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Legislative Update: Senators Call for Presidential CTE Award, FY15 Appropriations Process Moves Forward

June 9th, 2014

Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) recently sent a letter to President Obama asking him to create a Presidential Career and Technical Scholars award through executive order. Currently the Presidential Scholars program recognizes up to 121 high school graduates in the nation based on a combination of academic achievement, community leadership and extracurricular activities. The program also identifies an additional 20 students in the visual and performance arts or creative writing fields centering on participation in the national YoungArts program.

NASDCTEc applauds the Senators’ request to expand the Presidential Scholars program for Career Technical Education (CTE). Such an expansion would more fully acknowledge the level of high-quality CTE work currently under way in high schools throughout the country and highlight the strong academic and technical achievements of individual CTE students. As with the current awards, the application and eligibility requirements for a CTE component to this program would be determined by the Presidential Scholars Commission.

NASDCTEc encourages those in the CTE community to send President Obama a message urging action on this issue here. If you have not done so already, please take the time to thank Senators Kaine, Portman and Baldwin for their continued dedication to the CTE enterprise. While no official response has been sent from the White House as of today, NASDCTEc is hopeful that later this week the CTE community will have an answer to this request.

Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Outlook
As we shared last month, the House Committee on Appropriations passed a measure setting the 302(b) allocation for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) Appropriations bill. The Department of Education and the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) basic state grant program it administers, falls under this spending bill which the Committee set at $155.7 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. This figure is approximately $1 billion below FY 2014 levels. The Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee must still “markup” an appropriations bill conforming to this cap for FY 2015. This essentially amounts to deciding how that sum will be divided up between the various agencies, departments and programs falling under the jurisdiction of the subcommittee.

While no date has been set in the House, the Senate Committee on Appropriations has embarked upon much the same course. Recently, the committee in that Chamber set its 302(b) allocation for the Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations bill at $156.8 billion for FY 2015— $1 billion above the House level, but still on par with the FY 2014 allocation. The Senate subcommittee has scheduled markup for this bill for tomorrow, June 10th, when funding levels for individual programs— including Perkins— will be determined. The full Committee is also expected to hold a markup on the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill sometime later this week, but an official time and date have not been released.

As a reminder, NASDCTEc supported two Dear Colleague letters in both Chambers calling for a restoration of the remaining sequester cuts to the Perkins Act basic state grant program. In addition to this, NASDCTEc also submitted a formal request for additional funding for the Perkins Act to the Senate Committee on Appropriations based on its FY 2015 call for additional investments for the basic state grant program. As this process unfolds, check back here for updates and analysis on the appropriations process as it relates to Perkins.

Upcoming Webinar: Wage Record Interchange System (WRIS) 2
NASDCTEc encourages those interested to join the Workforce Data Quality Campaign this Thursday at 2:00 – 3:00p.m. ET for a discussion on the Wage Record Interchange System (WRIS) 2. This system allows states to exchange wage records for performance reporting on a variety of programs, including career and technical education, adult education and TANF. The webinar will include information about: why it is important to share wage records across state lines; how WRIS2 operates and ways that states can use the system; and examples of states that are using WRIS2.

Panelists:
• Rachel Zinn, Director, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
• John Glen, Oregon Employment Department
• Ruben Garcia, Texas Workforce Commission

Please click here to register and attend. In case you are unable to attend at that time, WDQC will share a recording of the webinar following the live event.

Odds & Ends: WIOA, ATB, and Hill Staff School Visit
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the bicameral, bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is expected to be taken up by the full Senate sometime during the week of June 16th. The compromise legislation proposes to substitute the House-passed SKILLS Act with the agreement language and will likely be open to some amendments if and when the legislation is considered by the full Chamber.

NASDCTEc recently supported a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and Labor-HHS-ED Subcommittees, calling for the reinstatement of the “Ability to Benefit” (ATB) provision in Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Following Congressional austerity measures in 2012, students who do not have a high school diploma or an equivalent— even if they can demonstrate college-readiness— have not been able to utilize the Pell Grant program to pay for the costs of their postsecondary education. Read the full letter here.

Last week, NASDCTEc participated in a school visit to Edison Academy in Alexandria, Virginia. Hosted by the Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE) and the newly formed Senate CTE Caucus, the visit gave House and Senate staff the opportunity to see a CTE program first-hand and illustrated the vital role the Perkins Act has in supporting the types of high-quality programs on display on the doorstep of the nation’s Capital. Do you have a program you would like to see featured on the Hill? Please contact Steve Voytek at [email protected] or Evan Williamson at [email protected] to learn more.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 1)

May 27th, 2014

Catching Up Series

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this year’s major state legislature activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be found here. For a comprehensive look-back at the 2013 legislative sessions, check out the “2013 CTE Year in Review,” which was published jointly by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education in March.

There was significant legislative activity related to postsecondary education this spring – with a couple of landmark bills that even caught the attention of national media.

Postsecondary Funding

One of the most notable higher education bills to pass thus far hails from Tennessee, where Governor Bill Haslam recently signed into law the, “Tennessee Promise Scholarship Act.” The law, which will largely be paid for through lottery revenues, guarantees two years of free tuition at a community college or college of applied technology for all graduating high school seniors starting in 2015. Gov. Haslam first proposed in this year’s State of the State address as the cornerstone of his year-old Drive to 55 initiative to increase Tennessean higher education attainment to 55 percent by 2025.

Two other states also made forays into this arena. The Oregon state legislature directed its Higher Education Coordinating Commission to explore the possibility of a free tuition program. The commission is expected to submit its report by September 30. A similar effort in Mississippi, however, died in committee.

Colorado gave its higher education system a much-needed infusion of funds after years of budget cuts. The legislation known as the “College Affordability Act,” was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper in early May and increases higher education funding by $100 million for the 2014-2015 academic year (AY). The bill also institutes a six percent cap on tuition increases for the next two years.  Of that $100 million, 13 percent will be directed to community colleges, 40 percent to student aid and the remaining 53 percent to other higher education institutions.

Colorado’s legislature also passed a measure that would use outcome measures such as student retention and completion rates to determine an institution’s state funding. Currently, the bill has been sent to the governor for signature. Much of the proposed legislation is vague, and if signed into law, such details would be determined by the Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Postsecondary Attainment Plans

Oregon lawmakers added apprenticeships to its higher education attainment plan, also known as the “40-40-20” goal. The plan, which was launched in 2011, states that by 2025 all adult Oregonians will hold a high school diploma or equivalency (the remaining 20 percent), 40 percent will have an associate’s degree or meaningful postsecondary credential, and 40 percent will hold a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree. Under this newest addition, apprenticeships registered with the State Apprenticeship and Training Council now qualify as a meaningful postsecondary credential.

Washington adopted two statewide education attainment goals as part of its 10-year higher education roadmap, which was originally unveiled in 2013. The Washington Student Achievement Council detailed these goals in a report it sent to the legislature in December and includes benchmarks necessary to reach them. The goals are for all Washington adults will have a high school diploma or equivalent and at least 70 percent of Washington adults will have a postsecondary credential.

Bachelor’s Degrees at Community Colleges

Following in the footsteps of more than 20 other states, Colorado also authorized community colleges to offer applied science bachelor’s degrees. While one more state joined a growing list, another decided to step back, momentarily.  The Florida legislature placed a one-year moratorium that prohibits the state’s community colleges from adding any new four-year degree programs. With 24 colleges offering a total of 175 degree programs and the number of such degrees awarded doubling in 2013, lawmakers became concerned that colleges were overstepping their bounds.

Did we miss something related to higher education in your state? Drop us an email!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Congress Announces Agreement on Workforce Development Legislation

May 23rd, 2014

CapitolMore than a decade has passed since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was originally due for reauthorization. In that time, Congress has come close to an agreement a few times for overhauling the law, but never got as far as it did this past Wednesday. After months of negotiations between both parties in the House and Senate, lawmakers announced they had reached a deal on the long anticipated reauthorization of the federal government’s largest piece of workforce development legislation.

Dubbed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the bicameral, bipartisan legislation is a compromise between the House-passed SKILLS Act (H.R. 803) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s WIA reauthorization legislation (S. 1356). A side-by-side comparison of the proposals can be found here.

The compromise legislation unveiled on Wednesday, contains a number of promising provisions that NASDCTEc and the broader Career Technical Education (CTE) community have been urging Congress to take up since the reauthorization process for WIA began. Specifically, NASDCTEc had raised concerns regarding provisions in both the Senate and House proposals to alter how one-stop infrastructure is funded. Proposals contained in each would have impacted state and local Perkins recipient’s capacity to effectively administer CTE programs and activities.

One-Stop Infrastructure Funding

Currently, WIA does not provide direct funding for the operational costs of one-stop centers and WIOA proposes to follow in that same vein. Much like the current system, WIOA would require that all mandatory partners contribute to the infrastructure costs of one-stop centers, but would do so with more vigor than in current law. The main impetus behind this is to spur greater collaboration among the WIA one-stop system and its partners. Additionally, funding the costs of one-stop infrastructure in this fashion will allow a greater portion of federal appropriations under this act to go towards direct training costs.

Postsecondary CTE programs which receive funding from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) are among the required partners in the WIA/WIOA one-stop delivery system—  a central point of service for state and local WIA/WIOA training and employment activities where activities with partner programs must also be coordinated. Funding for infrastructure would pay for the operational costs of these one-stop centers.

Under this proposal, local Workforce Development Boards (currently known as local workforce investment boards) are first directed to come to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure funding contribution levels, other shared costs, and how the partners would deliver services under the system. Put another way, an MOU is a consensus agreement on those issues among the local board, chief elected officials and one-stop partners in a local area. If such an agreement is not reached, a funding mechanism would be used to require each one-stop partner to contribute up to 1.5 percent of total grant funds available for administrative purposes. However, the contribution level could vary as the Governor must first make a determination for each local one-stop partner’s individual contribution based on a number of factors. By default, these funds would be sent to the Governor, who would then use the contribution to pay for costs of one-stop infrastructure in a local area.

During the process of determining a one-stop partner’s contribution, the Governor must take into account the existing statutory obligations and ability of a program to meet those requirements. Additionally, contributions are required to be calculated based on a “proportionate use” of the one-stop system. Both of these provisions were proposals NASDCTEc and its partners called for as Congressional negotiators worked towards this bipartisan compromise.

Significantly, if a state places the authority of a partner program’s funding outside of the Governor’s office, then the chief official within that agency or entity would execute the above responsibilities on behalf of the Governor. Since Perkins funding in many states flow through an eligible agency fitting this description, the state agency responsible for Perkins would still retain significant oversight  and input into how postsecondary CTE programs receiving Perkins funding would contribute to the one-stop system. While a separate funding stream for infrastructure funding would have been ideal to fully meet the infrastructure costs of the one-stop system, this compromise was needed given the tight fiscal and budgetary constraints under which this bill was negotiated and written.

To recap, only postsecondary CTE programs receiving funding from the Perkins Act would be required partners in the WIOA one-stop system. All of the one-stop partners in a local area must first attempt to come to a voluntary agreement, in the form of an MOU, to fund the costs of infrastructure and to decide how partners would deliver services in the one-stop system. Failure to reach an MOU would trigger the above funding mechanism which would be imposed only on local partner programs in a particular local area where an MOU was not reached. Additional provisions have also been added to this mechanism that would take into consideration partner programs’ statutory obligations and their ability to meet those requirements along with their proportional use of the one-stop system. Most importantly, if a state places Perkins funding authority outside of the Governor’s office, then the chief official in that agency or department would have a significant amount of oversight and input into how these contribution levels are determined.

Sequence of Services Eliminated, Along With 15 Existing Programs

WIOA also proposes to eliminate the “sequence of services” provision contained in current law that requires individuals to go through a prescribed sequence of core services before gaining access to more relevant training. This has been consolidated into “career services,” which holds as a goal to more effectively assess the unique needs of individuals seeking services from the various programs authorized under this legislation. WIOA also consolidates 15 existing programs, many of which are currently authorized, but have been unfunded for a number of years. In total, 14 workforce programs and one higher education program would be consolidated under the proposed legislation.

Board Size, Composition and Direct Contracting

State and local workforce development boards would also be reduced in overall size in an effort to increase their efficiency. Business majorities have been maintained on each and the local iterations encouragingly require representation from adult education and literacy provides, institutions of higher education and can also include representatives from local education agencies. CTE representation is also encouraged, but not a requirement for either board.

Another promising aspect of WIOA is the new found ability of local workforce development boards to directly contract with community colleges. Such contracted training supports faster development and implementation of training programs, and would help to better address current and emerging labor market trends while also quickly increasing capacity during times of high demand. Additionally, WIOA would designate area career and technical education schools as eligible Job Corps operators. This designation allows area CTE centers, along with a host of other institutions such as those in the higher education space, to receive funding under the legislation to operate as a Job Corps center.

Accountability, Career Pathways and State Leadership

WIOA completely revises the accountability section of the existing law, introducing common performance metrics for all the programs authorized under the act. Primary metrics center mainly on employment after program exit, postsecondary education after program completion (for youth programs), median earnings, credential attainment, skills gains and employer engagement. The proposed legislation would also prioritize industry recognized certifications and credentials, another encouraging aspect of the proposal.

There is also a renewed focus on career pathways within WIOA and it introduces a statutory definition seeking to align education, training and other programs into a coherent path towards employment or further postsecondary education. Many of the elements contained in this definition integrate well into a CTE program of study (POS) framework and could compliment stronger aspects of a program of study structure in a newly reauthorized Perkins Act.

Congressional negotiators also sent a strong message regarding the importance of state leadership in education and workforce training programs. WIOA would re-instate the 15 percent set-aside for Governors to carry out statewide initiatives tailored to the individual needs of their particular state.

Outlook and Prospects for WIOA

This overview is by no means exhaustive and there are still many details and aspects of the bill that could change WIOA as it makes its way through both the Senate and the House over the coming weeks and months. Nevertheless, this is the furthest Congress has come in reauthorizing this critical piece of federal workforce development legislation. While not perfect in every respect, WIOA is a positive step in the right direction and NASDCTEc applauds the efforts of Congress to move forward on these critically important issues.

WIOA is currently in the Senate, where it has been introduced as a substitute amendment for the House-passed SKILLS Act (H.R. 803). Senate leaders have hotlined the bill — a parliamentary maneuver which they hope will speed up the Chamber’s consideration of the legislation before it moves on to the House. Congressional aides expect legislative action surrounding WIOA to begin in earnest following the Memorial Day recess. As this process unfolds, NASDCTEc will keep the CTE community informed as to its progress.

Information on the bill, including the full text, one-pagers and factsheets, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Research Review

May 21st, 2014

CTE programs of study (POS) took center stage in a recent study from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE), which released its final 200-page report gauging the effectiveness of POS as a strategy for improving student outcomes.

The NRCCTE researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 6,638 students from the class of 2012 participating in POS in three urban districts from different states. The resulting findings offer myriad ways to examine the impact of POS on student success as well as suggestions for future research, in particular on the postsecondary side of POS.

Commonalities existed across all three districts. No matter the location, the findings indicated that taking more CTE credits “may boost GPA, the probability of graduation, and some achievement measures,” and came at little to no cost to overall academic achievement. The study, however, did find low participation in programs associated with accruing college credits while in high school such as dual enrollment.

The study was conducted ahead of the coming reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which funds CTE nationwide. The last reauthorization included a new requirement for POS, using the POS framework to increase program accountability in the areas of academic and technical skills achievement as well as alignment with postsecondary technical education.

The NRCCTE researchers found that “although high-quality CTE programs in the form of POS are not easy, cheap, or capable of solving all educational problems, they can be implemented well and yield positive results.”

The researchers conclude with a series of recommendations including calling for districts to find ways to increase the number of CTE credits a high school student can earn, taking another look at dual enrollment programs to maximize student participation, and recruiting more teachers from industry and business.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Coalition Pushes Perkins Reauthorization with Letter to Legislators

May 21st, 2014

With a rapidly evolving labor market and increasing economic pressure from overseas, interest in the ability of Career Technical Education (CTE) to modernize the American workforce and maintain our country’s economic primacy is steadily mounting. The pending reauthorization of the Perkins Act – the landmark piece of legislation that represents the vast majority of federal investment in CTE – offers an unparalleled opportunity to build upon the tremendous innovation in CTE taking place right now in states across the country.

The CTE Vision Paper encapsulates the goal of CTE today: to prepare students of all ages to succeed in education and careers—and enable the United States to flourish in a dynamic and increasingly competitive global economy. Principally, the Vision Paper outlines five principles critical to setting priorities and blazing a new trail for CTE.

Among those five principles is to actively partner with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs. Today’s letter reconfirmed broad support for CTE that acknowledges and seeks input from all stakeholders, including employers. The letter cites three points of emphasis for reauthorization:

  • Align CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor market;
  • Support effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers;
  • Increase student participation in experiential learning opportunities such as industry internships, apprenticeships and mentorships; and promote the use of industry-recognized credentials.

“What stands out is not only the sheer number of signatories in agreement with the priorities outlined in this letter, it’s the diversity of stakeholders represented,” said NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green. “CTE is critical to American competitiveness and our economic health – it’s very encouraging to have that acknowledged by such a broad and diverse group. Hopefully Congress agrees that we can’t afford to wait for a full, thoughtful reauthorization of this critical legislation.”

Full text of the letter can be found online here. For more on Perkins and CTE, visit www.careertech.org.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: House Moves Several Education Bills Forward, Appropriations Committee Sets FY 15 Spending Level

May 16th, 2014

CapitolLast week, the House approved through voice vote the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA). The bipartisan vote and legislation reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), which supports educational research programs such as the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams and state longitudinal data systems.

“The Strengthening Education through Research Act will improve education research and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective educational practices,” said Rep. Rokita (R-IN) upon passage of the legislation.

Of particular interest to the CTE community is SETRA’s authorization for state longitudinal data system (SLDS) grants which encourage the alignment of data across K-12, postsecondary and workforce programs. These grants support the capacity of states and programs to report on post-program employment outcomes for CTE graduates. Additionally, the bill strongly emphasizes the importance of using data effectively for continuous program improvement. As Rep. Rokita pointed out during debate on the House floor, “what good does the data do us if it can’t be used?”

NASDCTEc is very supportive of this legislation and looks forward to SETRA’s future progress in the Senate. The text of the bill, fact sheets, and other useful information can be found here.

In addition to moving forward on SETRA, the House also passed the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), which streamlines two existing charter school programs into a single $300 million annual program to support the development and expansion of high-quality charter schools — a $50 million increase over current funding levels.  The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support on a margin of 360-45. House CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) also successfully passed an amendment to the bill before its final passage, which added comprehensive career counseling to the criteria the Secretary of Education must consider when making grants under this legislation.

“This amendment recognizes that career counseling is a critical tool we must promote in order to assure that students are informed and prepared to meet their next educational or career challenge,” Rep. Thompson said upon the amendment’s adoption.

Rep. Langevin echoed these sentiments saying, “Investments in education are repaid many times over through the creation of a skilled, educated workforce. That investment is made exponentially stronger when we provide young people with career counseling programs that enable them to make smart decisions about their futures.”

NASDCTEc applauds this renewed focus on career counseling in our nation’s schools and looks forward to similar proposals to further strengthen these critical student support systems. More information on this legislation can be found here.

House Appropriations Committee Sets Levels for FY 15

Late last week the House Committee on Appropriations passed a measure confirming the topline spending cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 at $1.014 trillion for the entire federal discretionary budget. This figure conforms to the spending caps put in place by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The committee also set about dividing up this figure into 12 separate allocations — known as 302(b)s — to be used by each of the relevant subcommittees as they craft the necessary spending bills to fund the various departments, agencies and programs that compose the federal government.

Discouragingly, the 302(b) allocation for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education — under which the Carl D. Perkins Act’s basic state grant program falls— was set at $155.7 billion. This figure is roughly $1 billion below what was allocated in FY 2014 and will put additional pressures on appropriators as they decide how to divide that sum among the various programs under the jurisdiction of the Labor-HHS-ED bill. As this process unfolds, NASDCTEc will be working with appropriators in both Chambers to ensure that adequate investments are made in our nation’s CTE system. The Senate is expected to undertake this process in the next several weeks.

Does the budget and appropriations process sound confusing? Check-out NASDCTEc’s on-demand webinar unpacking this complex process.

The CREDIT Act

Yesterday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Credentialing Improvement for Troop Talent (CREDIT) Act of 2014 to help members of the armed services acquire credentials for use in the civilian labor market. The bill would expand the authority of the Tuition Assistance program currently available to servicemembers by allowing the program to cover expenses stemming from obtaining a civilian credential. Under the program’s current rules, the program only provides financial assistance for postsecondary programs and does not cover fees from certification or licensing programs.

“The CREDIT Act will provide servicemembers with the resources they need to obtain civilian credentials while on active duty, easing their entry into the civilian workforce and improving their chances of getting quickly hired by a private sector employer,” said Sen. Kaine upon the introduction of his bill. NASDCTEc strongly supports this legislation and applauds the Senator’s commitment to expanding federal financial aid eligibility for CTE programs that help prepare students in all walks of life for further education and careers.  More information on the bill can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CLASP Discussion Paper Calls for a Conversation on the Nation’s “Credentialing Ecosystem”

May 5th, 2014

mapEarlier this month, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a discussion paper calling for a national conversation on the nation’s often fragmented “credentialing ecosystem”— an expression the author uses to define the decentralized nature of the country’s credentialing marketplace. Written by Evelyn Ganzglass, the paper urges key stakeholders in the postsecondary education and workforce communities to thoughtfully reevaluate and improve the transparency, utility, trust, and portability of credentials currently available to individuals for use in the labor market.

The paper goes on to call for a “large scale expansion of the use of credentials that recognize an individual’s competencies – regardless of means of acquisition – to improve employer competitiveness, reduce skill shortages, expand career advancement opportunities for workers, reduce time to credential for workers and students, and improve returns of accredited credentialing systems relative to costs.” It highlights the overly complex landscape of the current credentialing marketplace, the widespread lack of transparency within it and goes on to outline the contours of a credible alternative to this current framework by emphasizing the importance of an individual’s competencies rather than the amount of “seat time” needed for attainment.

Ultimately the paper argues that, “using competency as the basis for credentials would create a transparent student-centered approach to credentialing.” This overarching recommendation, along with many other important findings, was endorsed by a number of signatories including the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, of which NASDCTEc is a national partner. The full paper and a list of supporters can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Legislative Update: Secretary Duncan Defends Administration’s FY 15 Budget Priorities before Congress, STEM Equity Bill Introduced in the House

May 2nd, 2014

CapitolOn Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the full House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) to discuss the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Education (ED). As we have previously shared, the President’s budget request calls for $1.117 billion for the Carl D. Perkins (Perkins) basic state grant program— the same amount the program is set to receive for FY 2014. It also reiterates the Administration’s request for a $100 million competitive Career Technical Education (CTE) innovation fund to be paid for out of funds already designated for this purpose.

House appropriators on the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee voiced strong concerns about these proposals several weeks ago, and the HEW Committee reinforced many of those concerns this past Tuesday. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), who was recently honored with NASDCTEc’s Star of Education Award, echoed these sentiments.

“[ED] does not propose any additional funding for the Perkins Act,” he said. “The solutions to address [the needs of the economy] are in CTE programs throughout the country funded through the [Perkins Act].” Rep. Thompson also pressed Secretary Duncan on the Administration’s proposal to fund “untested and often duplicative education initiatives when we have a tried and true solution in Perkins.”

Secretary Duncan argued that the Department’s competitive funding proposals were aimed to more effectively use limited resources and to scale-up successful CTE models.  Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) echoed many of Rep. Thompson’s concerns and also questioned aspects of ED’s 2012 CTE Blueprint, particularly its proposal to require mandatory consortia of LEAs, postsecondary institutions, and other partners in order to receive Perkins funding. After acknowledging the importance of collaboration between the secondary and postsecondary CTE learner levels, Rep. Guthrie pointed out that many “rural or smaller schools may not be able to form a consortium.”

On this point Secretary Duncan conceded that, “The consortia idea is one that we want to continue to think through. Anything we can do in that Blueprint — it’s two years out of date now —something we can do better [sic], we’d be happy to update.” While ED has not officially announced plans to update its CTE Blueprint, NASDCTEc is encouraged that a top Administration official has expressed a willingness to rethink aspects of the proposal.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) also raised concerns regarding the impact of competitive grant programs to ensure equitable access for students. “How do you plan to ensure equal opportunity and funding for all students and not just the ones from school districts with the ability to write grants?”

She also highlighted her efforts to expand Pell eligibility for high school students enrolled in early college programs. A similar proposal contained in the Department’s FY 2015 budget request would expand Pell eligibility for students as part of a career pathway and she encouraged the Administration to continue with these efforts. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), the newest member of HEW, also promoted a similar idea of using early college and dual enrollment as a model for CTE. Secretary Duncan said he was open to this idea and that the Department would look for promising strategies to encourage postsecondary credit and industry certification attainment at the secondary level.

Other members on the committee such as Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) voiced strong opposition to the Department’s new gainful employment and program integrity regulations among other similar topics.

An archived webcast of the hearing, including testimony, can be found here.

STEM Equity Bill Introduced in the House

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced the Getting into Researching, Learning & Studying of STEM (GIRLS-STEM) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4515). The bill would establish a program at the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that more female students participate in STEM education and have access to career and academic counseling. The program would provide grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to support efforts and initiatives to encourage young women to study STEM subjects, educate parents about the opportunities for their children in STEM fields, provide mentorship opportunities for students, and prepare secondary students for transitions into postsecondary STEM programs.

“I know from personal experience that STEM careers can be personally and professionally rewarding, and we owe it to our young women to make sure they have access to the necessary education,” said Rep. McNerney, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics and worked for many years as an engineer. NASDCTEc applauds the Congressman’s efforts to promote young women in STEM programs and looks forward to working with him to more fully realize this admirable goal. A full press release on the legislation can be found here.

Performance Pilot Partnerships (P3) Update

As we shared last week, the Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services and a number of other federal agencies, announced a new pilot program to better address the needs of disconnected youth in communities, states and tribal areas. The Departments released a consultation paper on this initiative which seeks to give a clearer picture as to the program’s design and purpose.

A webinar on P3 was also held this week, where it was explained that local Perkins grant recipients would be eligible to participate in these programs if an agreement is first reached with the state’s Perkins eligible agency. While funding stream “braiding” seems to be an objective of the pilots, it is still unclear at this time how reporting requirements for Perkins would be reconciled with other programs in a given project. As details on P3 become clearer, NASDCTEc will update the CTE community on the potential for collaboration.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Research Review (Part 2)

May 2nd, 2014

ResearchNote: This is the second part of our regular CTE Research Review series. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for new research finding about education and the labor market.

This week, Northeastern University released a new survey called, “Innovation Imperative: Enhancing the Talent Pipeline,” which is its third in a series of public opinion polls on higher education and the global economy. Among the survey’s key findings, 96 percent of business leaders believe innovation is crucial to remain globally competitive while more than half of business leaders believe the U.S. higher education system is lagging behind most developed and emerging countries in preparing students for the workforce. Three-quarters of business leaders surveyed believe there is a skills gap among today’s workforce and 87 percent believe graduates lack the most important skills to succeed.

A new report from CareerBuilder, “The shocking truth about the skills gap,” asked employers, academics and job seekers (employed, unemployed and underemployed) about their perceptions of the “skills gap.” Although the U.S. economy continues to climb out of the Great Recession and positive signs of growth and recovery abound, 81 percent of employers say they are having a difficult time filling open jobs. This fact alone would support the idea that there is a gap between the skills needed for vacant jobs and the skills job seekers possess. This CareerBuilder report, however, uncovered a few surprising pieces of this complex puzzle.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review (Part 1)

May 1st, 2014

ResearchNote: Today’s post will focus on new research findings about education and the labor market. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, which will bring you some new public opinion surveys from the field.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute released Thursday shows that while the Great Recession may have ended officially in June 2009, the labor market’s slow recovery has been particularly devastating for young college and high school graduates and will likely have lasting consequences. The study found that unemployment rates for young graduates are improving, but remain substantially higher than before the recession began, and the overall rates for young graduates mask substantial disparities in unemployment by race and ethnicity, which are substantially higher than their white non-Hispanic peers. Also, graduating in a bad economy will have lasting consequences for this cohort. The study projected that for the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2014 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that the high school graduation rate has reached 80 percent for the first time in U.S. history. The numbers – released by ED’s statistics arm, the National Center for Education Statistics – also project that graduation rates could hit 90 percent by 2020, if states continue at this pace. This week, the America’s Promise Alliance also released a report that offered a detailed state-by-state look based on 2012 data.

Also, this week, Education Commission of the States takes a look at legislative activity in 2013 as it related to CTE and workforce development. The report, titled “Career and Technical Education: States Aligning Programs to Meet Workforce Needs,” cites activity in areas such as blending high school and postsecondary learning opportunities, incentivizing industry credentials, expanding internships, and formalizing governing structures. In case you missed it – NASDCTEc and ACTE released their own “2013 Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE,” in March.

Earlier this month, the Lumina Foundation launched a new issue paper series that focused on college costs and prices for students as well as institutions and states. In particular, the report takes a state-by-state look at the connection between the Great Recession, college tuition and affordability.

Understanding the federal appropriations process is already a steep challenge. An important facet of this process is when the money will be obligated as well as the difference between forward funding, advance appropriations and advance funding. Many programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education are advance or forward funded. Knowing how and when federal programs obligate funds is crucial in order for recipients – whether on the state, district or institution level – to plan accordingly. This brief from the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, takes a closer look at these varying types of appropriations.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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