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

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 

Excellence in Action: Henderson County High School

May 14th, 2015

In April, we awarded our 2015 Excellence in Action Awards to nine programs of study from across the country in secondary and postsecondary education. These programs of study were selected based on their uniquely inventive and effective approaches to stimulating student learning, offering extensive work-based learning experiences, maintaining strong partnerships with industry and community organizations, and preparing students for postsecondary and career success. We will feature a monthly blog post highlighting each award winner.

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at Henderson County High School (HCHS) in cte-careercluster-banner-humanservicesHenderson, Kentucky began in 1970 and has expanded dramatically in the past 10 years to address the complex social and economic issues that individuals, families and communities currently face. By the time students graduate, they have the opportunity to earn multiple certifications and up to nine college credits, and have gained a year of internship experience in a preschool classroom, truly preparing them for their next step be it postsecondary education or the workplace.


A key component to the ECE program of study is the delivery of state-required and nationally-recognized HCHScredentials. These credentials are vital in a child care career and are a stepping stone for students who plan to pursue the ECE pathway post-graduation. ECE offers up to five certifications and educator Emily Johnston was the first Family Consumer Science teacher in Kentucky to obtain the Early Care and Education Trainer’s Credential so that she could teach and award the certification to her students without having to hire additional staff.

Through a partnership with Henderson Community College, students receive articulated credit upon completion of the third course in the program of study, which is equivalent to the first course in the college sequence. And, students who earn a CDA credential receive nine college credits at any institution in the Kentucky Community Technical College System in the field of ECE.

As part of their third (articulated) course – Child Development Services II – students are also expected to complete 180 hours of work-based learning and a capstone project.


The ECE program has built an incredible array of highly engaged partners at the local and state levels. Employers like the Little Stars Child Care, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center and Riverview School provide work-based learning opportunities in the community. From its inception, the Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center was designed to incorporate the ECE program at Henderson County High School, where students take a nine-week training course and work in the preschool classroom to gain daily, hands-on experience.

Little Colonels Daycare, located at HCHS, offers students in grades 9-11 hands-on experience one day per week. This gives students the opportunity to learn how children develop from ages 0-3 and gain workplace readiness skills to prepare them for their senior year, off-site work-based learning requirement.

IMG_0191Additionally, HCHS has a strong relationship with the University of Kentucky Quality Enhancement Initiative, which provides higher educational opportunities for students post-graduation and funding for the Commonwealth Child Care Credential (CCCC) and the CDA for students who stay in the ECE field.

Through stellar partnerships and a commitment to providing students with opportunities to participate in work-based learning experiences, 100 percent of students graduated high school, 18 percent earned an industry-recognized credential and 68 percent enrolled in postsecondary education. Additionally, lead teacher in the program, Emily Johnston, was recently named Teacher of the Year in Henderson County, Kentucky.

All awardees were honored at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Learn more about Henderson County High School’s Early Childhood Education program here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Spring Meeting Recap: Career Pathways Systems and Performance Based Funding

April 24th, 2015

During NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of concurrent workshops. Below we have highlighted two workshops, one focused on advancing CTE in Career Pathway and another on Performance Based Funding systems. 

Since 2012, five states have worked with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to integrate CTE programs of study with state and local career pathways systems.

During a breakout session, CTE leaders from Kansas, Minnesota and Colorado discussed their wide-ranging efforts that include employer engagement initiatives, a transformational state pathways project and a toolkit for industry-recognized credentials.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation added funding to the Career Pathways initiative specifically to support transportation-related career pathways. As part of this work, the Transportation Learning Center launched a large data project to examine the current and future workforce needs across six transportation sectors.

Age is one of the greatest liabilities for the industry, with 49 being the average age for a new mechanic hire. Through retirements and attrition, it’s estimated that 4.2 million jobs will be open between 2012 and 2022. When accounting for industry growth, the Center estimates that one new transportation worker will need to be hired every minute over the next 10 years to fill industry demand.

During a concurrent session led by Steve Klein and Laura Rasmussen Foster of RTI International and the National Center on Innovation in Career Technical Education, presenters discussed opportunities and challenges to performance-based funding (PBF) systems.

This session drew on findings from the recent report, State Strategies for Financing CTE, which was discussed in detail on this co-hosted webinar, but was moderated as an open forum, with state leaders engaging in an candid discussion on what was working and what barriers stood in the way in supporting PBF.

For example, Texas shared details on their incentive grant program, which uses Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) funds to encourage higher enrollment in CTE programs, particularly in rural communities. Districts meeting a certain threshold of their Perkins performance indicators are eligible for a sliding amount of incentive funds. Kansas shared early successes of its (state-funded) district incentive grants for students earning state-approved industry-recognized credentials.

Some of the major takeaways shared include:

  • Be clear about the goals and intent when designing PBF (“If you pay for it, you will get more of it”),
  • A little money can go a long way in changing behavior,
  • PBF systems will only work if they are based on quality indicators, which rely on valid and reliable data, and
  • Be sure to build support among policymakers and practitioners early and often to make PBF happen.

Post written by Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate and Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director 

Spring Meeting Recap: Ohio’s Unified State Plan and Vermont’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

April 23rd, 2015

During NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of concurrent workshops. Below we have highlighted two workshops, one focused on how states can develop a Unified State Plan, with Ohio as a premier example while another discussed how Vermont integrated Career Technical Education (CTE) in their state’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), there is a lot of discussion about cross-program and systems collaboration. The state of Ohio is a well ahead of the game. At the behest of Governor Kasich, the state has been engaged in a collaborative planning process among state agencies with the goal of creating and submitting a unified state plan under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that would fulfill planning requirements for the state’s three largest workforce programs – WIA, Adult Basic and Literacy Education and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

The vision for the collaboration was to make sure Ohio had a literate and prepared workforce by ensuring Ohioans had the knowledge, skills and abilities to fill the top in-demand jobs in the state. This meant a shift in thinking away from planning driven by institutions or the delivery system and instead a focus on students and career pathways. The state also developed a Workforce Success Measures data dashboard and common metrics focused on outcomes (employment, increased skills, increased wages and value to employers) to help guide the work.

Some lessons learned:

  • Leadership must be committed: This is crucial. Leadership needs to be engaged at the highest levels and be committed to a shared vision. In Ohio, the Governor set the vision and tasked agency leadership with the specific goal of developing the unified plan.
  • Be patient: Change is difficult and often feared. This sort of shift takes time and building of trust. In Ohio this was accomplished through a lot of outreach, meetings, learning, and stakeholder/public input.
  • Be Open to Learning: A lot of learning happened as the agencies shared through what they do, who they serve, etc. With the shared commitment and focus on student success, an openness to see the potential of new partnerships and ways to serve Ohioans emerged.

The Ohio unified state plan was submitted to the federal agencies for approval. At the time of the presentation, the plan was pending approval.  The state will likely have to resubmit a plan under WIOA but with the groundwork laid to break down silos and to focus on students and results, Ohio is well-positioned to lead the way!

For more information make sure to check out a copy of Ohio’s presentation, delivered by Steve Gratz, Tony Landis and Bill Bussey.


Last summer, after facing a series of economic and natural challenges, Vermont became one of only a handful of states in the country to develop and implement a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS). The strategy brought together stakeholders from the state’s education, workforce and economic development communities to develop a cohesive economic development “road map” for the next five years. Much of this planning was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) CEDS program which sought to help businesses prosper in the state while ensuring all student populations— both traditional and nontraditional— were fully served.

So what was notable about this endeavor? Quite a bit according to Vermont CTE Director John Fischer and David Ives, a Sustainability and Planning Coordinator for EDA. The two took an in-depth look at Vermont’s CEDS during a breakout session at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring meeting which looked at Career Technical Education’s (CTE) role in the plan and ongoing implementation. One message was clear throughout— education and training is a “key ingredient” to economic development and should be incorporated into the wider “workforce ecosystem.” Significantly, Vermont’s CEDS has served as a catalyst for the state to prioritize its CTE investments and has been a strong policy lever for leaders to implement high-quality statewide CTE programs of study.

Be sure to check out the plan and the newly updated CEDS guidelines on the meeting resource page!

Post written by Kimberly Green, Executive Director and Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Spring Meeting Recap: Featuring Excellence in the Press

April 16th, 2015

Last week, NASDCTEc held its 2015 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. bringing together leaders from across the country in Career Technical Education (CTE). As part of the meeting, NASDCTEc hosted a panel, Featuring Excellence in the Press, highlighting why the media is telling CTE’s story, and to offer insights into how CTE advocates can best and most effectively engage the media in support of CTE.

The panel began stressing how the CTE conversation has shifted over the years including rebranding from the more traditional vocational education programming. Along with the shift in moving from ‘vocational education’ to ‘career technical education,’ panelists noted a focus on the concept of college and career readiness and showing students early in schooling how their education is relevant to careers they can have in the future. In addition, speakers saw a noted shift in CTE’s inclusion of career-ready and employability skills as integral to today’s CTE.

Emily Hanford, Education Corresponded at American RadioWorks and correspondent and producer of Ready to Work highlighted how her year working on the documentary greatly influenced her perspective on CTE. “CTE is really exciting and refreshing,” said Hanford. “I came away from filming this documentary with a sense of envy. No one had challenged me to see what I wanted to do.”

Panelists also offered up tips to the audience on how to best tell their CTE story. Emily Ann Brown, K-12 Education Policy Reporter at Education Daily stressed the importance of introducing high-quality data, along with providing access to a variety of stakeholders when pitching a story to the press. Caralee Adams, Contributing Writer at Education Week emphasized showing the press that your story is backed up by local and national trends, but also showing how those trends translate into real-life successes by including the voice of teachers, administrators and students. Hanford, on the other hand, suggested a missing voice in the CTE narrative is alumni of CTE reflecting on how their education successfully prepared them for their career.

Check on a wide array of materials and resources shared by the speakers on our Spring meeting resource page.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

March 20th, 2015

@NOCTI1 “Your First Year in CTE: 10 Things to Know” provides many hands-on examples and resources for use in teaching within the CTE classroom blog-thumbnail-thiswek

Obama and Walker: Both Wrong
A study of 150 CEOs, plant managers, human resource directors, educators and administrators throughout Wisconsin show that filling the skills gap is a multipronged approach. Employers not only want employees with strong technical expertise, but someone who will work hard and think creatively to solve problems, a true mix of hard and soft skills. A few educators and trainers in Wisconsin have developed innovative models of education for training learners across the skills spectrum.

A Framework for Coherence: College and Career Readiness Standards, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and Educator Effectiveness
Center on Great Teachers & Leaders at the American Institutes for Research released an issue brief detailing how the alignment of college and career readiness standards, educator effectiveness systems and positive behavioral supports, or Multi-tiered systems of support, can positively impact instruction while also supporting at-risk learners.

National Agriculture Day
FFA’s National Agriculture day was March 18. Learn more through this video.

DECA has partnered with Working in Support of Education (w!se) and American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) to offer a variety of certifications.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

March 13th, 2015

@DiscoveryEd There are 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs right now.  Think about that. Not always about ‘future’ jobs.  #CorpsInEdu blog-thumbnail-thiswek@alcoafoundation

Career and Technical Education Should be the Rule, Not the Exception
Tim Hodges, PhD, Director of Research for Gallup’s Education Practice makes a detailed case for why Career Technical Education (CTE) is critical to all student’s education. Research shows not only are skills more important than where a student graduated from to employers, but also that CTE concentrators in high school are 15 percent more likely to graduate than the national average. Hodges goes on to highlight his own experience in CTE courses, and how learning skills like fundraising, budgeting, teamwork and mentorship were key components to his work today.

Digital Learning Day
It’s Digital Learning Day, and the Alliance for Excellent Education is live streaming the event featuring schools from across the country as they discuss how using technology effectively benefits their school. The program begins at 1 p.m. eastern.

Teaching 21st Century Skills
March 18, 8 p.m. Eastern Time
This month, the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center is partnering with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) for their monthly Twitter chat. Join the conversation on Wednesday, March 18, using #CCRSchat.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Month in CTE

February 27th, 2015

In lieu of our This Week in CTE series, we are providing an overview of resources and information that came out of a stellar CTE month! Thank you to all who participated and advocated for CTE this February. CTE Month LogoTagline_CMYK


@NRAEF Economists say millennials should consider careers in trades: via @NPR #CTEMonth cc: @CTEWorks @actecareertech

You can also catch up on our Twitter chat with the College & Career Readiness & Success Center here.


What all Educators can Learn from CTE Teachers
Due to new college and career readiness standards, all teachers need to be trained and prepared to integrate learning opportunities into their lessons. CTE teachers are a viable resource, as providing real-world hands on training to their students is integral to their teaching. Teachers can focus on three areas to include technical and employability skills in their education.

College? Career Tech? In Nashville, Teens do Both
Students in Nashville, TN public schools are encouraged to take at least three Career and Technical Education courses by the time they graduate, often leading them to certifications they can use directly after high school and college credit if they decide to continue their education.

Michigan Awards $50M for Skilled Trades Training
Michigan awarded 18 community colleges $50 million towards equipment and training benefiting an estimated 34,000 graduates.


Find out the top 10 metropolitan areas for engineers.

This infographic shows how Ohio is preparing students to be globally competitive.

The American Association of Community Colleges released an infographic on 2015 Community College facts.


Students showed their stuff on Capitol Hill for CTE Monthunnamed

Association for Career and Technical Education hosted a school visit at Montgomery College where we heard from stellar students on how CTE has influenced their education and career goals, along with community partners and educators on what makes their programs of study such a success.


CTE and Student Achievement Fact Sheet
Get the facts on students who engage in high-quality CTE

NASDCTEc Webinars
In case you missed them, NASDCTEc held two webinars this month. First, we provided an overview of our 2014 State Policy Review, highlighting trends in policy in each state. Second, we took a deep look into Alabama and Kansas to see how they engage employers in CTE.

NASDCTEc YouTube Videos
This month we updated our YouTube channel with eight new videos. Seven are based on the workshops based on the book developed in partnership with the Center for Occupational Research and Development, “The Career Pathways Effect: Linking Education and Economic Prosperity,” covering topics aimed at supporting CTE practitioners and leaders in the implementations and improvement of career pathways. The eighth video provides an overview of the development process for the Common Career and Technical Core.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

February 20th, 2015

NRAEF  Amazing stat! RT @CTEWorks “@CCRSCenter The HS grad rate for #CTE concentrators is about 90%, 10% higher than national average #CTEMonth


Jobs in Health Care on the Rise, but Skills Gap Prevents Hiring
Columbus is facing a skills gap particularly in health care and insurance sectors, New York City has over 33,000 jobs available in STEM fields, and Houston can’t find employees for petrochemical and industrial and commercial construction jobs. Career Technical Education is a way to educate students in these fields, but even more needs to be done to insure industry needs are being met. This includes: the collection of real-time labor market data and working with industry leadership to determine their needs; better funding; and scalable solutions that can be adopted across fields.

Check out our new CTEWorks YouTube page, where you can find CTE advocacy videos, along with seven video previews workshops based on the book developed in partnership with the Center for Occupational Research and Development, “The Career Pathways Effect: Linking Education and Economic Prosperity,” covering topics aimed at supporting CTE practitioners and leaders in the implementations and improvement of career pathways.

The College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center updated their interactive map to include eight territories including American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to showcase how these areas are improving college and career readiness.

Check out the Association for Career and Technical Education for their variety of resources for CTE Month. It’s not too late to get involved, so make sure to take a look at their fact sheets, sample press release, CTE Month logo and more!