The NASDCTEc annual Spring Meeting here in the D.C. area is from March 29-31, 2010, which happens to be at the same time as the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. According to the National Park Service, the 2010 National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled for March 27-April 11. The festival is “one of the more heavily attended annual events in Washington, D.C., with hundreds of thousands of visitors expected.” What does this mean? You and a gazillion other folks will be competing for plane seats at the same time. Our staff and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) staff encourage you to book your flights now if you haven’t already. If you want to bookend your D.C. visit with a trip to see the blossoms, visit http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/cms/index.php?id=390 for more information.
Leaders of the Common Core Initiative are gearing up for the adoption and implementation of the College and Career Readiness Standards, which they plan to unveil in January. With that ball rolling, they also will then distribute a draft of the K-12 Standards for public review.
Gene Wilhoit, Council of Chief State School Officer executive director, and Dane Linn National Governors Association Center of Best Practices education division director, provided an update of the Common Core Initiative at a public meeting Dec. 2. They focused on the timelines associated with the adoption and implementation of the College and Career Readiness Standards, and the upcoming comment period that will be available for the K-12 standards. Further, they stressed that the standards at which they are developing are the best they can do based on the evidence on hand and encouraged the education community to advocate for more research and development as the project unfolds.
A validation committee is mulling over the more than 1,000 comments provided by the education community. They plan to unveil a revised document by early January. In the meantime, Common Core leaders are talking to about six states — among them Massachusetts, Colorado, and Minnesota — about adoption and implementation of the standards. While they expect a significant number of states to adopt the standards, they are looking for a select group of states to take the helms of implementation – obviously the more difficult and complicated phase of the initiative. Dane said they will be looking for “proof points” to provide models of successful implementation. Also, they will be examining state policies that may help or hinder Common Core implementation.
Representatives from the National Association of School Boards of Education, American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association re-affirmed their support for the initiative and described the outreach efforts they have been making to foster buy-in from their membership. For implementation to be successful they acknowledged that support from school boards and unions are critical.
The K-12 Standards will follow a similar review process. The first iteration of the standards will be released in January and subject to comment and validation.
The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Getting to Where We Want To Go
4th and last in the series
A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be. – Rosalyn Carter
In the last post on the Fall Summit I shared that states ended day two by voting on the 24 principles that were crafted during the small group work. I can’t emphasize how grateful I am to all the Summit attendees. Everyone took the charge of defining the Future Directions for CTE very seriously. Attendees brainstormed, crafted, drafted, worked and reworked words until they became statements and statements until they became principles. This is really hard work. And attendees gave it their all!
Here is a sampling of the principles. This will give you a sense of the tone and spirit of the principles that were crafted:
• CTE is an educational engine geared toward a high skills, high wage, high performance workforce for the global innovation economy.
• CTE is a collaboration between business/industry and education (K-12 through adult) that must be flexible and collaborative in its delivery of education.
• Education is deliberate, relevant and authentic for every student, and is accessible without limitations of time and place.
** Note: We have made the decision not to share the 24 principles on the blog. These 24 principles are really raw material that taken out of context might be misinterpreted. We do have a plan for gathering additional input and sharing the next steps in this process. See below.
Voting Results: Much like Election Day, we all were waiting anxiously for the results to come in. The goal of the “straw poll” was to determine how close to consensus we were. Were we a divided community? Did we need to go back to the drawing board? Did the principles go far enough? Did the principles go too far?
Of the 24 principles, seven had the support of more than 90% of the voting states. The voting states comprised all but five states. One could say that consensus achieved among these top seven principles was a slam dunk. Wow! These top seven principles clearly represented the major themes/priorities that CTE must focus on during the next ten years.
Choosing Our Words Carefully: With the principles now drafted, we chose to tackle a question that was raised by an attendee on day one – “when we say a term like ‘program of study’ do we all agree on the same definition of what this is and what it looks like to implement this well?” Attendees nodded their heads “yes, but of course we agree and understand these terms. We are all CTE leaders.” However, it became evident during the small group work that even among the selected group at the Summit, terms like programs of study, rigor, seamless and articulation have very different meanings, interpretations and implementation. Attendees spent some time on day three crafting common definitions for 14 terms but this work is far from complete. A charge for us in the future!
So Where Do We Go From Here?: Our Board of Directors met on November 9 to review the Summit work/outcomes and to approve a ‘go forward’ plan that includes a webinar for Summit attendees and a series of regional calls with the state directors in December, as well as a Board of Directors’ retreat in January where the Board will finalize the vision and principles. On February 17, 2010 at 2 pm eastern we will host a webinar to unveil the new vision and corresponding principles. And at the NASDCTEc spring meeting in Washington, D.C. we will once again roll up our sleeves and work together to craft the action steps to achieve our new vision.
Looking Ahead: Our organization’s efforts to define a new vision for CTE is not about dismantling what we have in place or discrediting the success we have achieved so far. Instead, it is about looking back on what we have achieved and learning from both our successes and failures. It is about ensuring that the opportunities before CTE are maximized. It is about staying relevant in an ever-changing educational and economic environment. We can’t be what we always have been. In 2009, we don’t look like what we did in 1999; and we shouldn’t look today like we will look like in 2019. We can build on what we have accomplished. With a new vision guiding our work and the right leadership in place, we can get to where we ought to be!
Last month we let members know about a series of meetings the Department of Education had scheduled for November to gather input from practitioners on assessment. As the time for these meetings draws near I just wanted to raise this critical issue with you again. We all know how important assessment is as we have been wrestling with the issue in our offices here for some time, just as people in the field have.
The goals of these meetings according to the Education Department is two-fold: to gather technical input to inform the development of a Race to the Top Assessment Competition and to enable states and the public to participate in and learn from these events. The public meetings will be held over six days in three cities and will focus on the following topics.
Thursday, November 12 – Friday, November 13
Full-day panel (Thursday, Nov. 12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment
Half-day panel (Friday, Nov. 13, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Technology & innovation
Half-day panel (Friday, Nov. 13, 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.): High school assessment
Tuesday, November 17 – Wednesday, November 18
Full-day panel (Tuesday, Nov. 17, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment
Half-day panel (Wednesday, Nov. 18, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Assessment of students with disabilities
Tuesday, December 1 – Wednesday, December 2
Full-day panel (Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment
Half-day panel (Wednesday, Dec. 2, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Assessment of English language learners
The meetings are open to the public. The official notice, along with information on how to RSVP for the meetings, can be found at www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment. The Department encourages the submission of written input (see details of submission process on the web site), and plans to post transcripts of every meeting session and all written input submitted to the agency at www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment.
If you are planning on attending any of these meetings I hope that you will let us know and share your thoughts and reactions with us here at NASDCTEc.
The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Being Bold
3rd in the series
What are the core principles that should guide the future direction of CTE for the next 10 years?
This was the first question posed to Fall Summit attendees. With answers written on literally hundreds of post it notes, the work began. As is always the case with this sort of work, in the beginning the work is messy and unrefined – which is exactly what we wanted. A grouping of 14 categories was identified ranging from “all students need to be CTE students” to “career clusters and programs of study are the framework for all of education” to “increasing rigor and adopting common standards for CTE.” The spectrum of opinions was broad. Consensus seemed elusive.
Are you annoyed? Uncomfortable? Feeling challenged? Good! Often CTE has been in the position of being defensive, fighting for a seat at the table or protecting what we have or what we have accomplished. The Summit was about creating an environment that allowed attendees to think and discuss honestly about what we are doing that is working, what isn’t working, and what we should be doing that we aren’t. Scenarios were designed to instigate, provoke and evoke emotion, debate and require attendees to take contrary positions oftentimes having to be an advocate for the traditional ‘opponent.’ At times there was a palpable, healthy tension. The best way to share the tone and spirit of the discussion is to share some quotes from attendees:
“We’re stretching our brain to think outside the box and I think we can still do better. We’re on the right track for the future if we want to keep CTE in front. Otherwise someone can say that one day soon CTE is not necessary. But looking at all of this is an important part of the process.”
- “For so many years we’ve always called ourselves as the stepchildren. We’re all tired of being that. We’re only called that because we allow it. We have an opportunity to step out of that. There will be some tension but we really have to go through this and be bold.”
- “I think we’re afraid to make bold statements. We need to state what we really want to do. If you’re the middle child you don’t have to say so much, but if we make a bold statement then we have to stand by it.”
- “If you look at our words: articulation, integration, globalization. We get so comfortable with buzz words, but have we made any progress? We have a lot of lovely words but do we really have articulated pathways in our schools? Where have we come from and where do we want to go?”
- “Success is not mandatory. Survival is not guaranteed or required.”
- “Innovation is a new idea that adds value. One of the problems that CTE has today is that we have a hard time showing our value. This group has to talk about how in the next 10 years we’re going to demonstrate the added value of what we do.”
We had arrived at a certain level of consensus – most attendees agreed that we needed to do something different, to be bolder in our thinking, to be innovative, and to take a risk. But what are the principles that will guide this new bold vision? By the end of day two, Summit attendees had crafted 24 potential principles. States were asked to vote on them. Democracy was at work. The next post in this series will share the outcomes of the vote and next steps.
The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Leadership
2nd in the Series
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Welcoming OVAE leadership: The Fall Summit was kicked off by the new leadership of the Office of Vocational andAdult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Cummings. Both were generous in their time, taking the opportunity to circulate the room and meet Summit attendees. Brenda and Glenn demonstrate genuine commitment to advocate for public policy that helps more students be successful.
Be bold, think broadly and show me the data! Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier, on the job for just one week, thanked the CTE community for its work and encouraged us to “to think broadly and boldly” as we think about the future. She underscored the role of CTE leaders to highlight the programs and data that answer the demands the White House has for student achievement and quality services. We need to prove that our programs are effective.
Looking back to guide the future: Dr. Mike Rush, former State CTE Director in Idaho and author of the “purple paper” challenged the CTE community to think about the importance of unity, working under a common vision, the criticality of education in ensuring our nation’s competitiveness, the necessity of preparation for and completion of postsecondary education, and importance of leadership.
He shared that “(t)his country has been engaged in an ongoing discussion about education and now, more than at any other time, our leaders are absolutely convinced that education is the make or break element in our nation’s arsenal of tools. But at the same time there appears to be less of a consensus about what constitutes a proper level and extent of education.”
This is a fundamental point of debate – do all students need to go to some form of postsecondary education? Mike contends the answer to this question is yes andthat CTE has an important role in achieving this goal by bothpreparing students with the skills to get to postsecondary education and the talents and skills to earn the income needed to pay for their postsecondary education. Such notions have been long argued. In fact, the debate of CTE’s focus dates back to the beginning of the 20th century by well-known intellectual leaders John Dewey and David Sneeden. (Dewey, J. (1911). Culture and culture values. In P. Monroe (Ed.), A cyclopaedia of education, volume l (pp. 238–239). New York: Macmillan. Dewey, J. (1911). Culture and culture values. In P. Monroe (Ed.), A cyclopaedia of education, volume l (pp. 238–239). New York: Macmillan. Snedden, D. (1910). The problem of vocational education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Snedden, D. (1931). American High Schools and Vocational Schools in 1960. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.)
Today, debates continue over what is CTE. Is it occupation specific training or broader talent development? While we may not resolve this century old debate, Mike shared that “(CTE must) maintain your core mission. The workplace provides the context that makes CTE unique and valuable to an educational enterprise.” And he underscored the absolute necessity for CTE leaders to step outside of their box, their silo and be prepared to lead all of education – not just CTE.
Leadership: Both Brenda and Mike spoke about the importance of leadership. Leadership is a term that has almost individualized meaning. Is leadership a talent, a style, a learned behavior, something afforded by position? For some leadership is simply implementing what is effective. For others, leadership it is about challenging the status quo. And for others is it about the act of creating andcrafting something new, like a vision. The Fall Summit hoped that by bringing together leader from around the country together, we would benefit from their diverse styles and interpretations of leadership.
So with the challenge was before Summit attendees – to think boldly, to dream big, to be leaders –the work began. Attendees were asked to answer what on its face is a simple question:
What are the core principles that should guide the future direction of CTE for the next 10 years?
How would you answer this question?
I was at a meeting earlier this week when someone asked me about a “super-double-top-secret-meeting” NASDCTEc convened last week in Baltimore. I had to laugh. While the event we hosted was in no way secret, it was, by necessity, by invitation only. This question made me realize the criticality of sharing information about the event we convened. So, this is the first in a series of posts where I will share with you information and insights about the Fall Summit we convened October 20 – 22, 2009 entitled “Future Directions for CTE.”
Why a Summit? CTE is at a critical juncture. Many policymakers, national organizations and leaders are looking to CTE to be a partner and a solution in both the educational and workforce arenas. This recent interest has created an opportunity for us to challenge current beliefs and assumptions, break down silos, broaden perspectives, increase rigor and build systemic support for CTE.
Our organization’s vision statement is that we are the leader in shaping the future of CTE. As such, our Board of Directors felt this was the right time to host an event designed to convene the states in crafting a shared vision for the future of CTE.
Summit ≠Conference: The Summit was not a traditional conference. There were no formal speakers. There was no set agenda. There was no head table or stage. We used a fabulous convening group called Innovation Labs to facilitate this interactive, iterative process and event. Their design creates an atmosphere and environment that facilitates open, honest and active engagement of attendees. Here is what it looks like in action:
The Summit was structured to engage attendees to think about what CTE is, as well as give attendees license to dream about what CTE could and should be. With the backdrop of a couple of webinars and some pre-summit briefing materials, attendees were asked to challenge current assumptions and beliefs. Activities were designed to facilitate not just “outside the box” conversations but instead to have conversations that resulted in creating an entirely new box. We hoped that attendees would come to some amount of consensus and affirm what CTE is (and what it is not), as well as think boldly and broadly about what the future of CTE should be. Our Board’s goal was that the Summit would result in a set of guiding principles that states would embrace and would use to guide both their and NASDCTEc’s work as we provide leadership for the CTE enterprise.
While this may seem like a lofty goal, it is not without precedent. In the 1998, under the leadership of Dr. Mike Rush (who was then the State Director in Idaho) NASDCTEc put out an epochal document – CTE: An Essential Component of the Total Educational System. This paper (informally and affectionately called the ‘purple paper’) paved new ground for us. It defined a new, bold vision for CTE that opened the door for our organization’s work in career clusters. And even more amazing is that all states came to consensus on the 5 principles incorporated into this document. The states agreed to support this as the vision of what CTE is and should be. This consensus and unity among the states provided significant strength and leverage that has resulted in great advances in a very short timeframe.
I believe it is these advances played a significant role in creating the interest, support and opportunities before CTE today. Stakeholders didn’t dismiss CTE as simply relabeled vocational education. Instead stakeholders saw the significant efforts and investments being made by CTE leaders to adopt higher and more rigorous academic and technical standards, to implement systems of accountability, and the shift in attitudes to acknowledge that most students would need some postsecondary education to be prepared for the modern workplace. Further the movement toward career clusters reflected a major shift in the scope of what CTE is, beginning to erode the lines of the tracks for those kids going to college and those going to work.
All told, all but 5 states were represented at last week’s Summit. And among the many states present, attendees included state directors of secondary and postsecondary CTE as well as a small group partners representing the federal government, principals, teachers, governors, CTSOs, colleges and school systems, and business and industry who were dedicated to crafting this new, bold vision for CTE.
So what were the outcomes? Did we achieve consensus? Who was the special guest that kicked off the Summit? You’ll have to read the next installment in this series to get these answers.
This week Kim Green and I (along with Steve DeWitt and Jamie Baxter from ACTE) had a positive meeting at the Office of Management and Budget to discuss future Perkins funding. We met with David Rowe, the Education Branch Chief and Christine Leininger, the program examiner responsible for career technical education within the education branch. These two people play a critical role in the White House budget development process as OMB is part of the Executive Office of the President.
They are just beginning their work on NEXT year’s budget proposal. Here is how the process works. Starting this week each agency submits their initial budget request to OMB. Over the course of the next two months or so OMB and the agency discuss priorities, goals of the Administration, and budget realities to come up with the request that will be included in the President’s budget for each department. Around Thanksgiving OMB lets each department know what the President’s request will be. In DC terms this is known as the “pass back”. While there may be some tweaking of the numbers over the ensuing several weeks, essentially this is the FY 2011 budget proposal that will be introduced by the President the first week of February and considered by Congress.
We let Mr. Rowe and Ms. Leininger know about changes and innovations that are taking place as a result of Perkins IV and talked about how the goals of the programs align with many of the Obama Administration’s priorities. While it was important that we got to share this type of information with them, what was encouraging is that they were both knowledgeable about CTE and asked many questions about how the money is being spent, accountability, demographics of students and programs, data collection and the various priorities for Perkins state by state.
We are going to be cultivating our relationship with OMB, sharing information, data and resources. This was a good first step in building a very important, long term partnership.