National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review

April 30th, 2015

teachersToday in CTE research … a scan of career pathway models, a peek into employers’ views on competency-based education, recommendations to strengthen the teacher pipeline, and research into the labor market’s return on investment for higher education.

First up – MDRC’s new research, “New Pathways to Careers and College: Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

Over the years, the high school reform debate has evolved to view CTE as a means to prepare all students for success in college and careers, and CTE programs are changing along with it. More programs are emerging that blend CTE, rigorous academic coursework and opportunities for career exploration. With that in mind, MDRC researchers took a first-ever scan of the most prominent career pathway models and their underlying principles, the localities where they are most popular, and some evidence of success.

At least one career pathway model can be found in high schools in virtually every state and most large cities, the researchers argue, and yet still only a small percentage of students are enrolled in pathways that include the key elements of success. Much work remains to scale programs that are anchored by infrastructure that ensures high-quality implementation, sustainability and continuous improvement.

NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green and Oklahoma State CTE Director Marcie Mack were among the national experts interviewed for this report.

The Pipeline of Teachers

ACT and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) have published new research that takes a closer look at the pipeline of future
teachers as well as how they fare during their first five years in the classroom.

In “The Condition of Future Educators 2014,” ACT examines which students are expressing interest an education career from administration to classroom teachers, and found that the number of students interested in becoming educators continues to drop significantly – just five percent of all ACT-tested graduates. There continues to be a lack of men and diversity among those who expressed interest in the profession. The study was based on the 57 percent, or 27,000 students, of the U.S. graduation class who took the ACT test in 2014.

Among the findings, just one percent, or 224 students, planned to make CTE teaching a focus of their postsecondary pursuits.

The report offered three recommendations to help drive more high-achieving and diverse students into the teacher pipeline:

  • Recruit high-achieving college students who are undecided about their future careers;
  • Promote alternative pathways to teaching; and
  • Improve educator benefits.

At NCES, researchers provided a first look at the results of a nationally representative study of 2,000 teachers who entered the profession in 2007-08. After five years in the field, 17 percent of the teachers were no longer teaching, the study found. Salary was one of the greatest reasons why teachers remained in the profession. Education level had little impact. Those teachers who started with a $40,000 salary were more likely to still be teaching a year later.

Competency-based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is gaining traction in communities across the country, particularly within higher education. But what do we know about how employers see it?

The American Enterprise Institute recently published a first-of-its-kind survey of 500 hiring managers to better understand how employers view CBE. The study found:

  • Overall employer awareness of CBE was low despite engagement efforts;
  • Those who were aware of CBE, a small minority, generally viewed the model and its graduates favorably;
  • The lack of awareness correlated to employers’ lack of understanding the benefits of hiring graduates of CBE programs;
  • Employers struggle to articulate discreet needs as competencies, and rather continue to hire based on generalizations of a new hire’s “fit”, which makes it difficult to create an effective competency map;
  • Two-thirds of employers believe they could be doing a better job of identifying students with the specific skill set required for the job.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Inside International CTE: Australia

April 29th, 2015

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

  1. What is the progression of Vocational Education and Training (VET)/CTE in Australia?australia

The VET system in Australia is unique in that it was among the first in the world to identify, on a national basis, the skills and knowledge required of competent employees in the workplace. Competent, in this respect, meaning not only the possession of certain skills and knowledge but also the proven ability to apply these in different situations and contexts, individually as well as in teams (where necessary), and in a managed, self-directed and self-motivated way.

This enabled employers to have greater control over what was taught to potential employees and helped smooth their pathway into the workforce. However, over the years the processes has become more aligned with what adult educators are capable of teaching as opposed to what workplaces need, and has begun to lose its direct connection to the workplace. So even though VET in Australia continues to focus on trades and entry-level professional skills, those who teach within this system are expected to be in continuous touch with what current and future employers want from graduates of their courses even though that is not always possible. For example, in a large city it is easy to teach ICT programs on the assumption that students have access to a wide range of technology and software, whereas in a small country center it has to be assumed that students do not have such access. Regardless of access to the technology or industry, the curriculum remains pretty much the same and is just contextualized to local conditions.

One unique feature of Australia’s VET system is that the standards against which vocational curricula are developed are based on the skills and knowledge required within individual industries, and are created to meet the needs of specific industries and trade sectors. They are not aligned against individual workplaces but are sufficiently flexible to enable trainers to contextualize their programs to meet the needs of local and regional employers.

