How Do States Identify and Endorse Industry-Recognized Credentials?

October 7th, 2016

Credentials_of_Value_2016Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores Promising Strategies

One of the core components of a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program is that it culminates in a credential of value. But with more than 4,000 credentialing organizations in the United States today, states are grappling with the challenge of narrowing down the field.

Advance CTE today released a policy brief to help states get started in this work. The paper, titled “Credentials of Value: State Strategies for Identifying and Endorsing Industry-Recognized Credentials,” highlights promising practices from Florida, Kansas and Louisiana, which have each made considerable progress developing a system for students and employers to navigate the tangled universe of credentials. The brief further describes how each state tackles the challenge in a different way, building a system that suits their local economy and context, and highlights a few common strategies.

For one, these states engage business and industry leaders early on in the process to verify that credentials are recognized and accepted in the labor market. This helps ensure that students are only pursuing — and states are only incentivizing — those credentials that have value. One example that the brief explores is in Louisiana, where regional teams are required to submit letters of endorsement from businesses in the state whenever they propose a new credential for the statewide list.

From there, the process of vetting high-quality credentials often involves a concerted effort from a variety of different institutions. The brief describes how, in Florida, the state-approved credential list at the secondary level is developed with input from the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the state’s workforce development board (an independent non-profit called CareerSource Florida) and the Department of Education. This ensures that the state can leverage the expertise of each agency to approve only those credentials that are valuable to students and to the economy.

Another challenge the brief explores is that credentials available on the market today range in value, quality and the effort required to earn them. Thus, states have begun to recognize this difference and classify credentials based on their rigor and utility in the labor market. Kansas, for example, is examining a framework that categorizes credentials into three tiers: those required by law or regulation, those mandated by industry, and those preferred by industry.

Even then, states should be prepared to adapt to fluctuations in the labor market or unforeseen problems with the credential review process. Take Florida’s Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) for example. CAPE provided additional funding for teachers and school districts whose students earn state-approved credentials, but the state soon realized that the program was not structured appropriately to eliminate some gaming of the funding incentive. Over the years, Florida has gradually adjusted the funding formula to address these concerns and align incentives to encourage more students to earn high-quality credentials.

With two-thirds of all new jobs projected to require some postsecondary education and training by 2020, there is a growing need for states to play a larger role in identifying and endorsing credentials of value.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

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

Education, Business and Workforce Groups Call on the House to Pass Perkins Reauthorization

September 12th, 2016

Congress is back in session, and chatter on Capitol Hill returns to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), with a chamber-wide vote on comprehensive reauthorization legislation scheduled for tomorrow in the House. The bill, H.R. 5587, would reauthorize Perkins for six years and make a number of changes within the existing structure of the law, encouraging alignment with other federal legislation and streamlining the law’s requirements. You can read our analysis of the bill here.

Before lawmakers in the House vote on H.R. 5587, it is worth revisiting statements of support from members of the education, workforce development and business communities. By and large, there is cross-sector, bipartisan support for Perkins reauthorization. Yet as the 114th Congress heads into its final months, many organizations – Advance CTE included – have urged Congress to complete their work on Perkins this year. Here is a sample of statements of support from a cross-section of organizations and businesses, primarily related to the House Perkins bill as well as the reauthorization effort more generally.

Words of Support from the Education Community

“The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act builds on current law by emphasizing the importance of CTE programs of study, while maintaining the flexibility of states and local recipients to develop and implement program models that best suit their needs and available resources.” – Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education

“As states work to align education programs with current workforce needs, this legislation to update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act will provide critical supports to state and local educators preparing students to succeed in 21st century careers.” – Council of Chief State School Officers

“H.R. 5587 reflects many of our recommendations for reauthorization. It incorporates a commitment to meaningful professional development for educators, encourages supportive partnerships that link school districts and teachers with industry partners, and promotes industry-recognized credentials and certificates for specific occupational areas.” – American Federation of Teachers

“There is much to like in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Act… The House bill addresses the paperwork burden by allowing districts to fill out a simple, easy-to-complete local application.” – AASA, The School Superintendents Association

“We are pleased that H.R. 5587 [supports programs closely aligned with the needs of business and industry] by encouraging states and local recipients to better coordinate activities supported by the Perkins Act with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and by requiring needs assessments to guide the expenditure of Perkins funding at the local level.” – American Association of Community Colleges and Association of Community College Trustees

“H.R. 5587 recognizes and includes educators in CTE planning and decision-making. This approach strengthens collaboration among the education, business, labor, employment, and economic sectors; improves program effectiveness; and helps ensure that the needs of both students and employers are met.” – National Education Association

Business and Industry Leaders Weigh in on Perkins Reauthorization

“H.R. 5587 would be an improvement over current law. In particular, the Chamber supports the provisions of this bill that would … authorize innovation grants to improve CTE and align workforce skills with labor market needs … integrate industry-recognized credentials; and increase support for work-based learning activities through innovation grants and state leadership activities.” – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“There is no issue more connected to U.S. competitiveness than equipping our nation’s youth with the academic and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs. By updating and reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Congress has an opportunity to ensure our students achieve strong academic and career preparation in the nation’s fastest growing industries.” – IBM

“We know more can be done to help educational institutions better prepare young people for today’s jobs. A modernized career and technical education (CTE) system, designed with input from employers and responsive to the needs identified by labor market data, is central to accomplishing that test.” – Toyota

“By reauthorizing the Perkins Act and reinforcing CTE programs, educators and their partners in the business community can improve student outcomes and provide the skills required to be successful in the workforce … We urge the House to swiftly pass H.R. 5587 and for the Senate to consider companion legislation in the near future with the goal of sending a Perkins Act reauthorization bill to the president’s desk in 2016.” – Associated Equipment Distributors

“[H.R. 5587] would provide agriculture education programs the funding assistance needed to create a well-rounded practical approach to learning through classroom education.” – American Farm Bureau Federation

“Among the provisions we believe will be particularly effective in driving improvements in career education: the incentives for CTE programs to incorporate work-based learning and recognition of the value of industry-driven occupational certifications. Both work-based learning and industry credentials are indispensable elements of effective career and technical education.” – Opportunity America

Workforce Development Organizations Consider the Value of New Bill

“The bill makes substantial improvements in the federal CTE law: encouraging the development of high quality programs of study; emphasizing the importance of work-based learning; encouraging the expansion of dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school opportunities; requiring that CTE programs are aligned with the skill needs of employers in in-demand industries and occupations; and better aligning CTE with innovations and programming established in the newly implemented Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).” – Jobs for the Future

Op-Eds on Perkins

“The revised Perkins bill now must pass the full House and Senate. Passage of the legislation will be critical to the future of American education and our economic competitiveness. We are hopeful that the House committee’s unanimous, bipartisan approval signals that Republicans and Democrats, supported by business and labor, educators, community leaders, parents and students who are united behind common-sense solutions will result in an update of our education system, leading to a stronger economy and more opportunities for our young people.” – Stanley Litow

“The proposed reauthorization will strengthen connections between CTE programs and business and industry. Doing so will help more precisely identify the career fields, along with the skills and credentials, needed regionally.” – Mark MacCarthy

“If passed, the new Perkins Act would be a small but important step toward making sure that students get on the pathway to prosperity that’s right for them.” – Charles Sahm

“[H.R. 5587] stressed educational partnerships that align secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and career and technical education programs to meet local and regional labor needs now and in the future, meaning students can pursue a career path equipped with the knowledge of where job opportunities exist in their local community.” – Jim Postl

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Ask Your Members of Congress to Support Perkins Reauthorization!

September 8th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, Congress returned from its annual summer recess to begin the final stretch of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers have been out of session since mid-July, but that doesn’t mean everyone s has been away from the Capitol. In fact, work has continued in both the House and the Senate to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—the first comprehensive Perkins reauthorization legislation to be considered by Congress since the current law’s passage in 2006. This month the House chamber has the opportunity to build on this strong showing of bipartisan support by voting on this bill.

Ahead of further consideration of Perkins in the House, 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.

In order to make sure this legislation gets across the finish line, we need your help! Please take a few minutes to contact your member(s) of Congress and let them know how important Perkins reauthorization is to your community, your state, and our country.

You can find your member of Congress by visiting here. By visiting ACTE’s CTE Action Center you can contact your Senators and Representative directly to express your support for moving the Perkins reauthorization process forward. We also encourage you to take to social media to make the case for Perkins and CTE. Sample tweets are available here.

As Perkins reauthorization continues, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Bipartisan Interest in Perkins Grows with Pending Legislation on the Hill

August 31st, 2016

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act last month with a 37-0 vote. Prior to and after the introduction of this reauthorization proposal, members from both houses of Congress have continued to introduce legislation to make their priorities for Career Technical Education (CTE) known. Three bills of interest — two in the Senate and one in the House — aim to expand dual credit opportunities for CTE students, increase representation of nontraditional genders in high-wage career pathways, and equip students with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. While these bills have little chance of advancing further on their own, they do represent areas of interest for members as Perkins reauthorization continues to take shape in Congress.

The Workforce Advance Act (S. 3271)

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in July introduced the Workforce Advance Act, which aims to expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities for CTE students across the country. According to Sen. Bennet, dual and concurrent enrollment strategies have “helped more [Colorado students] enroll and do well in college.” The bill would amend the permissible uses of Perkins funds at the state and local levels to include tuition, books, fees and transportation costs for students completing dual or concurrent enrollment courses. The bill would also allow Perkins funds to be used for professional development costs for teachers seeking to obtain credentials needed to teach these courses. At the national level, the Workforce Advance Act would allow the Department of Education to use CTE national activities to research strategies for expanding dual or concurrent enrollment programs in high schools.

The Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2016 (S. 3417)

Citing gender disparity in high-wage career pathways, the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act aims to help schools fully implement Title IX, a federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education. The bill, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would create an Office for Gender Equity under the Department of Education that would be responsible for helping educational entities in their implementation of Title IX. The Office would provide technical assistance, share best practices, administer a new competitive grant program and more. Under the bill, the Office would also be responsible for training Title IX coordinators annually.

The Four C’s for Careers Act (H.R. 5663)

And in the House, Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced legislation to promote what he calls the “four C’s CTE providers should promote in their curriculum: critical thinking, communications, collaboration, and creativity.” According to Rep. Costello, these are the skills that industry leaders say will best prepare students for success in the workforce. The bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), would amend Perkins to promote these four skills through a number of educational strategies, including blended learning, public-private partnerships, and data-driven career counseling. The bill would also encourage participation with local industry leaders by allowing states to use Perkins funds for a needs assessment to identify the strategies, tools and resources needed to promote greater engagement with industry partners.

While Advance CTE has not endorsed these proposals, we will continue to work with these offices to ensure that some of these key concepts find their way into future Perkins legislation. Stay tuned for future updates on all things Perkins as the 114th Congress heads into its final stretch.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores State Strategies for Measuring Work-based Learning

August 25th, 2016

Measuring WBLWork-based learning provides a continuum of activities — from career exploration and job shadowing to internships and apprenticeships — that help students develop technical and professional skills in an authentic work environment. While many work-based learning programs are designed and operated at the local level, several states have begun building a data collection and evaluation strategy to ensure program quality, identify and scale successful programs, and share promising practices. To support state efforts in this work, Advance CTE today released a brief that explores strategies for measuring work-based learning.

The brief is the latest installment in the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” series, which examines the state’s role in expanding work-based learning opportunities for K-12 students. This issue highlights examples from three states that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.

  • In West Virginia, the Department of Education partners with industry leaders to evaluate the quality of Simulated Workplaces, student-run programs that create an authentic work environment in the classroom. Programs that fail to meet industry standards receive technical assistance from the state.
  • In 2014 Tennessee adopted a new framework to improve the quality of work-based learning. Under this framework, local districts conduct their own program evaluations and strive for continuous program improvement. The state supports local efforts through a toolbox of surveys, rubrics and other resources.  
  • And in Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses a work-based learning plan to evaluate skill gain for students participating in the School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative. Worksite supervisors assess students on technical and professional skills at least twice during the course of the program, allowing the state to measure skill gain against a baseline.

The brief, Measuring Work-based Learning for Continuous Improvement, is available on the Learning that Works Resource Center. Other titles in the series explore Setting a Statewide Vision, Removing Legal Barriers, and Leveraging Intermediaries to Expand Work-based Learning.

To learn more about work-based learning, be sure to sign up for Advance CTE’s fall meeting, which will take place in Baltimore, MD between October 17 and 19. The convening will feature a session on state strategies for measuring and scaling work-based learning. Register by August 31 to receive the early bird discount.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Illinois Tackles Career Readiness with New Education Bill; Meanwhile North Carolina Creates Credential Incentive Program

August 23rd, 2016

With Half of Illinois Community College Students Required to Take Remedial Courses, New Law Aims to Improve College and Career Readiness in the State

IL Graduation RatesLast month Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act into law, cementing a cross-sector effort to transform the educational system in Illinois and better prepare students for college and careers. According to Advance Illinois, an education nonprofit, half of high school students enrolling in community colleges in Illinois are required to take remedial education during their first year. The law aims to reduce the remedial education rates in the state and prepare students for future careers through four major strategies:

  • Defining Postsecondary and Career Expectations: The law calls on a joint committee (including the State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community College Board and the Student Assistance Commission) to define specific, grade-level expectations for career and postsecondary exploration. These expectations, which cover grades 8 through 12, are to be published by July 2017.
  • Piloting a Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Program: A new pilot program established under the law will permit selected school districts to replace current graduation requirements with competency-based learning systems. One challenge with competency-based education is evaluating student learning in a way that is recognized by colleges or employers. As such, the law requires participating school districts to create a plan to assess student mastery and to partner with two-year and four-year higher education institutions to ensure that a competency-based system can still provide colleges the information they need to admit incoming students.
  • Establishing a College and Career Pathway Endorsement Program: The endorsement program is designed to recognize student learning and incentivize entry into high-need career pathways. To be eligible for an endorsement, students must develop and maintain an individualized college and career plan, complete at least two years of coursework on a career pathway that leads to a degree or certificate with labor-market value, complete career exploration activities, and demonstrate readiness for non-remedial coursework.
  • Providing Transitional Instruction in Math and Reading: Finally, the law calls on community colleges and K-12 school districts to reduce remedial education in college by creating transitional math and reading opportunities in 12th grade. These classes will help prepare students for credit-bearing college courses and, as such, will be recognized by colleges across the state. In developing competencies for instructional coursework, the law also requires the state to draw on expertise from private sector employers.

The law will be implemented over the course of several years. The competency-based education pilot program will be launched during the 2018-19 school year;  the pathways endorsement program will be launched in the 2019-20 school year; and transitional mathematics courses will also be available statewide by 2019-20. 

North Carolina to Offer Teacher Bonuses for Industry-Recognized Credentials in New Pilot Program

When North Carolina passed its budget for fiscal year 2016-17 last month, it launched a new pilot program to encourage student learning in high-demand industries. The program — which will start immediately, using data from the 2015-16 school year — will reward Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers with up to $50 for each student who goes on to obtain an industry-recognized credential.

The size of the reward will depend on the academic rigor and employment value of the earned credential. Academic rigor will be evaluated based on the instructional hours, work experience and postsecondary credit that are associated with the credential. The second value criteria, employment value, will consider the entry wage, growth rate and job opportunities for the occupational category.

Before the pilot program sunsets in June 2018, the State Board will report back to the legislature on the amount of awards provided, the number of industry credentials earned, and the effects of the program on teacher performance and retention.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Federal Audit Adds Clarity to Competency-Based Education Policies for Colleges and Universities

August 18th, 2016

CBE photoIn the postsecondary world there is growing interest in Competency-Based Education (CBE), a strategy that organizes learning around mastery rather than seat time. CBE is already considered a promising strategy in secondary Career Technical Education (CTE) because it allows students to learn at their own pace in a flexible environment and helps them develop the skills necessary to be successful in their future careers. However, a newly published audit from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General shows that, in order for CBE programs to thrive, the higher education community will need to ensure that students receive regular, substantive interaction with their instructors.

The target of the audit is the Senior College and University Commission (part of an accrediting agency called the Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which reviews and accredits postsecondary programs in California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Among the Commission’s responsibilities is evaluating course content to ensure that the purposes, methods of delivery and measurement of learning are aligned with federal policy. These evaluations carry a lot of weight — programs are eligible to receive federal grant funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act depending on the results of the evaluation — which is why the Inspector General audited the Commission’s review process.

While CBE has enjoyed bipartisan support, the Federal Government’s priority is to ensure that CBE programs are held to high standards of quality. That is why the Higher Education Act restricts federal funding depending on the way that educational content is delivered. Traditionally, academic content has been delivered in a classroom environment, which is considered “campus-based education.” Non-traditional methods of delivery can still qualify for federal funding, but the amount of funding is contingent on the quality of instruction.

CBE courses that are delivered off-campus and are supported by “regular and substantive interaction between the instructor and student” are classified as distance education. In contrast, courses in which education is self-paced and interaction between the student and instructor is limited are considered correspondence education. Correspondence education has implications for funding because students enrolled in such courses are only eligible for a half-time Federal Pell Grant Award.

At issue in the Inspector General’s audit is the way that the Commission classifies courses as distance or correspondence education. The audit found that the Commission did not sufficiently evaluate whether courses would be considered correspondence education, meaning that some courses could have been classified incorrectly. While the Commission does not have the authority to approve correspondence courses — this authority is outside of the Commission’s scope — it is still responsible for identifying them. After receiving the Inspector General’s audit, the Commission revised its policies and procedures to ensure that students in CBE programs receive regular and substantive interaction with their instructors.

The Shared Vision for the Future of CTE calls on states and institutions to “embrace postsecondary competency-based education models … to expand access for more learners, and provide more flexibility so all individuals can get the skills they need when they need them.” While the Federal Government has already created avenues to promote CBE in higher education, accrediting agencies should consider how they evaluate the methods of delivery for CBE programs in order to realize this vision.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Report Explores State Requirements for Dual Credit Teachers

August 9th, 2016

In Missouri and Other States, Experience Counts

ECS dual creditMany states allow students to earn credits in high school that can be applied towards a postsecondary degree or credential — a strategy known as dual, or concurrent, enrollment. While dual enrollment makes it easier and more affordable to obtain a postsecondary credential, states must pass policies to ensure students are receiving this advanced instruction from qualified teachers.

To further explore this challenge, the Education Commission of the States last month released a 50-state report exploring the requirements that states are using to approve dual enrollment faculty. The report finds that most states (35 in total) require dual enrollment instructors to meet the same qualifications as faculty at postsecondary institutions. Other states only require a combination of graduate credits or work experience related to their subject of instruction.

Interestingly, some states, such as Missouri, permit Career Technical Education (CTE) instructors to teach dual credit courses without meeting postsecondary faculty qualifications as long as they demonstrate experience through “working in the field, industry certification and years of experience.” In addition to detailing faculty qualification policies, the report highlights strategies that states are using to train their existing teacher workforce to teach dual enrollment courses. Such strategies are critical for providing students with seamless pathways to postsecondary credentials and future jobs.

From the States: Investments in CTE, Workforce Training Programs

In other policy news, three states are taking steps to invest in CTE and workforce training programs. In Massachusetts the legislature passed a comprehensive economic development bill that includes $45.9 million to establish, upgrade and expand CTE and training programs that are aligned to workforce development priorities.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is now accepting applications for the $100 million Work Ready Skills Initiative, a bond-funded grant program to galvanize regional cross-sector partnerships and bring CTE facilities up to industry standards. The initiative was authorized in a recent budget bill and requires a 10 percent match from local partners.

Virginia residents can now earn a high-demand credential at a third of the cost under the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program. The grant, which was passed in March, is designed to increase access to noncredit workforce training programs in high-demand fields. Under the program, the state Board of Workforce Development is required to publish a list of noncredit workforce training programs related to high-demand fields each year, which it has already done here for 2016.

As the new school year approaches, so do new opportunities to expand high-quality CTE across the states. Keep an eye on this feed for more updates.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate


Advance CTE Legislative Update: Summer Round-Up

August 2nd, 2016

United States CapitalPerkins Reauthorization Wrap-Up

With Congress adjourned for an extended summer recess, it’s important to take stock of what’s been happening on Capitol Hill these past few months, particularly with regards to Career Technical Education (CTE). Before their break, Congress took formal steps to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), continued to oversee ESSA implementation, and has made efforts to advance funding legislation for the coming federal fiscal year (FY).

On June 28th, the House Education and the Workforce Committee released a much anticipated bill to reauthorize Perkins—the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587). Sponsored by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the bipartisan legislation was marked up by the full committee on July 7th and subsequently approved by a margin of 37-0.

“We are encouraged by this important step towards reauthorizing Perkins,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director, at the time the bill was introduced. “We appreciate the bipartisan efforts that went into drafting this bill and look forward to working to ensure the reauthorized bill helps increase access to and success in high-quality CTE programs.”

The bill seeks to align Perkins to other federal legislation such as ESSA and WIOA while streamlining the requirements of the law to more effectively support high-quality CTE. Many elements of Advance CTE’s Perkins priorities can be found in H.R. 5587 and the organization supported the advancement of this legislation through committee. Advance CTE’s letter of support for H.R. 5587 can be found here.

We expect the full House to consider this legislation when Congress reconvenes later this autumn. In the meantime, Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) have developed a comprehensive summary and analysis of H.R. 5587 which can be accessed here.

Many additional resources including the archived webcast of committee markup, members’ written statements, and considered amendments can be found here.

While this bipartisan effort in the House to reauthorize Perkins is encouraging, there is still much that must be done for the legislation to make its way across the finish line before the end of the 114th Congress. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has continued behind-the-scenes discussions on its own Perkins legislation. It is therefore still possible to see additional Perkins-related activity later this year, but with a limited number of legislative days left on the calendar full Perkins reauthorization will still require a concerted effort from lawmakers in both chambers. As these efforts continue to take shape be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Congressional Appropriations Committees Approve FY 2017 Spending Bills

Lawmakers overseeing federal funding bills have also been working on legislation to fund federal programs, including the Perkins Act. In June the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHSED) appropriations bill on a party-line vote. The legislation would level-fund the Perkins basic state grant program at $1.118 billion. However, this result for Perkins is important to keep in context—this year saw the return of budget caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These tight caps resulted in $220 million in cuts to education programs in the LHHSED bill making the maintenance of existing Perkins funding an important achievement for the CTE community. Notably, the bill would also restore year-round Pell grants which is a key Advance CTE postsecondary priority.

Following suit, the House Appropriations committee approved its own LHHSED FY 2017 funding bill. This legislation would also provide level funding for Perkins’ basic state grant program. However, much like with the Senate, the committee’s decision to maintain Perkins funding is best understood in context— other education programs under this bill were cut by even more than in the House proposal. Unlike with the Senate, the House bill does not restore year-round Pell grants although it would increase the maximum Pell award to $5,935 annually (a move that is also mirrored in the Senate proposal).

Despite these efforts, it is unlikely that either of these LHHSED bills will be advanced individually any further prior to the start of 2017 federal fiscal year set to begin on September 30th. It is therefore highly likely that Congress, as it has done for the past several years, will pass a “continuing resolution” (CR) which would temporarily extend current funding levels into the next fiscal year. Be sure to check back as efforts to fund federal programs, including Perkins, continue to firm up.

ESSA Implementation

As we have shared previously, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has been developing rules and regulations to govern the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In the spring, the law’s mandated negotiated rulemaking committee met to determine how to regulate ESSA’s “supplement, not supplant” and assessment provisions. These efforts brought about a great degree of disagreement between USDE, which ultimately made a series of proposals on these issues, and Congressional Republicans, who viewed these proposals as being outside the allowable scope of ESSA.

Disagreements over how to appropriately implement ESSA’s provisions have continued to chew away at the bipartisan consensus that helped move ESSA across the finish line late last year. This has become even more apparent in a series of congressional hearings where Republican lawmakers and U.S. Secretary of Education John King have increasingly been at odds over these issues (more on that here, here, and here).

In June, USDE released additional draft regulations—known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)—on the law’s accountability, public reporting, and state plan provisions. Of particular note are how the draft rules address ESSA’s newly required state accountability indicators of “school quality and student success” which allow states the opportunity to measure and value indicators of student postsecondary and career readiness. Advance CTE and ACTE provided comments to USDE on these aspects of the regulations which can be viewed here.

USDE has continued to update its own resource page with helpful materials to support the law’s ongoing implementation process. Recently the department circulated a Dear Colleague letter highlighting ways in which states and communities can support a “well-rounded education”—a key concept of the new law that now includes CTE. Additionally, the Council of Chief State School Officers has produced an extremely useful guide for engaging stakeholders during ESSA plan development and the Collaborative for Student Success, a new website, collects state-specific information on states’ efforts to implement the new K-12 law.

Odds & Ends

  • After a six month delay, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services released final regulations for the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The most consequential set of rules for the CTE community can be found here which addresses state WIOA state planning, the performance accountability system, the one-stop system, and the sharing of one-stop center infrastructure costs.
  • USDE released a Dear Colleague letter providing guidance and clarification on gender equity within CTE. The letter focuses on requirements found in the Perkins Act as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded programs, including Perkins. Read the letter here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager