Legislative Update: Appropriations Process Continues, House and Senate Pass FUTURE Act

December 12th, 2019

This week, appropriators continued to work on the Fiscal Year 2020 funding agreement. Read below to learn more about next steps, a bill to fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and simplify the FAFSA, a hearing on borrower defense regulations and resources on employer engagement.  

Appropriators Make Progress on Government Funding Deal 

This afternoon, congressional appropriation leaders came to a “deal in principle” to fund the federal government through the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20). The announcement was made by House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX), along with Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It is possible that a vote on this agreement will take place in the House early next week. Earlier this month appropriators announced that they reached an agreement on each of the total allocations for the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government (referred to as 302(b) levels). These 12 funding levels have not been shared with the public yet. 

Currently, federal funding is operating through a short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution (CR), that is set to expire on December 20, 2019. This is the second CR of FY20

House and Senate Pass Bill on HBCU Funding and FAFSA Simplification

Earlier this week, the House and Senate both passed an amended version of the FUTURE Act (H.R.2486/S.1279) which would permanently fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The bill was amended to include language from the FAFSA Simplification Act that would simplify the number of questions learners and families need to submit to receive federal student aid. Previously, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) had included both FAFSA simplification and FUTURE Act language as part of a broader “mini” Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization entitled The Student Aid Improvement Act (S.2257). Concerns from HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) that the The Student Aid Improvement Act was not a sufficiently comprehensive HEA reform meant that this funding was in jeopardy. However, in the past week introduction and passage of the FUTURE Act received bipartisan support that allowed the bill to move forward. The legislation now heads to the President to be signed into law.

Secretary DeVos Testifies at Hearing on Borrower Defense Regulations

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified to the House Committee on Education & Labor regarding the handling of the nearly 300,000 borrower defense claims submitted by students who were defrauded by some for-profit institutions that have closed, such as Corinthian College. Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) began by sharing his concern and frustration that current regulations were not being followed “in good faith.” This hearing follows a ruling from a federal judge in October that found Secretary Devos was in contempt of court for continuing to collect on debts that were previously ordered by the court to be halted. 

U.S. Department of Labor Shares Resources on Employer Engagement

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration shared a page on the WorkforceGPS website with resources to support employer engagement. Some of the topics include apprenticeships, the business perspective and strategies for engagement. Check out Advance CTE’s Cheat Sheet: Opportunities for Employer Involvement in CTE to learn about ways that employers can get involved with CTE programs.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

The State of CTE and Workforce Development Services for Incarcerated Youth

December 4th, 2019

Only eight states currently offer all juvenile justice involved youth in secure facilities the opportunity to take onsite or online Career Technical Education (CTE) courses, develop soft employability skills, engage in work-based learning and earn an industry-recognized credential. This finding comes from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center’s On Track: How Well Are States Preparing Youth in the Juvenile Justice System for Employment report, which examines the state of CTE and workforce development services for incarcerated youth in all 50 states.

The report found that most incarcerated youth are not provided the workforce development services necessary to obtain viable employment in the community after release. Notably, only 26 states provide on-site or online CTE programs to incarcerated youth. This access challenge is compounded by the quality of these programs. High-quality CTE programs align with high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations. However, the CSG’s report found that few states offer CTE courses to all youth in key areas of labor market growth. 

Other key findings from the report include that most state juvenile justice facilities lack the partnerships needed to help incarcerated youth overcome barriers to obtaining viable employment and most states do not track key employment outcomes for incarcerated youth while they are in facilities and after their release. To help state and local leaders address these challenges and the barriers that hinder juvenile justice involved youth from obtaining viable employment, the report includes a checklist of best practices. 

Some of these best practices include ensuring that CTE course offerings and other workforce development services are focused on areas of local job growth and are informed by feedback from employers; workforce development data is disaggregated by youth demographics, facility and program/provider to identify trends and disparities; and CTE courses and trainings in juvenile justice facilities lead to industry-recognized credentials. 

State leaders have a responsibility to identify and dismantle historical barriers and construct systems that support each learner, including juvenile justice involved youth, in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully completing a high-quality CTE program of study. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) provides state leaders with a critical opportunity to improve their juvenile justice system. Specifically, Perkins V increases the allowable state set-aside funding from one percent to two percent to serve individuals in State Institutions and specifically adds juvenile justice facilities to the types of institutions where these funds can be used. State leaders can leverage these funds to improve CTE programs in juvenile justice facilities. 

To learn more about the CSG report and how state leaders can leverage Perkins V to improve CTE programs in juvenile justice facilities, click here to access the Leveraging Perkins V to Improve CTE Programs in the Juvenile Justice System webinar recording and slides. 

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Congressional CTE Caucus Holds Briefing on Increasing Access and Equity

November 25th, 2019

On Wednesday, November 20, the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus held a briefing on Increasing Access and Equity in Career & Technical Education. During the briefing, panelists discussed challenges to increasing access and equity in CTE, ongoing efforts to address gaps and how the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) can help to close equity gaps. 

Co-Chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA), joined the session and gave remarks to the group. Congressman Thompson voiced his support for high quality CTE programs, and expressed the urgent need to improve access and equity to and within these programs. He shared that “the power of work must be accessible to everyone, and CTE offers significant opportunities.”

The full panel represented the state, local and employer perspectives, and included: 

  • David Abromowitz, Chief Public Policy Officer, YouthBuild USA
  • John LeTourneau, Director of Manufacturing, Anoka area chamber of Commerce
  • Brianna McCain, Policy Associate, Advance CTE (Moderator)
  • Nina Salomon, Deputy Program Director, Corrections & Reentry, Council of State Governments
  • Spencer Sherman, Director, Office of College and Career Readiness, Rhode Island Department of Education

Advance CTE’s Brianna McCain started off the briefing by discussing the history and current trends of access and equity in CTE, as well as how states can leverage Perkins V to support high quality CTE for each and every learner. Brianna pointed out that as the quality of CTE programs has significantly improved, the nature of the equity challenge in CTE has changed. Today, a renewed focus must be placed on ensuring equitable access to these high-quality programs. 

All panelists agreed that it is essential to collaborate across agencies and with employer and community representatives. This is the way to ensure that all populations are being reached, and that programs are developed to set learners up for success. When speaking about the juvenile justice population, Nina Salomon shared how she found that most juvenile justice agencies are not partnering with workforce agencies, education agencies or employers. This led to a disconnect in all groups understanding what resources are available, including federal funding opportunities through Perkins and WIOA. Therefore, administrators have been missing out on opportunities to provide education and training in juvenile justice systems. 

Check out Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise series to learn more about how states can leverage data to identify and address equity gaps, rebuild trust with historically underserved communities, expand access to high-quality CTE for each and every learner and build systems to ensure learner success. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

Legislative Update: Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Bills, College Scorecard Expands, Advance CTE Supports New Bills

November 21st, 2019

This week, short-term funding bills were passed in the House and Senate. Read below to learn more about the appropriations process, the newly expanded College Scorecard, new bills on career counseling and postsecondary apprenticeships, Advance CTE’s participation in last week’s Data Quality Institute and how Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos voiced support for connecting education and the workforce. 

Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

Today, the Senate passed a short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution, 74-20 to keep the government funded until December 20. This bill, H.R. 3055, was passed by the House earlier in the week, mainly on party lines. Now, President Donald Trump must sign the bill before the currently enacted short-term funding bill expires at midnight. If the stopgap spending plan is not signed, there will be a government shutdown. 

The next four weeks will be used for Congress to come to an agreement on a full Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill. If this agreement is not reached, there could be another continuing resolution. There is risk of a government shutdown should no agreement on either a short-term or long-term plan be reached by December 20. Appropriators have still not come to an agreement on each of the total allocations for the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government (referred to as 302(b) levels).

Department of Education Releases Expanded College Scorecard

On November 21, the U.S. Department of Education released a long awaited redesign and expansion of the College Scorecard to include program level data and more comprehensive graduation rate data. For the first time, data is now available to parents, learners and researchers that include median debt and median earnings by field of study. In the past, this data was only available at the institutional level. This allows for better evaluation, including rate of return of expected earnings for every dollar spent, of specific programs that learners and their families can use to make informed decisions. For researchers, this data provides a better understanding of specific programs within institutions, as well as a more comprehensive picture of graduation data. Previously, students that were not “first time full-time,” like transfer students, were not represented.

Advance CTE is currently evaluating this new data, check back for updates!

House Introduces Bill to Strengthen Career Counseling

Co-Chairs of the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), introduced the Counseling for Career Choice Act. This bill would amend the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to provide state grants that would support the implementation of a statewide career counseling framework developed in partnership with community stakeholders such as schools and businesses. 

Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. The press release can be viewed here and the full bill text can be viewed here

Senate Prepares Postsecondary Apprenticeship Bill 

Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) announced that he is preparing to introduce the Student Apprenticeship Act shortly. This bill would create a new grant program that supports apprenticeships that operate in partnership with institutions of higher education, employers and workforce intermediaries. Participating apprentices would be paid for their work, earn college credit as well as industry credentials. 

Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE, is quoted in the press release for this proposal, which can be viewed here. The full bill text can be viewed here and a summary here

Advance CTE Presents at Data Quality Institute

Advance CTE attended last week’s annual Data Quality Institute, hosted by the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education and RTI International. At the conference, Advance CTE’s Deputy Executive Director Kate Kreamer shared her observations on implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and urged state leaders to think of their state plans not as a “one and done” but rather “a continuous improvement process.” Participants also shared their definitions and benchmarks for the Perkins V performance indicators and gained insights from other states in attendance. 

Check out resources on Perkins V here

Secretary DeVos Promotes Connecting Education to the Workforce

Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called for better connecting education and the workforce, both in K-12 and higher education. The remarks were made in a session with President of Western Governors University Scott Pulsipher during the Committee for Economic Development fall policy conference. Secretary DeVos stated that “We have had way too big of walls between education and business and industry, and those walls have got to come down. So I really encourage you to reach out to educators and see how we can partner with them to really meet your students’ and your community’s needs, and ultimately your own workforce needs.” Secretary DeVos also voiced her support for dual enrollment, apprenticeship programs and expanding Pell grant eligibility to short-term programs. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Welcome Sara Gassman to Advance CTE

November 20th, 2019

My name is Sara Gassman and I’m pleased to join Advance CTE as Senior Associate, Member Engagement & Professional Learning! In this role, I will coordinate outreach and engagement with Advance CTE members, lead member-focused professional learning efforts, and ensure member needs are being met. 

I’ve spent my career working at membership organizations, creating virtual and in-person spaces for peer learning and supporting leaders of all types in making change. Previously, I supported a network working to build thriving, sustainable cities across North America with a specific focus on raising the visibility and number of people of color, women and young people in the commercial real estate industry. I also worked at a startup during its growth phase, empowering student leaders on over 200 campuses in recovering surplus food from their campuses and delivering it to community members in need. 

Outside of work, I build community among outdoors-lovers, leading hikes and other adventures for women and planning a monthly outdoors-themed speaker series. I spend a lot of time baking and listening to bluegrass and Americana music and am always on the lookout for arts, cultural and generally nerdy events, leading my friends to refer to me as their “personal Yelp”.

Legislative Update: Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Learning, Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action

November 8th, 2019

In the first week of November, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations on accreditation and distance education. Read below to learn more about what these regulations mean, the recent Title IV-A day of action, a forum on education in the current presidential race and stories of Second Chance Pell programs. 

Administration Finalizes Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Education 

On October 31, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos published the final regulations on accreditation and distance education as a result of the negotiated rulemaking process that occurred over the past year. In a statement Secretary DeVos said, “These final regulations demonstrate our commitment to working with student, State, employer, and institutional representatives to develop sound policies that serve the best interests of students. These reforms are necessary to bring higher education into the current century, to be more responsive to the needs of students, and to reduce the skyrocketing cost of higher education.

Some of the regulatory changes include: 

  • Accreditors can have separate faculty standards for instructors teaching dual or concurrent enrollment courses, as long as the instructors, “in the agency’s judgment,” have either the education or work experience to be in the instructor role. 
  • Accreditors can propose a three-year grace period to allow programs to come into compliance with the accreditor’s faculty standards for dual or concurrent enrollment. This grace period is able to be extended. 
  • Removal of the seven public disclosures that institutions with distance education or correspondence courses previously were required to provide, such as what the result would be if a student moved to a state where the institution did not meet State authorization requirements. 

The final regulations also include a summary of the almost 200 public comments received and the Department’s response. 

The regulations will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The Department also announced that proposed rules for distance education and innovation, TEACH grants and faith-based institutions will be published soon. 

The full press release can be found here and final regulations can be found here

Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action 

On November 6, the national Title IV-A Coalition held a day of action to advocate for Congress to fully fund Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That title authorizes and funds the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants, which can be used by local education agencies to support student health and safety, the effective use of technology or access to well-rounded education (which includes CTE). In Nebraska, for example, Title IV-A dollars are being used to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. The SSAE grants were originally authorized at $1.6 billion a year, but are currently funded at approximately $400 million less than that level. 

CEF Hosts Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race 

On November 4, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) hosted a Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race. The panelists included Evie Blad and Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Michael Stratford of Politico Pro. The group discussed the role of education in the current presidential race, and the most pressing education topics in this campaign. There was agreement that education has been discussed more in this primary than in years past. Overall, the panelists pointed to where federal funding for higher education should be allocated, the question of how to increase salaries and the expansion of charter schools as some of the most discussed education topics by candidates. 

A full recording of the event can be viewed here

DeVos Shares Stories of Second Chance Pell Programs 

Earlier this week, Secretary DeVos again voiced her support of the Second Chance Pell Experimental sites initiative, that was established in 2015 to provide Pell grants to incarcerated individuals. Currently, over 10,000 students across 64 institutions participate in Second Chance Pell programs. Secretary DeVos shared videos that highlighted the Second Chance Pell program at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Oklahoma, as well as the results of a Corrections Education Scholarship from Tulsa Community College.

New Report on The Role of Data and Accountability in Growing Youth Apprenticeship Programs

November 5th, 2019

Youth apprenticeship programs can give students access to valuable work-based learning experiences that provide insights into how their interest can connect to education and the workforce. Although these programs are often beneficial for participants, there is little data to show the programmatic landscape and impact. A lack of data inhibits the development and expansion of youth apprenticeship programs. 

Advance CTE’s latest report, The Role of Data and Accountability in Growing Youth Apprenticeship Programs, explores how states are collecting data on youth apprenticeship programs, and what steps can be taken to collect high-quality enrollment and outcomes data. 

There are many challenges that inhibit the ability of state and local communities to collect and use reliable data to support and improve youth apprenticeship programs. However, there are steps that state and local leaders can take to strengthen data collection and analysis, including: 

  • Adopt a common, rigorous and measurable statewide definition of youth apprenticeship programs; 
  • Develop a data definition and business rules that align with the statewide definition of youth apprenticeship to support consistent data collection and reporting;
  • Learn what data collection looks like at the local and state levels and where gaps exist; and
  •  Leverage the opportunities provided by ESSA and Perkins V to implement data collection mechanisms. 

There are also qualitative methods that can be used to support findings and build a comprehensive understanding of youth apprenticeship programs. This report explores how qualitative data supports findings, and supplements gaps in data.

This report was made possible by the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA). PAYA was created by New America and includes Advance CTE, CareerWise Colorado, Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships at Trident Technical College, Education Strategy Group, JFF, The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and National Governors Association. PAYA is appreciative of the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ballmer Group, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Siemens Foundation.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: House Markup of College Affordability Act, Education Appropriations Halt in Senate

November 1st, 2019

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee voted on the College Affordability Act. Read below to learn  more about markup of the bill, the appropriations process, this week’s Senate CTE Caucus briefing and a new resource on employer engagement in Perkins V. 

House Education and Labor Committee Moves College Affordability Act 

From October 29-31, the House Education and Labor Committee held a markup on the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) that had been introduced on October 15. On October 31, the committee voted 28-22 on party lines to approve the bill out of committee. A number of CTE-related amendments passed, including:

  • An amendment by Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL), with a sub-amendment by Representative Andy Levin (D-MI) that would expand access to funds within Title III, including specifically for postsecondary CTE programs; 
  • An amendment by Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) that allowed language in Title IV to include language from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that would include collaboration with industry or sector partnerships; 
  • An amendment by Representative GT Thompson (R-PA) with a sub-amendment by Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) that would include CTE and Perkins alignment to specific Title IV funding for tribal schools; and
  • An amendment by Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-OR) that would emphasize the recruitment of teachers with “significant cultural and community competency.”

Education Appropriations Halt in the Senate

On October 31, the Senate voted on the first procedural motion for the four-bill minibus, H.R. 2740 that includes Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed). The Senate voted 51-41 to reject the motion and prevent debate on the bill from starting. Overall, Senate Democrats feel that proposed increase for Labor-HHS-Ed of just 1% over FY19 levels is insufficient, and so do not want to move this bill as it is now.

In addition to Labor-HHS-Ed, the minibus also includes funding for Defense, State Foreign-Operations and Energy-Water. 

Currently, federal funding is operating through a continuing resolution that was passed at the end of September and will go until November 21, 2019. 

Senate CTE Caucus Briefing Features Advance CTE

On October 31, the Senate CTE Caucus in partnership with the National Skills Coalition (NSC) hosted a briefing on “Connecting the Dots Between Perkins V and WIOA: How Can These Key Federal Policies Work Together to Drive Economic Success?” The briefing featured Advance CTE’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Meghan Wills, as well as Yvette Chocolaad, Policy Director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), Katrin Klack, Program Officer of the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Rural LISC) and Katie Brown, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at NSC. The group agreed that it’s beneficial for states to find opportunities for coordination between Perkins V and WIOA in order to maximize impact. Wills reminded the group that a combined Perkins V and WIOA state plan is not the only way to align both laws. Although just a handful of states may pursue a combined plan, there is widespread alignment within states in the visioning and planning done for Perkins V and WIOA. 

New Resource on Employer Engagement in Perkins V 

Advance CTE released a new resource, Cheat Sheet: Opportunities for Employer Involvement in CTE, that identifies ways in which employers can get involved with CTE programs. The resources outlines ways the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) offers avenues for employer engagement at the state and local levels.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

FAFSA Simplification Bill Introduced, Executive Order Signed on Federal Agency Guidance

October 25th, 2019

This past week a bill to simplify the FAFSA was introduced in the Senate. Read below to learn more about the proposed bill, the recent executive order on agency guidance documents, additional information about the College Affordability Act and resources on work-based learning. 

Senator Alexander Introduces Bill to Simplify FAFSA

On Tuesday, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a new bill, along with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)- referred to as the FAFSA Simplification Act. Although FAFSA simplification was included in the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557) that Senator Alexander introduced earlier this month, the FAFSA Simplification Act is a separate standalone bill. One of the most significant changes this bill would make is to decrease the number of questions on the form by prepopulating data already collected elsewhere. 

Overhauling the FAFSA to be less of a burden for students has been a longtime goal of Senator Alexander, and a priority for him in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Trump Signs Executive Order on Agency Guidance Documents 

Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order,“Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” which requires that “agencies treat guidance documents as non-binding both in law and in practice.” The executive order states that all federal agency guidance must be clearly publicized as non-binding. Additional measures are put in place such as a required 30-day public comment period before any guidance is finalized. The order enforces that legally-binding requirements will originate only from Congress, and that “agencies may clarify existing obligations through non-binding guidance documents.”

House Plans for College Affordability Act Markup

Last week, House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Democrat’s HEA reauthorization bill, entitled the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674). Markup of this bill is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29. The legislation is meant as a comprehensive reauthorization and includes a significant number of proposals, including:

  • Allocating an additional $181 million to states for postsecondary Perkins CTE programs; additional funds for tribal and outlying areas.
  • Creating a state-federal partnership to fund students to attend community college without cost. This program would require states to contribute $1 for every $3 the federal government contributes.
  • Removing the student unit record data system (SURD) ban and creating a new streamlined data system. The language included is almost identical to the College Transparency Act which Advance CTE strongly supports. This would streamline data collection, reduce institutional burden and better track student success and institutional quality.
  • Expanding Pell grant eligible dual-enrollment opportunities through a competitive grant program. The bill would also increase the number of Pell eligible semesters from 12 to 14, which is meant to allay concerns about Pell grant exhaustion. 

Advance CTE’s HEA recommendations can be found here

U.S. Department of Labor Shares Resources on Work-Based Learning

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration shared a page on the WorkforceGPS website with resources to support work-based learning. Some of the topics covered include apprenticeships, career pathways and internships. New resources will continue to be added to this web page.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

New Series by New America Explores the Impact of TAACCCT

October 21st, 2019

Recovery from the 2008 recession required an understanding of the new sets of skills that the labor market demanded, as well as an emphasis on postsecondary attainment. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program was a $1.9 billion investment led by the U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education to do just that. The TAACCCT grant had the purpose of helping community colleges meet workforce needs by ensuring that learners acquired the skills needed to be successful in a career through postsecondary attainment. 

TAACCCT grants ran from 2011 through 2018, and in total 256 TAACCCT grants were awarded in all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. This means that 60 percent of the publicly-funded community colleges in the country were affected by these grants, and almost 2,600 programs of study were created or improved to support adult learners in gaining skills that would bring them to a good job. 

Each TAACCCT recipient was required to go through a third-party evaluation so that the benefits, or shortcomings, of TAACCCT could be understand. New America reviewed all of the evaluations to determine whether or not the TAACCCT grant made a difference and what strategies utilized under the grant worked. 

One major takeaway from the analysis is that learners were almost twice as likely to complete a program, credential or both when enrolled in a TAACCCT recipient program than not. Increases in employment as a result of TAACCCT grants were seen as well. The full series of briefs by New America can be viewed here

The findings of these reports were discussed at a recent event on “Community Colleges as Engines of Opportunity: Exploring the Impact of the TAACCCT Program.” The event included panels that featured federal, state, college and nonprofit perspectives. A common theme was that the TAACCCT grant provided a unique opportunity to bring together education and industry representatives. These relationships allowed colleges to best serve their adult learners and set them up for success and helped all sides understand the connection between education and workforce development.

The final panel of the day was comprised of leaders at colleges that received the TAACCCT grant. The group reiterated the important role that community colleges have in supporting adult learners. Dean of School of Applied Technology & Technical Specialties, Salt Lake Community College, Eric Hauser, shared that “life comes at our students faster than others and one small thing can set them off course,” making student support services vital. 

A full recording of the event can be viewed here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate