As States Complete Listening Tours, Early ESSA Plans Show Opportunities to Expand CTE

September 28th, 2016

LA MeetingsIn the nine months since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last December, states and policymakers have been hard at work digging through the legislation and deciding how to structure their new plans. ESSA, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, presents a number of opportunities to expand access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). As states prepare to implement the law next year, we will provide periodic updates on their progress and share strategies for leveraging ESSA to support CTE at the state level.

Early Drafts and Proposals from the States

Most states this summer have been gathering input from stakeholders on their ESSA implementation plans as required by the new law. While many are still completing their listening tours (you can find an overview here), a few states have released draft proposals:

  • Illinois recently released a draft of its state plan, which State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith offered as a “work in progress.” The plan describes how Illinois’ secondary CTE system, which is supported, in part, with funds from the Carl D. Parkins Act, aligns with ESSA’s new focus on a ‘well-rounded education’ — a key concept in the new law includes CTE as part of the statutory definition. The state Board of Education also adopted a framework for a college and career readiness indicator, including such components as industry credential attainment, work-based learning participation, and postsecondary credit attainment. It is yet to be determined if the framework will be included in the state’s broader, multi-indicator system of accountability. Illinois plans to conduct 14 listening sessions in September and October, after which time the state will revise and publish an updated state plan later this fall.
  • After much deliberation, the California Board of Education approved a new accountability system earlier this month, adopting an indicator for college and career readiness. The indicator allows schools to count students completing a CTE pathway, although the overall score will not differentiate these students from those meeting other college and career readiness indicators such as earning a passing score on an Advanced Placement exam. The accountability system lacks criteria to measure students who are “well-prepared” for college and careers. Meanwhile, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that would have revised the accountability system to place more weight on test scores.
  • Louisiana released a summary report from its listening tour this summer, providing parents, educators and other education stakeholders an overview of progress towards a new state plan. Suggestions under consideration include incentivizing and rewarding schools for students earning industry-recognized credentials, partnering with business and industry to recruit teachers with industry experience, and providing students more opportunities to enroll in postsecondary education and training during their senior year. It is important to note that Louisiana is still considering these recommendations for the purposes of their forthcoming final plan.
  • Finally, Arizona released a draft state plan for residents of the state to review. While the draft is preliminary, Superintendent Diane Douglas promises the final version will align with the state’s AZ Kids Can’t Wait! Plan, which is currently undergoing updates. The state is receiving feedback through both public meetings and the Department of Education’s website, and plans to release an updated version in mid-October.

Department of Education Releases Guidance on “Evidence-Based” Strategies

ESSA provides states more flexibility to select a turnaround strategy for struggling schools, as long as the intervention is evidence-based. In keeping up with this requirement, the U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help state and local leaders identify and implement evidence-based turnaround strategies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) highlighted the potential for CTE to be included in this part of ESSA implementation in formal comments to ED this summer.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Education Sciences updated the What Works Clearinghouse to allow users to search for evidence-based strategies by school characteristics, grade span, demographics and more.

Tackling Accountability: Helpful Resources for Selecting a College and Career Readiness Indicator

college ready plusA new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation offers a framework for a  “College Ready Plus” indicator that evaluates students’ postsecondary preparation using measures such as work-based learning and attainment of an industry-recognized credential. The paper describes the role that employers can play in helping states adopt and implement a career readiness indicator.

The American Institutes of Research developed a policy framework to help states align their visions for college and career readiness with requirements and opportunities under ESSA. The brief focuses on the law’s three most salient policy components related to college and career readiness: well-rounded education, multiple-measure accountability systems and purposeful assessments.

Also helpful: a policy paper from the Learning Policy Institute that takes advantage of the ESSA policy window to propose a new model for accountability. The paper offers three potential career readiness indicators — CTE pathway completion, work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials — and discusses strategies for collecting and presenting data in a way that supports continuous improvement.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Legislative Update: Senate Efforts on Perkins Reauthorization Stall

September 21st, 2016

United States CapitalLast week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (405-5) in favor of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587)— comprehensive legislation that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Upon last week’s passage, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) applauded the vast showing of bipartisan support in the House, while still noting that the legislation’s proposed definition for a secondary CTE concentrator must still be fixed as the process moved forward.

With attention turning to the Senate, the leaders of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee scheduled a markup of their forthcoming Perkins reauthorization bill for September 21st. Unfortunately as committee members worked towards a final draft, bipartisan negotiations stalled and the markup was postponed.

The main reason cited for this delay was attributed to continued disagreements over “secretarial authority” and proposed prohibitions language that would limit the U.S. Secretary of Education’s oversight of Perkins.

This week HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued a statement saying, in part, that he believes “Congress should be able to finish its work on Perkins this year,” while reiterating his concerns related to secretarial authority. A spokesperson for Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a similar statement saying that, “Senator Murray has been working with Democrats and Republicans toward a bipartisan bill to reauthorize Perkins CTE, and she is hopeful that this can continue and get done as quickly as possible.”

Yesterday, Advance CTE and ACTE issued a statement of their own encouraging the Senate to move forward with Perkins reauthorization in a bipartisan manner. As Congressional consideration of Perkins continues, Advance CTE will continue to work with staff on the Hill to ensure the best possible bill is produced from this process.

Be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE: House Passes Perkins

September 16th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

STATEMENT OF THE WEEK

“The passage of H.R. 5587 is an important step toward reauthorizing the primary federal legislative investment in Career Technical Education (CTE). The bill would afford states and local secondary and postsecondary recipients the flexibility to build upon their existing efforts to deliver high-quality CTE programs while also promoting innovation and program alignment, all within a framework of streamlined administrative requirements and a more intentional focus on local needs. The legislation will ultimately help fuel the talent pipeline and prepare workers for the high-skills, high-wage, high-demand careers of the 21st century.

“While the bill represents a major step forward for CTE across the nation, we do have a remaining concern related to the bill’s proposed definition for a secondary CTE concentrator. As currently structured, the definiton would result in inaccurate measurements of CTE’s impact and influence on student success. We look forward to working with congressional leaders to resolve this important concern as the process moves forward.

“Nevertheless, we applaud this bipartisan effort to reauthorize Perkins, which will help ensure that our nation’s 11 million CTE students are prepared for lifelong education and career success. With this strong showing of support from them House, we urge the Senate to build upon this momentum by reauthorizing Perkins before the end of the year.” – Joint statement from Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE and LeAnn Wilson, Executive Director of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Career and Tech Ed for the Modern Age: 3 Things to Know About the New Federal Proposal

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The Association for Career and Technical Education wrote a piece on how CTE educators can support and help implement the principles if Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE

This Week in CTE: Tell Congress to Make Perkins a Priority

September 9th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

Earlier this week, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement of support urging both Chambers of Congress to move forward with its efforts to renew Perkins before the end of the year.

TELL CONGRESS YOU WANT PERKINS REAUTHORIZED TODAY

As the remaining days in the 114th Congress dwindle, it’s important to let your member(s) of Congress and know how important Perkins reauthorization is to your community, your state, and our country.

Find your member of congress and visit ACTE’s CTE Action Center to contact your Senators and Representative directly to let them know you want Perkins reauthorization to be a priority. Weigh in on Twitter with some sample tweets we’ve provided here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Election 2016: From Governor’s Mansions to the Senate, the Democratic Ticket Boasts Years of CTE Experience

August 24th, 2016

This is the second part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Democratic ticket. A previous post covering the Republican ticket is accessible here.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in AnnandaleAn Advocate for Children and Families, Clinton Sees Opportunity in Free College

With decades in the public eye, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity to define and hone her position on education, which she says “should be the great door-opener.” Her campaign aims to knock down barriers to the middle class through apprenticeships, career technical education (CTE) and debt-free college.

Clinton’s work in public education dates back to 1983 when, in her role as First Lady of Arkansas, she led an initiative to develop more rigorous standards for public schools in the state. Years later, as New York’s junior Senator, she went on to serve on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. There, she worked on two foundational pieces of education legislation: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Clinton’s education policy platform for the 2016 election aims to expand access to the middle class by removing barriers to higher education. She has proposed a plan to make community colleges free and to cover the cost of tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities for families making less than $125,000. These proposals are loosely based on similar efforts in Tennessee and other states that have seen increased enrollment and higher retention rates at community and technical colleges.

As crucial as college is, Clinton asserted in her Democratic National Convention speech in July that, “a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.” She went on to say “we’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.” To do this, her campaign has proposed a tax credit of up to $1,500 for businesses hosting apprentices and is considering “options to incentivize CTE programs and help provide grants to train workers for the 21st century economy.”

Tim Kaine’s Support for CTE Dates Back to His Work as a Teacher in Honduras

Perhaps the the lengthiest CTE résumé this cycle goes to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine. His education record — which includes broad initiatives as Virginia Governor and tireless support for CTE in the Senate — dates all the way back to his childhood.

The son of a welder, Kaine briefly helped manage a technical school in Honduras before returning to complete his law degree at Harvard University. Kaine’s interest in CTE followed him to the Virginia Governor’s mansion where, in 2008, he announced an initiative to create six Career and Technical Academies across the state. The initiative, which was launched with a grant from the National Governor’s Association, aimed to align K-12 instruction in STEM fields with workforce and postsecondary expectations, while equipping more students with marketable skills that lead to high-demand, high-wage careers.

In Virginia, Kaine also launched the Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Awards Program, which recognizes CTE programs that align with industry standards, effectively engage local partners, provide relevant and integrated academic and technical instruction, and more.

In the Senate, Kaine co-founded the bipartisan CTE Caucus along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in 2014, stating that “career and technical programs … can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation.” His work with this caucus has led to the introduction of a number of CTE-related legislation, including the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would establish a formal definition for CTE programs of study within the Perkins Act.

His persistent advocacy for high-quality CTE in the Senate led to a number of legislative victories, most recently in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). With Kaine’s support, ESSA now includes provisions to fund career counseling programs, help teachers integrate academic and technical instruction, add CTE to the definition of a “well-rounded education,” encourage states to use career readiness indicators in their accountability systems, and fund professional development for CTE teachers.

CTE has long benefited from bipartisan support, and the 2016 election is no exception. With mere months until the election, we look forward to the candidates continuing to elevate high-quality CTE as an effective educational strategy in their platforms, in their speeches and in the debates later this fall.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

SkillsUSA Supports Putting Learner Success First

August 17th, 2016

This post is written by by Tim Lawrence, Executive Director, SkillsUSA, a supporter of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. 

The past year was one of growth and change for Career Technical Education (CTE). With interest in the media and on Capitol Hill, CTE was in the spotlight as a strategy for addressing our education and workforce challenges. Helping more learners navigate pathways to careers and continued education is a national priority that is shared by educators, employers and Congress.

I was proud to watch history unfold when Advance CTE and six national organizations released a collective vision that proposed a transformation of CTE. Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE is a clear call to action. It asks leaders, policymakers and practitioners to commit to a high-quality CTE system where learners prepare for success.

In Orlando last October, I attended the Future of CTE Summit. The event brought together leaders in K-12 and postsecondary education with those in workforce development. I was extremely honored to be a part of this important summit and provide input to the process. Together, we reviewed the CTE landscape and thought strategically about how CTE could expand its contributions to education. The vision that resulted from this gathering offers key guiding principles and action steps including high standards, empowering learners, flexible learning options led by knowledgeable experts, and systems that put students first.

One thing CTE leaders do well is collaborate and build off each success. Advance CTE is leading the charge, and SkillsUSA is proud to support these efforts. This vision is truly a shared vision across many organizations including SkillsUSA.

As it has for nearly 100 years, Advance CTE represents state leaders of CTE who support visionary state leadership and best practices, and who promote academic and technical excellence that ensures a career-ready workforce. This in turn helps position the United States to flourish in a global economy.

Like other Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), SkillsUSA considers itself is a vital solution to the growing skills gap. Our partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. We serve more than 300,000 member students and instructors annually in middle schools, high schools and colleges. Our diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into CTE through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.

We are proud to work with Advance CTE. Their work supports our mission and continues to seek better ways to advance learning and engage students. CTE is getting attention and gaining ground for one reason: because it works. CTE is a proven workforce and education strategy. CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in postsecondary education, be employed and earn higher wages.

Employers are hungry for more prepared students and future employees, so what is holding us back? CTE still faces a stereotype across our country as being a place for low-achievers or non-college-bound students. The systems in place keep CTE separate from other education, and not just in a silo — but often in a separate building. We have to keep pushing to educate the public about CTE to ensure that students know about it before they select high-school classes, and to review how programs are planned and delivered to ensure students can follow a career path and be college- and career-ready.

We are all accountable for our success and failure within CTE. We must swiftly eliminate programs that are no longer relevant in today’s economy and invest in what works. To support all learners on their career journeys requires nothing short of major transformation. The hard work has begun by Advance CTE and its leadership. They are changing the face of CTE one student at a time. We look forward to embracing and promoting the vision of Putting Learner Success First. Working together with Advance CTE, we will enhance our education and workforce systems and enable more of our learners to live successful and productive lives and grow in careers that support our schools, communities and our nation’s economic prosperity.

Putting Learner Success First: New Resources, New Supporters & More!

August 16th, 2016

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In May, Advance CTE and six partner organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, establishing a bold vision for all of education, which includes, but is not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE). Since the release, tens of thousands of copies have been distributed across the country and state and local leaders have begun to signal their commitment to its implementation.

To support leaders at all levels turn this shared vision into a reality – and truly support ALL learners on their paths to career success – Advance CTE has created a number of resources and materials. We will continue to build and share new tools and resources in coming months.

New Resources

Want to help spread the word about the shared vision? Check out our tips for sharing Putting Learner Success First or dive right in and use our PowerPoint and talking points.

Looking to make the case to state CTE leaders? Use this two-pager to get started.

Or, want to understand what work is already underway to support the vision’s principles and actions nationally? Review this chart of aligned national efforts to track progress and see where new investment are most needed.

New Vision Supporters

We are so excited to announce that SkillsUSA and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) have both officially signed on as supporters to Putting Learner Success First, joining the original seven supportive organizations! As two of the leading Career Technical Student Organizations in the country, they support the leadership, technical and academic skills of learners in all 50 states - serving over 450,000 learners and instructors. You can read their sign on letters here and be on the look out for their guest blogs soon.

Sign on Campaign

Finally, we recently created a sign on campaign, where leaders and supporters at all levels can show their support for the shared vision. We encourage you to join your peers from across the country and sign on today!

 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Welcome Eric Feldborg, New Hampshire’s new State CTE Director

August 15th, 2016

Eric Feldborg has had a less traditional route to the State CTE Director position in New Hampshire. Beginning his career as a process and product engineer, he then transitioned into building custom furniture, all the while serving as a skiing instructor on the winter weekends. Eventually, Feldborg recognized his love of teaching and decided to make a career of it by becoming a science teacher. Feldborg ended up spending 15 years teaching, eight of which were at a competency-based school. In the process of getting recertified, Feldborg began taking graduate courses and became more deeply interested in education leadership and the social sciences, eventually earning a doctorate of education from Plymouth State University.

While working on his dissertation, Feldborg reached out to the commissioner of education in the state who steered Feldborg towards an innovative project at one of the state’s Career Technical Education (CTE) centers. His research focused on how unplanned strategies emerge in complex systems undergoing transformational change. After earning his doctorate, he continued serving as the Outreach Administrator at Great Bay eLearning Charter School, then moved to the New Hampshire Department of Education. Before assuming his current role, he served as the state’s STEM Director for six months.

As State CTE Director, Feldborg hopes to serve as a facilitator and help create a more cohesive system among state leaders across the education and workforce sectors. Additionally, he wants to refine the monitoring process at the local level to ensure it is seamless and productive. Over the next year, Feldborg plans to learn the ins and outs of the requirements and determine how schools can focus on improving CTE at its core.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Election 2016: Pence’s CTE Record in Indiana Hints at Republican Ticket’s Education Agenda

August 12th, 2016

This is the first part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Republican ticket.

Trump PenceLacking an Education Record, Trump Makes Nods to Parental Choice

Coming from the private sector, Republican Nominee Donald Trump has a limited record on education. Yet he has provided some hints as to what an education agenda would look like under his administration, including a smaller role for the federal government, more choice for parents, and more employable college degrees.

Trump’s campaign website advocates more power for parents, arguing that “education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.” The real estate tycoon voiced similar sentiments in his Republican National Convention speech, promising to empower “parents [to] send [their kids] to a safe school of their choice.”

While Trump, to our knowledge, has not explicitly endorsed Career Technical Education  (CTE) as an educational strategy, there is some evidence that CTE would be included in a plan to expand parental choice. The Republican party’s 2016 platform calls for “options in learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools.” If this is any indication of what a Trump administration would look like, then CTE would likely be a priority.

In regards to higher education, the Trump campaign’s national co-chairman, Sam Clovis, hinted in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that the campaign wants reforms that would incentivize getting degrees that lead to jobs over liberal arts degrees. He argues that schools should put some “skin in the game” and share some of the risk when students pursue degrees that do not lead to high-wage jobs. This would likely lead colleges to make decisions based on students’ prospective majors and post-graduation employment prospects.

In Indiana, Pence Spearheaded Regional Collaboration and Invested in Expanding CTE

Governor Mike Pence, in contrast, has had 12  years in the U.S. House of Representatives and nearly four years as governor of Indiana with which to demonstrate his CTE chops. His education record in the House is short: he voted against the No Child Left Behind Act on the grounds that it put too much power in the hands of the federal government, and voted for the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006. Since his election as Governor of Indiana in 2012, however, Pence has made a concerted effort to prioritize CTE in schools all across the state, emphasizing the viability of both college and career pathways, which he calls “two Plan A’s.”

Most would say that Pence’s résumé in Indiana is CTE friendly. The crown jewels in his CTE record are the regional Indiana Works Councils and the state-level Career Council, both of which he worked with the state General Assembly to create during his first year in office.

The Indiana Works Councils include 11 regional boards, each composed of education and business leaders who work locally to align CTE programs with regional workforce needs. Together the councils have provided more than $4.3 million to support innovative CTE curricula across the state, which in turn reached more than 2,600 students in the first year.

At the state level, the Indiana Career Council has brought together leaders in education and industry to develop and drive CTE strategies across the state. With a three-pillar strategic plan and ongoing reviews of education and workforce needs, the Council has been the torchbearer for linking K-12, postsecondary and adult CTE to Indiana’s high wage, high demand economic sectors.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce invited Pence to speak at a hearing in 2015 about expanding opportunity in America’s schools and workplaces. In his testimony, Pence once again reinforced the need for two “Plan A’s” and urged the committee to ensure that non college-bound students “can thrive in their future careers, and one way to do this is to again make career and technical education a priority.”

While the Republican ticket has yet to articulate a proposal to expand and invest in CTE at the national level, we are hopeful that, given the Republican party’s platform and Pence’s record in Indiana, CTE would be a priority in a Trump-Pence administration.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Register today for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting!

July 28th, 2016

Join us October 17-19, 2016, in Baltimore, MD, for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! 2016 has been an exciting year for Career Technical BaltimoreEducation and Advance CTE. During this meeting, you can expect the latest behind-the-scenes information about  the rauthoirziation of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, legislation that is critical to CTE. In addition, we’ll engage around the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act.

Aside from federal policy, we will explore implementation of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. Since its release in May, the vision has had strong support from the education, workforce and policy community, as well as Advance CTE membership. In the fall, we’ll take a deep dive into how you can implement the vision principles in your own work.

Throughout the meeting, you’ll have the chance to hear from national experts during panels and breakout sessions and, as always, have ample opportunities to exchange ideas and collaborate with your colleagues on the issues and challenges you face every day. Don’t miss out on this unique professional development experience and register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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