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

New CRS Report Highlights NASDCTEc Work

October 9th, 2012

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), which provides reports and analyses to Members of Congress on a variety of policy issues, recently released a new report on Career Technical Education. The goal of the report, Career and Technical Education: A Primer, is to “support congressional discussion of initiatives designed to rationalize the workforce development system.”

The report provides an overview of CTE, walks through the delivery and structure of CTE at the secondary, postsecondary, and adult learner levels, and raises several issues facing CTE stakeholders. For example, according to the report, there are four concerns that may hinder CTE delivery at the secondary level: (1) what is the goal of CTE – to broaden the students’ education and provide early exposure to several career options or to ensure students are prepared to enter the workforce, (2) the expense of maintaining and updating the instructional resources and equipment, (3) whether CTE adds value to a college preparatory high school curriculum, and (4) that the common core standards do not define career-ready and thus may not provide immediate career preparation.

While explaining the National Career ClustersTM Framework, the report references data from NASDCTEc’s 2011 issue brief, Career Clusters and Programs of Study: State of the States. The data for this issue brief was culled from the 2010 State Profile survey. We administer this survey to our members every other year to collect a wealth of information to be used in updating the State Profiles, and to provide the basis for a number of issue briefs. We are pleased that CRS was able to utilize our data in their report!

In the section “College- and Career-Ready Standards and CTE Standards” the report highlights NASDCTEc and NCTEF’s work around the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) as one of the two set of standards impacting CTE students. As stated in the CRS report, the CCTC was developed by 42 states, the District of Columbia, Palau, business and industry representatives, educators, and other stakeholders, and it provides standards for each of the 16 Career ClustersTM and their career pathways.

Nancy Conneely, Director of Public Policy

OECD Report: CTE Strategies Embraced Internationally

September 11th, 2012

Career Technical Education (CTE) is a major vehicle for educational attainment internationally, and countries continue to embrace CTE in an effort to increase their skilled workforce.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released yesterday its annual Education at a Glance report to broadly examine the state of education across the globe. The report reaffirms that the U.S. is falling behind in education compared to other countries; for example, the average high school graduation rate for OECD countries is 84 percent, while the 2010 U.S. rate is 77 percent. This ranks the U.S. 22nd out of 27 countries for 2010 high school graduation rates.

However, the report shows that education in the U.S. has a larger payoff than any other country. The average U.S. college graduate earns $19,000 more than a high school graduate, while the average advantage for college graduates across OECD countries is $8,900.

Internationally, CTE is widely embraced as a method of preparing highly-skilled workers. Countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Denmark have historically embraced CTE approaches and continue to rely on CTE. Others, such as the United Kingdom, have introduced policy initiatives to strengthen their CTE systems.

The study also notes that, in many countries, women represent a substantial portion of individuals with secondary and postsecondary CTE degrees or certificates. In Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland, the proportion of 25-64 women with CTE degrees or certificates is slightly greater than the number of men with CTE degrees or certificates.

CTE has been embraced in many OECD countries as a means of preparing knowledgeable, highly-skilled workers. As the U.S. continues to reform its education system, CTE strategies should be considered and more widely valued to increase secondary and postsecondary attainment and provide better opportunities for individuals.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

State-Level Community College Leaders Voice Concern Over Higher Expectations, Less Funding

September 7th, 2012

Community colleges are widely recognized for their distinct position within the postsecondary education system; two-year colleges offer accessible options for certificate and degree attainment to a diverse population. As the economy continues to recover, many employers embrace high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and training opportunities that community colleges provide for a relatively low cost. Meanwhile, community college leaders struggle to meet employers’ rising expectations with stagnant or decreasing community college budgets.

A new report from the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama analyzes survey results from 49 state-level community college leaders, and examines the role of community colleges in developing the workforce.

The authors specify that community colleges are different than many other postsecondary institutions because they are “place-based” – that is, their service delivery areas are determined by law. This causes community colleges to be especially committed to developing their state and local economies, and makes partnerships with business and industry critical. Partnerships with employers are common – 92 percent of those surveyed said that employers are increasingly leaning on community colleges to train their employees –- but one-third of respondents reported that training funds, such as those from the Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, are decreasing or have been depleted.

Further, over 60 percent of respondents said they are pressured by businesses to offer more short-term job training programs in non-credit areas. Though short-term certificates can be valuable, research shows that longer-term certificates and training programs are more lucrative for students. Moreover, the many job vacancies currently contributing to the “skills gap” would require applicants to have advanced training in highly-skilled areas. The authors note that an investment in these long-term education and training opportunities will be beneficial to both students and employers. They also suggest continued funding of Pell Grants at the current level.

Read the full report here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

Election 2012: Candidates’ Education Positions

August 30th, 2012

Yesterday we told you about the newly unveiled Republican party platform which supports local CTE programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels. While this platform reveals where the party as a whole stands on various issues, it does not necessarily reflect the position of an individual candidate. In a new publication from NASDCTEc, Election 2012: Candidates’ Education Positions, we take a closer look at the policy positions of both Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. This document does not cover every education policy issue, but those that the candidates have made public.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

ACT Scores: 60 Percent of High School Graduates Did Not Meet Benchmarks for College and Career Readiness

August 29th, 2012

Over half of this year’s high school graduating class, a record number of students, took the ACT college and career readiness exam. The sobering exam results indicate that 60 percent of the high school graduates are at risk of not succeeding in college and careers:

  • 28 percent of exam takers did not meet any of the benchmarks set by the test in English, math, reading, and science.
  • Fifteen percent of test takers met only one benchmark, and 17 percent met two benchmarks.
  • In sum, 60 percent of all test takers met two or less benchmarks.

ACT specifies that the minimum score needed in each of the four testing areas indicates that a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher, or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher, in typical first-year college coursework.

An analysis of this year’s scores also reflects disparities between the scores of Asian American and White students, most of whom met or exceeded the benchmarks except in science, and those of Black and Hispanic students, who were less likely to meet or surpass the benchmarks. Just one-third of all students met the science benchmarks.

ACT also surveyed students’ career interests, and found that the career areas of interest for students are not aligned with the kinds of jobs projected to be available over the next decade.

The study suggests several state policy recommendations to increase student preparedness. Suggestions include setting clear performance standards, ensuring monitoring and early intervention, and implementing ACT’s Core Practice Framework.

Read ACT’s analysis of the scores: The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

June “CTE Monthly” Newsletter: Engaging CTE in the Common Core; Business Management & Administration Career Spotlight

June 12th, 2012

CTE Monthly, a collaborative publication from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, features the latest news on Career Technical Education (CTE) from across the nation for CTE stakeholders and Members of Congress.

This month’s newsletter highlights the Business Management & Administration Career Cluster™, an area expected over the next decade to experience job growth and increasingly require postsecondary education and training. The South Texas Business, Education and Technology Academy is an effective CTE program that is excelling in this Career Cluster™.

The June edition also features findings from a recent report about certificates from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. The report reveals that individuals with certificates in specific fields can provide greater earnings than postsecondary degree holders.

The CTE Monthly for June is available online now!

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

May “CTE Monthly” Newsletter: Tools for Calculating Return on Investment; Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Spotlight

May 21st, 2012

CTE Monthly, a collaborative publication from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, features the latest news on Career Technical Education (CTE) from across the nation for CTE stakeholders and Members of Congress.

This month’s issue discusses the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Career Cluster™ including its varied career options and labor market projections. Read more about the Regional Agricultural Science Technology School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where CTE students excel while learning about Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources with a marine-related focus.

The May edition also highlights a TIME Magazine article, “Learning That Works,” that presents a compelling snapshot of CTE today.

The CTE Monthly for May is available online now!

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

New NASDCTEc Brief: Integrating the Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education

March 20th, 2012

NASDCTEc is releasing today an issue brief, Achieve and State CTE Directors: Integrating the Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education, that describes a pilot project to help educators integrate the Common Core standards and Career Technical Education (CTE). Achieve and NASDCTEc jointly created the project to guide educators as they develop instructional tasks that integrate CTE-focused standards, the National Career ClustersTM Knowledge and Skills Statements, into their lessons.

The issue brief also features updates from State Directors in two states, Illinois and Nebraska, where the project is being implemented.

To learn more, please join us this afternoon, March 20th at 2:00 pm EST, as we discuss the project in detail on a webinar.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst  

January “CTE Monthly” Newsletter: U.S. Commerce Department Calls for Investments in STEM and Manufacturing; Information Technology Career Spotlight

January 20th, 2012

CTE Monthly, a collaborative publication from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, features the latest news on Career Technical Education (CTE) from across the nation for CTE stakeholders and Members of Congress.

The January issue takes a closer look at the Information Technology Career Cluster™, an area that is projected to experience rapid employment growth over the next several years.

The newsletter also highlights a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce that calls for greater investment in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Manufacturing Career Clusters™ to benefit the nation’s students and the economy.

The January edition of CTE Monthly can be accessed here. To view past newsletters, visit our advocacy tools Web page.

New Resource Identifies Largest and Fastest Growing Career Clusters, and Areas of Focus for CTE Graduates

January 19th, 2012

A new resource from NASDCTEc, Career Technical Education and Labor Market Demand, details the Career Clusters™ in which high school and postsecondary CTE students are choosing to concentrate. The paper also shows the top five areas of the labor market by Career Cluster™ that are projected to be the largest and fastest growing by 2018. These data indicate that Career Technical Education (CTE) graduates with high school diplomas or postsecondary skills are preparing for careers in fields that are growing or in high-demand.

View the new sheet here, and take a look at other NASDCTEc issue briefs and papers here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst