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NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Federal Funding Deadline Looms as Congress Looks to Higher Ed after ESEA Push

July 29th, 2015

United States CapitalSeptember 30th is quickly approaching and with it an end to the current 2015 federal Fiscal Year (FY). With only 12 legislative days left on the Congressional calendar until this deadline and the Congressional August recess set to begin later this week, lawmakers and the Obama Administration are still grappling with how to fund the federal government beginning on October 1st—the first official day of FY 2016.

Congressional appropriations committees in both the House and the Senate successfully passed the 12 necessary funding bills to fund federal programs—an achievement not seen in over six years and aided by unified Republican control of both Chambers of Congress. Despite this accomplishment, these funding bills all adhere to the Budget Control Act of 2011’s (BCA) statutorily mandated ‘sequester caps’ that dramatically reduce funding for many domestic programs, including education and relatedly the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) which would receive approximately $3.6 million in reduced funding for national activities while providing level funding for the law’s state grant program.

These caps significantly limit the amount of funding available for all federal discretionary programs, severely impacting education and other domestic spending priorities that are dear to Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration. As such, lawmakers and the White House have been in a protracted stand-off over how to fund the federal government later this fall.

As September quickly approaches, the likelihood of another ‘Continuing Appropriations Resolution’ (CR) is rapidly increasing. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) conceded as much at a recent press conference saying, “it’s pretty clear given the number of days we have here in September that we’re going to have to do a CR of some sort.”

In response to the gridlock, nearly all Congressional Democrats, and an increasing amount of Republicans, have begun to call for a broader budget deal outside the scope of the normal appropriations process.  Such a deal could address the underlying problem of the sequester caps, even temporarily, to relieve some of the fiscal pressures created by the BCA. Much like what the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 did for the previous two fiscal years, an agreement later this year would be the best case scenario for making much needed investments in education and workforce development programs possible, particularly for the Perkins Act.

NASDCTEc remains committed to this type of agreement and we encourage the CTE community to urge members of Congress to tackle this challenge head-on, rather than passing stop-gap measures such as a CR at the expense of longer term agreements that allow for greater investments in critically important programs such as the Perkins Act. Be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis as things continue to play out on Capitol Hill.

Congress Pivots to Higher Ed

As we’ve shared previously, both education committees in the House and the Senate have prioritized the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in this Congress. Due for reauthorization since 2013 and extended to this year for further consideration, the law governs nearly all federal financial aid programs for postsecondary education. Issues such institutional accreditation, supporting innovation in postsecondary education, financial aid risk sharing, the role of consumer information and data, and campus sexual assault have all been the subject of hearings and discussions in both Chambers as lawmakers gear up for the law’s renewal.

In the Senate, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced four staff-level working groups earlier this year focused on four key areas that they hope to address in the upcoming reauthorization process: accountability, accreditation, college affordability / financial aid, and campus sexual assault / safety. It is hoped that these groups can work through these issues on a bipartisan basis prior to the committee and later the full chamber considering full reauthorization legislation.

More recently, the Committee held a hearing exploring barriers to innovation in postsecondary education. Members focused on the role that regulations (and at times overregulation) have in stymieing innovation within the higher education system, how to address current funding structures that are tied to the credit hour in order to better support competency-based learning programs, and the need to expand HEA’s experimental sites initiative to allow for more experimentation, among other topics. More on the hearing can be found here.

In the House, members of the Education and Workforce (HEW) Committee introduced a series of four bipartisan higher education bills that they hope to piece together later on to form the basis for their proposal for the law’s renewal. These bills seek to simplify the student aid process, improve consumer access to relevant data and information to make informed decisions on where to go to school, and strengthen loan counseling to improve students’ financial literacy when making decisions about their financial aid. Of particular note is the Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act (H.R. 3180) introduced by Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) which would reinstate “year-round” Pell Grants for qualifying students in accelerated programs—a move NASDCTEc supports in future HEA legislation. More on that bill can be found here and information related to the all of the bills is located here.

The Obama Administration has also repositioned itself ahead of possible HEA consideration. Speaking at UMBC earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a speech on HEA which encouraged the higher education community to not just focus on the rising specters of college debt and cost, but also on student outcomes and educational quality. More on his remarks can be found here.

