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

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Spring Wrap-Up Edition (Part I)

May 4th, 2015

cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150A lot has happened this season on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As summer draws closer, we wanted to take a moment and re-cap all of the exciting activity going on in Washington D.C. as we look ahead to what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part I in a two part series of springtime legislative updates.  

The Federal Funding Landscape

As shared previously, President Obama formally kicked-off the FY 2016 budget and appropriations process this year with one clear message to Congress— end sequestration in order to make vital reinvestments in our nation’s domestic discretionary programs. At present, federal funding is constrained by specific limits required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These limits, also known as caps, are in place for each federal fiscal year and well into the next decade. They require Congressional appropriators to stay within those limits and if funding legislation exceeds those caps, the additional funds above each annual BCA cap are “sequestered” to bring them back down within the BCA funding ceiling for that particular year.

The President’s budget proposal requested billions of dollars above these caps, calling for new investments in many programs, including CTE. While the Administration requested flat-funding for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) basic state grant program (BSG), it has sought an additional $200 million in funding for the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF)— a proposed competitive grant program for consortia of CTE stakeholders and employers— as well as an additional $2 million to administer this new program. NASDCTEc’s response to the budget can be found here.

Since that time, Congress has been crafting budget resolutions— frameworks outlining the planned spending for the year and years to come— that would adhere to the BCA caps and essentially freeze FY 2016 funding at near current levels. In doing so, funding increases for most programs (including Perkins) become even less feasible and could further squeeze many education and workforce development programs which have already been cut dramatically since 2010.

Despite these unfavorable headwinds, well over 100 members of Congress signed two separate letters to Congressional appropriators urging them to make a strong investment in the Perkins Act’s BSG program in FY 2016. NASDCTEc has applauded the work of CTE Champions Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) in the House and the Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate for spearheading these efforts in both Chambers of Congress. The letters, similar to NASDCTEc’s own FY 2016 request, have urged Congressional appropriators to increase Perkins funding to pre-sequester levels— approximately $5 million above what the program received in FY 2014 and 2015. Make sure to thank your members of Congress for supporting CTE! Find out who signed-on here and here.

As the FY 2016 budget and appropriations cycle continues, check back here for updates and analysis for what the CTE community should expect from the federal funding environment.

Moving Past No Child Left Behind

The 114th Congress has been in full swing this spring, bringing with it warmer weather in D.C. and, surprisingly, the possibility of a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize one of the largest federal education laws in the country. While tourists have flocked to the Capitol to gaze at the Cherry Blossoms, Congress has been eyeing the possibility of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)— more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The primary source of federal funding for K-12 education throughout the country, the law has been due for renewal since 2007, but has languished in a Congressional limbo due to widespread disagreement on how to appropriately navigate the nation’s education system out of the NCLB era.

As with all federal education and workforce legislation, the first step in the ESEA reauthorization process has been for the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) and the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to develop and pass proposals to renew and reform the current law.

In the House the Student Success Act – successfully passed on a partisan basis by the full Chamber in the 113th Congress— was reintroduced in the early part of this Congress and passed the HEW Committee on a contentious, partisan basis. This legislation proposes to dramatically dissolve a majority of the current federal role in education, giving those responsibilities back to the states and their educational districts. Widely opposed by House Democrats and the Obama Administration, the Student Success Act made its way back to the House floor for the Chamber’s full consideration in the early part of this year. Despite the backing from House Republican leadership and many in their Caucus, the bill was removed from consideration after outside conservative groups began opposing the legislation for not doing more to diminish the federal role in education. Since that time, the House has not made future plans to consider the Student Success Act. You can learn more about the bill and the HEW Committee’s plans for it here.

In the Senate, the process seemed to be unfolding in much the same way. In January the new Chairman of the HELP Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), introduced a discussion draft to reauthorize ESEA and was similar in many respects to the House’s proposal. Following this, an impromptu meeting at a favorite D.C. eatery between the Chairman and the new Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), led to bipartisan negotiations on compromise legislation. The product of these months-long negotiations is the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA)— the first bipartisan proposal for ESEA reauthorization in the 114th Congress.

ECAA was successfully marked up by the HELP Committee in April and included an amendment from Senator Baldwin (D-WI) to add a requirement that student attainment of CTE proficiencies be incorporated into the law’s mandated report card system. ECAA also requires alignment between CTE standards and core academic standards which is an encouraging step as NASDCTEc works towards the further integration of the two.  The bill would also eliminate the harmful “highly qualified teacher” provision from current law— a significant priority for NASDCTEc in this reauthorization. Another encouraging aspect of ECAA was the retention of elementary and secondary education counseling programs in Title IV of the legislation. Aspects of the Career Ready Act (S. 478) and the Career Choice Act (H.R. 1079)— both supported and endorsed by NASDCTEc— found their way into this section of the proposed legislation before clearing the HELP Committee.

The path forward for ESEA remains long and full of potential roadblocks. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see this level of compromise on such a large piece of federal legislation. ECAA is widely expected to be considered by the full Senate sometime in the two weeks before or after the Memorial Day recess. However, the path forward for the Student Success Act in the House remains much more uncertain, throwing the wider reauthorization process into question. As this process continues, check back here for updates and analysis of this reauthorization process.

Part II of this legislative update will be released tomorrow morning.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements

April 22nd, 2015

With Career Technical Education (CTE) in the spotlight and a priority among state leaders across the country, high school graduation requirements are a common leverage point for policies that aim to increase assess to, incentivize participation and recognize success in CTE programs of study.

In 2013 and 2014 alone, 23 different states made adjustments to their high school graduation requirements with some direct impact on Career Technical Education (CTE) course taking or credentials. It should come as no surprise that the requirements look very different from state to state.

NASDCTEc’s newest policy brief, Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements, explores common approaches to offering or requiring CTE courses and assessments within a statewide set of graduation requirements, offers illustrative examples of state-level policies and elevates implementation issues for consideration.

So what did we find?

  • Eleven states offer separate diplomas or endorsements on existing diplomas that either serve to recognize successful completion of CTE programs and earning of credentials and/or to incentivize more CTE participation, including Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • A number of states, such as Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky and West Virginia, require a certain number of electives, which are directed to be “career focused” or “aligned with students’ post-high school plans.”
  • A growing group of states are creating ways for CTE assessments, typically industry-recognized credentials, to meet certain exit exam requirements, such as New York, Ohio and Virginia.

Regardless of the approach, some common implementation considerations emerged, such as having processes in place for ensuring equality of rigor and quality across pathways and assessments; providing flexibility to allow students to engage in CTE programs of study without having to give up other areas of interests, such as the arts, foreign languages or other academic courses; ensuring students have the opportunity to take the full range of courses that will prepare them for college and careers; and publicly reporting the percentage of students earning the various endorsements to understand their value.

Read the full report to learn more about state graduation requirements and see how your requirements compare.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director


Legislative Update: Congress Continues Consideration of ESEA as a Busy CTE Month Comes to a Close

March 2nd, 2015

CapitolReauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been at the top of lawmaker’s to-do lists since the 114th Congress began in January. Both the House Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee have prioritized a complete overhaul of the law still known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  However, recent developments have slowed the process down and thrown ESEA’s reauthorization prospects into question.

In the House, HEW Chairman John Kline (R-MN) reintroduced the Student Success Act (H.R. 5)— legislation that was passed by the House in 2013. With a few modifications and small changes, H.R. 5 cleared the HEW Committee earlier this month on a strict party line vote and is now under full consideration by the House. Overall the bill would significantly roll back the federal role in K-12 education and would make a number of substantial changes to NCLB’s current structure (more information on the bill can be found here).

Late last week, the House considered 44 amendments to the legislation focused on a wide range of issues. One of the most significant amendments adopted came from Rep. Bob Goodlattee (R-VA) which would allow local school districts to develop and use their own assessments in lieu of state tests. In total a dozen amendments were adopted, including one from Rep. Langevin (D-RI) and Rep. Thompson (R-PA) that would afford states additional flexibility to use Title I funding for work-based learning opportunities—a measure that NASDCTEc has been supportive of.

Despite several veto threats from the Obama Administration and vehement opposition from House Democrats, H.R. 5 seemed to be moving along to final passage late Friday afternoon. However in a surprise move, conservative groups began opposing the legislation for not going far enough to limit the federal role in K-12 education.  With no Democratic support for the bill to count on, House Republican leaders were forced to delay consideration of the legislation for a yet-to-be determined period of time. The longer this delay lasts, the more unlikely passage of H.R. 5 becomes. As some have already pointed out, failure to pass a rewrite of ESEA will only perpetuate the U.S. Department of Education’s current waiver framework— an increasingly unpopular (at least among members of Congress) series of state waivers  from certain elements of NCLB.

In the Senate, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a discussion draft for the reauthorization of ESEA and opened up the draft for public input last month. Like H.R. 5, this proposal would also significantly limit the federal role in K-12 education and seeks to increase flexibility for state and local decision making. Titled the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015,” the bill would eliminate the Adequate Yearly Progress and Highly Qualified Teacher provisions of NCLB— a proposal NASDCTEc has long championed for throughout the reauthorization process. However, the draft would eliminate the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program and has little to say regarding the importance of career readiness for the nation’s students— two issues that still need to be addressed as the bill continues to take shape.

The draft served as the basis for several HELP committee hearings on ESEA reauthorization over the past few months and received lots of attention following its release despite its lack of Senate Democrats’ input. More recently, HELP Committee Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced their intent to negotiate a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the law— a process that is still underway between the two. Nevertheless, the Committee remains optimistic that they will begin mark-up of a bipartisan bill sometime by the second week in March. As this process and more unfolds over the coming weeks and months, stay tuned here for updates and impacts as they relate to the CTE community.

Senators Introduce the Career Ready Act of 2015

Earlier this month Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus introduced the Career Ready Act of 2015 (CRA), a bill that seeks to promote career readiness in secondary school and helps to better align the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act (Perkins).

Specifically the bill would encourage states to incorporate multiple indicators of career readiness within their accountability systems and make this information available for public use and consumption. As NASDCTEc and Achieve’s 2014 report pointed out last year, nearly half of states already have such indicators within their systems. The bill would also align career exploration course offerings and counseling to the needs of the local and regional economy and would encourage greater collaboration between ESEA, Perkins, and the recently passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Additionally, CRA would strengthen the existing Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant program— an existing program under ESEA— by encouraging a stronger focus on career counseling, providing relevant professional development opportunities for counselors to use labor market information, and to build collaborative partnerships between community stakeholder groups such as schools, businesses, and local workforce investment boards.

While the bill amends current law, the sponsors of the bill hope to incorporate aspects of this legislation into the wider ESEA reauthorization process. NASDCTEc proudly endorses this legislation and remains hopeful that Career Ready Act of 2015 will be used to infuse a newly reauthorized ESEA with stronger career readiness components. Late last week, NASDCTEc moderated a Senate CTE Caucus discussion panel exploring these issues at great length and looked for ways to support collaborative alignment between the Perkins Act and ESEA. The text of the bill can be accessed here.

A Busy CTE Month in Congress Comes to a Close

February typically ushers in some of the coldest months of winter, but it also marks CTE month— an entire month dedicated to lifting up and celebrating Career Technical Education around the nation. Congressional CTE champions in both the House and the Senate have been busy these past few weeks vocalizing their support and formally introducing resolutions acknowledging the occasion.

At the beginning of the month Project Lead the Way (PLTW) co-hosted a CTE and STEM Reception on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Senate CTE Caucus and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Senators and their staff had the opportunity to see first-hand some of the wonderful work on display by PLTW students from Maryland, Virginia, and DC.

Further into the month, the House CTE Caucus hosted a briefing titled “CTE 101: The Nuts & Bolts of Establishing a Qualified Workforce” which was co-hosted by Caucus co-chairs Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA). Kicking off the event, Congressman Thompson spoke at length about the value of CTE to every Congressional district and the need to strengthen and renew the Perkins Act. NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green participated in this panel and provided an overview of CTE’s evolution over the past decade as well as priorities for Perkins reauthorization. The co-Chairs also took to the House floor in support of CTE and CTE month— their statements can be found here and here.

Odds & Ends

  • Earlier this month, NASDCTEc joined nondefence discretionary (NDD) United— a national group of organizations dedicated to ending sequestration— in sending a letter to congress highlighting the harmful effects of the sequester on programs like the Perkins Act ahead of the Congressional FY 2016 budget and appropriations cycle. Read the letter here.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) No. 19-14 this month in anticipation of a wider release for guidance and regulations for state and local implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Read the letter here.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the fifth iteration of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) 5.0— a set of definitions used in the data collection such as statewide longitudinal data systems. The new standards add additional elements of interest to the CTE community such as participation in career pathways systems and are located here.
  • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently released a new toolkit for establishing and sustaining employer-educator partnerships. Learn more about the initiative here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Interest in State CTE Policy Growing Across the Country

February 5th, 2015

spr1For the second consecutive year, a significant number of states have developed and implemented new policies and programs to advance Career Technical Education (CTE) at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

In a new publication, “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2014 Year in Review,” legislative and regulatory bodies in 46 states and the District of Columbia approved roughly 150 policies relevant to CTE. The paper was jointly authored by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education.

This continued interest shows a growing awareness in using CTE as a means to increase postsecondary credential attainment, provide students with real-world experience and prepare a workforce with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain the nation’s competitive edge, the paper argues.

The paper is the second installment in the “Year in Review” series. The inaugural paper from 2013 can be viewed here. The legislation and policies collected in these papers does not imply an endorsement by NADSCTEc, ACTE or state CTE leaders. Rather, the hope is that by collecting these policies into one document, NASDCTEc and ACTE can continue to inform the community and in turn lead to the adoption of positive CTE policies across the 50 states.

While funding activity grabbed the top spot for the second year in a row, industry partnerships and work-based learning emerged as a newly popular category, with 28 states passing legislation or approving policies designed to accelerate employer engagement with CTE and offer real-work experiences for students.

Policymakers maintained their interest related to high school students earning college credit as well as how credit transfers across institutions. States such as Nevada approved a new policy in 2014 to develop statewide articulation agreements for all CTE programs of study to ensure that earned credit in an approved program has total transferability.

While several of the policy areas that were active in 2013 were also prominent in 2014, there were a few exceptions, notably governance. Fewer states made changes to CTE governance structures or clarified regulatory authority in 2014 than in the year prior.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Obama Administration Releases FY16 Budget Request

February 4th, 2015

CapitolOn Monday, President Obama formally kicked-off the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget and appropriation process by releasing his annual budget request to Congress.  The request makes funding level recommendations to Congress for all federally funded programs, charts the course for the Administration’s policy priorities over the next year, and serves as a vehicle for new proposals the President would like to see enacted by the 114th Congress.

Overall the President proposed $74 billion in additional funding above and beyond the spending limits imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011— limits more commonly known as sequestration. These caps have come back into full force this year, after the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA) of 2014 slightly expanded the overall caps for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. With these caps back in full effect for the upcoming 2016 fiscal year and beyond, the President’s budget request amounts to an overall increase of 7 percent over these mandatory spending limits with increases for both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) split nearly evenly.

The President’s proposal to set spending levels above these caps is significant as we approach the budget and appropriations cycle for the upcoming fiscal year. Without changes to sequestration there is little room for further investment in education and other critically important programs. As a consequence the President’s budget proposal is a strong message to Congress that more needs to be done to address these harmful mandated limits on federal investment.

In light of this, the President’s request proposes $70.7 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) which is an increase of $3.6 billion over enacted FY 2015 levels or 5.4 percent overall. The U.S Department of Labor (DOL) saw an overall proposal of $13.2 billion for their discretionary budget which is an increase of $1.2 billion over the last fiscal year or a 10.3 percent increase.

Of particular significance to the CTE community was an additional $200 million proposal for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins)— an increase that would be realized through the creation of the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF), a newly proposed competitive grant program to, “support the development and operation of innovative, evidence-based job training programs in high-demand fields” to be jointly administered by both ED and DOL. While an additional $2 million was proposed to be included for Perkins’ national activities to provide technical assistance for the ATTF, no new funding was proposed by the administration for the formula-based basic state grant program— the core program under Perkins which still remains approximately $5 million below pre-sequestration spending levels.

In addition to the initiatives noted above, the President’s request also includes several other proposals of interest to the CTE stakeholder community contained in both the ED and DOL budgets:

  • $60.3 billion over ten years for America’s College Promise proposal— an initiative to provide free tuition for qualifying students for their first two years of postsecondary education
  • A new $125 million competitive grant program to promote the high school re-design efforts with a particular focus on STEM-themed schools and focused on underrepresented student populations
  • $2 billion over the next four years for apprenticeship grants, including $100 million for the American Apprenticeship Grant Program, the successor program to the Youth Career Connect Program
  • $500 million for Industry Credentialing and Career Pathways Grants— a competitive program that would encourage the wider use of industry-recognized credentials
  • $33 million in additional funding for the Workforce Data Quality Initiative— an existing program to support the development and expansion of state longitudinal data systems

NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement upon the request’s release expressing appreciation for the budget’s stronger focus on CTE issues. Find the press release here.

More information on ED’s budget can be found here and additional coverage of DOL’s budget is here.  It is important to note that this is only the beginning of the FY 2016 budget and appropriations process. The budgetary baton has now been passed to the House and Senate budget committees who must now craft a similar proposal outlining funding levels for federal programs in the coming fiscal year. As that gets underway, check back here for updates and analysis for how the CTE community will likely be impacted.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

CTE in Spotlight During Governors’ State of State Speeches

January 29th, 2015

There are a lot of issues competing for attention in a governor’s State of the State address from pensions to health care to infrastructure to education. So it’s notable of the 31 speeches given this month, Career Technical Education (CTE) has found its way into roughly 40 percent of them, particularly because governors use this speech as a way to outline their priorities for the year and highlight successes.

In some instances, CTE was only mentioned in passing such as in Alaska, where the governor called for increasing educational opportunities for CTE. However, states such as in Indiana, California, and Nevada among others, governors proposed major investments in CTE as a means to prepare a skilled workforce to compete for tomorrow’s jobs and position the state for economic prosperity.

Here is a quick recap of the highlights as of January 26. We’ll continue tracking the remaining speeches and budget proposals, and bring you an update in the coming weeks.


Although CTE didn’t make it into Gov. Jerry Brown’s speech in California, it received a major boost in the governor’s proposed budget, which was released shortly after. Brown proposed the CTE Incentive Fund, which calls for $750 million over three years in one-time funding. The grant program would require a dollar-for-dollar match by the participating K-12 schools and encourages collaboration with other local agencies to form regional partnerships.

The budget also proposes nearly $30 million to grow and expand apprenticeships.


Declaring his budget the “education budget,” Gov. Mike Pence proposed increasing CTE funding by $20 million a year. The money would be directed through the state’s Indiana Works Councils.

“By providing $20 million a year to create more career and vocational opportunities and improving the way we fund those courses, we will dramatically increase the number of students who graduate career-ready, and increase—by fivefold—the number of students who graduate with an industry-recognized credential by 2020,” Pence said.


Gov. Steve Beshear praised the state’s CTE system in his State of the Commonwealth.

“Recognizing that the four-year university path isn’t the best route for everyone, we’ve made our career and technical programs more rigorous and applicable to real-life jobs that demand high-level technical knowledge. These aren’t the so-called ‘shop classes’ of yesterday but modern training with a touch academic foundation,” Beshear said.

Beshear also called on the state to implement the recommendations of the Dual Credit Task Force to improve the quality of these courses and help students cut the time and cost of their postsecondary education.


Gov. Brian Sandoval used his speech as a bully pulpit for increased education spending. Citing Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation high school graduation rate as “our most troubling education statistic,” Sandoval called for $1.1 billion in additional funds for education. Specific to CTE, Sandoval proposed new grant programs to ensure students are college- and career-ready, including an expansion of CTE, Jobs for America’s Graduates and STEM education.

West Virginia

Unlike his fellow governors who focused more on funding and programs, Gov. Ray Tomblin highlighted the state’s need for high-quality teachers. Tomblin said he plans to introduce legislation that expands opportunities for career professionals to enter the teaching field. He called on lawmaker to streamline the teacher certification process to “encourage those who have a passion to teacher so they can share their knowledge with our kids.”

“We must give local school systems better flexibility to train and hire subject-matter experts to fill long-term vacancies in critical subject areas.


For more CTE and workforce coverage, check out proposals and praise from Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Senate CTE Caucus Examines Rural CTE, Senators Re-introduce CTE Legislation as ESEA Continues to Dominate Congressional Education Debate

January 23rd, 2015

CapitolYesterday afternoon, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus held its first event of the year which explored a variety of issues facing CTE in rural communities. Titled “Investing in America’s Heartland: The Role of Career Technical Education in Rural Communities,” the event consisted of a panel discussion between four experts in the fields of CTE and rural issues:

  • Dr. Alice Davis, Executive Director, Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center
  • Lucy Johnson, U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
  • Johan Uvin, U.S. Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)
  • Matt Lohr, Director, Farm Credit Knowledge Center

Caucus co-Chair Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) kicked things off, sharing his personal experiences with CTE and describing his time as Governor of Virginia where the state incorporated CTE into its Governor’s Academies initiative. The Senator also highlighted the recent re-introduction of the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act of 2015— legislation that was co-sponsored by fellow Caucus co-Chair Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). NASDCTEc was supportive of this bill last year and has applauded the renewed effort in this Congress to ensure students have access to high-quality CTE programs of study throughout the country. Read the full bill and press release here.

Following these remarks, the panelists discussed core issues facing rural communities within the context of CTE including challenges in teacher recruitment and retention, technical infrastructure, adequate funding, and rural employer capacity. Nearly a quarter of all U.S. students live in an area defined as rural making these issues all the more pressing. As panelist Lucy Johnson, former Mayor of Kyle, Texas pointed out, “CTE meant progress and prosperity for my constituents.”

Throughout the event, the importance of the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act (Perkins) to rural CTE was highlighted. In particular, panelists emphasized specific provisions in the law that have helped to support CTE in rural communities and underscored the significance of this critically important federal investment.

Kline Talks Perkins Reauthorization, Outlines Priorities

Early yesterday morning, Chairman Kline addressed the American Enterprise Institute outlining his priorities for education reform in the 114th Congress and his plans for the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW).

Although the majority of the hour long event focused on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Kline devoted a portion of his formal remarks to call for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. Calling CTE programs supported by the law “valuable” and “important” the Chairman declared that, “The jobs are there, people need the skills, CTE education will help, but the law needs reform— my colleagues are passionate about improving this law.” He outlined three areas of priority for the Committee in reauthorization:

  • Strengthening the connection between CTE coursework and industry needs and labor market demands
  • Supporting secondary to postsecondary transitions for CTE students
  • Enhancing the Perkins accountability framework to hold programs accountable for taxpayer dollars

Although the Chairman did not elaborate further on these priorities, it is encouraging to see that CTE remains a central issue for the 114th Congress, particularly at a time when lawmakers are predominately engrossed with reauthorizing ESEA. No formal timeline for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act was offered during his remarks, although the Chairman did lay out an ambitious plan for ESEA reauthorization which mirrors that of the Senate’s.

Video of the event can be accessed here.

Senate HELP Committee Holds ESEA Hearing

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its first hearing of the 114th Congress. Titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability,” the hearing focused on the annual testing provisions contained in current law which mandates 17 tests— one in math and reading in grades 3 through 8, and once for each subject in high school, along with semi-regular  assessments in science in elementary, middle and high school.

Six witnesses provided expert testimony regarding this issue and a majority (four out of the six) overwhelming supported maintaining these provisions. HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) came out in support of the provisions as well saying, “Assessments help parents and communities hold schools accountable. . . If a school is failing students year after year, parents and communities deserve to have that information and be assured the school will get the resources it needs to improve.” Yet, fellow Democrats and even some Republicans on the Committee remained divided or somewhere in the middle on the contentious issue.

For the time being, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has sided with the latter camp, saying after the hearing that, “I think it’s OK to have an open mind on some questions, and mine is still open.” Nevertheless, the Chairman’s recently released discussion draft seeking to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) would give states two options when it comes to testing: either maintain the current assessment scheme in current law with the ability to slightly modify the types of assessments, or allow states to come up with any testing scheme of their choosing.

A recording of the hearing can be found here along with witness information, testimony, and other useful information. The HELP Committee is planning another ESEA hearing next week, on teachers and school leaders and has an ambitious timeline for reauthorization— a bill out of committee by the end of February and up to two weeks of floor time following that. Both Chairman Alexander and Chairman Kline, his counterpart in the House, have publicly stated they hope to have full ESEA reauthorization bills done by the end of March.

HEW Holds Organizational Meeting

The House Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee held its organizational meeting on Wednesday where Chairman John Kline (R-MN) announced chairs of the various Subcommittees. Both Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Todd Rokita (R-IN) will remain chairs of the Higher Education and Workforce Training and the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittees respectively. Both have oversight responsibilities of interest to the CTE community, including the reauthorization of the Perkins Act.

Committee Democrats, now led by Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), have yet to announce their assignments, although they did lay out some of their priorities in Scott’s prepared remarks.

The Committee also adopted its Oversight Plan which, among other things, outlines areas of particular interest for oversight and investigation in the new Congress, including the U.S. Department of Education’s ESEA waiver authority, various federally funded K-12 programs, regulations pertaining to costs and transparency in higher education as well as the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Odds & Ends

As we shared earlier this week, President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to Congress. The White House recently released a supplemental document outlining and expanding on several aspects of the speech. The document can be found here.

The Senate HELP Committee has announced it will mark-up the Educational Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) on January 28. The legislation funds SLDS grants and helps build state and local data capacity among other positive aspects of the law.

House Democrats have released a useful Frequently-Asked-Questions document on sequestration. As the Fiscal Year 2016 budget and appropriations process begins, sequestration will be a central feature of the debate. Find more information here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Flurry of ESEA Activity Ahead of Congressional Reauthorization Push

January 14th, 2015

CapitolAlthough it’s only Wednesday, it has been quite a busy week already as lawmakers from both political parties begin to work in earnest on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Due for an update since 2007, the law more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) oversees most federal K-12 education programs and provides supplemental funding for schools and districts throughout the country.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked things off on Monday— the 50th anniversary of the law no less— with an address outlining the Obama Administration’s priorities for reauthorizing the nation’s primary K-12 education legislation. “I believe we can work together – Democrats and Republicans – to move beyond the tired, prescriptive No Child Left Behind law. I believe we can replace it with a law that recognizes that schools need more support – more money – than they receive today,” Duncan said. Further into his remarks, he revealed that the Obama Administration plans to request an additional $1 billion in Title I funding in its annual budget request expected to be released in early February.

After calling NCLB “out-of-date”, “tired”, and “prescriptive”, the Secretary went on to call for a strong federal role in annual testing and accountability— main elements of the current law and core principles undergirding the Administration’s ESEA state flexibility waivers to date. “Having accurate information about student performance, maintaining high standards, supporting teachers and school leaders, preventing students from dropping out and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline must be our top priorities” he said during his appearance.

Video and text of his remarks can be found here and here.

Congress Sets Its Sights on ESEA

A newly empowered Republican Congress has already begun to draft proposals to renew ESEA. Late last night, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a discussion draft for the reauthorization of the law. The proposal would significantly reduce the federal role in K-12 education and increase state and local flexibility for using funds derived from the legislation.

“No Child Left Behind has become unworkable—and fixing this law, which expired over seven years ago, will be the first item on the agenda for the Senate education committee,” Alexander said. “I look forward to input from all sides on this proposal as we move forward with a bipartisan process that will keep the best portions of the law, while restoring responsibility to states and local communities and ensuring that all 50 million students in our nation’s 100,000 public schools can succeed.” The Chairman has asked for input from the public on this discussion draft by Monday, February 2nd which should be sent to:

In addition to the draft’s release, the Chairman also announced the first ESEA hearing of the year which is set to take place on Wednesday, January 21st titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.”

The Chairman’s full remarks can be found here and the discussion draft is located here.

Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) also laid out her principles for reauthorization in a floor speech this week in response to the draft proposal. Those remarks can be viewed here.

Over in the House, the Chairman of the Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee, John Kline (R-MN), is also expected to release a draft proposal relatively soon. Next week he will be outlining his priorities for education reform at the American Enterprise Institute. Find more information on that here.

Where To From Here? 

As we look to the rest of 2015, one thing remains clear— both Chambers of Congress, as well as the Administration, appear willing to reauthorize ESEA. The law’s renewal will be a central issue in the coming months and will likely be the primary topic for both Committees for many more to come. As that process unfolds, both parties will continue to stake out areas of priority while seeking common ground elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the key ingredient to the passage of a new ESEA will be President Obama’s signature. As lawmakers in Congress haggle over the finer details of a future ESEA bill, the issues of greatest importance to the Administration— access to quality performance data, rigorous standards, and adequate resources for schools and districts among many others— will continue to be recurring elements in the coming debate.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Legislative Update: Obama Administration Announces Two New Training and Education Initiatives as the 114th Congress Begins

January 9th, 2015

IMG_3003 (1)Today, President Obama announced two new initiatives aimed at boosting access to high-quality postsecondary education and training. Joined by Vice President Biden in Knoxville, Tennessee this afternoon, the Administration unveiled the first of these proposals which seeks to make the first two years of a student’s community college experience tuition free for those who meet and maintain certain eligibility requirements.

This proposal— known as America’s College Promise— would create individual partnerships between the federal government and states interested in participating. Inspired by Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise Program, federal funding would cover 75 percent of a student’s first two years in a qualifying program and would require each state to cover the remaining quarter— a cost savings the Administration estimates could save the average full-time community college student $3,800 a year. The total costs of the program— as well as how it would be funded— are still yet to be determined.

To qualify, students would be required to attend classes on at least on a half-time basis, maintain a 2.5 GPA while enrolled, and continue to make progress toward the completion of their program. The Administration expects these students to be able to earn at least half the credit needed for a four-year degree, or successfully complete a certificate or two-year degree leading to a career.

Under the proposal, community colleges will be required to offer programs that fully articulate to local public universities and colleges or are training programs with an occupational focus that lead to a postsecondary credential that is in-demand from employers in order to qualify for funding.

The second proposal in the President’s announcement today is even more encouraging for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Known as the American Technical Training fund, the President has proposed to create a new $200 million discretionary grant program to support programs that have strong employer partnerships, incorporate work-based learning opportunities, provide options for accelerated training and are capable of accommodating the scheduling needs of part-time work.

The new proposal will would cover the start-up costs of creating approximately 100 accelerated training partnerships with the intent to bring these efforts to scale over subsequent years. Grant amounts would vary in size and scope and would be used to either bring stakeholders together to create a new program or to supplement and expand an existing program with a proven record of success.

Best understood through the lens of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, the American Technical Training Fund, “creates a unique opportunity to promote, catalyze and scale high-quality CTE programs of study that engage in strong partnerships with employers and prepare learners of all levels for the careers of their choice” as NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green pointed out in a statement of support ahead of today’s announcement.

It is important to note that formal Congressional action will be required to put these initiatives formally into effect. In the meantime, President Obama will make this a central feature of his upcoming State of the Union Address and will likely call on Congress to enact these proposals. ”Opening the doors of higher education shouldn’t be a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an American issue” he said this afternoon. More information on these announcements can be found here.

Congress Comes Back to the Hill

Meanwhile, the 114th Congress officially commenced Tuesday, marking the first week of business for a newly empowered Republican Party. In total, 13 new Senators and 58 new House members joined the nation’s premier deliberative body that is widely expected to pursue an ambitious legislative agenda over the next two years.

While formal legislative activity this week has centered on issues such as healthcare and energy, key lawmakers in both chambers have made clear that the reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA) will be a priority in the weeks and months to come. In fact, Chairman Kline of the House Education and the Workforce Committee hopes to have a draft bill completed by the end of March.

Similar news for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) has not been as forthcoming, but NASDCTEc and its partners remain hopeful that Congress will be able to consider the legislation during the same period.

A new Congress also brings changes to the composition of the key committees overseeing the reauthorization of these laws. In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will be chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) serving as its ranking member. In the House, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) will remain chairman of the House Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee as Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) takes over the ranking member position from now-retired Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

Be sure to check back here for more updates as Congress sets to work on new and exciting legislation this year.

Odds and Ends

  • On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that they will be delaying the release of guidance and regulations for the recently passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The department intends to release additional information later this spring despite the January 18th, 2015 deadline outlined in WIOA.  More information on the delay can be found here.
  • The U.S. Department of Education recently released updated state and program budget tables for Fiscal Year 2015. State-by-state tables are located here and program tables can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Upcoming Webinars

January 6th, 2015

Strategies for Financing CTE
January 15, 2015, 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Authors of the new report, “State Strategies for Financing CTE,” will unpack the study’s important findings. Co-hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, this webinar will explore the ways in which states are financing CTE at the secondary and post-secondary levels using state and federal funds, including a closer look at performance-based funding approaches. For an overview of the report, check out our Learning that Works blog.


  • Steve Klein — Director, Center for Career & Adult Education and Workforce Development, RTI International/Principal Investigator for the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education
  • Laura Rasmussen Foster — Program Director, RTI International/National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education
  • Suzanne Hultin — Policy Specialist, Education Program, National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Andrea Zimmermann — State Policy Associate, NASDCTEc

Register Today

2014 State CTE Policy Review
February 5, 2015, 3 – 4 p.m. ET
States are increasingly looking to CTE as a means to help close the skills gap and boost the number of people with a postsecondary credential. Join us as we step through the major state policy trends affecting CTE from 2014 including new laws, executive actions and regulatory activity. This webinar will coincide with the release of the second annual “2014 State CTE Policy Review,” a joint publication from ACTE and NASDCTEc.


  • Catherine Imperatore, Research Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education
  • Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

Register Today

Employer Engagement: State Perspectives
February 10, 2015, 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Join us on February 10th from 2 – 3 PM ET to take an in-depth look at how specific states and employers inform, align and enhance their CTE systems at the secondary and postsecondary levels.


  • Dr. Phil Cleveland, Alabama State Director of CTE and Workforce Development
  • Dr. Blake Flanders, Vice President of Workforce Development, Kansas Board of Regents
  • Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate, NASDCTEc
  • Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager, NASDCTEc

Register Today 

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate