Advance CTE Legislative Update: CTE Presidential Scholars Announced as ESSA Implementation Continues and Obama Administration Makes Skills Announcements

May 5th, 2016

United States CapitalYesterday the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced the 52nd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars that, for the first time since the program’s inception, now counts Career Technical Education (CTE) students among the nation’s highest achievers.

“We’ve added 20 more slots to honor our highest achieving students in career and technical education, reflecting the Department’s belief that a quality education must be a well-rounded education that prepares students for college, careers and any other civic service,” USDE Secretary John King said in a statement yesterday.

As we have shared previously, President Obama signed Executive Order 11155 last June— a move that expanded the existing Presidential Scholars program to include up to 20 CTE students as part of the program. Created in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, the U.S. Presidential Scholars program identifies the nation’s highest-achieving students and honors them at an annual award ceremony in D.C. Advance CTE applauded the CTE expansion of this program and will continue to urge policymakers to raise the profile of CTE through efforts and initiatives such as this.

More info can be found here and a full list of Presidential scholars can be found here.

ESSA Implementation Continues

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)— a law that replaced No Child Left Behind and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act— states, districts, USDE, and other stakeholders have been busy figuring out the best way forward for implementing the new law.

While the defining theme of ESSA has been a devolution of policymaking authority from the federal level to the jurisdictions of states and local districts, USDE is still responsible for facilitating the development of a limited set of regulations to assist in the law’s ongoing roll-out. Known as “negotiated rulemaking”, this is a collaborative process by which a panel of stakeholders and USDE negotiate the terms of specific regulations required for ESSA implementation.

The panel was tasked with coming to consensus on issues affecting student assessments and the law’s “supplement, not supplant” requirement— a provision that requires that federal funds from ESSA not take the place of existing state and local spending, but rather supplement those efforts.

The panel was able to reach consensus on the issues related to assessment, but unfortunately not on supplement, not supplant rules. As a result, USDE will now write its own regulations on this issue setting up a likely fight with Congressional Republicans who have been vocally opposed to USDE’s proposals for the rule to date. Before publishing these rules for public comment, ESSA requires a fifteen day Congressional review period where these disagreements will likely be highlighted further.

Separate from the formal rulemaking process, USDE is also planning to develop non-regulatory guidance to further assist states, districts, and other stakeholders in implementing the new law. Although ESSA makes clear that such guidance cannot be “legally binding”, USDE hopes that this guidance can help the public understand the law better, provide a window into how the department interprets ESSA, and to provide examples of best practices to support implementation. The department is asking for input from the field on what topics this guidance should cover and recommendations can be submitted to essa.guidance@ed.gov. Comments must be submitted by May 25, 2016.

Advance CTE will continue to monitor and engage with implementation of ESSA in the coming year. A helpful timeline for that process can be found here.

White House Announces $100 Million in Free Community College Grants

On April 25, Vice President Joe Biden announced a plan to expand upon their America’s College Promise initiative with a $100 million competitive grant. The effort, which President Obama first proposed during his 2015 State of the Union address, aims to provide two years of free community college to eligible students — an ambition that has already spurred some 27 free community college programs across 15 states. Details about the timing and process for awarding grants are forthcoming, though the White House did release a fact sheet with information about its investments in postsecondary education and its wider skills agenda.

Department of Labor Launches $90 Million ApprenticeshipUSA Program

Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced that it is now accepting applications for ApprenticeshipUSA, a $90 million grant competition to increase “job-driven” apprenticeships in the U.S. The first competition, which closes on May 15, makes available $9.5 million for State Accelerator Grants — state-level grants to expand access to and diversify participation in Registered Apprenticeships. States wishing to apply for an Accelerator Grant can find information such as the timeline and process for awarding grants here. USDOL plans to make an additional $50 million available to states later this spring and will invest the remaining $30 million to help employers launch and grow apprenticeship programs.

Odds & Ends

  • Recently, USDE circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter outlining various available funding streams that can be leveraged to support STEM education. The letter was sent to states, districts, schools, and other stakeholders and references the several permissible used of funds within the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) that can be used to support STEM education.
  • USDE also released a guidance letter that further clarifies its position on higher education accreditation following an executive action by President Obama last November that sought to improve upon current accreditation practices. The letter encourages accreditors to use standards that are based on student outcomes such as graduation, retention, and employment rates.
  • USDE announced the second round of its “Performance Pilot Partnerships” (P3), an initiative that waives certain requirements for some federal programs, such as the Perkins Act, to allow entities to braid funding and test innovative strategies targeted at disconnected youth. State and local governments, along with other stakeholders, are encouraged to express their intent to apply by May 26, 2016 and applications are due June 27, 2016. The full application announcement can be found here and USDE plans an informational webinar May 9th.
  • In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, USDE announced $5.7 million in new grants aimed at providing CTE programs, reentry services, and training opportunities for students involved in the criminal justice system. USDE has also released a new toolkit for educators to support successful reentry of these students.

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

This Week in CTE: The Skills Gap

April 29th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Next week, companies from across the nation will meet in Seattle to host a job fair for 16-24 year olds. This is part of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiate, a coalition of 40 U.S. companies who are working to employee the 5.5 million young Americans out of work or school.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

In another investment to address the skills gap, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and USA Funds partnered to pilot a program with the goal of closing the skills gap. Talent Pipeline Management put employers at the lead of education partnerships in seven communities across the country. A number of policy changes, programs and partnership have followed in states such as Virginia, Michigan and Arizona.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Three States’ Approaches to Removing Legal Barriers around Work-based Learning

April 28th, 2016

In our continuing series, “Connecting the Classroom to Careers,” we look at an issue that is often a stumbling block for K-12 work-based learning – ensuring these experiences are safe and legal for students.
In “Removing Legal Barriers around Work-based Learning“, we feature New Jersey, Kentucky and California and their approaches to dismantling work-based learning’s legal barriers, including:

  • Training teachers to understand the state and federal legal, health and safety requirements for work-based learning
  • Mitigating work-based learning liability concerns for schools and employers

Debunking these myths is critical to scaling work-based learning. Starting with educating themselves, states can and should play an instrumental role in helping correct misconceptions about students under the age of 18 in the workplace.

Be sure to check out our first installment in this series – “Setting a Statewide Vision for Work-based Learning.”

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate 

State Policy Update: Virginia, Idaho pass major CTE legislation

April 27th, 2016

Back in January, we shared highlights from this year’s State of the State addresses, particularly in Virginia and Idaho where the states’ governors made Career Technical Education (CTE) a key part of their 2016 legislative agendas. Three months later, some of those proposals have made their way through the legislative process to be signed into law earlier this month.

Virginia

In his State of the Commonwealth address earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe outlined a new vision for the state’s education and workforce development systems to equip students with the skills needed to be successful in today’s labor market, and called for increased collaboration among government, business and education. To do this, McAuliffe pointed to industry-recognized credentials and competency-based education, saying, “you cannot build an economy for 2050 with a 1950s approach to education.”

Since then, Mcauliffe has signed a host of education and workforce bills, which will strengthen articulation agreements and establish a grant fund to help students cover two-thirds of the cost for a noncredit workforce training program. Of particular relevance is SB336, which intends to restructure the high school experience for Virginia students starting in the 2018-19 school year to be based on mastery rather than seat-time and includes work-based learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their graduation pathway. The final plan will be determined by the State Board of Education, but broadly, the bill instructs the state board to:

  • Collaborate with K-12, higher education, and private industry stakeholders to identify the skills that students need upon graduation;
  • Shift high school instruction to teach core competencies during the first two years of high school;
  • Establish graduation pathways of a student’s choosing that provide opportunities for internships, externships, and credentialing; and
  • Allow districts to substitute industry certification and state licensure exams for the state’s end-of-course assessments.

Idaho

For its part, Idaho has also been hard at work to expand CTE since Gov. Butch Otter made CTE a priority in his State of the State address in January. Among other things, Otter proposed to increase funding for technical colleges, career counseling and STEM education.

Since then, the Idaho legislature passed SCR134, which supported Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s postsecondary attainment goal for 60 percent of residents age 25-34 to have a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020. The resolution also urged public and private sectors to collaborate on programs to support postsecondary pathways for young Idahoans. Separately, the legislature also allocated $3.8 million to expand capacity for CTE programs at Idaho’s six technical colleges and graduate more students into high-demand fields such as health care, information technology, mechatronics and transportation.

Other highlights from Idaho (we know, there are a lot!) include:

  • A language amendment in SB1210 that changes “professional-technical education” to “career technical education”;
  • Increased funding for CTE instructors that hold a specialist certificate (HB630);
  • A budget increase of 10.4 percent for the state’s Division of Career Technical Education (HB625); and
  • An additional $5 million to improve college and career counseling for high school students.

While the Virginia and Idaho legislatures have both adjourned for the year, 25 states remain in session. We will continue to keep a close eye on these remaining states in the coming months and share major CTE policy changes as they happen. Stay tuned.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

Last Week in CTE

April 25th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

AWARD(S) OF THE WEEK

The Association for Career and Technical Education announced their 2016 Excellence Award Winners with accompanying interviews about each award recipient. Learn more about these inspirational CTE leaders.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

Laura Arnold, Associate Commissioner of the Office of Career and Technical Education in Kentucky was awarded the 2016 Kevin M. Noland Award for providing significant service and inspirational education to Kentucky’s public schools. Congratulations Laura!

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The United States Department of Labor announced $90 million through the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative in an effort to double the amount of apprenticeships by 2018.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

April 8th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

America’s Promise Alliance has launched the $3 million 2016 Youth Opportunity Fund that will award one-year grants up to $250,000 to grantees that empower youth to reach their full potential.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Secondary Health Science Education – A Cross State System
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has released a new online seminar with the National Consortium for Health Science Education on their cross-state health science system for high school students looking to pursue careers in health care. Check out ACTE’s YouTube channel to watch the recorded seminar.

VISUAL OF THE WEEK

Two researchers at UMBC’s School of Public Policy mapped the Twitter activity around the Every Student Succeeds Act’s passage in December, and draws a set of conclusions about how the initial week’s Twitter activity may set the tone for ESSA implementation.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Education, labor and industry leaders as part of the Massachusetts Girl in Trade Advisory Group hosted its first ever Girls in Trades Conference where over 400 students from 18 high schools across the state learned about the apprenticeships, employment and mentoring opportunities in the building trades.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

April 1st, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE(S) OF THE WEEK

This week, Advance CTE, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and CCSSO announced the 25 recipients of phase one of the New Skills for Youth grants. Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C. will receive $100,000 six month grants to develop career readiness action plans. In addition to a national press release, many states distributed press releases or were covered in articles including: Oklahoma, Delaware, Montana, South Carolina, Illinois, Utah, Massachusetts and Kentucky.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The Institute for Education Sciences released a variety of new grantee areas in education research, including CTE. Research should address policies, programs and practices that increase career readiness in secondary education students.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

State Policy Update: Sharing State Resources

March 30th, 2016

This month’s State Policy Update is focusing less on legislative activity and more on sharing some of the interesting things happening in the states around CTE:

New State Resources

  • The California Career Resource Network, supported by the state Department of Education, has released new “Career & College Readiness Lesson Plans.” There, you can find 45 lessons geared toward 5th-12th grade students, with around five lessons per grade. Though organized by grade level, the lessons could be used for any grade. Additionally, the Network has developed an Educator Guide, a bi-lingual career readiness glossary, and Spanish-language student handouts.
  • A new partnership between Arkansas’ Department of Career Education and the Arkansas Research Center has helped the department save time and money. In a blog post from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, the department partnered with the research center to develop new technical solutions for Perkins reporting. The center, which has two software developers on staff, created software that reduces the burden of Perkins reporting as well as save the department an estimated $500,000 over the next 10 years.
  • In somewhat state-related news, LinkedIn, Burning Glass Technologies and the Markle Foundation have launched a new kind of job website – Skillful.com. The site is specifically designed for middle-skills job seekers with job ads, career exploration tools, and more. The site launched in Colorado in March focusing on information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. The site plans to expand to the Phoenix area in April.

News of Note

  • In a blog post in Education Week, the Council of Chief State School Officers illustrates how states can use their accountability systems to affect student learning. The post leans heavily on contextualized and personalized learning, a hallmark of CTE.
  • Also in Education Week, an article highlighting that while K-12 spending is expected increase for most states this year, the budgets of the state education agency are getting cut in favor of directing money to local school districts. This squeeze is coming at a time when many state departments are gearing up to consider how best to fully leverage the flexibility provided for in the new federal Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA). As a special resource for only for Advance CTE members, be sure to check out our ESSA cheat sheet about the opportunities and intersections for CTE in the new law.

And finally, because we couldn’t resist some legislative, state board and gubernatorial news:

  • Earlier this month, the Michigan Board of Education adopted energy as its 17th Career Cluster®. Michigan industry leaders led this effort in order to develop a skilled energy utility workforce to combat the state’s skills gap, which is expected to grow retirements over the next 10 years. The Energy Career Cluster will use energy industry content standards developed by the Center for Workforce Development, a non-profit consortium of energy utilities.
  • The National Skills Coalition has a round-up of the workforce development initiatives proposed by governors in their budget and State of the State addresses this year.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Advance CTE Legislative Update: Secretary King Continues to Make Rounds on Capitol Hill as a Bipartisan Group of 150 Lawmakers Express Support for Perkins Funding

March 28th, 2016

cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150Although Congress is out of session until the first week of April, lawmakers continued to examine the Obama Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget just before their “Easter Recess” was set to begin late last week.

Newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Education John King appeared before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee last week to discuss his department’s proposed spending priorities contained in the President’s FY 2017 budget.

As we have shared previously, the Obama Administration proposed flat-funding for the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program— approximately $1.118 billion at current levels. Rather than proposing to fully fund the core formula grants that compose Perkins (which are still $5 million below “pre-sequester” levels) the Administration renewed its call for a new competitive grant program known as the “American Technical Training Fund” (ATTF).

Thus far Congressional lawmakers have met this proposal with measured skepticism. Members have been raising a number of concerns related to the ATTF and the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE) other proposed CTE-related spending priorities, all of which would be made at the expense of fully investing in the Perkins Act.

During the House hearing last week Rep. Roby (R-AL) echoed these sentiments saying, “Rather than funding a large competitive grant, it seems to me that these funds would be better used to support state formula grants which would ensure more students are able to benefit from the CTE experience.” Rep. Womack (R-AR) also reiterated these concerns, questioning why USDE was proposing to fund a “new and unproven program” while failing to fully invest in its existing CTE commitments like Perkins.

The full hearing and related testimony can be viewed here.

Although the CTE-related spending priorities in the President’s FY 2017 budget have been disappointing, a group of 150 lawmakers have taken the opportunity to champion Perkins funding in the upcoming budget and appropriations cycle. In the House 118 members of Congress signed on in support of “pre-sequester” funding levels for the Perkins basic state grant program— a record number of signatures from both sides of the aisle. In the Senate, 32 Senators signed-on in support of a similar letter calling for the same funding levels in the upcoming appropriations process.

Advance CTE applauds these lawmakers for formally expressing their support of Perkins funding and a special note of thanks goes to House CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) who lead these efforts in their respective chambers.

The letters can be viewed here and here. If your member of Congress signed-on in support of either of these appropriations letters, we encourage you to visit ACTE’s Action Center to send your lawmaker a note of thanks!

Perkins Reauthorization Efforts Continue

As we shared last October, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee began to formally consider the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. While these efforts have been overshadowed by higher profile issues such as the federal budget, the Supreme Court nomination process, and the upcoming Presidential elections, the committee’s consideration of Perkins has continued behind-the-scenes for much of this year. HELP Committee members have been working to expand upon the bipartisan Perkins reauthorization principles they released last fall and it is possible that this work could culminate in a draft bill as soon as the next few weeks.

In the House, formal consideration of Perkins is still in the early stages but it remains a significant priority for the House Education and the Workforce Committee this year.

As this work continues, Members of Congress have been working on smaller pieces of legislation that they hope will inform the wider reauthorization process. One such bill, the CTE Equity and Excellence Act (S. 2718), introduced by a handful of Senators on and off the HELP Committee proposes to amend Title II of Perkins to fund high school reform efforts by harnessing the potential of CTE to support greater student achievement. Advance CTE looks forward to working with these offices on a wider reauthorization effort where proposals such as this can be thoughtfully considered in the context of the entire legislation.

Odds & Ends

  • Congress passed the “Evidenced-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016” this month which would establish a committee to make recommendations for how the federal government can use data to evaluate federal programs and more effectively spend public resources. More coverage of the bill can found on the Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s blog. Read the full bill here.
  • The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing this month to explore current federal policies related to education research and student privacy. This hearing is part of a wider effort to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). More info can be found here and here.
  • USDE convened the first round of negotiated rulemaking this month to develop regulations to govern the ongoing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A number of topics are being discussed as part of these negotiations, most notably for the CTE community specifics related to ESSA’s new assessment framework and the implementation of the law’s new “supplement-not-supplant” spending requirements.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE

March 11th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

The Washington Post highlighted the Arlington Career Center’s proposed Arlington Tech program, which would put CTE at the center of the school’s curriculum. While students would take core academic classes, they would also participate in a multitude of project-based learning opportunities and potentially allowing students to earn postsecondary credit.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

The U.S. Department of Education launched the CTE Makeover Challenge providing $200,000 to high schools to create makerspaces, providing students with both the materials and environment they need to succeed.

RESEARCH OF THE WEEK

Results from the international large scale study of adult skills and life experience on education and employment, Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) was released in a report, Skills of U.S. Unemployed, Young and Older Adults in Sharper Focus, this week. Conducted in the U.S. and 23 other countries in 2012/2014, the U.S. did not perform well. Overall, the study found that adults ages 16-65 scored slightly lower than average in literacy, well lower than average in numeracy, and dead last of the 23 countries in problem solving in technology-rich environments.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

 

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