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National Council for Agricultural Education Releases Revised Content Standards

September 3rd, 2015

For the past 32 years, the National Council for Agricultural Education (The Council) has provided leadership for stakeholders in agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems education. As part of its goal of to stimulate positive growth in agricultural education, The Council recently completed a review and revision of the agriculture, food and natural resources (AFNR) Career Cluster Content Standards.

The AFNR Career Cluster Content Standards originally were developed as part of the 2003 U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Career Clusters Project. Last revised in 2009, the new version of the standards have a number of advancements, with the revision focused on ensuring that they:

  • Reflect essential and up-to-date knowledge and skills that students need to be ready for early-career success in a variety of AFNR disciplines;
  • Provide a sound basis upon which to design AFNR related Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses; and
  • Provide a sound basis for developing end of course/program assessments to measure students’ attainment of essential disciplinary knowledge and skills.

Another goal of this revision project was to identify strategies for encouraging greater adoption and use at the state and local level. One way we did this was by partnering with NASDCTEc to fully align our work to the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) Career Ready Practices and the AFNR Career Cluster standards to encourage State Directors of CTE to see them as a viable resource to build courses in the AFNR cluster and assess performance, as well as to help agricultural educators better demonstrate how their students perform within the CCTC. Prior to the 2015 revision, the correlation and alignment between this standards set and the AFNR CCTC had been vague. The standards were also cross-walked to several other key frameworks including the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Standards, and the National Standards for Financial Literacy.

The AFNR Career Cluster Content Standards provide state agricultural education leaders and educators with a high-quality, rigorous set of standards to guide what students should know and be able to do after completing a program of study in each of the eight AFNR career pathways.

State leaders and local educators are encouraged to use the standards as a guide for the development of well-planned curriculum and assessments for AFNR-related CTE programs. These standards are intended to help shape the design of all components of an agricultural education program including:

  • Classroom and laboratory instruction.
  • Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) experiences through organizations such as the National FFA Organization and the Post-Secondary Agriculture Students Organization (PAS).
  • Work-based learning experiences such as Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Programs and internships.

Just as agriculture varies throughout our nation and around the world, so will our agricultural education programs. While adoption and use of these standards is voluntary, states and local entities are encouraged to adapt the standards to meet local needs. States should explore these standards in conjunction with state and local advisory committees to determine what is most relevant and appropriate for their students in providing that all-important link between the school and the business community.

The AFNR industry is a highly technical and ever-changing sector of the global economy upon which everyone is dependent. We will continue to meet national and global demand for a safe and abundant food, fiber and fuel supply only if we invest in the growth and development of the human capital for the AFNR industry. Strong, relevant AFNR CTE programs that are informed by industry and education stakeholders are one way we can meet workforce needs now and in the future.

For further information professionals are asked to consult the standards documents online at https://www.ffa.org/thecouncil/afnr or by contacting The Council directly at 317-753-3319 or mhoneycutt@ffa.org.

This post was contributed by Mike Honeycutt, Managing Director, National Council for Agricultural Education. 

This Week in CTE

August 28th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
25 Ways to Strengthen Workforce Education
A California Community College task force comprised of representatives from community colleges, businesses, labor groups and public agencies, has released 25 recommendations to strengthen workforce education and close the skills gap in the state.
More

VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Hawaii high school students created videos around the prompt, “What does CTE mean to you?” Check out the top three finalists in the video contest.
More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
National Skills Coalition launched the first ever scan of sector partnership policies in all 50 states. The study found that 21 states have specific policies to support local sector partnerships. See how your state measures up.
More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

August 21st, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

NJ County Vocational-Technical Schools Lead Newsweek’s ‘America’s Top High Schools’ List
Newsweek’s 2015 “America’s Top High Schools” list, six of the top ten schools are New Jersey county vocational-technical schools one of which is a 2015 Excellence in Action award winner. In all, 15 New Jersey vocational-technical schools are included in the top 150 (out of 500) high schools speaking to the high caliber of CTE in the state.
Read More

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Despite the increasing demands placed on professionals in the education sectors whether in public education, government agencies, foundations or nonprofits to manage the K-12 education system, professional development opportunities are consistently left on the backburner. EdFuel released a report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Tomorrow Education Leaders Already Work for You, diving into the benefits and necessity of training and educating education leaders.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

While women represent 50 percent of the labor force, only 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce are women. To celebrate and promote women in this sector, the STEP Ahead Awards program by the Manufacturing Institute launched the Women in Manufacturing award recognizing women at all levels of the industry. Nominate someone you know today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

August 14th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Putting a Spotlight on Technical and Vocational Skills
Despite the projected demand for skilled trade jobs in the next decade, little attention, support or funding is lacking for Career Technical Education students. To shine a light on this area of education, WorldSkills hosted their 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The USA sent 18 students who competed with 70 other countries in areas such as manufacturing and heavy vehicle equipment maintenance.
Read More

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK
Integrating Employability Skills into Everyday Instruction
On Wednesday, September 2nd, join the College and Career Readiness and Success Center, Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and RTI International for a webinar highlighting the new learning module, Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators focusing on how educators can integrate employability skills into their curriculum.
Register

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Achieve launched the Rising to the Challenge: Views on High School Graduates’ Preparedness for College and Careers. This PowerPoint breaks down their most recent survey of college instructors and employers who work with recent high school graduates and their career readiness into easy to read graphs and graphics.
Read More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Time to Double Down on Education and Training

August 12th, 2015

America is in a teacher recruitment crisis, and every community is feeling the pinch. The size of our school system demands 350,000 new hires each year for K-12 teaching positions. Districts are scrambling to find skilled teachers for high-needs areas like Career Technical Education (CTE); science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), English as a second language (ESL), and special education.

While demand is exploding, our supply is drying up. An alarming recent ACT report showed the future teacher pipeline narrowing even further, with only five percent of high school seniors taking the ACT indicating a desire to pursue a career as an educator. Each year that number is decreasing.

Our existing teacher pipeline isn’t getting the job done.

The good news is that CTE is perfectly positioned to play a crucial role in the solution to this pressing issue. Creating and spreading high-impact Education and Training programs focused on cultivating skilled K-12 educators is a must.

To meet labor market needs and develop the teaching workforce our country deserves, teacher recruitment must become more proactive and start earlier.

Young people can get excited about the potential impact and leadership of a career in education, but essentially only when they engage with substantive, authentic opportunities to test-drive teaching.

Most teachers are homegrown; in fact, over 60 percent of teachers teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school. The next generation of each community’s teachers – whom everyone is counting on to be highly skilled and well prepared on day one – are already in our classrooms right now, but as students.

Encouraging CTE models are out there; it’s time to double down and take them to scale.

  •  The Teacher Academy of Maryland program, developed in partnership with Towson University and the Maryland State Department of Education offers CTE students ParaPro, the certification exam for school-based paraprofessionals. This – along with dual credit partnerships – elegantly addresses the question of how to embed a professional certification into a high school-level CTE program that aims students towards a career that requires a bachelor’s degree.
  • The Mississippi Department of Education recently revamped its Teacher Academy curriculum to align with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ vision of accomplished teaching. This raises the bar for the prestige and impact of programs, and opens the doors for current National Board Certified Teachers from many content areas to become outstanding CTE instructors in new Teacher Academy programs.
  • The Arizona Department of Education commissioned an Educator Retention and Recruitment Report with a top recommendation: “Develop high school programs such as [Educators Rising] to encourage students to evaluate the field of education as they review their options for post-secondary studies.”

A newly revitalized career technical student organization (CTSO) partner is ready to support the effort. Earlier this month, the Future Educators Association evolved to become Educators Rising, a transformed, 21st-century national network of aspiring educators.

Educators Rising, a member of the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations, offers all of the classic CTSO opportunities (competitions, conferences, scholarships, leadership opportunities) with no dues; students and teacher leaders join for free directly through the new EdRising Virtual Campus, an online platform packed with resources and opportunities integral to the instructional program of quality Education and Training pathways.

Here’s a 3-minute video tour of what the EdRising Virtual Campus offers:

Transforming teacher recruitment is a massive issue. CTE, with leadership from states, can provide the boost that communities need.

Dan Brown is Co-Director of Educators Rising and a National Board Certified Teacher. He recently completed a term as board chair of the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations. He tweets @danbrownteacher.

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 

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 

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

 

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