National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

This Week in CTE

September 18th, 2015



The Council of State Governments September/October issue of Capitol Ideas magazine focuses on Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with an article specifically on how Career Technical Education intersects with STEM.
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NASDCTEc in partnership with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center are hosting a webinar,. Reshaping Tennessee’s Work-based Learning on Thursday, October 15. The webinar will explore how Tennesee is reshaping work based learning to create a rigorous and relevant experience for all students.


Don’t Quit on Me, a report released by America’s Promise Alliance, explores how the role of relationships in a student’s life impacts their chances of graduating high school.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education opened applications for their Excellence and Innovation In Secondary Schools award. The awards will identify exemplary high schools and/or districts that are improving outcomes for undeserved students.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

EMS Program Models Secondary and Postsecondary Partnerships

September 11th, 2015

Walter’s State Community College’s (WSCC) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program in Morristown, Full page photoTennessee is a model of partnerships between a postsecondary institution and 23 surrounding high schools. Students being the program of study as early as ninth grade where they can earn up to four college credits and have the opportunity to transfer seamlessly into WSCC to become a certified emergency medical technician or paramedic.

The EMS program of study truly spans secondary and postsecondary education and has yielded some incredible results. Of the 28 secondary students participating in the program, all graduated high school and nearly all earned articulated credit and/or a postsecondary credential and enrolled in postsecondary education. For those completing the postsecondary component, they enjoyed a very impressive post-program placement rate from WSCC of 96 percent.

WSCC will be featured during a session at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual CareerTech VISION conference in New Orleans, LA in November. Don’t miss the chance to hear from this best practice program and register for the conference today. You can also learn more about WSCC’s EMS program here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

August 14th, 2015


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.
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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.

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.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

July 17th, 2015


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.
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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.
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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.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

June 26th, 2015


Kaine’s CTE Push Wins a White House Nod
Earlier this week President Barack Obama expanded the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to include up to 20 CTE students per year, a big win for Senator Tim Kaine who led the charge.

Reflect, Transform & Lead
Five-Year Progress Reports

This week, NASDCTEc released five progress reports looking back at five years of the CTE Vision. Learn what successes and achievements we’ve accomplished, and what work still needs to be done.

The Government Confirms that it has Smashed its Target of Supporting 20,000 Higher Apprenticeship Starts
For the past two years, The United Kingdom has not only increased the number of people participating in apprenticeships, but also improved the quality of those apprenticeships. The government will support another three million apprenticeships by 2020.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

A look back at five years of the NASDCTEc Vision

June 25th, 2015

Five years ago, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) with support from all 50 states released Reflect, Transform & Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education. This bold document laid out key principles and actions the community needed to take for CTE to reach its full promise in the years ahead.

Since 2010, the landscape has changed dramatically, and CTE has advanced in many significant ways. To take stock of what has – and hasn’t – been accomplished since 2010, NASDCTEc today is releasing a series of Five-Year Progress Reports on each of the five principles:

  • CTE is critical to ensuring that the United States leads in global competitiveness;
  • CTE actively partners with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs;
  • CTE prepares students to succeed in further education and careers;
  • CTE is delivered through comprehensive programs of study aligned to The National Career Clusters® Framework; and
  • CTE is a results-driven system that demonstrates a positive return on investment.

These briefs celebrate our collective accomplishments but also aim to motivate us on where more work is needed for CTE to fully meet the needs of students employers and our economy.

Read the Progress Reports here


Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

New State CTE Director: Curtis Clough, Alaska

June 23rd, 2015

Curtis Clough
State Administrator—Career and Technical Education
Department of Education and Early Development

How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?

I am new to the state of Alaska as of October 2014 coming from the state of Ohio as superintendent of Strasburg Franklin Local Schools. Over the last eight years I have experienced Career Technical Education (CTE) through both secondary and postsecondary settings, as a superintendent and in my role as Academic Chair for Mohave Community College-Neal Campus in Kingman, Arizona where I oversaw both academic and CTE programs. With over 25 years of experience in education, I have progressed to the state level to assist in advancing educational opportunities for all students and engaging our partners in a process that prepares individuals at all levels for career readiness so people can be active members of the workforce and society.

What are your major goals for CTE in your state?

The state of Alaska has several goals for the upcoming years for CTE. First, the state is engaging in a dialogue on the “level of expectations” for all students in exemplar programs and courses that align to industry needs and standards. A cross-pathway approach is being discussed that establishes some minimal level of performance in reading, writing and math as well as in technical and employability skills, such as technology and problem solving, that prepares students beyond high school graduation and can be addressed through curriculum and work-based learning.
In addition, the state is exploring ways to deliver programming to our rural districts so all students have access to quality CTE programs that are aligned to industry standards and credentials. This is being done by looking at professional development models for our teachers and administrators as well as content delivery models including online instruction so students have access to a blended model of coursework and real-work experiences.

Finally, aligning pathways across secondary and postsecondary systems is another major goal of ours, with the inclusion of apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning opportunities. We want to create a multi-entry system across all levels of education so that future employees are meeting the workforce development needs of Alaska and our priority industries and occupations.

What do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?

Incorporating CTE into the school day is quite a struggle for our districts because of the costs and associated graduation requirements that hinder flexibility in schedules for students. This made more challenging because of our current budget crunch that is occurring because of the decline in oil prices. Districts have limited resources for CTE programming in this tight financial climate and are being asked to do more with less funding.

Also, creating standardized expectations for academic and technical skills across pathways is going to be a challenge because of the geography of Alaska. With unique local needs as well as the needs of the state, expectations can be very different. For example, welding is a growing need in our state, but many regions choose to focus their programs on local industries like maritime, construction or oil and gas processes. Setting that minimum level of expectation for students is difficult due to the distinct regional and local needs.

Finally, teacher recruitment and sustaining a professional development model for our teachers and administrators are other potential issues as the staff turnover and attrition in our rural districts is high. If an educator or administrator has received the proper training and opportunity for advancement in CTE, he or she may move on to bigger opportunities in our urban areas or move to another district that offers more options career-wise. This is a continuous issue for the state and developing strategies to address this problem are being considered at this time.

What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?

The opportunity for CTE in our state is bright. The “We3” partners – the Department of Education and Early Development, Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the University of Alaska – have been working collaboratively on addressing the points of the State CTE Plan and many of the issues stated above. Currently, these partners have been working together to establish “levels of expectations” for students for workforce readiness, as we implement the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As part of this process, the partners engage in bi-weekly meetings to review various aspects of the WIOA requirements and how to best align WIOA and the State CTE Plan, which is currently in progress, so CTE can continue to expand and grow the Alaska workforce at all levels.

Also, due to the aging workforce and there is a catalyst for industry and postsecondary partners to work together to meet the needs of our future workforce. Active discussions are taking place outside the normal channels in cross-sector strategy meetings, with representation from the “We3” partners so all avenues and opportunities are explored and strategies developed with partner input that can be sustained for the years to come in Alaska.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

June 19th, 2015


CTE and STEM Education: Two Sides of the Same Vital Coin
Career Technical Education is key to improving STEM literacy and interest among students for a variety of reasons. This includes providing access to underrepresented students, adding relevance to STEM subjects through hand-on and work based learning and integrating the business community.
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Transforming Career Counseling: Bridging School to Career in the Workforce of the Future
The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, SME and Bray Strategies released a paper outlining recommendations to improve the career guidance counseling system in middle and high schools.
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In partnership with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center, NASDCTEc is conducting a webinar exploring the highly successful Simulated Workplace system in West Virginia.
Register Today

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Simulated Workplace: Changing CTE in West Virginia

June 15th, 2015

Join us for a webinar hosted by NASDCTEc and the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC) on Thursday, June 25 from 2-3 p.m. ET to explore 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.

This free webinar will discuss the road to implementation — from concept to pilot to statewide enactment — as well as the results and lessons learned along the way. With its demonstrated success and media attention, the Simulated Workplace framework is being picked up by the state’s academic classrooms and even neighboring states.

Presenters include:

  • Kathy D’Antoni, West Virginia Associate Superintendent, Career and Technical Education
  • Doug Sands, Machine Tool Technology Instructor
  • Jan Hanlon, Secondary Education Director, Logan County Schools, West Virginia
  • Austin Coffey, Student, Industrial Equipment Maintenance Career-Technical Program
  • Gary Clay, Business Leader, West Virginia Manufacturing Association

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Inside International CTE: Netherlands

June 2nd, 2015

This interview with Martin van Os an educational advisor, explores the CTE/VET system in the Netherlands. Van Os began his career as a physics teacher, became a school principal, coordinated the national in-service courses for science and technology, was the senior organizational advisor for the National Center for Urban School Improvement, worked for government on secondary vocational education and was founding director of the Vakcollege support company. This interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc in part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek. Check out part two on Thursday! NeterlandsMap

 PART 1: Exploring Career Technical Education (CTE) in the Netherlands 

What does CTE/VET look like in the Netherlands?

For some background context, the Netherlands has one of the densest populations, our economy is rated eighth in the world, and our PISA scores are in the top ten, with national goals to move ourselves into the top five.  According to UNICEF, our children are the happiest in the world.

Recently, consensus was reached on the nine “Top Sectors,” or the categories in which we excel and want to maintain our excellence.  Among them are: water-management, food technology, energy, creative industry, high tech, and life and health. To continue to excel in these areas, Netherlands will need 30,000 people with the proper educational skills each year to account for job replacement and industry growth.

Currently, the educational system is categorized by “streams” where students are tagged as low, intermediate, or high performing. The big challenge is that not enough students choose a technical area of study in post-secondary education. Research shows that the perception among students is that technical courses are difficult and a career in a technical field is dull.

After primary education, a student can participate in secondary education within seven different streams, although many secondary schools combine them. Still, this many options for pupils at the age of 12 is a unique feature of our system.

Regardless of a student’s categorization as belonging to a certain stream, our system is focused on providing pupils with the education that meets their needs, which has resulted in a very low dropout rate. Despite the low dropout rate, we have little upwards mobility in the school system in a time where we need everyone to reach their highest potential. In addition, secondary CTE is typically taken by students with lower academic achievement, while the academic track is taken by students who perform at a higher level. This has resulted in a very negative perception, and has made promoting CTE difficult.

Another cause of this negative perception is the improvement in primary education and the ambition and pressure from parents, resulting in fewer students enrolling in the CTE streams and more in the academic paths. Also, academic pathways include little focus on Career Technical Education. While the traditional pathways through secondary schools for vocational education are decreasing in participation, we had hoped CTE in the academic route would develop. As this has not happened, it has left us with a skills gap and a sense of urgency.

Please describe the current landscape of Career Technical Education/VET in the Netherlands.

Overall, there has been a decline in CTE participation and in particular, a strong drop in the traditional courses for technicians and craftsmanship.  However, there is some growing interest in newer courses, which combine technical education with entrepreneurship skills.

The two trends combined means CTE enrollment in the upper grades has stayed somewhat consistent over time. A little over a third of third-year secondary students engage in CTE, out of about 200,000 students in total.

Another opportunity is that more of our students are eligible for technical or science programs in higher education, particularly in the higher streams, even if they are not choosing CTE programs at this time. In fact the economic crisis was a big boost for students actually choosing technical and scientific careers. This is all to say there is potential for more students to choose CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

Every system has its challenges – what are yours? What are some solutions you are looking to implement?

Our first challenge is changing the perception of CTE  in the country. We need to spread CTE throughout all schools for all students of all abilities.  We need to eliminate the stigma that only low ability students should participate in CTE in our school culture, and instead make CTE available to all students on all levels, especially in the intermediate streams where there is a vast potential of talents and young people who wish for more attractive curricula and CTE.

In addition to making CTE available for all students, we need to convince students and parents that there are attractive careers in CTE fields. Though increasing the number of CTE students is admirable, we need to convince students to go into CTE careers.

Along with changing the perception of CTE, we need to nourish successful initiatives by schools and support them through legislation, intelligent governance and smarter systems of funding.

There also needs to be clearer links between education systems. The three steps in a student’s education are primary, secondary and tertiary education, which all have their own systems and rewards.  Essential skills for students to be successful in the next step of education are not sufficiently included in the reward system.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate