET systems in the world is now considered to be slipping by those who work within it. In the 1990s, the purpose of CTE was to prepare people for careers or lifelong learning. The system was based singularly around the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace and the successes it achieved were measured by how well individuals and teams improved and, by extension, the economy grew.

But that has changed. Today we have a system that is very similar to that which existed in the 1980s when the notion of workplace competence was centered only on what could be taught for the a specific workplace, not what was needed of a competent worker. There is reliance on the qualification as the indicator of competence, and as a result, supervisors and managers have to work hard to identify the gaps new employees have in their skills and knowledge, and provide additional resources to bring their competence to a level acceptable to the employer.

All VET systems have this objective: To help students get a job, get a better job, get better at their job, or when all else fails, to create a job. But there is not a great deal of evidence in Australia that this is happening. There are numbers that tell us how many students have undertaken VET courses, or the total of vacancies being filled having increased or decreased, but these statistics don’t tell us how well our economy is growing as a result of the VET system.

As a result, many private training providers have become disillusioned with the way the Australian system is structured and managed. They don’t like being monitored by the federal government and having to reframe the programs they offer to meet the quality criteria of external auditors. This is especially true of those training providers whose main focus is on the skills needs of their students and their current or future employers.

From what I’ve seen, the best VET/CTE systems around the world have a very complex system that is made up of many moving parts, all working in tandem, to provide a whole system that begins with a vision for the national economy and finishes with an evaluation of whether or not this vision is being achieved. Our system has become very linear – beginning with the development of curriculum (with little or no needs analysis), progressing to the hands of training organizations that conduct the course, and finishing with students who are expected to apply their new skills and knowledge in the workplace. The implication of this is that being “qualified” is the same as being “competent.” More needs to be done in the Australian system to turn this belief into reality.

The real challenge is this: If the VET system in Australia is to survive, will it be better to start all over again, or cut it right back to the basics and begin to rebuild? There are many who are calling for the former as they don’t believe it can get better, but there are also many who, like me, know how well it can work and can see that within the current system there are many good elements that can be saved.

  1. What advice do you have for other systems attempting to reform their VET/CTE systems? What are some of the policies in Australia that could assist others in overcoming the challenges they face in VET/CTE?

Right now there are over 150 different VET systems in the world. Some are very linear and concentrate only on low-level training and others are highly complex and aimed at national and international competitiveness. Very few give as their prime focus the needs of the workplaces in which graduates of CTE/VET programs expect to be employed. As a result, after more than 25 years’ experience pursuing the promise of an integrated and workplace-centered education and training system, few countries can point to their CTE/VET system as being the prime reason for economic success. This, after all, should be the purpose of every CTE/VET system but there is little evidence of this either driving the systems found around the world or achieving what such a system should achieve.

I have either designed or been involved in the creation of VET systems adopted by several countries, and in each case I have strongly encouraged the key decision makers to focus on one thing – the purpose of the system. Once the purpose is defined, and everything put in place to ensure that both the purpose and the system continually adjust to meet evolving economic and individual needs, then what will emerge is the type of system that the country requires. It will do more than just train people; it will ensure that people are given the support (including training) to achieve objectives important to themselves, their employers, their communities and their country.

A national system has to be aligned against national interests which, by extension, should also be those of the states. In Australia we have a fair way to go before this ideal is achieved but we continue to look to the U.S., Japan, Switzerland and other countries for solutions to our shared challenges.

 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

 

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