Legislative Updates: Tax Reform in Full Swing, Senate Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing

November 16th, 2017

It’s been a busy time in Washington with tax reform in full swing and a Senate confirmation hearing for officials at both the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor. Read below to find out more about these updates and a new report from AASA, The School Superintendents Association and The Rural School and Community Trust, a recent op-ed by Rep. Foxx (R-NC) and the remarks from Secretary DeVos at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) National Conference and Expo.

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Tax Reform Bill, Senate Committee on Finance Marks up Senate Tax Reform Bill

On November 16, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” by a vote of 227-205. The Senate Committee on Finance began marking up its tax reform bill on November 13. While a final version has not been enacted, it is important to note that there are provisions in both bills (as currently written) that would have implications for CTE.

OCTAE Assistant Secretary Nominee Withdrawn

The nomination of Timothy Kelly, a Michigan state legislator, for the post of Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education was withdrawn. Education Week reported that Kelly’s blog, which he maintained from 2009 to 2012, included offensive comments about Muslims, women in STEM and Head Start. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee had scheduled Kelly’s confirmation hearing for November 15. Dr. Michael Wooten will remain the Acting Assistant Secretary until another individual is nominated for Assistant Secretary and confirmed by the Senate.

Senate Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Key Officials at U.S. Departments of Education and Labor 

On November 15, the Senate HELP Committee began the confirmation process for Brigadier General Mitchell Zais, USA (Ret.), who was nominated for Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education, James Blew, who was nominated for Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department of Education, Kate O’Scannlain, who was nominated for Solicitor at the Department of Labor and Preston Rutledge, who was nominated for Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor. You can find the hearing and written testimony from each nominee here.

In Case You Missed It

On November 15, AASA, The School Superintendents Association and The Rural School and Community Trust released Leveling the Playing Field for Rural Students, a report that highlights recommendations for Congress on how to support students living in rural communities, including leveraging CTE.

On November 7, Rep. Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, penned an op-edLyndon B. Johnson’s Vision for Higher Education No Longer Serves Students, that outlines four pillars for reforming the Higher Education Act (HEA).

On October 27, Secretary DeVos spoke at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) National Conference and Expo. Find her remarks online here.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Leveraging Federal Policy to Strengthen Rural CTE

November 16th, 2017

New Resource from Advance CTE Identifies Key Leverage Points

Today Advance CTE released a new cheat sheet to help state leaders identify and leverage federal policy to strengthen rural CTE. The brief, developed as part of Advance CTE’s CTE on the Frontier initiative, examines policy and funding intersections between the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The resource is designed as a conversation starter to help state leaders align supports and services in their states.

Rural America is home to 9.1 million K-12 students and more than half of the nation’s school districts. Many of these students do not go on to earn a postsecondary credential or degree. Only 28 percent of rural adults above the age of 25 held at least a 2-year degree in 2015, compared to 41 percent of urban adults.

CTE can help close this gap and prepare rural learners for the world of work. Already, states are adopting creative measures to ensure programs are high quality, connect rural learners with authentic work-based learning experiences, expand the breadth of options available in rural institutions and strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline. Many of these efforts are supported with state and local funds, but states are also leveraging Perkins reserve funds as well. 

The reserve fund is one of many leverage points in federal legislation that states can use to strengthen CTE in rural areas. Under the Perkins Act, states can set aside up to 10 percent of local funds to provide formula or competitive grants to recipients with either rural populations, high numbers of Career Technical Education (CTE) students or high percentages of CTE students. In Montana, state leaders have used the reserve fund to strengthen Big Sky Pathways in rural schools and focus dollars and supports on state priorities such as expanding dual credit opportunities.

According to a recent survey from Advance CTE, 38 state CTE directors reported using the reserve fund option in 2017, and 27 of those said that supporting rural students is one of the focus areas for their reserve funds this year. States can change their reserve fund priorities from year to year, but the fact that more than half are using the fund to augment rural CTE efforts is a testament to the need in rural communities.

Another example of how federal education programs can be leveraged to support rural communities is the Rural Education Achievement Program under ESSA, which provides supplemental funds to rural schools and districts that can be used to support other local activities. With ESSA’s renewed focus on career readiness and well-rounded education, schools and districts can use these funds to design and expand CTE programs of study, provide professional development for CTE and academic teachers, expand dual credit opportunities, and more. By braiding funds, aligning policy priorities, coordinating service delivery and working to remove barriers across programs, state leaders can better meet the needs of rural learners.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Legislative Updates: Implications of House Tax Reform Bill for CTE

November 13th, 2017

This week’s news includes a status update on the tax reform bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and its implications for Career Technical Education (CTE) and an upcoming webinar. Read below to find out more about these updates.

Upcoming Webinar: “Connecting Secondary Students to Apprenticeship Programs” 

On November 20, from 2-3 pm ET, there will be a webinar on “Connecting Secondary Students to Apprenticeship Programs.” The description for the webinar notes that, “During this second webinar in a two-part series, OCTAE welcomes the release of technical assistance resources to assist state and local leaders in initiating or expanding the alignment between existing CTE and apprenticeship programs based on project findings. Presenters from Vivayic, RTI International, and the Tech Ready Apprentices for Career in Kentucky (TRACK) program will introduce the resources and discuss potential application for CTE and apprenticeship stakeholders.” You can register for the webinar here.

House Tax Reform Bill Has Implications for CTE Educators, Students and Funding

On November 2, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Committee on Ways and Means began to mark up the bill on November 6 and it passed out of committee on a party line vote on November 9. If enacted, the bill would have implications for CTE educators, students and funding, as it proposes:
  • Eliminating Deductions for Teacher Expenses;
  • Eliminating Student Loan Interest Tax Deduction;
  • Eliminating Tax Benefits for Employer Education Assistance Programs;
  • Eliminating the Lifetime Learning Credit;
  • Expanding 529 College Savings Accounts to Cover Apprenticeship Expenses; and
  • Eliminating State and Local Tax Deductions that Help Fund Public Schools
To learn more about each of these provisions and how the bill would impact federal revenue and education funding, check out this blog post from our partners at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).
Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

This Week in CTE

November 9th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK 

ADVANCE CTE RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, it’s important to keep in mind how the federal investment the law authorizes is currently being used by states. Check out our latest fact sheet that summarizes key findings from an Advance CTE survey of State CTE Directors regarding the implementation of the law.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

To enrich our students’ high school experiences and secure a path to career and postsecondary success, communities across the country are strengthening the pipeline between CTE and apprenticeship. This U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) project explored programs that connect CTE students and apprenticeship programs.

On November 20, 2017 at 2-3 pm ET, OCTAE welcomes the release of technical assistance resources to assist state and local leaders in initiating or expanding the alignment between existing CTE and apprenticeship programs based on project findings. Presenters from Vivayic, RTI International, and the Tech Ready Apprentices for Career in Kentucky (TRACK) program will introduce the resources and discuss potential application for CTE and apprenticeship stakeholders. Register here.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

With support from OCTAE, RTI International invites community partnerships to submit a letter of interest to join a free technical assistance initiative focused on improving the outcomes of justice-involved young adults (ages 16–24) by connecting them with CTE, workforce development, and special education services. Learn more about how to get involved here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Analysis of Labor Market Information is Incomplete without Effective Dissemination of Results

November 9th, 2017

Many states, school districts and postsecondary institutions use labor market information (LMI) to justify the creation of new Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and to inform program design. This information, which includes data on the current and projected number of openings in specific industry sectors, as well as data on salary and any technological or policy advancements that may affect the Career Clusters®, can also be used at the state, regional, local and even student levels for career awareness and exploration in priority sectors.

However, the dissemination of LMI has often been carried out in an ad hoc and not a strategic way, hurting the effectiveness of the data itself. Today, Advance CTE released a guide about the effective dissemination of LMI, which will help states think through this process more strategically. The guide highlights work done in Nevada, Kentucky and Washington and their dissemination of LMI to employers, districts and learners, respectively, and poses guiding questions for states to consider for each of those audiences.

This guide was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In Nevada, the state leveraged newly restructured Industry Sector Councils to create the 2017 In-Demand Occupations and Insights Report, which lists industries’ job growth and salary information for identified priority sectors along with a crosswalk for employers and CTE practitioners that identifies which occupation titles fall into which career pathways. This allows industry partners and CTE practitioners to communicate about LMI with a common language.

Kentucky similarly worked with industry partners to create a common language and used various data visualizations to share that information with school districts. When sharing LMI with district superintendents and CTE coordinators, the state was deliberate in how it presented the information so the LMI would have the most impact on policy with the least amount of confusion or varying interpretations.

Washington takes the state’s LMI straight to individual learners with Career Bridge, an online portal that allows students to explore career pathways and how they tie directly with job projections within the state. Additionally, the portal lists educational providers for specific career pathways and details student outcomes and other relevant data so that students have as much information as possible about their desired pathway.

All three of these state approaches disseminate LMI in various ways, but each is deliberate and thoughtful in both audience and messaging so that LMI can have the greatest positive effect for CTE programs. Read more about these strategies and examine your state’s approach by accessing the guide here.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

CTE & College-Going: One Advocate’s Read on the New Research

November 7th, 2017

Last week, a new research study made its way through the edu-sphere, exciting a lot of CTE advocates. The AERA study – Linking the Timing of Career and Technical Education Coursetaking with High School Dropout and College-Going Behavior – validated some long-held truths about CTE, most notably that it boosts high school graduation rate.

In brief, the study found that taking a greater number of CTE courses was associated with a lower chance of dropping out, estimated at a decreased probability of dropout of 1.2% per CTE course completed across high school.  The probability of not dropping out – or probability of graduating – increases to 1.6% for every CTE course taken during 11th grade or 12th grade.

This jives well with existing data showing higher graduation rates for CTE concentrators – and survey data that shows CTE students are simply more satisfied with their educational experience than students not involved in CTE.

However, some of the coverage of this new study left me scratching my head. For example, Education Week’s blog was titled “Career and Tech Ed. Courses Don’t Boost Chances of College-Going, Study Finds focusing on the research finding that CTE completion is generally not linked to college going, except for a small positive (but statistically significant) link between 11th grade CTE coursetaking and both probability of enrollment within two years (0.8%) and probability of ever enrolling in postsecondary education (0.8%).

To quote the researchers: “These results imply that CTE may not be strongly associated with later college-going behaviors, but it also does not appear to have any negative influence on a student’s decision to pursue further education beyond high school.”

Now, for a CTE advocate, this is actually a game changer!

Consider the change in postsecondary enrollment over the last 25 years:

So, to summarize the chart above, the direct postsecondary enrollment rate for CTE concentrators increased by 28 percentage points between 1992 and 2004, while the postsecondary enrollment rates stayed stagnant for non-CTE students, which is a pretty huge jump. Now, we have new data showing that students engaging in CTE are just as likely to go on to college as those not taking CTE coursework! (As an FYI, the data shared above is from the same dataset used by AERA, NCES’ Education Longitudinal Study).

For years, CTE leaders have been talking the talk on the value of CTE, and developing policies, programs and frameworks to ensure our programs also walk the walk. The bottom line is that the quality of CTE programs and policies are on the rise and the data is showing a very positive upwards trajectory.

Some of the light criticism following this report is that we “still have work to do” to ensure CTE is a successful college preparation program. But, honestly, CTE hasn’t been designed with college preparation as its core purpose. Rather, it’s designed to support career readiness, with college readiness as a byproduct – and is now doing a pretty impressive job of offering equally rigorous pathways to high school students.

Look, I’m not sugarcoating the fact that we still have a long way to go to ensuring every CTE program is of the highest quality and provides meaningful post-high school pathways for every learner. And, I join the researchers in calling for more research on the impact of CTE, particularly around how CTE coursetaking impacts the drop out and completion rate for 9th grade students, who are often a higher drop out risk, something that has not received adequate focus. We also know college enrollment is not a particularly strong indicator of success, when compared to college retention and completion. But this study validates the impressive and difficult work undertaken by states and local leaders to up the rigor and quality of CTE programs and should be celebrated as such.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

New Fact Sheet Highlights How States Use Perkins Basic State Grants

November 6th, 2017

Earlier this year, Advance CTE conducted a survey of State CTE Directors asking how states were implementing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) and using their Perkins Basic State Grants. It is important to note that Perkins requires that at least 85 percent of each state’s Perkins grant go to local eligible recipients (e.g., school districts, area technical centers, institutions of higher education, etc.). The focus of the new fact sheet, “How States Use Perkins – The Basics” details how states are using the remaining 15 percent and other flexible portions of their grants. The findings include:

  • 50 states report using a portion of their state leadership funds on supporting or improving new CTE courses or initiatives and the improvement of career guidance and academic advisement;
  • 38 states report dedicating a portion of the local allocation to the creation of a reserve fund, which can be used for specialized projects benefiting rural areas, areas with a high number of CTE students and/or areas with a high percentage of CTE students; and
  • 12 states report that they require local secondary recipients to distribute 100 percent of their Perkins funds to programs of study

To learn more about the top uses of state leadership funds, how states are distributing their reserve funds and more, check out the fact sheet here.  

Applications for the Excellence in Action award close November 15

November 3rd, 2017

Applications to the 2018 Excellence in Action award close November 15! Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action award recognizes and honors superior Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study from across the nation. Selected programs of study will exemplify excellence in the implementation of the Career Clusters, show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success.

Apply today to honor the hard work of your instructors, administrators, and your students. Your program will be featured in the media and an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. in the spring, in an ongoing blog series and to critical CTE stakeholders. By lifting up your exemplary program, you’ll be contributing to a positive image of CTE programs, and letting policy makers, employers and education leaders know that CTE really is for all students, and prepares them for a lifetime of college and career success. One program of study will be honored per Career Cluster.

Learn more about the application process and hear from two award winners here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

U.S. Department of Education Will Withdraw Outdated Guidance, New WorkforceGPS Webinar Announced

November 2nd, 2017

This week’s news includes announcements from the U.S. Department of Education on the guidance it will withdraw and Workforce GPS on an upcoming webinar, as well as updates on legislation related to postsecondary data and work-based learning. Read below to find out more about these new announcements and legislation.

U.S. Department of Education Will Withdraw Outdated Guidance 

On October 27, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it will withdraw over 600 pieces of subregulatory guidance that is out-of-date (including nine pieces from the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education that are no longer relevant). The press release notes that “each item has been either superseded by current law or is no longer in effect.” The announcement comes as ED’s Regulatory Reform Task Force continues its work to determine which regulations should be replaced, rescinded or modified.

WorkforceGPS Announces New Webinar, “MOU Negotiations: The Partner Perspective – A Virtual Roundtable”

On Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET, Workforce GPS will be hosting a virtual roundtable on “the requirements of the one-stop delivery system’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) negotiations as called for under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)”. The webinar’s description notes that “grantee representatives from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services will highlight not only the obstacles they have faced during their local negotiations, but also some best practices they have picked up along the way.” You can register for the webinar online here.

Members of Congress Push for College Transparency Act  

On November 1, Members of Congress pushed for continued support for the College Transparency Act on the House floor. Advance CTE is proud to support this legislation – it would create a federal postsecondary student-level data network to yield better and more complete information about student outcomes in our higher education system. Better data will help students, college leaders and policymakers make more informed decisions about higher education. Read more about a student-level data network in a new policy brief by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP).

PARTNERS Act Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives 

On October 25, Representatives  Bonamici (D-OR) and Ferguson (R-GA) introduced H.R. 4115, the “Promoting Apprenticeships through Regional Training Networks for Employers’ Required Skills Act of 2017” (or PARTNERS Act). According to the bill summary, the bill would “establish a grant program to support the creation and expansion of industry and sector partnerships to help small and medium sized businesses develop work-based learning programs and provide mentoring and support services for workers.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE

November 1st, 2017

On Friday, October 20th, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) hosted the “Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE: Promise, Practice, & Opportunities for Policy Capitol Hill forum,” moderated by Jennifer Brown Lerner of AYPF. Presentations, followed by a panel discussion, were given by Mary Visher, Senior Associate, MDRC; Stanley S. Litow, President Emeritus, IBM International Foundation and Vice President Emeritus, IBM Corporate Citizenship; Cate Swinburn, President, YouthForce NOLA and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor, Workforce & Digital Futures, California Community Colleges System. 

The forum showcased trends and new movements in CTE, and some highlights included:

  • MDRC’s emphasis that CTE must include both college and career pathways. Visher also spoke about the important relationship between employer needs and student needs, and expressed that programs must address both.
  • IBM’s P-TECH program, “a new grade 9-14 public school model focused on STEM fields and Career and Technical Education,” reported increased academic achievement in its partner schools. This model is also attempting to reduce the stigma around CTE through new terminology. For example, “soft skills” are labeled as “essential skills” and the phrase “new collar” is used to refer to the evolving job market. 
  • YouthForce NOLA broke down career readiness into three parts: job-specific skills; soft skills and work experience. Skilled crafts, health sciences and creative/tech were named as three of the most relevant career sectors today.
  • The California Community College System is emphasizing the value of a postsecondary experience in the current workforce. The state has a shortage of skilled employees with an associate’s degree, certificates or industry-valued credentials. Ton-Quinlivan also spoke about the need for colleges to work together regionally to meet the skills demand, instead of competing with one another.

Support for reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) was firm and widespread. Multiple groups acknowledged the need for current Perkins funds to be used to address the workforce demands through experiential learning and collaboration (between secondary and postsecondary, as well as regionally).

Meredith Hills, Graduate Fellow for Federal Policy

 

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