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 

This Week in CTE: Happy Manufacturing Day!

October 7th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals makes the case as to why CTE, STEM education and apprenticeships are key to the American workforce, economy and manufacturing industry. Read more in their piece, The Economy of Manufacturing and Community.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Visit our Learning that Works Resource Center for the latest research, policies and reports on CTE and career readiness, including the Manufacturing Institute, SkillsUSA and the Education Research Center of America’s report, Attracting the Next Generation Workforce: The Role of CTE, which found that personal industry experience — through involvement with Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), internships, summer jobs and co-op study programs — can impact students’ future career interests.

PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

Desert View High School’s precision machining and mechanical drafting program of study is a model program in the Manufacturing Career Cluster, demonstrating the incredible impact a strong employer and educational partnership can have on the community. A 2016 Excellence in Action award winner, this program of study was developed in partnership with the Tucson, Arizona business community to build a pipeline of skilled and qualified employees.

“When an industry comes forward and tells a district or administration, ‘our community needs this program, and we will support you,’ this becomes the leverage for change that enables the school to make those difficult decisions, to prioritize your program. Companies are moving to Tucson because they see a pipeline and workforce being built. This program has created an economic development change for our community,” said Kathy Prather, Director of CTE at Sunnyside Unified School District.

p.s. If you haven’t already, join 4,000 of your peers and cast your vote to include CTE in the next presidential debate on Sunday, October 9th!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

 

As States Complete Listening Tours, Early ESSA Plans Show Opportunities to Expand CTE

September 28th, 2016

LA MeetingsIn the nine months since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last December, states and policymakers have been hard at work digging through the legislation and deciding how to structure their new plans. ESSA, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, presents a number of opportunities to expand access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). As states prepare to implement the law next year, we will provide periodic updates on their progress and share strategies for leveraging ESSA to support CTE at the state level.

Early Drafts and Proposals from the States

Most states this summer have been gathering input from stakeholders on their ESSA implementation plans as required by the new law. While many are still completing their listening tours (you can find an overview here), a few states have released draft proposals:

  • Illinois recently released a draft of its state plan, which State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith offered as a “work in progress.” The plan describes how Illinois’ secondary CTE system, which is supported, in part, with funds from the Carl D. Parkins Act, aligns with ESSA’s new focus on a ‘well-rounded education’ — a key concept in the new law includes CTE as part of the statutory definition. The state Board of Education also adopted a framework for a college and career readiness indicator, including such components as industry credential attainment, work-based learning participation, and postsecondary credit attainment. It is yet to be determined if the framework will be included in the state’s broader, multi-indicator system of accountability. Illinois plans to conduct 14 listening sessions in September and October, after which time the state will revise and publish an updated state plan later this fall.
  • After much deliberation, the California Board of Education approved a new accountability system earlier this month, adopting an indicator for college and career readiness. The indicator allows schools to count students completing a CTE pathway, although the overall score will not differentiate these students from those meeting other college and career readiness indicators such as earning a passing score on an Advanced Placement exam. The accountability system lacks criteria to measure students who are “well-prepared” for college and careers. Meanwhile, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that would have revised the accountability system to place more weight on test scores.
  • Louisiana released a summary report from its listening tour this summer, providing parents, educators and other education stakeholders an overview of progress towards a new state plan. Suggestions under consideration include incentivizing and rewarding schools for students earning industry-recognized credentials, partnering with business and industry to recruit teachers with industry experience, and providing students more opportunities to enroll in postsecondary education and training during their senior year. It is important to note that Louisiana is still considering these recommendations for the purposes of their forthcoming final plan.
  • Finally, Arizona released a draft state plan for residents of the state to review. While the draft is preliminary, Superintendent Diane Douglas promises the final version will align with the state’s AZ Kids Can’t Wait! Plan, which is currently undergoing updates. The state is receiving feedback through both public meetings and the Department of Education’s website, and plans to release an updated version in mid-October.

Department of Education Releases Guidance on “Evidence-Based” Strategies

ESSA provides states more flexibility to select a turnaround strategy for struggling schools, as long as the intervention is evidence-based. In keeping up with this requirement, the U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help state and local leaders identify and implement evidence-based turnaround strategies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) highlighted the potential for CTE to be included in this part of ESSA implementation in formal comments to ED this summer.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Education Sciences updated the What Works Clearinghouse to allow users to search for evidence-based strategies by school characteristics, grade span, demographics and more.

Tackling Accountability: Helpful Resources for Selecting a College and Career Readiness Indicator

college ready plusA new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation offers a framework for a  “College Ready Plus” indicator that evaluates students’ postsecondary preparation using measures such as work-based learning and attainment of an industry-recognized credential. The paper describes the role that employers can play in helping states adopt and implement a career readiness indicator.

The American Institutes of Research developed a policy framework to help states align their visions for college and career readiness with requirements and opportunities under ESSA. The brief focuses on the law’s three most salient policy components related to college and career readiness: well-rounded education, multiple-measure accountability systems and purposeful assessments.

Also helpful: a policy paper from the Learning Policy Institute that takes advantage of the ESSA policy window to propose a new model for accountability. The paper offers three potential career readiness indicators — CTE pathway completion, work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials — and discusses strategies for collecting and presenting data in a way that supports continuous improvement.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

September 23rd, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Have you checked out our Learning that Works Resource Center lately? We’re updating materials regularly so that you can find the latest CTE and career readiness research, reports, case studies and policies.

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Our 2016 Fall Meeting is right around the corner! Join us October 17 – 19 in Baltimore, Maryland to tackle today’s most important CTE issues. Registration closes September 30 so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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