Students’ skills and knowledge can then be assessed on the job and under realistic working conditions. Once students meet the standards – whether through the studies they undertake as part of the course or by bringing forward skills and knowledge they gained elsewhere – they receive the same certification as someone who entered the training program directly.

  1. Please describe the landscape of Career Technical Education/VET in Australia:

What percentage of the student population is a CTE/VET student?

Students in Australia completing their secondary studies go either directly to university as undergraduates or into the labor market. Therefore, under law, all students must take part in VET studies, either integrated with their academic subjects or as stand-alone apprenticeships or trainee programs as part of their secondary education.

VET is taught in schools as a means of giving all students part or all of a vocational qualification (certificate) prior to entry into the workforce. Like the U.S., each state in Australia has a slightly different approach to VET where some schools have comprehensive VET programs which they run themselves or programs which are conducted by an external training organisation and provide students with real workplace experience. Regardless of where the program is conducted, the standards remain the same across the country.

What sectors/fields of study does it encompass? Which are most popular with students?

The Australian VET/CTE system encompasses almost every trade, para-professional or professional field found in the workplace. The only areas not covered are those for which students must attend university to study such as engineering, medicine and dentistry. Therefore, students are able to study any subject they wish, just so long as the school has the capacity to support them.

The choice of fields usually depends on student interest and the competencies required in those areas where they intend to seek work. For example, in rural areas subjects of study such as agriculture, water control, horticulture, transportation and nursing are very popular, while in urban locals subjects such as IT and management tend to attract the most students. There are also a lot of international students studying in Australia and they pursue skills that they can utilize when they return to their home countries.

How is CTE/VET funded in Australia (publicly, privately, by federal or local funds, etc.)?

Funding for VET comes from three sources:

For VET in secondary school programs, funding comes from the state government and is subsidized by families and, in some cases, employers who train and assess students in the workplace.

National programs, such as programs for unemployed people and the socially disadvantaged, are funded by the state government as a study assistance loan. This means the costs of the VET program must be paid back when the individual graduates and earns above a certain wage. This is in effect, a loan paid by the state to the student (but paid directly to the training provider) that the student does not have to repay until they achieve an income above a certain level.

Finally, individuals and/or the organisation with whom they are employed can pay on a fee-for-service basis. VET in Australia is not only taught in schools, but also by public and private training providers who serve secondary students, employees of companies and individuals who sign up to learn new skills or enhance those they already have. School-based apprenticeships and traineeships are generally run in conjunction with a private training provider. The government largely funds the creation of the curriculum against which all VET training is conducted, and provides a quality assessment of training providers registered to offer nationally-accredited courses. The training is conducted by qualified trainers who are employed by either public colleges (known as Technical and Further Education – TAFE – colleges) or private for-profit or not-for-profit training organisations.

CTE is integrated within a framework or hierarchy of qualifications (certificates) known as the Australian Qualifications Framework. This framework starts with foundational knowledge and skills and increases in industry-specific knowledge as students move through their education and training. For example, Certificate I focuses on entry-level skills, Certificate II on skills for competent or experienced employees, Certificate III on skills for supervisors or those who need greater depth of understanding and so on. The VET hierarchy has eight certification levels with the last two integrated with undergraduate degrees providing students with the opportunity to earn Bachelors and Doctorate degrees. The certification structure is funded by the federal government, which provides financial support to industry bodies at the state level that create and administer the curriculum for each vocational or professional area.

  1. What are the major goals of VET/CTE in Australia?

There have been many objectives of the VET system but the most recent one is more of a statement of purpose than objective: ‘….enable students to gain qualifications for all types of employment, and specific skills to help them in the workplace.’

While it isn’t the most inspiring goal, we consider it to be accurate and achievable. As can be seen, however, this ‘purpose’ has more to do with what the trainer or educator does than what the student achieves as a result.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

April 17th, 2015

@JamesBSchultz #CTE Program Honored for Excellence  via @educationweek @CTEWorks @WaltersState #CTEWorks #HealthScience #CareerTechEd

ARTICLE OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
Could Vocational Education be the Answer to Failing High Schools?
With a higher focus on college and career readiness, high-quality Career Technical Education programs in linking secondary, postsecondary and work-based learning to successfully prepare students to enter the workforce.

Confused about Education Lingo? You’re Not Alone
This list of acronyms and abbreviations is incredibly helpful to students and parents when wading through educational jargon.

Crunched by the Numbers: The Digital Skills Gap in the Workforce
A study conducted by Burning Glass Technologies found that middle-skill jobs that require digital skills are increasing. Eight in 10 middle-0skilled jobs require digital skills like word processing and digitally intensive middle-skilled jobs typically pay more than middle-skilled jobs that do not require any digital knowledge.

Couldn’t make it to the 2015 Spring Meeting? Visit our Meeting Resource Page to find many of the resources presented.


Getting to Know … Florida

March 25th, 2015

Note: NASDCTEc is introducing a new blog series called, “Getting to Know …” We will be using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, our partners and more.

State Name: Floridacte-logo-florida

State CTE Director: Rod Duckworth, Chancellor, Division of Career & Adult Education, Florida Department of Education

Postsecondary Counterpart: Chancellor of the Florida College System

About Florida CTE: Florida uses 17 Career Clusters — the original 16 Career Clusters® as well as one for energy. The Career Cluster with the highest enrollment is business management and administration. The state has 67 counties, each with its own school district. In addition, there are two university lab schools, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and the Florida Virtual School, which also offer secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

About the State CTE Office: Mr. Duckworth’s office is responsible for the administration of CTE (secondary and postsecondary clock-hour certificate), adult education, apprenticeship, the farmworker career development program, among others. The Division of Career & Adult Education is responsible for distributing the roughly $61 million in federal funding from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).  In addition, the office is responsible for state funding of more than $200 million for district postsecondary CTE programs.

Programs of Study (POS): In Florida, POS are primarily delivered through the state’s career academies, a structure codified in the 2007 law, the Florida Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE).  Florida has leveraged its Perkins State Plan to develop additional requirements, which must be met by eligible secondary and postsecondary recipients.  Those requirements include the following:

  • A written articulation agreement for each Program of Study (POS).
  • Articulation agreements signed and approved by the agency head of each participating secondary and postsecondary entity.
  • Must include a locally endorsed sequence of core academic and CTE courses (Grade 9 through postsecondary).
  • Must lead to a postsecondary credential, which may include a certificate, diploma, associate or baccalaureate degree, an industry certification, or a licensure.
  • Each POS is expected to be guided by the workforce and economic development needs of business/industry, the community and employment opportunities for students.

Every secondary and postsecondary recipient of Perkins funds offers at least one CTE POS and documents that through the annual Perkins application process.

 Issue in Focus: Industry-recognized credentials (IRCs) have long been an area of focus for Florida, due in part to the CAPE Act, which created statewide planning partnerships between business and education communities to expand and retain high-value industries and support the state economy. During the 2013-2014 school year, more than 60,000 high school students participating in registered CAPE career academies earned a total of 66,167 IRCs.

In recent years, Florida has put in place a number of incentives to support student attainment of IRCs, including incentives in the K-12 funding model and inclusion in high school and middle school grading formulas.  More recently, legislation has addressed counting IRCs in a student’s weighted grade point average and awarding teacher bonuses for certain high-value credentials.

The approval process for IRCs requires that industry certifications for non-farm occupations are recommended by the state’s workforce board (CareerSource Florida), which is comprised of business, industry, and education representatives.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Adding Industry Recognized Certification to your CTE Program

March 12th, 2015

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in April. We encourage you to join Certiport’s hospitality suite on Thursday evening, April 9th! Details available at the Certiport exhibit table at the Spring Meeting.

In today’s digital age, most schools with successful career and technical education (CTE) programs don’t have to be convinced of the merits of offering industry-recognized certification.  The benefits are clear from engaging students to validating standards to college and career readiness.  However, most educators are overloaded and may not have time to start something new.

Take these simple steps to start now:Certiport-Pearson-Logo-Final (1)

First, look at the courses you are offering and see if there is an industry-recognized certification that fits into the current curriculum.  If you don’t have to recreate the wheel it will be very easy to implement.  Do you have a digital literacy or intro to technology course?  Try IC3 Digital Literacy certification.  Teaching a database course for more advanced students?  Look into the Microsoft Technology Associate exam in Database Fundamentals.

Next, funding can be a hurdle to climb.  Get creative – look at Perkins and other grants, or pass the cost on to students.  Once schools see the benefits of certification, they often end up building it into their standard budgets.

Finally, partner with the certification provider and let them help.  They have worked with hundreds, or thousands of schools just like yours and can guide you through the process.

Sean Carchidi, a Computer Maintenance and Repair Teacher at Mercy Vocational High School in Philadelphia found out how easy it can be to add industry-recognized certification to a CTE program.  He says, “Finding the Microsoft Technology Associate certifications completely revolutionized the Computer Technician program at the Career and Technical school where I work…When I saw all of the certifications MTA offers, I started researching how to implement it as part of the curriculum. MTA will help shape the future of the class as we are always exploring new certifications!”

At Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, we have more than 13,000 testing centers set up around the world.  We know how simple it is to become an Certiport Authorized Testing Center today and start offering any of our certifications such as the Microsoft Technology Associate certification program, the Adobe® Certified Associate certification program, or the IC3 Digital Literacy certification.

This June 18 – 20 Certiport will hold the inaugural 2015 CERTIFIED Educators Conference to help you explore the power and potential of technology certification in your classroom.  CERTIFIED will be the place to learn how simple it is to implement certification and hear from others who have done it successfully.

To learn more about how Certiport can help your CTE program teach and validate in-demand workforce skills with industry-recognized certification, visit Certiport at booth or

Thank you to Certiport for sponsoring the 2015 Spring Meeting!


Register & Submit Sessions for CareerTech VISION Today!

March 11th, 2015

Vision15_Site Banner

Registration is now open for CareerTech VISION 2015! NASDCTEc is particularly excited about this year’s VISION as we are organizing a series of sessions on the National Career Clusters Framework and its implementation through programs of study, featuring successful practices from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, California and elsewhere.

VISON 2015 features a rich array of CTE topics and programming, including:

  • 200+ breakout sessions in a variety of formats, including lecture, hands-on labs, and roundtable discussions
  • A wide range of secondary and an increased number of postsecondary CTE topics, addressing such issues as secondary to postsecondary transitions and multiple pathways to college and career readiness
  • Sessions to help attendees improve outcomes on federal and state performance indicators
  • NCAC and NAF Career Academy sessions
  • And more!

This is the biggest conference of the year for CTE educators, administrators and leaders, so don’t miss out and register today!

For those of you interested in sharing your best practices, innovative resources or relevant research you still have until March 27 to submit a proposal. Click here to submit your idea today.

 Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director, NASDCTEc

Top Five Reasons to Attend NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting

March 2nd, 2015

Thinking about coming to NASDCTEc’s upcoming Spring meeting on April 8-10 in Washington D.C., but haven’t decided yet? cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150Here are five reasons why you should definitely attend!

1. To mix it up with secondary, postsecondary, workforce development leaders and employers: Our agenda, speakers and participants are leaders representing the full spectrum of CTE. We’re kicking off Wednesday with a panel of high-level leaders from the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Labor talking about inter-agency collaboration, followed by sessions focused on aligning efforts to better serve learners at all levels.

2. To help build common solutions: We are bringing back the Collaboration Roundtables, based on the positive feedback from the Fall meeting, however, we are changing them in important ways. This time around, they will focus on building solutions to common challenges such as CTE teacher recruitment and retention, busting myths about CTE, and selecting industry credentials and technical skills assessments. These roundtables allow for unique cross-state sharing and collective problem solving.

3. To stay on top of moving targets: With a new Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) to implement, Congress moving forward on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and more media attention on CTE than ever before, change is happening and it’s happening fast. Our meeting is designed to prepare you for these changes, with sessions on implementing WIOA, ESEA, the Higher Education Act, new employer-led initiatives to credential skills, and CTE in the press with reporters on the CTE beat.

4. To experience excellence in action: For the first time ever, our Spring meeting will recognize Excellence in Action award-winning programs of study from across the country. Learn about the best CTE has to offer and celebrate excellence at a special lunch and reception in their honor.

5. To catch up with old friends and make some new ones: Did you know that there are new State CTE Directors in more than a dozen states and territories? Our Spring meeting is the perfect time to connect with new members, and catch up with those you only have a chance to see a few times a year. Over three days, you’ll be afforded opportunities to network formally and informally, and start conversations that will carry on well after the meeting ends.

Bonus reason: Cherry blossoms! Why wouldn’t you want to be in Washington, DC during cherry blossom season?

Learn more and register today!

CTE Month: Celebrating CTE Across the Country

February 19th, 2015

ctemonththumbnailWe have  heard of some great work going on across the country for Career Technical Education (CTE) Month!

A number of states are using CTE Month as a time to raise awareness around the importance of CTE. The Missouri Department of Early and Secondary Education is running a 30 second radio spot throughout the month to help educate the public on the value of CTE Month, while the Maine Department of Education released an article in the Commissioner’s update. Also Alaska, Michigan, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin proclaimed February at CTE Month.

Some states took advantage of the CTE: Learning that Works for America campaign resources, like Michigan, which requested all Department of Education employees to use the CTE Learning that Works for Michigan logo. In addition, South Dakota Career and Technical Education State CTE Promo Newsletter 2015 2Association developed a newsletter (that you can see to your right)  delivered to all legislators in the state, also using the Learning that Works branding.

Other organizations held grassroots events, like Salem Vocational Technical FFA Chapter’s road-side clean up and leadership conference and Seymour Community High School’s school tour, which was featured on the local news.

CTE Month is also a time to celebrate! The Indiana Department of Education held their 31st Annual Awards for Excellence Ceremony honoring students, instructors, programs and partnerships in CTE. The Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Community College System launched the Career and Technical Education Creating Excellence Awards to recognize programs, committees and business and industry partnerships at local, regional and state levels.

It’s thrilling to see all the excitement and good work going on from the national to grassroots levels in communities around the nation. It’s not too late to send us what you’re doing so that we can promote your excellent work too! Email your CTE Month activities to

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Register Today for Upcoming Webinars

February 2nd, 2015

There’s still time to register for NASDCTEc’s upcoming webinars!

2014 State CTE Policy Reviewspr
February 5, 2015, 3 – 4 p.m. ET
States are increasingly looking to CTE as a means to help close the skills gap and boost the number of people with a postsecondary credential. Join us as we step through the major state policy trends affecting CTE from 2014 including new laws, executive actions and regulatory activity. This webinar will coincide with the release of the second annual “2014 State CTE Policy Review,” a joint publication from ACTE and NASDCTEc.


  • Catherine Imperatore, Research Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education
  • Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

Register Today

Employer Engagement: State PerspectivesUntitled
February 10, 2015, 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Join us for an in-depth discussion as we take a closer look at how Alabama and Kansas, in concert with their employer partners, work together to inform, align and enhance their CTE systems at the secondary and postsecondary levels. This webinar is the second in a series on employer engagement. To learn more about employer engagement in CTE, check out our newest report!


  • Dr. Philip C. Cleveland, Alabama State Director of CTE and Workforce Development
  • George Clark, President, Manufacture Alabama and Chair of the Alabama Workforce Investment Board
  • Dr. Blake Flanders, Vice President of Workforce Development, Kansas Board of Regents
  • Keven Ward, Public Sector Consultant, Trane

Register Today

This Week in CTE

January 30th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK blog-thumbnail-thiswek
@CCRSCenter Join us Feb. 12 for our #CTEMonth #CCRSchat with @CTEWorks, we’ll be asking them questions about #CTE and #careerreadiness.

How Tech Ed Has Transformed with the Times
In Vermont, 16 regional career and technical education centers provide stellar CTE to students, with a focus on employer partnerships in terms of internships and apprenticeships, as well as aligning courses with industry-recognized credentials. “I have half academic classes, so half high school classes, then I have three hours a day here. It’s really nice to have that split up, so you have the best of both worlds. I have my math classes at school and I have all the creative learning here with the designing,” said Jake Maurer, Essex High School junior.

Connecting the Classroom to Promising Health Careers
This PBS special dives into Oakland’s Life Academy highly successful academic and work-based learning approach, making it clear to students what opportunities awaits them in the healthcare field.

Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC)
The RACC is a network of colleges and apprenticeship programs, created by the US Department of Labor, dedicated to ensuring students are provided with opportunities to move from college to career.

CTE Month kicks off February! Keep an eye out for Twitter chats, articles, videos, onsite events and more. If you’re doing anything for CTE Month, let us know by emailing

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate