Betsy DeVos on CTE: Students Need to Have a Full Menu of Options

January 18th, 2017

On Friday, Donald Trump is scheduled to be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. While the Senate has yet to hold a floor vote to confirm any of the President-elect’s cabinet nominees, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) held a hearing Tuesday evening for Mrs. Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Education.

While much remains unknown about President-Elect Trump’s education agenda and his priorities for the coming year, during her opening statement DeVos stated that we need to “embrace new pathways of learning,” by “support[ing] all postsecondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools and community colleges.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tim Scott (R-NC) pressed her again on increasing flexibility for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. A lifelong advocate for student choice, DeVos responded that “students really need to have a full menu of options,” including “technical schools, community colleges [and] apprenticeships.”

DeVos is not new to CTE. She and her husband Richard “Dick” DeVos Jr., billionaire entrepreneur and heir to the Amway enterprise, co-founded an aviation-themed charter school in Grand Rapids, MI. West Michigan Aviation Academy opened in 2010 and includes a rigorous curriculum that integrates both academic and technical education. According to the school’s website, Aviation Academy also hosts regular job shadowing events, during which industry professionals come to campus to speak with and mentor students.

The hearing was not without disagreements, however. While Republicans on the HELP Committee largely praised DeVos’s philanthropic background and advocacy for school choice, Senate Democrats pressed her on outstanding conflicts of interest (DeVos has yet to disclose all of her financial engagements to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics) and her position on issues such as accountability, campus sexual assault and guns in schools.  

A confirmation vote is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday, though Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) assured concerned Democrats on the Committee that they will have an opportunity to submit additional questions to DeVos prior to that date. He also said he would delay the vote if DeVos’s ethics review letter is not available from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics by that time.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: $20M in grants support 10 states in career readiness system transformation

January 13th, 2017

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Earlier this week, 10 states received $2 million each to strengthen career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs in their state as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative. All states were selected from a cohort of 24 that received $100,000 grants to plan long-term career readiness education programs in March, and will now put those plans into action. Want to learn more about what the 10 states have accomplished so far? Read our 10 state snapshots.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is spearheading this $75 million effort, and CEO Jamie Dimon discussed the importance of providing career opportunities to youth around the country stating, “It is a moral imperative that we get jobs for kids.” Hear more about why JPMorgan Chase is leading this important work.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

$20 Million Grants Awarded to 10 States to Improve Career Pathways for all Students

January 11th, 2017

JPMorgan Chase & Co. today announced nearly $20 million in grants to ten states to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers. These state grants are one part of the $75 million, five-year New Skills for Youth initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase & Co., in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs.

Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin will each receive $2 million over three years to expand and improve career pathways for all high school students.

In March 2016, 24 states and the District of Columbia were awarded $100,000 grants for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of area employers. The grants awarded today represent the second phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative. All of today’s recipients were selected from the original 25 grantees. These states will now leverage the additional grant funding to execute the career readiness plans they developed during phase one of the initiative.

“Providing opportunities for all students to participate in high-quality career readiness programs is critical to their future success and the future of our country,” said Advance CTE Executive Director Kimberly Green. “I am thrilled at the progress made by these states and excited at the prospects this initiative offers for all learners and all states.”

As part of this work, Advance CTE, CCSSO and Education Strategy Group have released 10 snapshots highlighting each of the grantees’ accomplishments in the first phase of the initiative, which be read here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

This Week in CTE: The State of CTE report is released!

December 16th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Today, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR, we published The State of Career Technical Education: Increasing Access to Industry Experts in High School, examining the shortage of industry experts in secondary classrooms and how to address it. Save the date for a webinar on January 9th that will explore major themes from this report.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

An article by Hechinger Report takes a dive into the recent poll by Gallup-Purdue indicates more than half of college graduates find their alma maters provided inadequate career guidance services, while hailing a notable exception, Wake Forest, which offers college-to-career courses for students to better help them plan for their future.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

American Students Demonstrate Lackluster Performance on International PISA Exam, but Signal Interest in Science-Related Careers

December 9th, 2016

Earlier this week, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released results from the 2015 international PISA examination. The examination, which is administered every three years by the OECD, is designed to measure science, reading and math literacy for 15-year-olds in 35 OECD member countries in order to identify trends in student achievement and provide recommendations for international education policy. Each administration of the exam focuses on a different content area, and the emphasis for the 2015 exam was science literacy.

Performance in the United States was lackluster at best, with students placing 19th in science, 20th in reading and 31st in math compared to 34 other OECD countries. While there has been relatively no change in performance for science and reading over the past two iterations of the exam, math scores have fallen 11 points since 2012.

In response to this year’s assessment results, the OECD released five recommendations for policymakers in the U.S. to improve teaching and learning and promote equity:

  1. A clear education strategy to improve performance and equity should be implemented.
  2. Rigorous and consistent standards should be applied across all classrooms.
  3. Teacher and school leader capacity should be improved.
  4. Resources should be distributed equitably across schools – preferentially to those schools and students that need them most.
  5. At-risk students and schools should be proactively targeted.

 

These results are sobering, but they also spark a renewed urgency to improve the quality of education and leverage opportunities such as Career Technical Education (CTE) to equip students with academic and workforce-relevant skills and set the national economy on track for future growth.

Student Performance and Economic Growth

Performance on the PISA exam serves not only as a signal of student academic achievement, but also of career readiness. This is a research focus of Eric Hanushek’s, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In a recent panel discussion with the Alliance for Excellent Education, he argued that academic performance is tightly related to a country’s future economic health. Using PISA performance as a proxy for educational quality, Hanushek finds a positive correlation between international performance and future GDP growth. In other words, the more students learn, the stronger the economy is likely to be in the future. He also uses scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a U.S.-administered assessment, to find a similar relationship across individual states.

However, Hanushek makes sure not to conflate educational quality with quantity. He runs the same analysis using years of educational attainment instead of PISA scores and finds almost no relationship with economic growth. He draws the conclusion that “if you have more education without developing the skills, it doesn’t count.” This conclusion echoes a finding from this year’s PISA that, in terms of science literacy performance, how science is taught is a more important factor than investments in equipment and highly-qualified instructional staff. In the intersection between education and economic growth, it is not the inputs that matter as much as the skills, knowledge and abilities students develop along the way.

Students Signal High Interest in Science-Related Careers

In addition to testing subject literacy, the PISA examination surveys student attitudes and career preferences. Interestingly, the 2015 survey found that 38 percent of American 15-year-olds expect to work in a science-related career field by the age of 30, with health and science and engineering the two most prominent industries of interest, demonstrating that high school students are putting consideration into their future career goals. 

One strategy to prepare students for future careers in science is to increase participation in related programs of study. Programs of study guide learners through a sequence of aligned, non-duplicative courses that integrate academic and technical learning, span secondary and postsecondary systems and culminate in a credential of value. Participating in a program of study enables students to focus in a Career ClusterⓇ of interest and develop the skills and experiences they need to be successful in that industry. Rather than sampling a basket of different electives without developing depth of experience in any, program of study concentrators go deep in their learning. And research indicates that this could lead to positive student outcomes. According to a recent study, participating in a program of study increases the likelihood of graduation, overall grade point average and CTE grade point average. At scale, increased participation in programs of study may lead to increased academic performance and career readiness, spurring future economic growth.

With the release of the 2015 international PISA exam scores, there is newfound urgency to improve the quality of learning and increase opportunities for students to learn workforce-relevant skills, particularly in science-related fields. By leveraging high-quality programs of study, education policymakers can prepare students for future careers and spur national economic growth.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Road to ESSA Implementation: USDE Publishes Final Regs and Provides more Guidance

December 1st, 2016

United States CapitalEarlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a new batch of final regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—bipartisan legislation that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These rules cover the law’s accountability, reporting, and state planning provisions of ESSA and come on the heels of an earlier— and highly controversial— set of proposed regulations for the law’s so-called “supplement-not-supplant” provisions.

While final rules for ESSA’s supplement-not-supplant provisions are still being worked out, this week’s set of final regulations make a number of important changes to the draft version released earlier this summer.

In many respects these final rules stipulate a more realistic timeline for the law’s implementation. For instance, states now have until the 2018-19 academic year to identify the lowest 5 percent of schools— schools that would then be eligible for comprehensive improvement under ESSA— whereas before that requirement would have gone into effect in the 2017-18 school year under the earlier proposal. Similarly, state ESSA plans are now due by April 3 or September 18, 2017 in order to give state education agencies more time to meaningfully engage stakeholders ahead of the law’s accountability system going into effect (another aspect of ESSA that will not be fully implemented until the 2018-19 school year).

Of particular note for the CTE community are other rule changes governing the law’s accountability system, specifically the new ESSA requirement that state accountability systems include at least one non-academic measure of school quality or student success which, under ESSA, may include measures of career readiness. Under the earlier draft version these additional indicators would have needed to be supported by research finding that “performance or progress” on the measure increases student academic achievement or graduation rates. Advance CTE, along with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) urged USDE to broaden this standard slightly to ensure that a greater number of high-quality career readiness indicators could be incorporated into states’ new ESSA accountability systems.

Encouragingly USDE heeded this suggestion and the final rule now requires that such measures, “increase student learning, such as grade point average, credit accumulation, or performance in advanced coursework, or for high schools, graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, persistence, or completion, or career success.” A summary of these final rules are available here and the full document can be found here.

On Capitol Hill, the new ESSA regulations were met with mixed reactions.  Referencing the powers at his disposal via the Congressional Review Act—a law that would allow the Republican controlled Congress next year to throw out the proposal entirely— Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he, “will carefully review this final version before deciding what action is appropriate.” Ranking Members of the Senate and House Education Committees, Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a more supportive statement saying, in part, “While we are disappointed that this final rule doesn’t go as far as we would have hoped, we commend the Department of Education for listening to stakeholders . . . This rule will provide states and school districts with much needed stability and clarity as they work to submit state plans and implement statewide accountability systems.”

In other ESSA-related news, USDE recently released new non-regulatory guidance for states and local districts to support the law’s ongoing roll-out. These releases covered topics ranging from meeting the law’s new English Language Learner requirements under Title III, guidance for how to effectively use ESSA Title II funding to support teachers and high-quality instruction, and additional guidance aimed at helping states and districts provide a “well-rounded education” under Title IV of the new law.

Be sure to check back here next week for another update on states’ efforts to implement ESSA.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Election 2016 Update

November 10th, 2016

United States CapitalAmerica went to the polls on Tuesday and, in what was a surprise turn of events for many, Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States. The Senate, which many were closely watching to see if it would flip towards Democratic control, will retain a slim (51 votes) GOP majority. Republicans also defended their majority in the House of Representatives, retaining 239 seats in total (218 are needed for control of the chamber). Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, is expected to return to the Senate and continue on in his current role as co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus.

At present, it is still difficult to predict a Trump Administration’s education priorities, as it was not a primary focus of the candidates on the campaign trail. The President-elect recently created a transition page, which can be viewed here, articulating some of the broader education policy goals of his new administration. Trump has also expressed enthusiasm for returning more control over education to state and local entities while calling  for the elimination or dramatic downsizing of the U.S. Department of Education. Along with these wider policy pronouncements Trump has also voiced support for “vocational training” while on the campaign trail. The Vice President Elect, Mike Pence, also has had a track record of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) in his home state of Indiana (read more on that here).

In addition to these revelations at the federal level, there was also quite a lot of state-level CTE policy of note on this year’s ballot:

  • In California, voters approved a $9 billion bond to create the 2016 State School Facilities Fund, directing money to fund school construction and modernization projects across the state. A sum of $500 million from the fund will be appropriated for updating CTE program facilities. The measure passed despite criticism from California Governor Jerry Brown, who called the investment large and inefficient.
  • A measure in Oklahoma that would have levied a one-cent sales tax to increase revenue for public education and teacher salaries was rejected. The proposal included a 3.25 percent allocation to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, which amounted to approximately $20 million.
  • Oregon voters passed Measure 98 to establish a College and Career Readiness fund. The measure calls on the state legislature to allocate $800 per pupil, which can be used to establish and expand CTE programs, college-level educational opportunities (including dual credit programs), and dropout prevention programs in high schools.
  • And South Dakota voted to amend the state constitution and allow the state technical college system to be governed separately from the Board of Regents. Under Constitutional Amendment R, the legislature will now determine a new governance structure for the state’s four technical institutes.

As things continue to evolve in the capitol, Advance CTE will continue to educate new policymakers regarding the value of supporting high-quality CTE. Be sure to check back here as events continue to take shape.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager & Austin Estes, Policy Associate 

This Week in CTE

November 4th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

IBM makes the case as to why reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is critical to the success of America’s workforce.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The Oceans of Data Institute developed an occupational profile identifying the work, activities, skills, knowledge and behavior that define what data practitioners need to know and be able to do. It will be used to develop courses and programs that lead to big data careers.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Next week on November 10 from 11 a.m. – noon ET, we’re hosting a webinar taking a dive into the 2017 Excellence in Action award application process. Learn more about how to apply for the award, hear from some 2016 award winners, and be ready with questions for Advance CTE staff and a member of last year’s selection committee so that you submit an award-winning application.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications

This Week in CTE

October 21st, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Harvard Political Review published an article making the case for Career Technical Education as an important option for students who want a pathway to a successful career:  “Students often leave CTE programs with certifications that allow them to immediately enter the workforce. Surprisingly, some see this as CTE’s greatest failing. Yes, welders might make up to $140,000 dollars a year, but how can the government support “condemning” students to blue-collar labor? The reasoning of many against CTE programs seems misguided at best.”

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Join us for a webinar on November 10 taking a deep dive into the application process for the 2017 Excellence in Action award. You will hear from past award recipients and a member of the selection committee on what makes an award-winning program, providing insight into how to create a successful application.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

National Skills Coalition released a report on the importance of providing supports to low-income people for postsecondary education and training, citing Arkansas’ Career Pathways Initiative as a model program.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

This Week in CTE

October 14th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

The Pew Research Center and the Markle Foundation released a study on the changing attitudes of the workplace with some interesting findings.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Workforce Data Quality Campaign published, “Data Policy Toolkit: Implementing the State Blueprint,” highlighting policies states can enact to improve data infrastructure and use in their state.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

On Tuesday November 15 at 2:30-3:30 pm ET, join us for an update on Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE and learn about ways in which you can help support this vision of career success for all learners. Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

 

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