Legislative Update: Letter on CTE Priorities for COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

April 3rd, 2020

Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) shared a letter this week that discusses the needs of state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Read below to learn more about how Coronavirus is impacting CTE, proposed new rules for higher education distance learning and innovation and how you can recognize April as Second Chance Month. 

Advance CTE and ACTE Write Letter with CTE Priorities for Next Stimulus
This week Advance CTE, in partnership with ACTE, wrote a letter to Congress outlining CTE needs that should be addressed in any additional Coronavirus legislation. The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting the nation’s educational and digital infrastructure, and the CTE community is not immune to these challenges. The letter details the priority areas that need new investments, including: distance learning; digital and physical infrastructure; professional development; equity and access and work-based learning. 

The letter also requests statutory flexibility to: establish a redistribution waiver for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), extend national emergency education waivers to all Perkins eligible agencies, rescind Perkins V supplement not supplant provisions for one year and expand pooling flexibility for Perkins funding. 

The full letter, with details on each priority, can be found here.

Department Proposes Regulations for Higher Education Distance Learning

On Wednesday, Secretary DeVos proposed new rules for Distance Learning and Innovation for higher education students. These regulations were part of the negotiated rulemaking process that began last year, but have been reinforced by the way that institutions are relying on distance learning due to the Coronavirus. The rule would propose measures such as: prioritizing demonstrated learning ahead of seat time; defining regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors; defining a juvenile justice facility; streamlining the requirements for direct assessment programs and; including employers in development of educational programs.

Final regulations were published to the Federal Register on Thursday and can be found here. The full statement from the Department can be viewed here

Administration Announces Second Chance Month

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced that April 2020 will be recognized as Second Chance Month. According to the statement, Second Chance Month will “celebrate those who have set out to create better lives following incarceration and recommit to helping former inmates contribute to the strength and prosperity of our Nation.” The proclamation recognizes the actions that must be taken to reduce recidivism, including expanding Pell Grant eligibility so that those incarcerated are able to receive education and training. 

Expanding Pell Grants to include incarcerated learners is one of Advance CTE’s recommendations to be included in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Those recommendations can be viewed here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

April 3rd, 2020

April is Community College Month!
Follow ACCT (@CCTrustees) on Twitter and tweet with the hashtag #CCMonth.

Tweet of the Week

State CTE Director of the Week

Idaho CTE State Director, Clay Long, is mentioned this week in an article exploring the structure of CTE during distance learning.

April is National Welding Month! Follow Skills USA (@SkillsUSA) for a featured welding story each week.

Welding Story of the Week

CTSO Highlight of the Week

South Carolina HOSA has transitioned their state conference to an online platform. Review their virtual conference page for tips on the next steps to take with your local CTSO organization.

Resource of the Week

Compare high-quality CTE secondary programs across 50-states by reviewing this new resource produced by the Education Commission of the States.

Legislative Update of the Week 

This week Advance CTE and Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to Congress outlining CTE priorities for phase four of the stimulus package. View the letter and other legislative updates on our blog.

 

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

COVID-19 Resources from the U.S. Department of Education: Part Three

April 2nd, 2020

The U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) dresources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department. Below are brief overviews of what can be found in some of the materials on postsecondary issues. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so keep checking the blog!

 

Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to CoronavirusThis memo from the Office Of Postsecondary Education gives guidance to institutions on adapting to a broad range of issues in the wake of Coronavirus. Specifically, this memo:

  • Describes and details broad approval for online technologies and distance learning in the short-term. However, programs created now may need to go through a formal approval process at a later date;
  • Gives accreditors flexibility to waive distance education review requirements for students interrupted by Coronavirus. However, this flexibility does not replace clock-hour licensure requirements if the licensing body does not accept distance learning courses. Additional information on changes for accreditors can be found here;
  • Outlines “basic requirements for providing distance education” including some minimal communication requirements;
  • Details that the Department is authorized to grant institutions, if needed, a reduction in the length of the academic year;
  • Provides guidance on modification to payment reporting periods; and
  • Discusses the return of Title IV money under the Higher Education Act to students. Since this guidance was issued, new legislation allows for Title IV fund return to be waived if a student withdraws due to Coronavirus.

 

COVID-19 FAQs for Institutions of Higher Education and Postsecondary Systems
The Department issued a  fact sheet with frequently asked questions that expands on the guidance memo and goes into a little more detail regarding a few frequently encountered questions for institutions and systems including:

  • Further guidance on Federal Work Study funds for institutions that have been affected by Coronavirus and students that are not able to work (page 1) and 
  • Tracking of online clock-hour programs (page 3). 

CDC Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education
The CDC guidance includes information about  the role of postsecondary institutions in the mitigation of transmitting  Coronavirus and lays out what steps institutions can take to minimize a spread. This interim guidance page will be updated as more information becomes available. The guidance provides specific instructions depending on if there is no community transmission, minimal to moderate community transmission and substantial community transmission.  

The Department will continue to publish and update resources on its Coronavirus page. Please check back regularly as new content may be added frequently.

Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: Phase Three Stimulus Bill Analysis and OCTAE Guidance

April 1st, 2020

The federal government is continuing to respond to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) through legislation and guidance. Read below to learn more about what was in the most recent stimulus bill and guidance affecting the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

Administration Signs Phase Three Stimulus into Law

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), or the CARES Act into law. The CARES Act is the third stimulus package in response to Coronavirus and provides $2.2 trillion for economic relief and resources. There are a number of ways that Perkins V is implicated in the CARES Act. 

  • National Emergency Education Waivers
    This bill provides opportunities for the state educational agency (SEA), Indian tribe or local educational agency (LEA) to request waivers of certain statutory and regulatory provisions. The waiver request must name the federal programs affected, identify the statutory or regulatory requirements that need to be waived, explain how the pandemic prevents ability to comply with the statutory or regulatory requirements and detail how the SEA, Indian Tribe or LEA will prevent any downsides of the waiver. 30 days after enactment of the law, the U.S. Secretary of Education will provide a report to the Senate Committees on Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the House Committees on Appropriations and Education and Labor with additional recommendations or waivers under Perkins V and other federal laws. 

    However, 13 states currently have selected a state agency other than the SEA to administer the state’s Perkins funds, also known as the Perkins eligible agency.The CARE’s National Emergency Education Waiver language does not grant this waiver authority to these 13 state agencies with regard to Perkins. Advance CTE is actively advocating for this flexibility to be extended to all Perkins eligible agencies.

  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
    SEAs can apply for emergency relief grants to be used in elementary and secondary schools. Applications must be submitted within 30 days of this bill having been signed, and will be reviewed within 30 days. An LEA that receives money from this grant can use funding for activities under Perkins V, among other federal laws. 

Check out this blog post for additional information about what education and workforce programs are covered in the CARES Act. 

A fact sheet from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions can be found here and the full text can be viewed here

Department Shares Guidance on Perkins V During Coronavirus Pandemic 

On Tuesday, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) within the U.S. Department of Education published guidance on Career Technical Education (CTE) in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic. The guidance includes an extension for states to submit their Perkins V state plans from the original due date of April 15, 2020. If a state submits its plan by June 15, 2020, OCTAE will review by June 30, 2020 and the first installment of Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) Perkins funding will follow the July 1, 2020 schedule. If a state is unable to submit its plan by June 15, 2020, the Department will use authority to extend the transition plan period by three months (to September 30, 2020). In this instance the first FY20 Perkins funding installment will still take place on July 1, 2020, with the condition that the state will submit its full plan by September 15, 2020. 

Additionally, this guidance allows states to award a Perkins V subgrant to a local recipient before fully approving the local application. States can also grant local recipients more time to complete their local applications, beyond the original due date of July 1, 2020. 

A statement on the guidelines from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos can be found here.

You can find a full statement on this guidance from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) here.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Phase Three COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

March 27th, 2020

This week, Congress passed the third stimulus bill in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Read below to learn more about this phase includes, as well as additional measures the U.S. Department of Education is taking at this time. 

Congress Passes Legislation in Response to COVID-19

Earlier today, the House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748)- or the CARES Act- following the Senate passing of this bill on Wednesday night.The $2.2 trillion package provides economic relief and resources in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), including for education and workforce development programs. Some of the measures in the bill include: 

  • $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to Coronavirus. This includes: 
    • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education formula-grants for states;
    • $3 billion for Governors to allocate in an emergency capacity to state education agencies most affected; and
    • $14.25 for higher education emergency relief for postsecondary institutions to defray costs that they have incurred or will incur as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Authority for the Secretary of Education to provide waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except civil rights laws, that are necessary in response to Coronavirus;
  • Temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers to defer payments, principal and interest for 6 months. This also gives flexibility to students with federal student loans that dropped out of school as a result of Coronavirus;
  • Allows postsecondary students at institutions that closed because of Coronavirus to discount that semester toward their lifetime Pell eligibility; 
  • Continues federal work study payments to students who are no longer able to work as a result of closures;
  • Flexibility for local workforce boards to use Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds for administrative costs (such as digital resources); 
  • $360 million for the Department of Labor to invest in programs to support training and services for dislocated workers, seniors, migrant farmworkers and homeless veterans; and
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to provide unemployment insurance for those who would not typically be covered, but cannot work as a result of Coronavirus.

A fact sheet from the Senate Committee on health, Education, Labor and Pensions can be found here and the full text can be viewed here

Next, this bill will go to the president to be signed into law and implemented. 

Secretary DeVos Orders Relief For Many Student Loan Borrowers

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department will temporarily stop student loan collections and wage garnishments. In addition, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will refund $1.8 billion to the 830,000 borrowers who were collected from since March 13, 2020- the date that President Donald Trump announced a hold on federal student loan interest collection, and the ability for borrowers not in default to suspend student loan payments for two months. More information can be found here.

Advance CTE Summarizes Department Resources

The U.S. Department of Education has a page on its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. Linked here are brief overviews from Advance CTE of what can be found in some of the K-12 materials. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so check back for future blogs!

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

This Week in CTE

March 27th, 2020

In case you missed some of the actions state and local leaders have taken to cope with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and provide support for their staff, educators, learners and communities- we have pulled a few to share with you!

Many school districts have used their closed buildings and transportation services to distribute meals and school materials to their students. Here is an example from Colorado and Tennessee districts partnering with local businesses to distribute meals!

It’s a universal belief that communities come together in a time of crisis. These culinary students saved their tips for years and in response to the Coronavirus decided to spend their earnings on benefiting their community. What did they do? Read the story on the Lewiston Regional Technical Center in Maine!

Career Technical Education (CTE) labs across the nation are requesting waivers to allow the donation of their equipment to health care facilities. Here are examples from health science departments in Washington State, Tennessee and Oregon!

North Carolina virtually welcomed its newest National Technical Honor Society inductees this week. Our congratulations to the students at West Wilkes High School!

For more resources related to Coronavirus, visit our website.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

COVID-19 Resources from the U.S. Department of Education: Part One

March 26th, 2020

The U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department. Below are brief overviews of what can be found in some of the K-12 materials. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so check back here for future blogs!

  • Waiver Application to Bypass ESSA Required Assessment and Accountability
    U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave flexibility to every state for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) required assessment and accountability measures. States are able to request a waiver for the assessment, accountability and school identification requirements for the 2019-2020 academic year. Questions and waiver requests can be sent to OESE.Titlei-a@ed.gov. The full letter from Secretary DeVos can be found here and a waiver template can be found here.  
  • Fact Sheet on the Implications for Assessments and Accountability Under ESSA
    This fact sheet, linked here, shares potential implications for state and local leaders to consider when waiving ESSA assessment and accountability requirements. This fact sheet discusses the impact on assessments, accountability determinations and accountability components. For state-specific questions contact [STATE NAME].oese@ed.gov (Ie. Alabama.oese@ed.gov). For assessment-specific questions contact ESEA.Assessment@ed.gov. For accountability and other Title I, Part A questions contact OESE.titlei-a@ed.gov
  • Recommendations to Determine School Closures
    States are responding to school closures, and ongoing school closures are anticipated. This resource, linked here, includes: 

    • Information on the health and academic impacts of school closures (page 1); 
    • A chart to assist with how to make the decision (page 2); and 
    • A chart that outlines the factors in favor of and against school closure for less than one week, two weeks, four weeks, and eight to 20 weeks (pages 3-7).
  • Fact Sheet on Protecting Student Privacy
    The Department compiled frequently asked questions (FAQs), linked here, regarding Coronavirus and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The intent of this document is to provide clarity about how education officials can work with public health officials while still maintaining students’ privacy. The FAQs include: 

    • Information on FERPA (page 2-3) and
    • Questions and Answers on how FERPA should be applied in relation to Coronavirus measures (pages 3-7).
  • Options to Ensure Children Receive Meals During School Closures
    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue shared ways that meal services can continue during school closures – effective through June 30, 2020. States can submit waiver requests to support meals for students. For example, schools participating in summer meal programs can give out free meals to students during this time, with the requirement that these meals must be served in a group setting waived while a public health emergency is occurring. Information on how to submit a waiver request can be found here. The full announcement by the Secretary can be viewed here
  • Information on Preventing Biological Hazard Spread at K-12 Schools and Institutions of Higher Education
    Numerous federal agencies have compiled resources on how to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, all added to this web page that is being continuously updated. Midway through the web page there is the option to click on “Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19.” After selecting that option you can view all documents under the following categories: Guidance; Information and Other Resources; Publications; Training and Exercise Products and Tool Box Resources. 
  • Recommendations on Cleaning and Disinfecting Community Non-Healthcare Facilities
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting key community environments, such as schools, institutions of higher education and office buildings. The web page with recommendations, linked here, will be continuously updated. It includes information on: 

    • Definitions; 
    • Cleaning and Disinfection After Persons Suspected/Confirmed to Have COVID-19 Have Been in the Facility; 
    • How to Clean and Disinfect; 
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Hygiene; and
    • Additional Considerations for Employers.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE

March 26th, 2020

There is widespread agreement that high school is simply too late to begin to expose learners to the variety of high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers available to them and the foundational skills they will need to be able to access and succeed in those careers. Yet there remains a lack of consensus — or even basic understanding — about what Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness more broadly should entail at the middle grades level.

And, with The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) emphasizing career exploration and career development activities in the middle grades and allowing funds to be spent on students as young as fifth grade, the need to understand what high-quality middle grades CTE is – and isn’t – is more important than ever before.

Today, Advance CTE and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE to support state and local leaders as they work to develop or strengthen middle grades CTE policies, programs and practices. Critically, this resource provides a theory of action for state and local leaders looking to design a new middle grades CTE program or policy or to reflect on and improve upon what is already in place.

Specifically, this paper lays out:

  • Outcomes for student learning that identify what students should gain through participation in middle grades CTE.
  • Ten design principles that must undergird any middle grades CTE program or policy. The principles should serve as a resource to ensure that middle grades CTE is comprehensive and fully meets each learner’s needs.
  • The core programmatic elements of a middle grades CTE program or policy through which the design principles are applied, with relevant questions for consideration to identify strategies or steps for addressing gaps in the implementation of the 10 design principles.

Broadening the Path also includes a design principles self-assessment for state and local leaders to evaluate their current policies and programs.

This resource was created with the support of the Middle Grades CTE Shared Solutions Workgroup, comprised of national, state and local leaders, convened by Advance CTE with support from ACTE and generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For those interested in leading state examples of middle grades CTE policies and programs, check out Advance CTE’s 2018 report, Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success.

 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

What Works in Postsecondary Work-Based Learning?

March 24th, 2020

Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. As the labor market changes and demands for a skilled workforce increase, there is renewed interest in work-based learning (WBL) programs across the country. Earlier this month The Urban Institute released a report on the topic, titled Expanding and Improving Work-Based Learning in Community Colleges. The report draws on national data and interviews with six community colleges and documents what is known about the implementation and outcomes of WBL models in community colleges, what strategies community colleges are adopting to measure WBL, and potential steps to improve measurement and address key challenges in expanding and improving WBL in community colleges. 

At the postsecondary level, WBL consists of opportunities such as apprenticeships, internships and cooperative education (co-op), which provide career preparation and training in a work setting that involves supervision or mentoring and connects to classroom or academic experience. Community colleges are vitally important institutions in preparing learners for the workforce, as they award most of the career-oriented credentials in the country. However measurement of WBL in community college contexts is limited and, as such, we know little about how common WBL programs are in these institutions, what models and approaches work best and for whom, who is able to access opportunities, and what outcomes and impacts they deliver for learners, businesses partners and colleges. 

Findings from the report suggest several challenges facing WBL programs including access, equity and diversity. These challenges are even more pressing given the evidence of positive outcomes for learners who are able to experience WBL. The report found that participants in Registered Apprenticeship programs earn higher wages, are more productive, and are less likely to use public benefit programs compared to comparable workers. 

In order to improve WBL at the community college level, the report recommends strategies for measuring WBL, evaluating progress toward diversity and equity goals, and improving data collection practices. For example Cincinnati State Technical and Community College has an institutional research staff member working in their career center. This person collects and analyzes data that in turn informs career services. The report specifically recommends state education and workforce officials develop state definitions of WBL, develop common data elements for tracking WBL, share employment data with colleges to support performance improvement, and incorporate WBL into the state longitudinal systems of data tracking. 

Community colleges are in a unique position to change the way WBL is experienced across the country. They serve about 12 million diverse learners, many of whom are women or learners of color. This makes these institutions ideal vehicles for closing long-standing equity gaps in the labor market, preparing the workforce, giving students the skills and knowledge for jobs and careers, and partnering with employers to provide the talent they need.

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Congress and Administration Respond to COVID-19

March 19th, 2020

In response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Congress and the administration have been taking measures to support the country, including those impacted by the disruption in education. Read below to learn more about what is being done for students and teachers, as well as where to find additional resources. 

U.S. Department of Education Provides Coronavirus Resources 

The U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with Coronavirus resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department.     

Congress Moves Forward with Coronavirus Response Bill

On Wednesday, the Senate passed an emergency aid package in response to the Coronavirus crisis. This bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives early on Saturday morning. The multi-billion aid package provides economic relief measures, including:

  • Emergency paid leave and benefits; 
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance; 
  • Coverage of, and expanded access to, Coronavirus testing; and
  • Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for children who would receive free or reduced-price meals if schools were open.

The bill was then sent to the administration and signed into law. The full bill can be found here and a summary can be found here

President Trump Announces Hold on Federal Student Loan Interest

During a press conference about the federal response to Coronavirus on Friday, President Donald Trump announced  that interest on federal student loans would be eliminated “until further notice.” This will affect over 42 million Americans who owe more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding federal student loans.The U.S. Department of Education is currently working to further develop this plan and issue guidance on what this means for loan recipients and servicers.

On Tuesday, the Administration requested an additional $30 million from Congress to help support the Office of Federal Student Aid in response to the growing loan servicer costs as a result of the interest elimination. 

Congress Proposes Bill to Support Students During Coronavirus Crisis

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP)- with support from Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor- proposed the Supporting Students in Response to the Coronavirus Act. This bill is intended to support students, teachers and school staff as school closures continue due to Coronavirus. Early childhood programs, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education are all included in this legislation in a number of ways. Some of the measures in this proposal include: 

  • Resources to support schools in implementing and sustaining plans during school closures;  
  • Emergency financial aid for postsecondary students needing food, housing and child care; and
  • Relief for students from paying back student loans during semesters that have been disrupted.  

The full bill text can be found here and a summary can be found here.

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

 

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