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Legislative Update: House Education & the Workforce Committee Holds CTE Field Hearing

March 21st, 2014

Capitol

On Tuesday the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a field hearing titled “Reviving Our Economy: How Career and Technical Education Can Strengthen the Workforce” which was the first of two similarly themed hearings convened this week in locations outside of Washington, D.C. The purpose of this hearing was to highlight the significant positive impact education— specifically Career Technical Education (CTE)— and workforce training programs have on state and local economies. The hearing took place in Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada, a portion of the state represented by Congressman Joseph Heck (R-NV) who was among one of four Committee members who made the trip to the Silver State.

Chairman Kline (R-MN), Rep. Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX) alongside their colleague Rep. Heck conducted the field hearing where five witnesses provided testimony centering on the positive effects CTE programs have on their state and in particular Clark County, Nevada. For instance, nearly four out of ten students in Nevada— approximately 50,000 total— enroll in at least one CTE course. Witnesses also pointed out that the graduation rate for those students who choose to concentrate in CTE is a full 17.1 percent higher than their peers in the state. The economic gain reaped by Nevada through increased graduation rates and the reduced number of high school drop-outs demonstrates a compelling return on investment which many members of the Committee took special interest in.

Perhaps the most dominant theme throughout the hearing focused on the importance of the federal investment, principally through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), to Nevada and other states’ ability to equitably deliver high-quality CTE programs to their students. Perkins, like other critical federal investments in education and the nation’s workforce, has not been exempt from various funding cuts over the past several years. Witnesses described how this has negatively impacted CTE’s ability to effectively prepare students for further education and the workforce.

Congressman Heck noted in particular that over the past few years states like Nevada, which have experienced tremendous population growth over the past decade, have received proportionally larger reductions to their Perkins state allocations due to certain provisions contained in the law. To remedy this he touted a proposed amendment he and Rep. Grijalva introduced last August which would ensure states receive at least 90 percent of the funding amount allocated the previous year.

Another theme that resonated throughout the hearing was CTE partnerships with the business community. Chairman Kline questioned how much time school administrators devote to developing relationships with area employers and whether more could be done to support these types of partnerships. Additionally he inquired about a school’s ability to adapt its CTE curriculum to meet the changing needs of businesses and industry.

At the hearing’s conclusion Congressman Heck summed up the discussion nicely saying “I think one of the resounding themes we heard today is partnerships. It’s partnerships amongst the secondary and postsecondary institutions, as well as private partners and employers. These things are all critical. I think we see that there is a very high return on investment for Career Technical Education . . . as well as the follow-on effects for economic development”

An archived webcast of the hearing including Committee statements and witness testimony can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Reminder: Webinar This Friday on CTE Teacher Effectiveness

March 3rd, 2014

This Friday, March 7 from 2-3:30 ET, The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) will be co-hosting a webinar with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, the Central Comprehensive Center, the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, and the South Central Comprehensive Center on Supporting 21st Century Educators: How States Are Promoting Career and Technical Educator Effectiveness.

The webinar will explore:

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Jennifer Wehrenberg, Leadership and Professional Development Specialist, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education
  • Dennis Harden, Coordinator, Career Education, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Janice Rehak, Coordinator, Career Education Curriculum, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Tyler Barnett, Coordinator, Office of Educator Quality Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Marie Barry, Director, Office of Career and Technical Education, New Jersey Department of Education
  • Sean McDonald, Manager, Office of Career and Technical Education, New Jersey Department of Education
  • With an introduction by Sharon Miller, Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

Register now!

CTE Month Special: Celebrating CTE Superheroes

February 28th, 2014

In our final CTE Month special feature: Celebrating CTE Superheroes, we are proud to feature National Technical Honor Society’s (NTHS) profile of Sharon May, a one-time high school dropout who sought out CTE at Heart of Georgia Technical College as a way to get meaningful experience and improve her chances of getting a good job.

Initially unsure if she had made the right decision, Sharon reports that her hands-on education and membership in NTHS motivated her to engage inside and outside of the classroom, and “pulled her out of her shell.”

Through CTE and her NTHS experience, Sharon recounts career advancement, volunteerism, community engagement and increased quality of life. Read the whole story (including a brief excerpt from our very own Kim Green!) here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review, Community College Edition

February 24th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) released “Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges,” quantifying the value of community colleges in terms of economic impact (i.e., to the national economy) and return on investment (i.e., to individuals and society).

Specifically, AACC found that, in 2012 alone, former American community college students generated $806.4 billion in added income, based on increased productivity and wages. Foreign community college graduates added another $1.5 billion in new income. AACC also found a 4.8 benefit-cost ratio for students based on the return to their investment into the community colleges (or $4.8 dollars in higher future wages for every dollar invested in their education). In total, AACC estimates $371.8 billion as the net present value of community colleges in terms of increased wages for individuals, after accounting for the money invested in the education.

At the societal level, AACC finds a benefit-cost ratio of 25.9 and a net present value at nearly $1.2 trillion, based on added income and social savings (i.e., lower health care costs, reduced crime rates, etc.) which are associated with more education and employment.

In addition to the report, AACC has created four fact sheets breaking down the data.

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) released a two-page policy brief on “Performance Funding: Impacts, Obstacles, and Other Intended Outcomes.” To date, 32 states have implemented some form of performance funding, with mixed results. The brief delineates performance funding 1.0 (where institutions receive a bonus over and above regular state funding) and performance funding 2.0 (where performance is built into the state allocations for institutions), and provides an overview of research-based lessons learned about performance 1.0. The CCRC is currently exploring the 2.0 model, as discussed in this working paper, “The Political Origins of Performance Funding 2.0 in Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee: Theoretical Perspectives and Comparisons with Performance Funding 1.0,” also released this month.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

CTE Month Special: OCTAE Hosts National CTSO Leaders

February 20th, 2014

Reflect, transform, lead. Those words and the ethic that they represent permeate every level of the CTE community, and sum up concisely what drove many students, educators and administrators to participate in CTE to begin with.

On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, the Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) held its briefing “Reflect, Transform, Lead: Preparing Students for College, Careers and Citizenship.”

Led off by Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier, the program centered on the importance of Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) and their work to promote student engagement across the country. The briefing took place just a day after a group of student CTSO leaders sat down with Secretary Duncan to discuss how their organizations and the Department of Education could collaborate to achieve specific department goals, expand CTE access and opportunities, and enhance student achievement nationwide.

Four CTSO student leaders—National President of Future Business Leaders of America Cole Simmons, National President of Family Career and Community Leaders of America Brian Will, National Treasurer of SkillsUSA Daria Ferdine and DECA National President Carter Christensen—delivered presentations during the program and took questions on CTE, CTSOs and student leadership. In their speeches, each described their organization’s positive impact, highlighting their ability to take education beyond the classroom and allow students to develop hands-on experience and career-ready skills.

Facilitated by OCTAE Branch Chief Robin Utz, the program also included presentations from OCTAE Policy Analyst Alicia Bolton, the Office of Early Learning’s Group Leader Tammy Proctor, Senior STEM Education Advisor Camsie McAdams and Promise Neighborhoods and Full Service Community Schools Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Elson Nash. Event video and accompanying powerpoint are available at EDStream and are highly recommended as we continue to commemorate CTE Month!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Month Special: Celebrating CTE Superheroes

February 14th, 2014

In our second series in conjunction with National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), the spotlight shines on CTE Superhero Adam Jenkins, an IT specialist whose story embodies the possibilities open to a student with dedication and a hands-on education.

A former student of Computer Communications Networking and Technology at The Technology Center in Fremont, Ohio, Adam was recognized by NTHS for his outstanding work as a secondary school CTE student.

Speaking to Wendy Hamil of NTHS during a piece for their American Careers Journal, he described the importance of his CTE experience and NTHS recognition in his ensuing success, including finding a good job just two semesters into his time at the University of Cincinnati.

You can read Adam’s full story as it appears in NTHS’s American Careers Journal here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Month Special: Celebrating CTE Superheroes

February 7th, 2014

CTE Month Special 1In celebration of CTE Month, NASDCTEc is proud to partner with the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) to feature stories of student CTE Superheroes all month.

CTE opens doors in every sector of the economy. For many, a CTE education can help turn a passion into a job. For others, it can inspire or inform a call to service, and provide them with the practical skills they need to make their goals into realities.

Both are the case for Lloyd Yeager, who took a firefighting class while attending Indiana Elkhart Career Center that ignited his sense of service. Before he even finished his education, Lloyd had taken and EMT class and was on track with the skills he needed to turn his passion into his career.

Read Lloyd’s full story as he told it to NTHS here, and stay tuned for more stories of student CTE Superheroes.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

President Visits Career Academy in Nashville, Talks CTE, Opportunity Agenda

February 4th, 2014

DSC_5768Following the State of the Union Address, President Obama spent two days last week touring the country to promote his “Opportunity Agenda,” a program designed to prepare the American workforce for the evolving needs of our economy.  On Thursday, McGavock High School, the largest of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, played host to the President.

“It was an incredible event that validated the work of so many people here in the city of Nashville,” said Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele.

Seizing on the President’s assertion that Career Technical Education (CTE) “makes words on a page exciting, real, and tangible” for students, Steele emphasized that the district’s academies are designed to enhance and augment, not supplant, general education. “While CTE is the anchor of the program, core gen ed. courses come alive and become more relevant.”

Dr. Danielle Mezera, Assistant Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education CTE, described MNPS as an “excellent example” of CTE blending with core academic classes to enrich students’ experience.

“Since we came in a couple of years ago, we have really wanted to supply truth in advertising [for state CTE programs,]” Mezera said. “One of our main goals has been to provide the support and flexibility to allow districts to focus on aligning secondary and postsecondary studies with their practical application and with career opportunities. Programs like teacher externships and business partnerships have been key. [MNPS] has done an excellent job taking advantage of them.”

Even before the Obama Administration announced the visit, MNPS was on the President’s radar. Early in January, the President cited MNPS for overhauling its structure and boosting graduation rates 22 percent.

Yet, MNPS’s place as an exemplar didn’t happen overnight. Rather it took years of sustained effort.

Several years ago, MNPS audited its CTE programs and discovered that they were not as effective as they could be.  MNPS teamed up with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce to comb through workforce data to identify the area’s most in-demand jobs in Nashville. Then, working with the Ford Next Generation Learning Project, Alignment Nashville, the PENCIL Foundation, and local stakeholders, MNPS decided to shift to the career academy model.

The new format promised students the chance to select particular academies of interest (the CMT Academy of Digital Design & Communication or the US Community Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance at McGavock, for instance) in 10th grade. Pairing core academic classes with CTE, students combine what they learn in science, math and language arts with courses teaching career-specific skills.

Speaking about the process, Executive Director of Ford Next Generation Learning Cheryl Carrier said, “You have to have all of the key stakeholders at the table. School districts, business partners, and government have to be at the table together and work towards a common aligned vision. MNPS and the Nashville community were able to create a five-year plan that looked at all aspects of the academy’s development, and it took off.”

That development led to an innovative CTE program that incorporates all 16 Career Clusters. Seven years into the project, MNPS now also serves as a model for the Ford PAS program, with hundreds of visitors coming each year to observe the academies and devise ways to implement similar models in their districts.

“As the President said, it’s a simple but powerful idea,” Steele said. “It doesn’t require that you change as much as some might think, but it requires you to change the way you think about education.”

In his remarks during the visit, the President emphasized changing the conversation surrounding education with a similar shift in perspective. “Young people are going to do better when they’re excited about learning, and they’re going to be more excited if they see a connection between what they’re doing in the classroom and how it is applied…Schools like this one teach you everything you need to know in college, but, because of that hands-on experience, schools like this one are able to create pathways so that folks, if they choose not to go to a four-year institution, can get a job sooner.”

The President’s citation of MNPS and Tennessee’s successful pathways was particularly gratifying for Patrice Watson, Program Manager for Tennessee’s Office of Postsecondary Coordination and Alignment. “Being there and having [the President] talk about giving students different pathways, getting the community involved in the schools, and making [reform] a community effort made it clear that he understands what we’re trying to do here in Tennessee,” she said.

CTE Student Success Career Clusters Consultant Bethany Wilkes agreed that the President’s remarks are an encouraging sign for CTE. “It was incredibly gratifying,” she said. “[The President] focused on how we can develop critical thinking skills and engage the students—that’s what we do every day.”

The President’s visit to McGavock High came on the same day that the Administration released a fact sheet going more in-depth on its Opportunity for All Agenda. That document, available here, endorses improving alignment between apprenticeships, training programs, and schools, as well as consultation with industry leaders, educators and policymakers to create job-driven training and education. In endorsing McGavock’s CTE-based programs, the President opened the door to making CTE a key component of those efforts.

- Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Spending Bills Continue to Take Shape, OVAE Continues PIAAC Engagement Process

January 10th, 2014

CapitolAs we shared in our last update, Congressional budget negotiators successfully came to a two year agreement on federal spending levels in late December. The agreement, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA), sets overall discretionary spending levels at $1.012 trillion and reduces sequester cuts by approximately one-third— $63 billion in sequester relief split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending over the next two years. Education programs— such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) — fall under the NDD section of the budget and are set to receive an additional $24 billion in funding for fiscal year 2014.

However, this agreement was only the first step in the larger federal budget and appropriations process. Congressional appropriators must now craft the 12 individual appropriations bills— one for each of the appropriations subcommittees in both the House and Senate—  to fund the various departments, agencies, and programs which account for the entire discretionary side of the federal budget. These 12 spending bills will then be put into a larger omnibus bill, which will then need to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. It is important to note that the most current Continuing Resolution (CR), which at present is funding the federal government, expires on January 15th. With this deadline fast approaching, House Republican leaders have announced a short-term three day extension of this CR to provide adequate time for passage of the larger omnibus spending bill next week.

Of these twelve spending bills, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, from which the Perkins Act draws its funding, is still being negotiated. Appropriators are still deciding how to best to distribute their portion of the $24 billion in discretionary sequester relief among the many programs under their jurisdiction and a final agreement is expected soon. NASDCTEc and ACTE recently sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the appropriations subcommittees, urging them to restore funding for the Perkins Act to pre-sequestration levels. As this process continues, please check back here for updates and analysis on how the Perkins Act and the CTE community will be impacted by this process.

OVAE Continues PIAAC Engagement Process

Last November, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released results from its Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) which found that one in six American adults lack basic skills in literacy and numeracy. In a report titled “Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says,” the OECD found that the U.S. lags behind the international average for basic skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.

To combat these troubling findings, the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) launched an engagement process to better understand these challenges and to help develop a national strategy to reverse these trends. On Wednesday Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, hosted the third of a planned total of five regional engagement sessions, the latest taking place in Redwood City, California. Dann-Messier and her office hope to gather feedback from communities across the country to develop a response to the OECD report and have planned two additional visits to Cleveland, MS and Boston, MA in the coming months.

Additional information regarding OVAE’s engagement process can be found here.

State CTE Policy Update

January 9th, 2014

State Map

Last month, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a bill into law mandating three years of both mathematics and science for graduation (up from two years of each).  The bill also allows for more flexibility in how mathematics and science requirements can be met; a computer science course, for example, can count as a mathematics credit and certain CTE courses may apply towards either content area as well. Wisconsin already has a process in place for awarding academic credit for technical courses (the CTE equivalency credit), which is now being expanded.

Also in December, Washington DC became the ninth “state” to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), joining Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

A state legislator in Indiana recently announced new work on a bill that would offer a new diploma focused on CTE. While details are limited at this time, the bill would create a process for CTE-focused courses and curricula to be developed that would allow students to meet the 20 credits currently required by the state’s default graduation requirement – the Core 40 – more flexibly.

The Computing Education Blog analyzed the 2013 data on the AP Computer Science exam and found that in three states – Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming – no female students took that AP exam, and the state with the highest percentage of female test-takers (Tennessee), females still only represented 29% of all test takers. Additionally no Black students took the exam in 11 states - Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Given the high demand in the IT field – from computer support specialists and programmers to designers and engineers – these trends are particularly troubling, although a nunber of states, such as Wisconsin (as described above) and Washington, are trying to upend this trend by allowing AP Computer Science courses to count towards core math and science requirements.

And, finally, in news that will impact a number of states, ACT has announced they will be phasing out the Explore and PLAN tests, their 8th and 10th grade tests, which are aligned with the 11th grade ACT. This decision marks a shift for ACT away from their current assessment system to Aspire, their new line of 3-8 assessments, which will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  Alabama has already begun using the Aspire system this school year, the first and only state to fully commit to the assessment system at this time.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

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