Congress Raises Budget Caps, Recognizes CTE Month

February 9th, 2018

February 1 officially marked the start of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month and Congress has recognized its importance! Read below to find out more about CTE Month resolutions, hearings in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and a status update on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget and appropriations process.

Congress Supports Resolutions to Recognize CTE Month

On February 7, Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, introduced a resolution to recognize national CTE month. The bipartisan resolution was co-sponsored by 38 additional Representatives.

Senators Kaine (D-VA), Baldwin (D-WI), Portman (R-OH) and Young (R-IN), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, are co-sponsoring a CTE Month resolution. Please encourage your Senator to co-sponsor the CTE Month resolution by visiting the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) CTE Action Center here. The deadline for additional co-sponsors is 5pm Eastern Time on Monday, February 12.

Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) Continue

As we reported, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has held a series of hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). On January 30, the hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers” featured testimony from Anthony Carnevale (Research Professor And Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce), Jose Luis Cruz (President, Herbert H. Lehman College City University of New York), Jason D. Delisle (Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute), Ben Miller (Senior Director, Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress) and Mamie Voight (Vice President Of Policy Research, Institute for Higher Education Policy). The hearing focused on a number of topics including how the law’s accountability, data and public reporting provisions can be updated or reformed.

The latest hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Improving College Affordability” was on February 6, and included a broad discussion of federal student aid that touched on expenses associated with postsecondary education, college completion and more.

House Committee Hearing Focuses on Use of Education Data

On January 30, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education.” The hearing included a discussion of the federal laws that govern the use of student data and data privacy practices. Witnesses also testified about how education data and research can be used to inform policy, drive decisions and evaluate programs.

Congress Raises Budget Caps, Funds Government Through March 23

The last short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, that Congress passed to keep the government funded at its current levels expired on February 8 at midnight. Early on February 9, Congress passed a measure that will fund the government through March 23 and also raise the current budget caps in place for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 by $296 billion. President Trump signed the measure on February 9. With the new caps in place, Congressional appropriators will likely turn their attention to finalizing an omnibus appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2018 before March 23.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Perkins Briefing, Senate Committee Continues HEA Hearings

January 29th, 2018

Last week Congress passed a short-term funding measure, the Senate held a hearing on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the U.S. Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing. Read below to learn more about these events and upcoming congressional hearings this week.

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund Government Through February 8 

As we reported, Congress needed to come to a spending agreement by January 19 in order to avoid a government shutdown. After a three-day shutdown, Congress passed a continuing resolution on January 22 to keep the government funded until February 8. Due to the budget caps for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), Congress applied a 0.68 percent across-the-board cut. This cut impacts education programs that are advance funded, including the the Perkins Basic State Grant. However, Congress has the opportunity to nullify these cuts when they come to a final agreement for the FY18 spending bills and Advance CTE will advocate for such action as Congress works to finalize these bills.

Congressional Staff and Partners Fill the Room for Perkins Briefing

On January 23, the Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing, Perkins CTE and How Reauthorization Can Improve Programs. During the briefing, Kimberly Green, Advance CTE’s Executive Director and Alisha Hyslop, the Director of Public Policy at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), presented on the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) to over 70 attendees. They provided an overview of the law and shared how the federal investment in Perkins supports CTE systems across the country. In addition, both panelists highlighted state and local examples of implementation and how reauthorization could improve programs.

Senate Continues Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA)

On January 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency“, the second in a series of hearings on reauthorizing HEA (the first was held in late November and focused on simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)). Witnesses highlighted how the current federal financial aid system could be streamlined. On January 25, the Senate HELP Committee conducted a hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Access and Innovation,” which focused on innovations in postsecondary education and included discussions of competency-based education, distance education, online learning, accreditation and more. The next Senate HELP Committee hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers” is scheduled for January 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time and you can watch it live online here.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Holds Hearing on January 30

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will be holding a hearing, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education,” on Tuesday, January 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Watch the hearing live online here.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

States Passed 241 Policies to Support CTE in 2017

January 25th, 2018

2017 was a banner year for Career Technical Education (CTE). Overall, 49 states and the District of Columbia passed a total of 241 policies related to CTE and career readiness, a marked increase from 2016. But while it is encouraging to see a groundswell of enthusiasm for CTE at the local, state and national levels, how will states leverage CTE’s momentum and ensure that state action translates to better outcomes for students?

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the fifth edition of the annual State Policies Impacting CTE report, examining activity from 2017. To develop the report, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state actions and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. For 2017, the top five policy areas of focus include:

  • Funding.
  • Data, Reporting and/or Accountability.
  • Industry-recognized Credentials.
  • Dual/Concurrent Enrollment and Articulation/ Early College.
  • Industry Partnerships/ Work-based Learning.

Funding was at the top of the list for the fifth year in a row. Policies in this category include a $16 million one-time appropriation for CTE equipment grants in Tennessee, the development of a productivity-based funding index for Arkansas institutions of higher education and a workforce development scholarship authorized through Maryland’s More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017. With few exceptions, state legislatures renewed or increased appropriations for CTE programs and related activities. 

There was also a lot of activity related to data, reporting and accountability, largely due to state work around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2017, 35 states identified measures of career readiness in their federal accountability systems, and many of these measures included industry-recognized credential attainment, dual-credit completion and work-based learning participation.

While 2017 set a new high-water mark for state activity, a look across the past five years of this report illustrates that states are doubling down on a few policy priorities.

With the exception of 2015—when fewer states passed policies related to Industry-recognized Credentials or Data, Reporting and Accountability—these five policy areas have been the top priorities for states every year that this report has been published. This is no surprise, given that much of the conversation in the CTE field over the past five years has centered around accountability, credentials of value, dual enrollment and work-based learning. Even compared to recent years, states were more active in 2017, and there was a spike in the number of states adopting new legislation or rules in these policy areas.

So what lessons can be drawn from this year’s state policy review? For one, the enthusiasm for CTE is real. State legislatures, governors and boards of education are coming to recognize what the CTE community has known for years: that high-quality career preparation helps learners develop academic, technical and professional skills and results in positive rates of graduation, postsecondary enrollment and completion, and ultimately career success. 

But it is also important to make a distinction between the quantity of policies passed and the quality of their implementation. 2017 was a record year for state CTE policy, but now comes the true test. State leaders should follow through on the policy commitments made in 2017 by sustaining funding for critical programs, identifying and adopting policies to ensure CTE quality, and taking time to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of existing policies.

A copy of the report, State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review, is accessible in the Learning that Works Resource Center. Advance CTE and ACTE are also hosting a webinar on January 31, to unpack findings from this year’s review (registration for the webinar is at capacity, but a recording will be available following the webinar at https://careertech.org/webinars).

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

CTE & Federal Policy: Recapping the Biggest Stories of 2017

January 12th, 2018

Last year marked a big year for Career Technical Education (CTE) in the federal policy arena. Read below to see the top five stories of 2017 and be sure to join us on January 25 at 1 pm ET for a webinar recapping these stories and their impact on CTE. Mark your calendars and register for the webinar here.

  1. The U.S. House of Representatives Passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act on a voice vote without objection. This bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins).  
  2. Policymakers encouraged Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to take up Perkins reauthorization. A “Dear Colleague” letter to the committee’s leadership that urged the committee to work in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize the law garnered 237 signatures in the House and a similar letter garnered 59 signatures in the Senate.
  3. Policymakers signaled strong support for the federal investment in CTE, despite the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut the Perkins Basic State Grant by 15% in Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18). A “Dear Colleague” letter encouraging appropriators to support a strong investment in CTE for FY18 garnered 140 signatures in the House and a similar letter garnered 34 signatures in the Senate.  
  4. States submitted their plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In their plans, 49 states included at least one strategy to expand career readiness and 35 states included a career-focused measure in their high school accountability rating systems.
  5. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act on a party-line vote. This bill would update the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008.

 

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

Legislative Updates: House Committee Passes HEA Reauthorization Bill

December 15th, 2017

As Congress wraps up its final weeks in session before the winter recess, there has been a flurry of activity. Read below to find out more about the postsecondary education legislation that advanced out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the next step in the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) and an update on the tax reform legislation moving through Congress.

Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization Proposal Passes House Committee on Education and the Workforce 

As we shared in our Legislative Update, on December 1, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act. This bill would reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008, and would make significant changes to a number of provisions within the current law. The bill and related materials from the Committee can be found online here. Advance CTE analyzed the bill based on our board-approved HEA Reauthorization Recommendations and submitted a letter expressing our views to the Committee in advance of the Committee’s markup on December 12. During the markup, Committee members offered 63 amendments on a wide range of topics. Eighteen of these amendments were adopted, but the proposal’s architecture was largely maintained. The PROSPER Act passed out of Committee on a party line vote (23-17) and the bill is expected to go before the full U.S. House of Representatives for a vote in early 2018. It is likely that the U.S. Senate will unveil its own proposal in early 2018.

Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Measure

On December 7, Congress passed a short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government open at the current funding levels, beyond December 8, when the previous CR was set to expire. The current CR expires on December 22, meaning Congress will likely need to pass another CR by this date to allow time for Congress to come to an agreement on budget caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending (which will provide appropriators with the top-line numbers they need to advance Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills).

House and Senate Tax Reform Bills Go to Conference Committee

In November, both the House and Senate passed tax reform bills. House and Senate leadership have named 29 Members of Congress to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between these bills. The conference committee is expected to come to an agreement on the legislation soon and it is likely that both chambers of Congress will vote on the legislation next week. Advance CTE had concerns about a number of provisions in each bill, including the elimination of: the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT), the educator expense deduction, student loan interest tax deductions, the lifetime learning credit and tax benefits for employer tuition reimbursement programs. In addition, the overall cost of tax reform is likely to put pressure on appropriators to cut spending in other areas going forward. This means there could be an adverse impact on education spending, including for Perkins Basic State Grants, which have remained relatively flat funded since 1991. To learn more about each of these concerns, check out this blog post from our partners at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Advance CTE partnered with ACTE to send a letter  to the conference committee expressing these concerns.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

 

Legislative Update: House Introduces HEA Reauthorization Bill

December 1st, 2017

There has been a lot of legislative action this week in Washington, DC! This week’s news includes the introduction of two pieces of postsecondary legislation, the nomination for a key position at the U.S. Department of Education and details on the school U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited this week – read below to find out more about each of these updates.

Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization Bill Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

On December 1, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER, Act). This bill would reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008, and would make significant changes to a number of provisions within the current law. The four-page summary from the Committee can be found with additional materials here (with full bill text here). According to the summary, the act “will help more Americans earn a lifetime of success by promoting innovation, access, and completion, simplifying and improving student aid, empowering students and families to make informed decisions and ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role.” Advance CTE will provide additional analysis of this bill as soon as possible and you can find our recommendations for the reauthorization of HEA here.

Go To High School, Go to College Act Introduced in U.S. House Representatives

On November 16, Representatives John Faso (R-NY) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) along with 11 co-sponsors reintroduced the “Go to High School, Go to College Act.” According to the press release, the bill “would allow Pell grant funding for eligible students to be used for transferable college credits that students complete in an early college program offered by an accredited Institution of Higher Education.” A one-page summary of the bill can be found here. Advance CTE is proud to support this bill.

President Trump Nominates New Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

On December 1, President Trump sent twelve nominations to the Senate, including Mark Schneider for Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). IES is part of the U.S. Department of Education and is responsible for education statistics, research and evaluations.

Secretary DeVos Visits Oakland High School

On November 29, Secretary DeVos toured Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Oakland High School was a 2017 winner of Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action Award for its Mechatronics program, which prepares students for careers through hands-on experiences, rigorous academic coursework, nationally recognized certifications and dual enrollment opportunities. Beginning through a partnership with Oakland High School, Bridgestone and the Manufacturing Leadership Council, industry led the charge to build a talent pipeline of qualified employees in a highly in-demand sector. Upon completion of this program, students are armed with credits and certifications and poised to enter postsecondary education and the workforce. Learn more about Oakland High School and the 2017 Excellence in Action Award winners here.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Veterans Education Bill Passes Congress

August 10th, 2017

With both the House and Senate now in recess until September 5, the pace has slowed down in Washington. Read below to find out more about what Congress accomplished before the break, what you can do to encourage Congress to invest in CTE when they return, and new resources from the Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC).

Veterans Education Bill Goes to President’s Desk

On July 13, Rep. Roe (R-TN) introduced H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which passed the House unanimously on July 24. The bill was then introduced in the Senate by Senators Isakson (R-GA) and Tester (D-MT) on July 20 and passed the Senate on August 2. It now heads to the President for his signature. The bill would make a number of updates to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, including removing the requirement that they use their G.I. Bill benefits within 15 years and allowing for the education benefits received to be used at Area Career Technical Education (CTE) centers, including distance learning opportunities offered by these centers. Find more about the bill in the press release here and the one-page summary here.

Now is the time to Contact your Members of Congress about Investing in CTE

Even though Congress is in recess, your Senators and Representatives still need to hear from you! When Congress returns from recess, they will continue their work on the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget and appropriations process and must take action before October 1 (the start of FY18 for the government) in order avoid a government shutdown. Now is a great time to reach out to your members of Congress (thanks to our partners at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) for sharing their resources with the entire CTE community) to let them know that you support a strong federal investment in CTE! Please continue to send your stories about what the proposed 15 percent cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant would mean for you to Katie Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@careertech.org and we will follow up with you about featuring your story in our advocacy communications.

New Resources from the Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC)

The Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC), a group that Congress established via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) to make recommendations about the workforce and labor market information (LMI) systems at the state and federal levels and advise the Secretary of Labor on these issues. This group just released a new report, Challenges and Opportunities in Workforce and Labor Market Information, which examines how policymakers, researchers and educators can use labor market information to help build the national, state and local workforce and help strengthen the economy. Additionally, the report makes the case for enhancing workforce data quality in order to provide more accurate employment projections and equip learners with resources to make informed decisions about their career paths. WIAC also published a shorter brief and infographic to go along with this report.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

Congress Shows Support for Perkins on the Heels of Proposed Cuts

May 23rd, 2017

Career Technical Education (CTE) gains major win in the House Education and the Workforce Committee, followed by a potentially devastating 15 percent cut to CTE proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget. Find information on the budget, legislation related to the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), and cybersecurity and the workforce below.

President’s Budget Proposal Cuts Perkins 15 Percent

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Budget was released earlier today. This proposal includes a $168 million cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant, a 15 percent decrease from the current level of funding. This cut is especially disappointing given the Administration’s public support of CTE. Just last month President Trump said, “Secretary DeVos is working to ensure our workers are trained for the skilled technical jobs that will, in the future, power our country.” This proposal also includes an increase of $20 million for National Programs, which according to the Department of Education’s FY18 Budget Summary and Background Information would “support a competition to promote the development, enhancement, implementation, or expansion of innovative CTE programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.”

In a statement released earlier today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) stated, “This proposed $168 million cut from state grants for CTE significantly reduces states’ abilities to use these resources to improve and expand CTE programs based on their specific needs. It’s incredulous that an Administration that wishes to devolve authority to the states proposes to increase its own funding at the federal level by $20 million; this essentially equates to taking funds out of the pockets of states, colleges and schools to a create a new, untested program run by the Secretary of Education.” Find the rest of the statement about the President’s FY18 Budget here.

Allocations for other Department of Education programs can be found here and the Committee for Education Funding will post an updated budget chart here as soon as possible. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will have a hearing on the Department of Education Budget on Wednesday, May 24 at 11 a.m. ET (watch it live here), during which Secretary DeVos is scheduled to testify.

It is also important to note that previous administrations have proposed similar cuts to Perkins (and even elimination of the investment entirely), but that Congress has continued to approve appropriations bills that surpassed the amounts outlined in past Presidents’ proposals. Now is the time to reach out to your Members of Congress to encourage them to support a strong investment in Perkins.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Unanimously Passes H.R. 2353 

On May 17, the House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (the bill that would reauthorize Perkins). You can watch the mark up here and see the letter that Advance CTE and ACTE sent to the committee outlining our support of many provisions included in H.R. 2353 and our main outstanding concern around how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

Cybersecurity and the Workforce: Implications for CTE

On May 11, President Trump signed an executive order entitled, “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” Among other provisions, the order includes a “Workforce Development” component that directs the Secretaries of Education, Commerce, Homeland Security, Defense and Labor along with the Office of Personnel Management to “jointly assess the scope and sufficiency of efforts to educate and train the American cybersecurity workforce of the future, including cybersecurity-related education curricula, training, and apprenticeship programs, from primary through higher education,” and submit a report with the findings and recommendations to the President within 120 days.

The need for a workforce with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the cybersecurity sphere was also the topic of a recent Senate CTE Caucus briefing. The panelists, Casey O’Brien, the Executive Director and Principal Investigator at the National CyberWatch Center, Sophie Webb-Lopez, Deputy Director at the Department of Homeland Security, Aaron Cohen, Director of Cyber Skills Development at Symantec Corporation, Margaret Leary, the Chair of the Cybersecurity Program at Northern Virginia Community College, and David Tobey, Assistant Professor at Indiana University South Bend and Founder and CEO at VivoWorks Inc., discussed the challenges facing the cybersecurity workforce, including the need for professionals who are innovative and can apply technology to solving problems. They also shared how competency-based education, broader understanding and awareness of the issue, and high-quality CTE programs can play a role in solving these problems.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy 

All Eyes on Perkins Reauthorization

May 16th, 2017

With the House Education and the Workforce Committee slated to mark up H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (the bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins)), this week, Career Technical Education (CTE) has been getting a lot of airtime in Washington, D.C. Updates about CTE events, bills, and support in Congress are below.

Watch the Action Live: H.R. 2353 Mark Up Tomorrow 

On Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up H.R. 2353. At this time, members of the Committee will consider and discuss amendments to the legislation. You can watch the mark up tomorrow live here and follow Advance CTE on Twitter at @CTEWorks for up-to-the-minute updates. Advance CTE sent a letter to the Committee outlining our support of many provisions included in H.R. 2353 and our main outstanding concern around how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

Chairwoman Foxx Discusses CTE at AEI

On May 16, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of the House Education and Workforce Committee delivered remarks, engaged in a brief discussion with Andy Smarick, the Morgridge Fellow in education at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and answered questions from the audience about CTE. Chairwoman Foxx encouraged the audience to be mindful of the language we use to describe CTE, emphasized the strong academic outcomes of CTE students, and reinforced the need to share success stories about programs that prepare students for the workforce (and you can find Advance CTE’s resources to promote CTE programs here). In addition, she highlighted how H.R. 2353 provides opportunities for state and local CTE leaders to engage and partner with business and industry. Highlights and a recording of the event can be found online here.

Senate “Dear Colleague” Letter Garners 34 Signatures in Support of Perkins

On May 9, a “Dear Colleague Letter” was sent to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to request an increase in the investment in Perkins State Grants to $1.3 billion (it is currently funded at $1.17 billion) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations Bill. The letter garnered 34 signatures from Senators across 25 states. Please check to see if your Senators signed the letter here and if so, send a thank you note! Advance CTE will also be thanking these Senators and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for leading the charge to collect signatures!

College Transparency Act Introduced

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the College Transparency Act on May 15. The bill would “establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data system at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Colleges would report data to this new data system in lieu of the current, burdensome reporting mechanisms, and NCES would be responsible for presenting the information in a user-friendly manner for students and the public, while safeguarding student privacy” according to this one-pager released by the bill’s sponsors.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

In Kentucky and Arkansas, Lawmakers Authorize New ESSA Accountability Plans

April 13th, 2017

Education Week last month reported that “as state legislative sessions forge ahead, you’ll start to see states’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability plans vetted by lawmakers as the new law requires.” This is partly a result of statutory requirements in the law that mandate consultation with the governor and members of the state legislature. But it is also due to the fact that many state ESSA plans promise changes to assessments, accountability and standards that must be made by the legislature or state board of education.

With the first submission window for ESSA state plans now officially open, implementation of the new federal law has been top of mind for many states. As they finalize their ESSA plans, state policymakers have been working in parallel to implement core strategies within their education systems.

Kentucky Plans to Measure Industry Credential Attainment

In Kentucky, for example, Governor Matt Bevin signed a revised state accountability system into law. While Kentucky has been recognized as a leader in career readiness accountability — the state’s Unbridled Learning system uses a weighted point system that values college and career achievement equally — SB1 applies a fresh coat of paint, aligning the system with ESSA requirements and recalibrating the weighted point system to better incentivize relevant career learning experiences. Namely, the law:

  • Adopts a “Postsecondary Readiness” indicator measuring apprenticeship participation and achievement of industry-recognized credentials in addition to college credit, performance on college admissions exams and concurrent enrollment.
  • Directs the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board and the Department of Education to annually produce a list of industry-recognized credentials eligible for credit under the accountability system. Credentials are to be identified by local workforce investment boards and weighted according to industry demand.
  • Eliminates inclusion of the WorkKeys career readiness assessment in the accountability system.

Arkansas Provides Accountability Guidelines for Department of Education

Meanwhile, Arkansas lawmakers passed — and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed — a law authorizing the Department of Education to develop a state accountability system and providing certain guidelines. The law largely mirrors the requirements set forth in ESSA, which requires state to report indicators related to academic performance, growth, graduation rates and English Learner progress. But lawmakers also provided nine suggested indicators for the Department of Education to consider, including one measure of the percent of students earning Advanced Placement credit, concurrent credit, International Baccalaureate credit or industry-recognized credentials.

If the Arkansas Department of Education chooses to pursue this route, it will join several other states that are considering career readiness indicators in their statewide accountability systems. As we shared last week, about half of states planning to submit ESSA plans during the first review window are considering career readiness indicators, including measures of industry credential attainment.

Other CTE-Related Legislation Hitting Governors’ Desks this Session

ESSA-related legislation is inching along in other state houses nationwide. In the meantime, state lawmakers have kept themselves busy, continuing a years-long trend to strengthen and scale relevant career pathways. Though this list is not exhaustive, here is a snapshot of what states have passed so far in the 2017 legislative session:

  • Idaho and Utah saw increases in state-appropriated funding for CTE.
  • Two bills passed in Virginia will allow school districts to waive certain CTE teacher licensure requirements and require community colleges to accept credit for state-approved apprenticeships.
  • Arkansas’ new Future Grant program repurposes $8.2 million to cover two years of tuition and fees for Arkansas students to study at a state technical or community college, provided that their course of study is in a high-demand field and they elect to work in the state for three years after graduating.
  • South Dakota voted to reorganize the state technical college system under the authority of a new Board of Technical Education, following through on a ballot mandate approved by voters in November.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

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