Lawmakers Seek to Give FERPA a Facelift

The Student Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 3157) was recently introduced by Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) of the HEW Committee. The bill seeks to update the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by barring schools and private companies from selling student information, creating minimum data security protocols, and allowing parents greater access and control over their child’s information. The legislation is one of several proposals from both Chambers of Congress that seek to modernize the law to reflect changes in the digital education landscape. At present, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) enforces provisions under FERPA governing how companies handle student data. However, competing proposals in the Senate would hand that responsibility over to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce these rules more vigorously.

Odds & Ends

USDE and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) are requesting public comment on proposed templates and data definitions for performance information required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The comment period is open for 60 days and must be submitted by September 21 at: www.regulations.gov (Docket ID is ETA-2015-0007). Last week marked WIOA’s first birthday.

The final text of the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) was released this week. The bill is the Chamber’s proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and now bicameral negotiations are about to begin to reconcile it with the House’s ESEA proposal the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). More information on the debate can be found here and a great breakdown of where key issues stand in the wider discussion can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE

July 24th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Vocational Education Should be for Everyone
Despite some negative perceptions of vocational or Career Technical Education (CTE), schools across the country are taking different approaches in improving CTE and connecting academic, technical and real-world learning for students. “We’re thinking about that now, to take more old school programs and reimagine them into career pathways, so we’re thinking about how you take traditional construction and woodworking classes and change the structure so it aligns with a high-demand advanced manufacturing pathway,” said Laurent Trent, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Denver Public School’s Office of College and Career Readiness.
More

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Learn about competency-based learning in 60 seconds

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Join The “E” in STEM Education: Why Engineering is Vital to Science Standards webinar on July 28 from 3 – 4 p.m. to learn why engineering is vital to STEM and the role the Next Generation Science Standards plays in incorporating engineering in content standards. The webinar will feature leaders from Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Foy H. Moody High School Recognized at the White House

July 22nd, 2015

Earlier this month, the White House hosted Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education (CTE) to recognize leaders in CTE from across the country. In attendance were some of the NASDCTEc Excellence in Action award winners, including Dr. Sandra Clement, Principal at Foy H. Moody High School, who was invited to speak and credited the strong focus on CTE to Moody’s excellent graduation rates and continued improvements.

As Clement reflected on the event she said, “Everyone was genuinely very interested in the work our students were doing in CTE. This is very refreshing because a lot of times CTE is not given the validity of the impact it has on students.”

While Clement described how exciting the event at the White House has been for her school and district, she noted the expansion of the U.S. Presidential Scholars program to include CTE has put CTE on a national platform. “Recognition of CTE will be much more monumental, and students will have a variety of pathways to choose from while still being recognized for their good work,” said Clement.

Despite this recognition for Moody’s already stellar CTE programs, Clement plans to continue to expand CTE programming including developing a pathway surrounding computer software engineering and offering more certifications in health care, a growing industry in her community.

Foy H. Moody High School was a 2014 Excellence in Action award winner in the STEM Career Cluster. Learn more about the school and their Innovation Academy for Engineering, Environmental, and Marine Science, here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

July 17th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Top U.S.-Based Companies Launch the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative” to Create Pathways to Economic Opportunity for Young Americans
Over a dozen companies from Alaska Airlines to Walgreens have partnered for the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative with the goal of creating pathways to employment for young Americans. To kick off the initiative, Chicago hosted the first Opportunity Fair & Forum where organizations trained and made job offers to local youth.
Read More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators
The College & Career Readiness & Success Center in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and RTI International developed this Professional Learning Module – a collection of PowerPoints, handouts, workbooks and various tools – to help assist state and regional educator centers and staff in increasing their knowledge and capacity in integrating employability skills in their work.
Read More

NASDCTEc RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
There’s a lot moving on Capitol Hill. Follow our Legislative Update series to find out the latest on the Early and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.
Read More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Senate Passes ESEA Rewrite

July 17th, 2015

United States CapitalYesterday afternoon, the Senate voted 81-17 in favor of the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), the Chamber’s proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). While 14 Republicans and three Democrats voted against ECAA’s passage for dramatically different reasons, the Chamber’s overall support for the bill remained strongly bipartisan and marks a significant step forward in rewriting the nation’s largest K-12 education law which has been due for renewal since 2007.

The effort in the Senate to reauthorize ESEA has been driven by HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) who shepherded the bipartisan bill out of Committee in April. A total of 66 different amendments, including Senator Alexander and Murray’s comprehensive substitute amendment, were passed as part of yesterday’s vote with 13 being rejected.

On the whole, ECAA completely reimagines ESEA’s accountability system, removing No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) “adequate yearly progress” requirement. It would maintain the law’s annual assessment schedule and would require states to develop “challenging academic standards” for all students. Notably, the bill would require states to report disaggregated data on student subgroups and identify low-performing schools, however it does not place a requirement for state or local intervention if achievement gaps are identified—something that has been a point of strong contention for many civil rights groups and the Obama Administration.

During the five calendar days that the Senate devoted to the bill’s consideration, there were a number of Career Technical Education (CTE) amendments that were adopted before ECAA’s final passage. While the final text of S. 1177 will not be available until sometime next week, here’s a short breakdown of a few of the new additions that found their way into the final bill (a listing of ECAA’s CTE provisions that were already in the bill can be viewed here):

  • CTE is now included in ECAA’s definition of “Core Academic Subjects”—ensuring that CTE is recognized as a strong contributor to students’ college and career readiness
  • Strengthened accountability language that would allow states to include measures of student postsecondary or career readiness in their accountability systems
  • An expansion of the Pell grant program to help low-income students complete early college and dual / concurrent enrollment programs
  • Strengthened state and local plan language requiring the development of effective strategies to promote student transitions between learner levels
  • New state plan language referencing the need to create “college and career pathways” for students
  • Additions to the local application section of ECAA encouraging the support of programs that promote integrated academic and CTE instruction, including experiential learning
  • Greater support for educator professional development that encourages common planning time for CTE and non-CTE teachers while encouraging integrated instruction
  • New allowable uses of funds under Title IV of the bill that support college and career guidance programs, including career awareness & exploration activities, while providing greater support for the use of labor market information to be used to inform these activities

Many other big ticket amendments were considered during the Senate debate. The “A-PLUS” amendment, a proposal that would allow states to block-grant their Title I funding for “any education purpose allowed under state law”, was voted down mainly along party lines. One of Chairman Alexander’s amendments supporting school vouchers for low-income students had a similar fate. Another “opt-out” amendment that would have allowed parents to opt their children out from the bill’s mandated assessments also did not pass. Towards the end of the debate, a significant proposal from Senate Democrats to hold states accountable for their lowest performing schools and achievement gaps within student subgroups did not pass either. A compromise proposal that changes the underlying formula for Title I did pass, however the amendment’s provisions would not kick-in unless Title I is funded at much higher levels than it is currently.

On the whole ECAA rolls back the federal government’s role in K-12 education substantially, leaving many important educational decisions to states and local communities while rectifying many of the most problematic legacies ‘left behind’ by NCLB. Despite the bipartisan nature of the Senate’s process, a pathway forward for full ESEA reauthorization remains highly uncertain. As mentioned above, many Congressional Democrats, civil rights groups, and the White House are strongly opposed to the absence of a stronger accountability system in ECAA. Conversely many Republicans, particularly those in the House, are vehemently opposed to any proposal that does not do more to streamline existing programs and limit the federal role in K-12 education further.

With the Senate and the House’s work on their respective bills complete, it remains to be seen if their proposals can be reconciled via a formal conference or by way of behind-the-scenes negotiations later this year. Nevertheless, crafting a bill that can please each of these groups will prove to be extremely challenging.

Be sure to check back here as the process unfolds later this year. NASDCTEc will be sure to provide more updates and analysis for how these proposals will impact the CTE community as negotiations continue.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Legislative Update: Congress Wrestles with ESEA

July 13th, 2015

United States CapitalThroughout last week, lawmakers on Capitol Hill began to take up their respective proposals to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—the nation’s largest K-12 education law formerly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

On Wednesday, the House passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5)—the Chamber’s rewrite of NCLB. After being removed from full consideration earlier this year when House conservatives began to oppose the bill for not rolling back the federal role in K-12 education enough, H.R. 5 was finally brought to a vote where it was passed along partisan lines by an extremely slim margin of 218-213. Of note to the CTE community, the final bill would repeal the “highly-qualified” teacher provision, require states and local recipients of federal funding to report on CTE-related student outcomes, and require further integration of academic and CTE coursework—all priorities for NASDCTEc in ESEA reauthorization.

However, the legislation would radically transform federal K-12 education policy and has been extremely controversial since its introduction in the 113th Congress. Several amendments, some old and some new, were considered and adopted during the debate in an effort to garner additional support needed to finally pass the bill:

  • A provision shortening the law’s authorization period to FY 2016 – 2019 (previously H.R. 5 would have gone to FY 2021)
  • Explicit language allowing States to withdraw from the Common Core without penalty from the U.S. Secretary of Education (since Common Core is not a federal requirement, this amendment is largely meaningless)
  • Additional language clarifying the importance of student data privacy
  • A new initiative to support digital learning programs in rural schools
  • New opt-out language that allows parents to opt their children out of assessments mandated under H.R. 5 and allow schools to ignore these opted-out students when calculating overall rates of participation

Most notably, the “A-PLUS” Act—a Title I portability proposal that would have allowed states to fully block grant their Title I funding for “any educational purpose allowed under state law”—was voted down by a 195-235 margin. The White House has repeatedly issued veto threats for the Student Success Act and Congressional Democrats vehemently oppose much of what is contained in the proposal. Read the House’s Education and Workforce Committee’s press release on the bill’s passage here.

In the Senate, debate on the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177)—that Chamber’s bipartisan proposal for ESEA’s reauthorization—began on Tuesday and lasted through much of the week. The bill has been shepherded by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). The process for the bill’s consideration has been much more consensus-driven than that of the House. ECAA contains a number of promising CTE-related provisions such as:

  • A requirement that states and local begin reporting on student attainment of CTE proficiencies (something already done under Perkins, so as not to create new reporting burdens)
  • A requirement that state academic standards be aligned with relevant state-identified CTE standards
  • Provisions allowing for at least one metric in the state’s accountability system that is indicative of student postsecondary or workforce readiness
  • The elimination of the harmful “highly-qualified teacher” provision
  • Support of career counseling in Title IV of the bill

NASDCTEc is currently working with a number of Senate offices on CTE-related amendments related to using CTE instructional strategies as a model for high school reform, further inclusion of CTE within ECAA’s definition for core academic subjects, strengthened career counseling language, stronger support for dual and concurrent enrollment programs, and improved professional development programs for teachers and principals.

So far, the Senate has passed a handful of amendments related to school library programs, greater support for Native American students, and a new effectiveness study to be conducted of all ESEA funded programs. Notably, Chairman Alexander’s school voucher amendment—a proposal that would have allowed Title I funds to be used by low-income students at public or private schools of their choice—was ultimately rejected by the Senate.

Further debate of ECAA begins later today and through the week with a number of other CTE and non-CTE related proposals expected to be taken up. While the passage of ECAA is likely to occur this year, the pathway forward for a full ESEA reauthorization remains unclear. Reconciling ECAA and the Student Success Act will likely prove to be extremely difficult as both bills are dramatically far apart on many key issues related to the appropriate federal role in K-12 education as well as funding levels for many programs authorized under the law.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more ESEA related action and be sure to check back here for updates and analysis of this process.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE

July 10th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Association for Career and Technical Education launched their third video as part of the Stories of Putting America to Work series. Check out Green Collar: Sustainable Jobs of Tomorrow highlighting the Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C.
View the Video

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Digital ‘Merit Badges’ Coming to Aurora Public Schools
Digital merit badges, an online credentialing system that rewards students for ‘soft skills’ such as collaboration, critical thinking and invention, are being introduced to 19 Aurora, Colorado public schools.
Read More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Embracing the Millennial Generation for Success
This white paper and accompanying webinar delves into how manufacturers can attract and retain millennial workers through a training and development program.
Read More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

July 2nd, 2015

This Week in CTE is being posted a day earlier this week because the office will be closed Friday in observance of Independence Day.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

The past two weeks have been an exciting time for Career Technical Education. Last week, President Obama announced the expansion of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to include CTE students, and earlier this week the White House held a special event to recognize CTE Innovators with remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama. We were thrilled that the event included a few of our Excellence in Action Award winners, Moody High School, Upper Valley Career Center, Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Henderson County High School.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

America’s Promise Alliance and Pearson launched GradNation State Activation Initiative to increase high school graduation rates to 90 percent. As part of the initiative, there is a grant opportunity open to state agencies, nonprofits, community based organizations, coalitions, and association or membership groups. Grants are for up to $200,000.
Read More

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK 

Did you miss our most recent webinar with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC)? We explored how West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace is reinventing Career Technical Education (CTE) by bringing the workplace inside the four walls of a CTE classroom for a student-centered simulated experience. Launched in 2013 as a pilot, the Simulated Workplace is poised for statewide implementation in the 2016-17 school year. You can watch the recording here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Research Review: A Call for Career Pathways

July 2nd, 2015

The Potential of Career Pathways

Two new reports explores the history and potential of career pathways.

First, a new report from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) examines the evolution of career pathways over the past 30 years as the country has adapted and responded to the need for a skilled workforce. Further, it also offers strategies for state and local stakeholders to consider when developing a comprehensive pathways system that connects and aligns education and workforce development systems.

The paper, published as part of OCTAE’s three-year initiative to advance CTE in state and local career pathways, cited the 2014 passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the Administration’s Ready to Work initiative as “game-changing” actions that will continue to drive cross-systems alignment.

“When looking at what has worked in career-related education and training programs historically, it becomes clear that a comprehensive Career Pathways systems approach holds significant promise for providing Americans with the skills and credentials needed for high-demand jobs and careers,” the report states.

The report was produced by Jobs for the Future, which is contracted by OCTAE to manage the career pathways project.

Meanwhile, from the Brookings Institute, economics expert Harry Holzer calls for expanding high-quality CTE – including career pathways and work-based learning, to help the nation better meet the needs of employers’ skill demands. Specifically, Holzer writes that community colleges and employers need better incentives to invest in middle-skill workers and adapt as the labor market changes. He offers three solutions:

  • Provide more resources to community colleges and smaller four-year institutions while also creating incentives and accountability through performance-based funding;
  • Expand high-quality CTE and work-based learning such as apprenticeships; and
  • Incentivize employers to create more good jobs, as well as other supportive policies including higher minimum wages.

What Happens When Students Transfer

A new study examines what happens when students transfer from and to four-year institutions.

From the Community College Research Center, “What We Know about Transfer,” takes a look at student transfer patterns, outcomes, barriers and the economic benefits of transferring in a new brief, and call transferring a “vital route to a bachelor’s degree for many underserved students.” Yet, the authors caution that policymakers should pay keen attention to the transfer process to protect the credits students have earned in order to create an efficient, seamless process for college attainment.

Data, Data, Data

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a new brief in its “Data Point” series that looks at the Credentials (2)relationship between education and work credentials. Analyzing the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, NCES found that more than one in five adults, nearly a quarter, have a work credential. Of these, 71 percent have a license and 29 percent have a certification. Also, more than half of those holding a work credential have less than a bachelor’s degree.

NCES also released two new data sets of note:

  • An update to its High School Longitudinal Study, which includes a look at CTE coursetaking
  • Trends in high school dropout and completion rates from 1972-2012

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Celebrating CTE at the White House

July 1st, 2015

IMG_0324

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education and  theWhite House hosted “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education,” honoring CTE students, educators and programs that exemplify everything CTE has to offer, which Kim Green (NASDCTEc Executive Director), Rod Duckworth (Chancellor for Career and Adult Education in Florida and NASDCTEc President) and I had the honor of attending.

One major highlight of the day-long event was a keynote from First Lady Michelle Obama who acknowledged the power of CTE and encouraged the audience to keep pushing themselves and their peers. “I don’t know how many people know about CTE but more people should because in today’s world, a high school diploma isn’t enough…If you want to learn cutting-edge skills, if you want to prepare yourself for college and a good career…it’s important for students to realize that a four-year university is not your only option.” She continued, “For many young people and their families, CTE can be the best option because you can get all the professional skills you need for a good job in a high-demand field and you can do it at a fraction at the time and, more importantly, a fraction of the cost.” To summarize, “Career and tech programs make a whole lot of sense.”

IMG_0349Throughout the day, excellence and innovation were on display, with remarks from Principal Sandra Clement of Foy H. Moody High School (a 2014 Excellence in Action winner) discussing how CTE has propelled all of their students, in a high minority and low-income district, to apply for postsecondary education; high school seniors Anne and Anna Raheem, who championed the development of a STEM course in their school and are on their way to Harvard next year; and Jacob Smith who introduced the First Lady and is starting at Johnson & Wales with a full scholarship in the fall. A number of students and schools also shared projects – on topics including 3D printing, fingerprinting and robotics – during an innovation fair.

IMG_0298The day concluded with the recognition ceremony, where 16 national “student innovators and 10 “educator innovators “(as selected by ACTE and Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), five Excellence in Action award winners, and 16 CTSOs leaders were honored.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director

 

 

 

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