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

AEI’s “The Labor Market Today: Is Unemployment Cyclical or Structural?”

September 11th, 2013

Though the 2008 economic recession officially ended in June of 2009, the United States has still been experiencing a consistently high level of unemployment during its recovery. This is a subject of critical national concern that policymakers and stakeholders alike must address as we continue to put America back to work. This past Monday, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) held a panel discussion titled “The Labor Market Today: Is Unemployment Cyclical or Structural?” to better address and explain the nation’s struggle with unemployment. Peter Diamond, Nobel Prize-winning economist and keynote speaker at the event, expressed the urgency surrounding this perennial topic saying, “The issue of unemployment is to my mind a crisis in this county.”job-market

Dean Baker from the Center of Economic and Policy Research and AEI’s Kevin Hassett joined Diamond on the panel to discuss whether unemployment is a product of the natural business cycle or if there are structural components at work hindering job growth.  Diamond in particular argued that current trends in unemployment stem from a lack of aggregate demand and recommended further investments in education, training, and infrastructure to spur growth along with other fiscal and monetary stimuli. Alternatively, Hassett highlighted the negative consequences of long-term unemployment as a result of the recession.  Each of the panelists agreed that more work is needed to reconnect unemployed individuals with in-demand jobs.

Career Technical Education (CTE) rests at a critical juncture between many of these potential areas of improvement and was spoken about positively. Diamond’s suggested fiscal policies promoting education and training were particularly useful in connecting the dots between investments in CTE and positive returns-on-investment later in the labor market. Along with this, the panel also recommended that keeping students, workers, and the unemployed consistently engaged with the labor market was of critical importance.  CTE does this exceptionally well, providing students with practical workplace experiences along with the academic and technical skills needed to successfully compete in the workforce. Work sharing programs like those seen in Washington State and Germany were also mentioned as potential models for improving the national unemployment situation.

A summary of the event, related presentations, and an archived video can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Career Pathways to Help the Middle Class Secure Better Skills and Higher Wages

September 4th, 2013

It is important to take into account that workers with higher levels of education tend to have greater earnings and lower unemployment rates than workers with lower levels of education. It is a hard economy and post-secondary education is going to play a vital role is securing good jobs for low-income adults and long-term unemployed workers. These individuals require access to effective post-secondary programs and training.

Profiles of adult workers in need of better skills and wages from all 50 states have been developed by COWS (Center on Wisconsin Strategy) and CLASP. The research reflects every state’s profile estimating the number of adult workers (ages 25-64) who are without two or four-year college degrees or has limited English skills and who make less than the state median wage or are in the labor force but have been employed for the last one year.

Career pathways are connected education and training services that make it possible for students to advance gradually to higher levels of education and employment in an industry or field of their choice. States have adopted Career pathways help adults and youth gain the postsecondary education and training they need for high demand and better-paying jobs.

The data in the profiles serves as a great resource for setting goals and designing policies and strategies to meet the unique requirements of this demographic that can be effectively used by policymakers and advocates. Developing strategies based on private and public funding sources, such as the Workforce Investment Act, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and state and local funding should be the focus of policy makers. It is the need of the hour to address this issue and help more workers secure credentials and family-sustaining employment.

Please visit here for state profiles and data for all 50 states.

Kimaya Dixit, Communications & Marketing Manager

ACTE’s Infographic Promotes CTE Funding

August 21st, 2013

To make your voice heard when the Congress is out during their month-long recess in August, reach out to the policy makers through social media. Digital advocacy campaigns over Twitter and Facebook are not only gaining popularity, but are also surprisingly effective.

Tapping into this, the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) has developed a compelling infographic to spread the message of CTE and the importance of stopping cuts to Perkins funding. The call to action is to share the infopgraphic on Facebook pages of your Members of Congress throughout the month. More information on this is available here.

The infographic creatively draws attention to stopping the cuts and increasing CTE funding.


Kimaya Dixit, Communications & Marketing Manager


ICYMI: Rhode Island Granted $670,000 for Workforce Training and Education

August 20th, 2013

An announcement made by Governor Lincoln D. Chafee says that Rhode Island will receive a $670,000 Workforce Investment Act (WIA) incentive grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Rhode Island qualified for this incentive grant due to its high performance in adult education and workforce development program. The grants are in action since 1998; however this is the first time that RI has been eligible.

All WIA performance targets regarding adult education, entering postsecondary education or training have been sufficiently exceeded by Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). Some of the targets surpassed include GED completion, educational gains, entered employment and employee retention.

Funds from the incentives grants will most likely be used to purchase technology tools. This will also be accompanied by investment in data-analytics technology that will track the progress of employment programs and analyze specific trends in workforce development. Besides using the tools in adult education classrooms, RIDE also plans to establish a Technology Committee to implement a comprehensive statewide technology strategy to address policy and access issues.

The incentive funds will play a vital role in continuing to improve the quality of adult-education services in Rhode Island.

For official comments from the Governor and other state officials, please read this.

Kimaya Dixit, Communications & Marketing Manager

State CTE Policy Updates: July Edition Part Two

July 31st, 2013

State MapThis past month, a number of states have adopted or implemented policies related to Career Technical Education (CTE). Below is a part two of July’s state policy updates, all of which focus on dual enrollment or postsecondary CTE. You can read part one here.

Educational Collaborative Partnership in Maine
Maine passed legislation creating a collaborative board – with representatives from secondary and postsecondary CTE – to implement a program by 2014-15 that will enable more CTE students to earn college credit through dual enrollment while still enrolled in high school. Specifically, the state defines “dual enrollment career and technical education program” as a non-duplicative learning pathway that begins in junior year, extends over a three-year period, includes summer career academies and a college freshman seminar experiences, meets national concurrent enrollment standards, includes college-level coursework that supports an associate’s degree, and concludes at the end of the summer following the student’s senior year. While the agreements are made between institutions, there are opportunities for credits to be accepted across the state.

Dual Enrollment in Rhode Island
Rhode Island passed the Dual Enrollment Equal Opportunity Act this month requiring the State Board of Education to create regulation establishing statewide dual enrollment. The regulation must allow students to enroll in courses at postsecondary institutions that satisfy academic credit requirements at both the secondary and postsecondary level (it is unclear at this time if CTE courses will fall under this distinction of “academic credit”.) The State Board of Education is expected to convene a work group to help establish such a policy, including its impact on funding, and then school districts (including charter school and CTE schools) will have to adopt the policy by June 2015. Districts will then be required to report annually on the number of students engaging in dual enrollment and number of postsecondary credits earned. The bill is effective immediately.

Missouri’s Innovation Education Campuses
Missouri passed SB 381 establishing the Innovation Education Campus Fund, supporting partnerships between high schools or K-12 districts, public or private four-year institutions of high education, public two-year institutions of higher education, and/or Missouri-based businesses. The campuses engaging in such partnerships are eligible to receive funds if they are actively working to lower the cost of degree and shorten the time to earning a degree, provide applied and project-based learning in consultation with the business and industry partners, graduate students with direct access to career opportunities, and engage in active partnerships in ongoing program development and outcome reviews.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Common Core State Standards & CTE Roundup

July 8th, 2013

CCSS LogoWith nearly every state in the country working to implement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English/Literacy, and more and more resources and information being generated by states, districts, schools and education-focused organizations to support implementation, NASDCTEc is excited to present a blog series on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Career Technical Education (CTE) that features news and resource directly impacting CTE educators as well as other materials we think are useful to the field.

Featured Resources & Tools
The Teaching Channel offers an ever-growing library of videos to support the classroom-level implementation of the CCSS, including a number of videos that could be of specific use to CTE educators, such as this video on communications and robotics, this video on designing an iPad case for teachers, and this video on inquiry-based teaching.

The Georgia Department of Education has a Wiki page to support educators as they implement the CCSS in English Language Arts/Literacy, with a specific focus on CTE, science and history teachers. While only Georgia educators can use the message boards and share resources, the site has some good introductory tools to support non-English teachers’ implementation of a literacy-focused task, including “the reading process” and “writing.”

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) published an article entitled, With Common Core State Standards, Why Service Learning Matters Even More.” The authors define service learning as “when the academic and service connection is deliberate and includes student initiative, authenticated needs, reciprocal collaborations with community partners, and meaningful reflection” and argue that the goals of the CCSS are intertwined with the goals of service learning.

CTB/McGraw Hill released an infographic to help explain the CCSS and related assessments and resources.

CCSS and CTE Update
The International Society of Technology Education (ISTE) has released a position statement supporting the Common Core State Standards and calling on states to align the implementation of the new content standards with the organization’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). Included with the position statement is an infographic.

Updates on Common Core Assessments

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
PARCC recently released updated information on the non-summative components of the assessment system, including a mid-year assessment, K-1 formative assessment tools, diagnostic assessments for grades 2-8, the speaking and listening assessment, and professional development (PD) modules for educators and administrators. None of these assessments or tools will count towards a school’s or student’s accountability score, and only the speaking and listening assessment is required for every student to take.

Notably, while all of the components were originally intended to be released in 2014-15 school year, PARCC has decided to delay the formative and diagnostic assessment tools until 2015-16 to dedicate more time to the finalization of the summative assessment components (e.g., performance-based assessments and end-of-year assessments in mathematics and ELA/Literacy). The assessment PD modules will be released next summer. See here for an update on all of these components, including procurement updates.

In other PARCC-related news, Oklahoma has decided to opt out of the PARCC assessments and develop their own Common Core-aligned assessments moving forward, citing technology challenges and costs. The state has not yet decided to fully leave the PARCC consortium or stay on as a “participating state,” which carries no major responsibilities or commitments at this time.

In June, PARCC held three Twitter Town halls, the transcripts of which can be found here.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
As a reminder, Smarter Balanced now has online practice tests that aim to give educators, parents and students a preview of the full assessment system set of come online in 2014-15.  To learn more about the practice tests, see the Smarter Balanced website.


Have a good CCSS-CTE resource to share? Contact us at [email protected]!

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director



State CTE Policy Update: Five States Adopt the Next Generation Science Standards

July 1st, 2013

Last week, Maryland and Vermont joined Kansas, Kentucky and Rhode Island as the first five states to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The NGSS were released in Spring 2013 after a 3-plus year development effort. The effort began when the National Research Council, the research arm of the National Academies of Sciences, developed The Framework for K-12 Science Education (released  in July 2011), which identified the key content all K-12 students need to learn in science based on research and input from scientists, science educators, and science education standards and policy experts.

The Framework was the guiding document for the NGSS and set the content and much of the organization of the NGSS, including the intersection of content (core ideas), scientific and engineering  practice, and cross-cutting concepts. For more on the NGSS and their development and design, see

The NGSS have a clear  relationship with and impact on Career Technical Education (CTE), including, but not limited to, a renewed opportunity to integrate traditional science courses with CTE courses in engineering, health sciences, and agriculture. Our State CTE Policy Updates will monitor progress on state adoption and new resources relevant to the CTE field in the coming months.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

State CTE Policy Updates

June 18th, 2013

State MapThis past month, there has been overwhelming action on the Career Technical Education (CTE) front across states, with major bills passing in Texas, Colorado, Vermont, Alabama, Washington and Oklahoma as well as bills pending in Michigan and North Carolina. As Texas had a number of CTE-related bills pass in the last few weeks, we’ll post a separate blog on Texas’ CTE policy changes later this week.

CTE Funding in Alabama
Last month, Alabama passed a $50 million bond issue to support technology and Career Technical Education programs. The bonds will likely be sold next year, with $10 million divided among schools based on the technology programs of offered; $20 million distributed based on the number of CTE students at each school; and the final $20 million to be distributed through grants. While this has a direct positive impact on CTE program across the state, all students will benefit from a new investment in technology.

Colorado’s Competency-based Graduation Requirements & Career Pathways
The Colorado State Board of Education revised the state’s graduation requirements in May, putting in place competency-based requirements, which hinge on students’ mastery of content rather than seat time.  The state has created “graduation guidelines,” outlining ways in which students can demonstrate mastery in the four major content areas (English, mathematics, social studies and science), such as earning a certain score on the ACT, PARCC or statewide assessment; passing a concurrent/dual enrollment course; or passing an AP/IB exam. Starting in 2015-16, the state will allow certain capstone experiences to count and by 2013-13, the state will develop a list of potentially eligible industry-based certificates that may count towards competency in various content areas.  Local education agencies are expected to set their own district-level requirements in alignment with the state policy.

Colorado also passed a bill directing the state board for community colleges and occupational education, with K-12 and postsecondary partners, to design a career pathway for students in the manufacturing sector. The pathway must include industry-validated stackable certificates, multiple entry and exit points, and allow a student to earn income while progressing through the pathway.

Maryland’s Degree Goals & Statewide Transfer Agreements
Maryland recently passed “The College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013” formalizing the Governor’s postsecondary degree goals (55% adults will have an associate’s degree by 2025) and requiring statewide transfer agreements between the state’s two- and four-year institutions of higher education. Specifically, the bill calls on the Maryland Higher Education Commission to develop and implement a transfer agreement where, by 2016, at least 60 credits earned by a student at any community college towards an associate’s degree will be transferable to any public higher education institution for credit towards a bachelor’s degree and a reverse transfer agreement where at least 30 credits earned by a student at a four-year institution will be transferable to a community college.

The Act also requires all public institutions of higher education to create graduation progress benchmarks for each major, which includes scheduling guidance, credit and course criteria, and schedules for regular periodic reviews of student progress. Finally, the bill requires four years of mathematics for students in high school and institutionalizes the PARCC assessments by requiring all students to be assessed using an acceptable college placement cut score by 11th grade to determine if they are ready for credit-bearing coursework in English/Literacy and mathematics.

The Maryland legislature also funded Governor O’Malley’s $2 million Early College Innovation Fund to incentivize early college access programs for students pursuing CTE and/or STEM disciplines. Specifically, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will generate competitive grants to fund partnerships of local school systems and higher education institutions to create early college high schools or other forms of early college access. Priority would be given to proposals that provide students with credentials (in the form of degrees, certificates, and certifications, as appropriate) in fields for which there is high demand in Maryland.

Oklahoma’s Competency-Based Graduation Requirements
Oklahoma recently updated their graduation requirements, broadening each of the content area course requirements to be met by “units” completed or “competencies” demonstrated by students. As such, students can receive course credit for demonstrated proficiency rather than just instructional time moving forward.

Vermont’s Flexible Pathways Initiative
A new bill in Vermont creates the Flexible Pathways Initiative, establishing statewide dual enrollment and early college programs. This bill amends the state’s high school completion program by allowing flexible pathways students to pursue pathways to graduation that include applied or work-based learning opportunities, including internships. It also calls for career exploration to no later than seventh grade for all students.

Computer Science in Washington
Last month, Governor Inslee in Washington signed a bill allowing an AP Computer Science course to count towards students’ mathematics or science requirements for graduation.  Washington already allows districts to adopt course equivalences for CTE high school courses towards a full or partial academic credit; this bill requires districts to allow AP computer science courses to count as mathematics or science courses. For the computer science course to count towards a mathematics credit, however, the student must have already completed or be currently enrolled in Algebra II.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Sequestration in Three Minutes

May 28th, 2013

NDD United  is a coalition of organizations and associations committed to saving nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, such as education, health care, research and others, from additional cuts at the federal level.  The coalition, of which the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NADSCTEc) is a member, has recently released a clever and effective video describing sequestration in just under three minutes.

For more information on NDD United and how to spread their message, see this Toolkit.

On Twitter? On Thursday May 30, join NDD United’s Twitter Storm using #nomorecuts!

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Legislative Update: Drop in Per Pupil Spending for Public Elementary and Secondary Systems

May 24th, 2013

Duncan Testifies on FY14 Budget at House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing

This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on the FY14 budget. Members of Congress focused their questions mostly on student loans but also discussed topics such as the No Child Left Behind waivers, early childhood education, and the Common Core State Standards.

Though Career Technical Education (CTE) was not a primary point of discussion, Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) pressed Secretary Duncan on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Blueprint. He expressed concerns about the hold harmless provision and asked Duncan if CTE funds would be reallocated if the proposed Blueprint is passed. Secretary Duncan did not provide a detailed response but welcomed conversation on the issue. Staff is connecting with Representative Heck’s office and encourages State Directors to make outreach to their Representatives on CTE issues.

FY14 Appropriations: House 302(b) Allocations Update

As reported last week, the House Appropriations Committee released their draft FY14 302(b) allocations which suggest devastating cuts for programs with funding allocated under the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) including CTE.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee held a markup and approved the allocations with acknowledgement that changes are needed. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) stated that, “Sequestration is taking a huge toll on discretionary spending, leaving us with this very low topline number. Yet our hands are tied, and we must try and make do with the level we have right now. It is my sincere hope that there will soon be a budget compromise that will undo the damaging sequestration law and give us a single, common top-line allocation with the Senate.”

Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) offered amendments to the FY14 budget that were each rejected on a party line vote.

Sequestration Update

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, introduced an updated sequestration replacement bill on behalf of House Democrats – the same plan offered by Representative DeLauro at the House Appropriations Committee markup. The bill would replace all sequestration cuts through FY14 with a balanced plan containing $181 billion in deficit reduction through half revenue and half spending cuts.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Udall (D-CO) continue to promote S.465, a bill that would allow agency heads to propose how sequester cuts would be divided for programs in their agency and submit to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval. Without approval from the Committee, the current sequestration cuts would remain in effect for the agency. This approach would not eliminate the cuts but reshuffle them and could result in education programs competing with one another for funding. Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has disagreed with this approach and is instead calling for the elimination or replacement of sequester cuts.

Drop in Per Pupil Spending for Public Elementary and Secondary SystemsU.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released an analysis on public education finances. As noted in the report and indicated in the chart, FY11 saw the first drop in per pupil expenditures for public elementary and secondary school students – down 1.1 percent from $595.1 billion between 2010 and 2011 –  since 1997.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager