State Leaders Are Prioritizing Workforce Readiness but the Data to Get There Is Missing

May 22nd, 2019

Workforce readiness takes center stage in most education policy conversations these days. With last year’s reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (now known as the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act or Perkins V), state leaders are increasingly focused on how they can improve and increase access to high-quality career technical education (CTE) programs. With more attention being paid to this important work, state leaders must be transparent about which kinds of CTE programs are being offered, who is accessing them, and how participants fare once they’re finished. To do this, states need to collect data that is meaningful and share it in ways that people can access and use to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, CTE data currently available leaves most students and families in the dark.

According to a recent report from Advance CTE in collaboration with partners including Data Quality Campaign (DQC), less than half of State CTE Directors say their CTE data systems provide the information needed to assist in making decisions about program quality and initiatives at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. The majority of states report being able to collect learner-level data on a variety of career readiness measures at the secondary level, but for a variety of reasons this information isn’t found on states’ most public-facing resource about school quality, their school report card.

In January 2019, DQC reviewed every state’s report card and found that only 21 states included the number or percentage of students who completed a CTE program or earned an industry credential. Almost no state reported a separate graduation rate for CTE concentrators. How states chose to report this information also varied greatly, making it difficult at times to understand and interpret the data. Some states reported CTE certification rates as a standalone indicator, while others rolled it into a broader college and career readiness (CCR) indicator. Combined CCR indicators are simple (in theory) but often contain a variety of very different data points (such as CTE certifications earned, dual enrollment, and AP course completion rates) and that summary indicator is rarely broken out to give readers a clear picture of the outcomes for each of the included, and very different, measures.

Two states, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, stood out for the variety of data each include about students’ pathways, which DQC highlighted as bright spots. South Carolina reports detailed CTE data, including course enrollment and completion, credential attainment, and the types of industry credentials earned by Career Cluster® (e.g., Business Management & Administration, Finance, etc.). Pennsylvania includes data about postsecondary pathways more broadly, such as military enlistment and postsecondary enrollment rates disaggregated by student group, as well as the percentage of students who have completed a work-based learning experience.

It’s certainly a positive step forward to see almost half of states beginning to include CTE data on their report cards, but more state leaders need to follow suit. By including CTE and career readiness data side-by-side with college-going rates, state leaders can help students and families see the value of CTE pathways. As states invest significant resources into further developing CTE programming, it is critical that they be transparent about program participation and student outcomes. In order for students to utilize these programs as paths to better outcomes, they must be equipped with the data needed to guide them there.

This is a guest blog post from Elizabeth Dabney, Director of Research and Policy Analysis at the Data Quality Campaign. The post was originally published here

House Appropriations Subcommittee Marks Up Spending Bill for Education, Labor Programs

May 1st, 2019

The big news this week related to Career Technical Education (CTE) was that the House Appropriations Committee released their draft spending bill for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on Monday, April 29. Read below to learn more about what bill includes, yesterday’s mark up, and how you can get involved in a campaign to double the federal investment in CTE.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Marks Up Spending Bill for Education, Labor Programs 

On Tuesday, April 30, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies marked up their appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), which begins October 1, 2019. The bill passed out of the subcommittee on a voice vote.

Overall, the bill included a six percent increase for federal education programs and a 10 percent increase for labor programs above the amounts Congress allocated in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19). The bill proposed a disappointing increase of $37 million, or less than three percent, for CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants. Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a joint statement in response.

The bill includes some notable increases for key education and workforce programs:
  • 13 percent increase for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);
  • 24 percent increase for Title II Supporting Effective Instruction Grants authorized under ESSA;
  • 27 percent increase for Federal Work Study;
  • 9 percent increase for Federal TRIO programs;
  • $150 increase in the maximum award for Pell grants; and
  • 56 percent increase for Apprenticeship grants

It is important to note that this markup is an early step in the process to determine the amount of funding Congress will allocate to education and labor programs for FY20. While it is expected that the proposal will go before the full House Appropriations Committee in early May, the Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released their draft FY20 funding bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. In addition, Congress must agree on the overall levels for defense and non-defense discretionary spending before determining final allocations for the programs contained within the FY20 appropriations bills. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.

Get Involved in the Campaign to Double the Investment in CTE

Looking to support efforts to increase the federal investment in CTE? Check out www.ISupportCTE.org, the website for the campaign to double the investment in CTE. In February, the CTE community launched this shared campaign and we invite everyone to join us in asking employers to sign onto a statement that supports doubling the investment in CTE. The signatures collected from employers will be a critical component to building visibility and support for CTE with members of Congress. Check out the share page to find a one-pager, PowerPoint, social media toolkit, and more that you can use and modify to spread the word about the campaign.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

How States Are Leveraging ESSA to Advance Career Readiness

April 1st, 2019

By now the consensus in the education community is clear: in addition to a strong academic foundation, students should be able to access other experiences in high school — physical education, the arts, Career Technical Education (CTE) — that provide added value to their education and increase the likelihood of postsecondary success.

The notion that high schools should provide a “well-rounded education” was codified in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. The law, which Congress passed with bipartisan support, provides several opportunities for integrating CTE and other well-rounded learning opportunities into the traditional high school experience, which Advance CTE has covered extensively on this blog and in our publications. More than four years after the law was passed, some states have begun to leverage these opportunities to advance career readiness  in high school.

Expanding Opportunities for Each Child in Ohio

One often overlooked opportunity in ESSA is the Direct Student Services (DSS) provision. DSS allows states to set aside up to 3 percent of their basic Title I grants to help local education agencies expand access to advanced coursework and CTE. Only two states — Louisiana and New Mexico — opted to use the allowance in their submitted ESSA plans. But they were soon joined by Ohio, which decided in 2018 to leverage the DSS allowance to launch a new grant program called Expanding Opportunities for Each Child.

The program has two primary objectives: developing and expanding access to career pathways that culminate in high-value credentials and promoting access and success in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). These objectives are aligned with Ohio’s strategic priorities for secondary education, which emphasize postsecondary readiness and preparation for college and career. Ohio’s decision to use the DSS allowance was based on the idea that freeing up additional resources would help local education agencies better support student achievement and transitions to post-high school pathways.

In July 2018, Ohio awarded more than $7.2 million in three-year grants to 17 recipients. Fourteen will be conducting career pathways development and three will be expanding access to AP and IB courses. A second round of applications is expected to be issued later in the 2018-19 school year.  

Building Capacity for STEM Learning in Georgia

Though the Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program, Congress authorized funding to the tune of $1.6 billion to enhance well-rounded education, school safety and the effective use of technology in schools. While the program has not been fully funded by Congress, it still provides significant resources to help schools deliver a well-rounded education, including CTE and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

While most states have left the determination of how to spend Title IV funds up to local leaders, some have issued guidance or put together trainings to help schools leverage their resources in service of statewide priorities for career readiness.

Georgia is one such example. In its ESSA plan, the state committed to using Title IV funds to strengthen school counseling, computer science and STEM. Since then, Georgia has used Title IV funds to hire two full-time STEM coordinators, one in the southwest region and one in the southeast region. The coordinators are working to build STEM learning opportunities for schools and strengthen STEM pipelines in their areas. Additionally, Georgia has allocated Title IV funds to develop an online STEM incubator learning pathway to help district and school leaders navigate the process for certifying STEM schools.

Curating CTE Open Educational Resources in Nebraska

Another state that is using Title IV funds to boost career readiness is Nebraska. Leaders in the state are using Title IV funds to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. This is a key feature of the state’s new Open Educational Resources (OER) Hub, which was launched in February 2019 and provides open access resources aligned with Nebraska’s college and career ready standards.

The work is still in the early stages, but Nebraska hopes to build out the CTE resources in the OER Hub later this summer by engaging CTE teachers to share, curate and develop rigorous digital resources that can be adopted and modified in the classroom. The state will provide stipends and cover travel expenses for participating CTE teachers. While this work is starting with three career areas — business, marketing, and management; communication and information systems; and human sciences and education — Nebraska plans to expand the resources to the remaining three state-identified career areas soon.

States made bold commitments in their ESSA plans to expand access to advanced coursework and career pathways. This is best demonstrated by the fact that 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state and federal accountability systems. But few states are going the extra mile to align ESSA implementation with their plans for career readiness. Ohio, Georgia and Nebraska demonstrate three different approaches states can take to advance career readiness through ESSA.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

155 Representatives Sign CTE Funding Letter, President Signs Executive Order on Higher Ed

March 28th, 2019

With two hearings this week on the President’s budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020), appropriations season is in full swing! Read below to learn more about the hearings, the Representatives who signed a letter to support funding for CTE, and updates on both higher education and K-12 education.

155 Representatives Sign CTE Funding Letter

Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, were joined by 153 additional Representatives from both parties who signed on to a “Dear Colleague” letter that encouraged strong funding for Perkins. The letter was sent to the Chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member, Tom Cole (R-OK) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies as they begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020). The widespread support for the letter is a testament to your advocacy efforts! You can check this spreadsheet to see if your Representative signed on to the letter – please don’t forget to send a thank you note to those who signed!

Looking to continue to support efforts to increase the federal investment in CTE? Check out www.ISupportCTE.org, the website for the campaign to double the investment in CTE. In February, the CTE community launched this shared campaign and we invite everyone to join us in asking employers to sign onto a statement that supports doubling the investment in CTE. The signatures collected from employers will be a critical component to building visibility and support for CTE with members of Congress.

Secretary DeVos Testifies at House and Senate FY2020 Education Budget Hearings

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held hearings on the President’s FY2020 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education on March 26 and March 28, respectively. Secretary DeVos testified before both committees and both hearings covered a wide variety of topics, from student loan debt to school discipline to school safety and more. In addition, there was much discussion around issues affecting CTE, such as teacher shortages, expanding Pell grant eligibility to high-quality, short-term programs, apprenticeship, and the proposed elimination of two programs that can support CTE and other efforts: the Supporting Effective Instruction grants authorized under Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants authorized under Title IV-A of ESSA. While the President’s budget proposed level-funding for CTE State Grants, multiple members of Congress expressed support for CTE and the need to change the perception of CTE.

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Higher Education

On March 21, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities. The executive order provides direction across three categories: Promoting First Amendment Rights, Improving Transparency and Addressing Student Loan Debt. First, the executive order reinforces existing requirements for colleges receiving federal funding for research to support free speech. Significantly, the order directs the U.S. Department of Education to add program level data on student outcomes for the first time to the College Scorecard, an online interactive tool that allows users to gather information on the cost and certain outcomes (e.g., median earnings, median loan debt, and loan default and repayment rates) of higher education institutions. The executive order also calls for the U.S. Secretary of Education to lead the research and reporting of policy options for risk sharing with student loan debt so that the federal government, institutions and other entities- not only the student- have a financial stake in students’ ability to repay loans. The research must address: state and institution transfer policies, how states and institutions can increase dual enrollment opportunities, and other ways to increase student success, particular in completing postsecondary programs of study. Secretary DeVos’s statement on the executive order can be found here and Senator Alexander’s (R-TN), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, statement can be found here.

More than Twice As Many States Counting Career Readiness than in 2014

A new report from Advance CTE, Achieve, Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers through the New Skills for Youth initiative examines state and federal accountability systems to see how states are measuring college and career readiness. The report, called Making Career Readiness Count 3.0, finds that the number of states with career readiness metrics in their systems has more than doubled from 17 in 2014 to 40 in 2019. The report breaks down common approaches to measuring college and career readiness and offers critical questions for states to consider as they implement new measures.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy, Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate & Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

Virgina, New Mexico Take Steps to Expand CTE Opportunities for Learners; Colorado Expands CTE Funding Options

March 25th, 2019

In Virginia and New Mexico, the state legislatures have taken action to expand opportunities for CTE learners. In Virginia, on March 5, SB1434 was signed into law. The law directs the Virginia Board of Education to revise its Career and Technical Education Work-based Learning Guide to expand opportunities for learners to earn credit for graduation through high-quality work-based learning experiences. The law directs the Board of Education to consult business and diverse stakeholders to inform its revision of the guide.

In New Mexico, on March 9, HB91 was signed into law. The law establishes a seven-year pilot project to fund CTE programs and monitor their effects on student outcomes, including graduation rates and achievement scores, among other outcomes. The law allows the New Mexico Department of Education to provide grants to school districts to establish CTE programs as part of the pilot project and professional development to CTE teachers in the pilot project. The law outlines the requirements CTE programs funded through the pilot must meet, such as that the programs must lead to an industry-recognized credential at the postsecondary level and require training in soft and social skills.

The Colorado legislature passed a bill that opens a previously restricted funding stream to CTE. On March 7, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB1008 into law, which amends the “Building Excellent Schools Today Act” to allow the public school capital construction board to provide grants to support CTE capital construction, which includes construction of public school facilities and equipment for CTE programs.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Contact Your Representative to Support the Federal Investment in CTE

March 20th, 2019

The congressional appropriation process is now underway and there’s lots of news about  the Higher Education Act (HEA). Read below to learn more about how to support the federal investment in CTE by contacting your Representative about signing a “Dear Colleague” letter and how Congress and President Trump are focusing in on HEA .

Contact your Representative to Support the Federal Investment in CTE by March 22 

Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, will be sending a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member, Tom Cole (R-OK) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies respectfully encouraging that they consider strong funding for Perkins. Please contact your Representative to encourage them to sign on to the letter by visiting ACTE’s Take Action page and scroll to “Ask Your Representative to Sign Perkins Funding Letter” and click “Take Action.” You can also find your representative, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to their office, and then ask about the Representative’s interest in signing on to a “Dear Colleague” letter to support strong funding for Perkins. Interested Representatives can contact the offices of Representatives Langevin (D-RI) or Thompson (R-PA) to sign on. The deadline to sign on is 5pm Eastern Time on Friday, March 22.

White House Releases Proposal for Higher Education Reform

On March 18, the Trump administration released its principles for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), led by Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President. The administration seeks to “increase access to affordable, flexible, and innovative postsecondary education and skills attainment.” The following goals were outlined:

  • Reorient the Accreditation Process to Focus on Student Outcomes;
  • Increase Innovation in the Education Marketplace;
  • Better Align Education to the Needs of Today’s Workforce;
  • Increase Institutional Accountability;
  • Accelerate Program Completion;
  • Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
  • Encourage Responsible Borrowing;
  • Simplify Student Aid;
  • Support Returning Students and
  • Give Prospective Students More Meaningful and Useful Information about Schools and Programs.

Advance CTE will continue to monitor efforts in Congress to reauthorize HEA and provide updates.

Congress Introduces Higher Education Legislation

On March 14, Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH) reintroduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act. This legislation would expand Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality short-term postsecondary programs. Eligible short-term programs would have to be at least 150 clock hours over at least eight weeks, meet local or regional labor market needs, articulate to institutional credit and provide students with a recognized postsecondary license, certification or credential.

Also on March 14, Senators Cassidy (R-LA), Warren (D-MA), Scott (R-SC) and Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the College Transparency Act. This legislation would create a student-level data network within the National Center for Education Statistics and promote transparency and accuracy in postsecondary student data.

On March 12, Senators Kaine and Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act. This legislation aims to help address teacher and principal shortages, particularly in rural areas.

Advance CTE is proud to support all three of these bills, and will continue to advocate for legislation that reflects our HEA recommendations.

Congress Holds First HEA Hearings of 2019

The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held its first HEA hearing this year on “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Simplifying the FAFSA and Reducing the Burden of Verification.” Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) agreed that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be simplified to be more accessible.

The House Committee on Education and Labor also held its first of five announced HEA hearings on “The Cost of College: Student Centered Reforms to Bring Higher Education Within Reach.” In his opening remarks, Chairman Scott (D-VA) share that his goal is to pass comprehensive higher education reform, with a focus on access and affordability. Topics that came up throughout the hearing included improving the purchasing power of Pell Grants, simplifying FAFSA, responding to state disinvestment in higher education, making college more affordable and simplifying student loan repayment.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy & Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

The Number of States Counting Career Readiness Has More than Doubled Since 2014

March 19th, 2019

In a strong signal of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness in high school, 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state or federal high school accountability systems. Fewer than half as many – 17 – were measuring career readiness just five years ago.

The sophistication and design of the measures has evolved as well, and many states are working to intentionally link their accountability systems with high-quality career pathways.

That’s according to a new analysis from Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, Achieve and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The report, the third edition in the Making Career Readiness Count series, uses a four-pronged framework that was developed by an expert workgroup and outlined in the report Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems  to categorize how states are measuring college and career readiness.

The four categories used in the analysis provide a blueprint for states to develop and evolve rigorous measures. They each outline three levels that build upon one another, from Fundamental, to Advanced and Exceptional. The categories are:

  • Progress toward Post-High School Credential: Student demonstration of successful progress toward credentials of value beyond high school.
  • Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences: Student completion of state-defined co-curricular experience(s) aligned to students’ academic and career plans.
  • Assessment of Readiness: Students scoring at the college- and career-ready level on assessment(s) that are validated by higher education and industry.
  • Transitions beyond High School: Successful student transition includes placement into postsecondary education, training or the workforce within 12 months of graduation.

Overall, the most common measure used across the states is Assessment of Readiness, with thirty states and the District of Columbia valuing experiences that are aligned with the Destination Known recommendations. Another 12 states include out of sequence measures that are aligned with this indicator but do not include the Fundamental measure, attainment of state-defined college- and career-ready level on a high school summative assessment. The vast majority of states counted under the Assessment of Readiness category are measuring industry-recognized credential attainment.

Another commonly used measure is Progress Toward Post-High School Credential. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia include measures aligned with the Destination Known recommendations, and another 22 states include out of sequence indicators. A number of states include either pathway completion or dual enrollment coursework in their accountability plans without requiring that experience to be accompanied by the completion of a state-defined college- and career-ready course of study, which is the Fundamental measurement in this category.

Twelve states include a Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences measure in their state or federal accountability systems, often looking at work-based learning participation. Eight states include information on Transitions Beyond High School, reporting either postsecondary enrollment or postsecondary enrollment without the need for remediation.

With all of the progress states have made, there is still room to strengthen and improve measures of career readiness. For example, states should be explicit about how career readiness components – such as work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials and dual enrollment – align to each other and to a students’ career pathways. They should also be transparent with their data and put thought and care into designing accountability systems that value and encourage the experiences that are best aligned with the outcomes they want for students. These and other opportunities are discussed in the report, Making Career Readiness Count 3.0.

The even harder work ahead is to support all students in their preparation for and transition to college, career and life. Regardless of the path students choose to pursue, they need to be transition ready. State and federal accountability systems can and should be used to highlight areas for improvement and connect programs and students with the supports they need to be successful.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Numerous States Pass Policies Related to Computer Science in 2018

December 5th, 2018

Digital literacy and computer science skills are increasingly necessary for success in today’s workforce, even in fields that are not directly related to information technology. As such, state leaders are recognizing the role that a robust computer science education strategy plays in preparing learners for their future careers and numerous states passed policies related to computer science during their 2018 legislative sessions.

Most recently, in Missouri, on October 30 the governor approved HB3, which creates the STEM Awareness Program to increase STEM career awareness in students grades six through eight. The law also directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to convene a work group to recommend academic performance standards related to computer science.

Similarly, in June, the Hawai’i legislature passed HB2607, which requires the Department of Education to develop and implement statewide computer science curricula plans for public school students in kindergarten to grade twelve and ensure that by the 2021-2022 school year, each public high school offers at least one computer science course for each school year.

In March, the Indiana legislature passed SB172, which establishes the Next Level Computer Science fund and grant program, which will provide grants to eligible entities to implement professional development programs for teachers to provide training in teaching computer science.The bill also requires public schools and charter schools to offer a computer science course as an elective course by 2021.

In total, more than eleven states have passed policies related to computer science, many of which direct the state Department of Education to establish computer science standards or direct schools to offer a computer science course. To learn more about CTE policy trends from 2018, look out for Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) State Policies Impacting CTE: 2018 Year in Review coming out in late January 2019. You can still view the 2017 version of the report here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Idaho, Iowa Pass Bills to Bolster their States’ Workforce; Washington, Idaho Expand Scholarships

May 22nd, 2018

As the legislative session moves forward, states have passed bills that will expand Career Technical Education (CTE) funding, strengthen workforce initiatives and expand scholarships that benefit CTE learners.

Idaho Expands CTE Program Funding

In Idaho, Governor Otter signed a bill to expand funding for high-performing career and technical education programs in grades 9-12 in high-demand fields. The Idaho State Department projects that there will be a shortage of 49,000 workers by 2024 in Idaho. By investing further in high-quality secondary CTE programs, Idaho creates a workforce pipeline that will help to address the “skills gap” and job shortage that the state faces.

Gov. Reynolds Signs Future Ready Iowa Bill

In Iowa, Governor Reynolds signed legislation that establishes programs in Registered Apprenticeship development, voluntary mentorships and summer youth internships. The legislation also establishes summer postsecondary courses for high school students that are aligned with high demand career pathways, as well funds and grants related to an employer innovation fund and Future Ready Iowa programs, grants and scholarships.

The legislation is the latest piece in Gov. Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa initiative, which aims for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Currently, 58 percent of Iowa’s workforce has  education or training beyond high school, and that percentage must increase in order to fill the 65,000 current open jobs in Iowa.

States Expand Opportunity Scholarships that Benefit CTE Learners

Additionally, states have been expanding postsecondary scholarship programs, which will allow more learners from different backgrounds to engage with CTE. In Washington, Gov. Inslee signed a bill that expands the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship to allow high school graduates to receive the scholarship to help pay for certificates and professional technical degrees offered at the state’s technical and community colleges.

As part of their continued focus on CTE, in Idaho, lawmakers passed another bill, which expands the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship to benefit adult learners. The scholarship originally only benefitted Iowa high school graduates, but the bill will allow the State Board of Education to direct up to 20 percent of scholarship funds to Idaho adult residents striving to finish a degree or certificate.

These bills will make postsecondary CTE accessible to more learners from diverse populations, which is critical as states face a shortage of skilled workers.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

DC, Texas Improve Data Systems; Colorado, Ohio’s Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

April 17th, 2018

As the legislative session moves forward, many states have passed bills that will help to improve data systems and expand opportunities for learners.

Data System Improvements

Recently, data system improvements have been a focus of policy efforts in order to better support and hold accountable districts, institutions and programs, as well as allow learners, employers and policymakers to stay informed.

In the District of Columbia, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Workforce Development Systems Transparency Act, which requires the District’s Workforce Investment Council to detail the District’s spending on adult education programs and workforce development education programs, as well as the performance outcomes of those programs, in a public report. The performance outcomes information will include employment rates, median earnings, credential attainment, and completion rates. The first version of the report will include information about programs managed by seven DC entities, such as the Department of Employment Resources, and by 2020 programs administered by an additional 14 entities will be included in the report.

In Texas, the University of Texas System launched an updated version of the database Seek UT to include University of Texas graduates’ earnings in the hopes of showing the benefits of higher education. The database utilizes Census Bureau data and provides information on student’s median incomes for every program offered after one, five, and ten years after graduating, the percentage of students who went on to continue their education and the median loan debt for different programs. The database is viewed as a “work-around” of the current ban on a federal database that would link student-level education data to national employment data.

Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

Elsewhere, states are passing laws to expand community college offerings and to address the shortage of skilled employees.

In Colorado, a bill that allows Colorado’s community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing recently became law. The bill was passed without the governor’s signature or veto. In a letter explaining this decision, Governor Hickenlooper cited concerns over limited stakeholder engagement by the bill’s proponents and potential conflicts between the various agencies that oversee higher education in the state.

In response to these concerns, the letter directs the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) to convene stakeholders to determine how to best align programs with industry trends. This law was allowed to pass in response to a severe shortage of nurses in Colorado and after reports that more nursing disciplines require a masters or doctoral degree than in previous years.

Similarly, in Ohio, three community colleges received state approval to offer bachelor’s degrees in microelectronic manufacturing, aviation, unmanned aerial systems, land surveying and culinary and food science. These programs still need to receive accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission before the community colleges can offer the degrees.

Once accredited, these programs will help to achieve Ohio Governor Kasich’s goal to have 65 percent of the state’s workforce earn an industry recognized credential or degree by 2025. Governor Kasich has already showcased his support for community colleges to offer baccalaureates through the introduction and passage of legislation that supports this.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

 

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