Welcome to Alaska’s New State CTE Director, Deborah Riddle!

March 28th, 2017

Deborah Riddle was born in Glennallen, Alaska, and raised near Bristol Bay, on the western coast of the state. When she made her way many years later to southern Utah to be a teacher, there was one problem – it was just too hot.

So Riddle and her husband began looking for jobs back home in Alaska, and as a back-up plan, “as close to the Canadian border as possible,” she said.

That led her to Simms, Montana, to teach middle school math and science. When the school district also needed someone to teach Career Technical Education (CTE), Riddle stepped up. What first began with teaching traditional home economics classes then grew into robotics classes and even helping start and support related Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) at the local high school.

After 15 years in Montana, home was still calling, so Riddle took a position with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. She started at the State department five years ago doing school improvement focusing on mathematics. For the past year, Riddle has managed the state’s federal funding under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The state department recently reorganized, and with those changes, Riddle’s responsibilities expanded, including the title of State CTE Director and responsibilities of managing another source of federal funding through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Riddle said she is excited by the prospects of making connections across the federal education laws to maximize funding and other opportunities for Alaska’s students. Since being named the State Director in February, she has been learning all that she can about CTE in Alaska, and said she has been so impressed by the depth and diversity of the stakeholder support she sees for CTE at the local level, especially the connections to employers, community colleges and workforce development.

“I knew there were partnerships, but I didn’t realize how many and how varied there were and what (stakeholder engagement) can really add to a program,” she said.

Riddle said she is also looking to bolster CTSOs in Alaska and continuing to strengthen and overcome the unique challenges to offering CTE for the state’s most rural schools.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Getting to Know… Missouri

March 7th, 2017

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: Missouri

State CTE Director: Dr. Blaine Henningsen, Assistant Commissioner, Office of College and Career Readiness, Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

About Missouri: The issue keeping state leaders in Missouri’s Office of College and Career Readiness up at night is figuring out how to ensure quality in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across the state. Missouri is home to 57 area career centers, 450 comprehensive high schools, 12 community college districts and one state technical college that provide CTE courses to more than 244,000 students combined. As in other states, quality varies from district to district. That’s why, in 2013, Missouri worked to identify the menu of indicators that best reflect high-quality CTE programs. Eventually, the Office of College and Career Readiness settled on six criteria to guide and promote quality, called the “Common Criteria and Quality Indicators,” which were launched publicly in 2015. The indicators describe necessary components related to curriculum, instruction, assessment and more.

At the moment, the Quality Indicators carry no weight in the state’s accountability or funding structure, though Missouri is redesigning its CTE funding formula to better integrate and promote the six criteria. The plan is to roll out an updated formula in the 2018-19 school year to ensure state funds go to support quality programs. In the meantime, the Quality Indicators framework is available as a self-evaluation tool for local programs.

Programs of Study: Missouri’s programs of study follow the national Career Clusters framework and are further organized into six content areas:

  • Agricultural Education;
  • Business, Marketing and Informational Technology Education;
  • Family Consumer Sciences and Human Services Education;
  • Health Sciences;
  • Skilled Technical Sciences; and
  • Technology and Engineering Education.

Agricultural education and business are two of the most popular programs in the state, though manufacturing has enjoyed increased popularity as the sector has grown in the decade since the economic crisis.

Students enrolled in CTE programs are also encouraged to participate in work-based learning opportunities and take industry credentialing examinations. Schools earn additional points toward their “college and career readiness” score for these students. Additionally, the state has an Apprenticeship USA grant to support Registered Apprenticeships. To encourage vertical alignment between secondary and postsecondary CTE programs, Missouri offers dual enrollment opportunities for students to begin earning credit toward a postsecondary degree while they are still enrolled in high school. There is also a representative from the postsecondary system on the state’s CTE Advisory Council (more on that below).

Noteworthy in Missouri: The state legislature recently made two significant changes to the Missouri CTE system. First, it established a CTE Advisory Council, which includes four members from the general assembly and 11 other individuals appointed by the Commissioner of Education. The Council meets four times annually and provides guidance and recommendations on strengthening Missouri’s CTE programs. The Council was convened for the first time in January, 2017.

Another new and notable policy in Missouri is the adoption of a Career Education Certificate that students can earn in addition to their high school diploma. The policy was adopted by the state legislature in 2016, and the Office of College and Career Readiness, with support from the CTE Advisory Council, is in the process of defining the certificate requirements. Under the current proposal, the certificate will be available to CTE concentrators who pass a technical skill assessment or earn an industry-recognized credential, complete work-based learning experiences, and meet certain GPA and attendance requirements. The Office aims to implement the certificate beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Welcome to Laura Arnold, Kentucky’s new State CTE Director

February 15th, 2017

In September, Laura Arnold was named Kentucky’s State CTE Director, and her path to becoming State Director can be drawn directly back to the many Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, role models and advisers who encouraged and supported her along the way.

“The CTE world is like a family and really supports students,” Arnold said. “It just shows the importance of teachers in the lives of kids and how they shape students not only in high school but also professionally.”

As a high school student in Kentucky, Arnold served as the state president of the Future Homemakers of America, now known as the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. After graduation, she earned a home economics degree from the University of Kentucky and soon after, took her first job teaching middle school Family and Consumer Science. Six years later, Arnold received an education leadership certificate and served as a principal at one of the state’s area technology centers for about five years.

In 2011, one of her fellow principals, Dale Winkler, became the State Director and asked Arnold to join him at the Kentucky Department of Education. From 2011-2015, Arnold worked in a variety of roles including, as a curriculum manager and Division director for the 53 state-operated area technology centers.

When Winkler left the state in 2015, Arnold was tapped to serve as the interim State Director, and continued in that role until being officially named to the position in September 2016.

Arnold is a key player in the state’s New Skills for Youth initiative. Kentucky was recently awarded $2 million to continue its efforts to strengthen and expand career education pathways for students. Check out this snapshot of the state’s initial work.

Moving forward, the state is examining how it might shift its delivery of K-12 CTE to a regional approach that lets school districts and area technology centers collaborate in order to provide more access to quality programs. This major shift would also require new partnerships and approaches to funding.

“I think we have to think outside of the box, and do things differently than we ever have before,” Arnold said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Welcome to Elaine Perea, New Mexico’s State CTE Director!

February 2nd, 2017

When Elaine Perea was studying ancient Greek philosophers at St. John’s College in 1990, she never imagined she would one day become the State Director for Career Technical Education (CTE) in New Mexico.

Yet, her first job after graduating was as a bookkeeper, and she soon realized she had a knack for numbers and finance. This led into varied career in business including accounting and eventually to an investment company where she bought commercial office buildings. Over time, however, this began to wear, she said. So Perea decided to return to college once more; this time, to earn her doctorate in social psychology and enter the next phase of her professional career – as a college professor in Florida, where she taught for three years.

But New Mexico was home, so when a position became available over two years ago in the state’s Public Education Department, she was able to leverage her unique blend of business experience and teaching to get hired as an Education Administrator. Shortly after joining the department, she assumed additional responsibilities as the Deputy Director of CTE.

After being named as the State CTE Director in January, Perea said she intends to continue focusing on how to increase secondary students’ access to CTE. In New Mexico, roughly half of school districts have fewer than 200 students and many struggle to offer a three-course program of study due to enrollments and resources.

Perea also said another of her top priorities is to increase the use of dual credit courses in secondary CTE programs, and to encourage students to take such courses as part of their program sequence. To do this, Perea said she is working closely with the state bodies that govern higher education enrollment policies.

“We believe dual credit is an important tool in supporting rigorous CTE programs and helping students get the credentials they need for entering into the workforce,” Perea said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Welcome to Quentin Suffren, Texas’ New State CTE Director!

January 24th, 2017

Quentin Suffren admits he’s not your usual State Director for Career Technical Education (CTE).

For more than 16 years, Suffren worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors, leading large-scale education projects such as managing data and reporting systems with the New York-based Amplify Education, implementing a teacher evaluation system with The New Teacher Project in Houston, Texas, and serving as the chief academic officer for The Learning Institute.

In August 2016, he joined the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to serve as the Executive Director for College, Career and Military Prep, which includes the state’s CTE office.

The TEA reorganized last year, and as a result, CTE gained a higher profile within the department when the state joined the Pathways to Prosperity Network, which is a group of states working to build seamless career pathway systems that link high school, work and postsecondary education. The career pathways initiative is what brought Suffren to the agency, and since joining in August, has been working to coordinate the state’s efforts.

“What became really clear as I joined TEA, a lot of those pathways run directly through CTE,” Suffren said. “This puts CTE in the limelight and acknowledges that it is direct preparatory pathway to college and careers.”

In his new role, Suffren said he is looking forward to finding new and better ways to increase students’ access to high quality career pathways, expanding college and career counseling for all students and their parents, and removing barriers to work-based learning.

“It’s not college or career anymore. It’s both, and CTE is a huge part of that,” Suffren said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate of Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Welcome to Lynne Gilli, Maryland’s New State CTE Director!

January 10th, 2017

In 1972, Lynne Gilli was a high school senior, an honors student and on track to attend university the following year. But when she requested to take cosmetology classes at her district’s career center, her high school counselor was shocked and actively discouraged the idea.

Because all of her graduation requirements were met, Gilli defied the counselor and took the cosmetology classes, hoping that she could use those skills to help pay her way through college.

Though few may have predicted the impact of that decision, it ultimately led Gilli to being named the Assistant State Superintendent for the Division of Career and College Readiness by the Maryland State Board of Education in October 2016.

Gilli is no stranger to the state’s office for Career Technical Education (CTE) – or career and technology education as it is known in Maryland. In fact, she landed her first job there in 1982 after receiving her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Over 34 years, she has worked in various positions in the state CTE office, including coordinating two Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), managing  CTE state planning and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reporting, and then leading the office’s CTE instructional branch.

“This is a great learning organization,” Gilli said. “I’ve learned a lot from working here.”

During more than three decades as a state CTE leader, Gilli has seen CTE evolve from the narrowly focused, terminal vocational education. Today, CTE students are expected to have the same academic preparation, and now have greater opportunities to explore high-skill, high-wage professional career fields such as engineering, bio-medical studies and computer science. The “new” CTE enables students to earn early college credit and industry-recognized credentials before leaving high school.

“It’s exploded into a much more appealing way to learn. Students aren’t just memorizing procedures anymore. They’re working in teams, learning to communicate and making presentations,” Gilli said. “Through participation in CTSOs – these students are at the top of their game and earning national recognition for their skills.”

Under her leadership, Gilli plans to expand students’ access to high-quality CTE programs of study at secondary and postsecondary levels to better prepare graduates for lifelong learning and success.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Welcome Emily Passias, Ohio’s new State CTE Director!

July 5th, 2016

Passias_Emily (1)Before being tapped to serve as the Ohio State CTE Director in March 2016, Emily Passias spent about three years working in the state Department of Education’s data and accountability unit. It was there that she had her first “aha moment” in CTE. Prior to her stint in the state accountability office, Passias admits that much of her exposure to CTE had come from her eighth grade field trip to her local Career Center.

Passias said she believes strongly in using data to drive decision making, so it makes sense that her “aha moment” would come while looking at student outcomes data, where she saw how CTE improves graduation rates, keeps students in school and provides a pathway to further education as well as employment. From there, she learned about the state’s career counseling efforts and multitude of initiatives to advance high-quality CTE.

This caused her to reflect on her time spent teaching sociology at the Ohio State University, about how many of her students still felt directionless by their junior or senior year of college, and how so many of them would have benefited from being having more robust career exploration at a much earlier age. While finishing her doctorate at Ohio State, Passias joined the Department of Education, where she worked on several notable initiatives including the K-12 value-added accountability system to measure college and career readiness, the state’s CTE report cards and implementation around the newly passed legislation that created a CTE pathway to graduation.

While working in the data office, Passias increasingly found herself working on CTE initiatives, which helped ease her transition to State Director. Passias said she plans to continue using data to drive decision making as well as using that data to communicate the value of CTE and its many initiatives, including the ongoing implementation of the new graduation requirements. Though her new position is sure to keep her very busy, Passias also serves as a Strategic Data Project Fellow with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Introducing Dwight Johnson, State Director of Idaho

October 9th, 2014

Photo of DwightWe are pleased to welcome Idaho’s new State Director of Career Technical Education Dwight Johnson!

Officially the Administrator of Idaho’s Division of Professional-Technical Education, State Director Johnson has worked for decades in the Idaho Departments of Labor and Commerce on workforce development, and also spent 18 months as the interim executive director of the Idaho State Board of Education.

State Director Johnson emphasizes the cross-cutting nature of his experience, bridging the worlds of work and education among labor, industry and education. He sees collaboration between all three as vital to making CTE learning that works for Idaho.

“It’s crucial to connect systems and create more seamless transitions between education providers,” he said in an interview with NASDCTEc last month.

During the same conversation, State Director Johnson repeatedly cited the need to integrate CTE with workforce development priorities and workforce data to ensure that at every level – secondary, postsecondary and beyond – CTE serves students and stakeholders reliably and adaptively.

Learn more about Idaho CTE here, and welcome State Director Johnson at the 2014 Fall Meeting!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Please Welcome Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju, New State CTE Director for Iowa

January 24th, 2014

We are pleased to announce Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju has accepted the position of Chief of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education, Division of Community Colleges, Iowa Department of Education.

He most recently served as the deputy director of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (CTE) at the University of Louisville.  His extensive prior experience includes serving as the Minnesota CTE/Perkins system director and in various other positions within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the Minnesota Department of Economic Security (now Employment and Economic Development).  In Minnesota, he provided leadership for the development of secondary and postsecondary Perkins consortia and grant activities supporting adult education career pathway development.

Before entering the public sector, Dr. Kotamraju taught at several higher education institutions.  Pradeep is a prolific writer and researcher with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois and degrees from George Washington University and the University of Delhi.  Among other work, he has served as a senior consultant for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant evaluations, president of the Association for CTE Research, and on the National Council on Workforce Education Board.Pradeep_Kotamraju_72ppi

As chief of the CTE bureau, Pradeep will be responsible for the direction of statewide efforts related to secondary and postsecondary CTE and veterans education. This includes connecting research, policy, and practice to advance secondary CTE modernization and representing Iowa nationally as the state director for CTE.

When asked about his new role, Pradeep said “I am excited to become Iowa’s State CTE Director and join a team at the Iowa Department of Education that is already undertaking many wide-ranging projects involving secondary CTE, community colleges, adult education, and workforce development, all working together to rethink Iowa’s CTE programs, administration, policy, and accountability systems. The overarching goal of these endeavors is to ensure that all Iowans are able to access a fully vibrant 21st century CTE.”

Please welcome Pradeep, who can be reached at pradeep.kotamraju@iowa.gov.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

NASDCTEc Welcomes State Director Russell Weikle of California

September 12th, 2013

Russell Weikle, a key veteran of state and national Career Technical Education efforts, is the new director of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Career and College Transition Division.

Russ WeikleAs director of the Career and College Transition Division, Russ provides leadership and guidance to five education units covering the 15 CTE industry sectors; Regional Occupational Centers and Programs; more than 400 California Partnership Academies; linked learning research and development; 21st Century skills research and development; California Career Technical Student Organizations; high school innovation and initiatives; post-secondary program relations; Perkins federal program management; and several other career and college initiatives.

Russell joined the California Department of Education in 2001, and has served as a consultant, administrator, and State Director for SkillsUSA. He has been the Administrator for the Carl D. Perkins grant office since 2005 and was the catalyst in the development and implementation of the 2008 State Plan for CTE. Most recently, he led the effort to revise the CTE Model Curriculum Standards, which were approved by the California State Board of Education in January 2013.

In 2011, the Association of California School Administrators recognized Mr. Weikle as the California CTE Administrator of the Year in recognition for his long time dedication to the improvement of CTE in California.

Prior to his assignment at the California Department of Education, Russell served as a middle school principal, a high school counselor and CTE instructor.

Russell earned an MA in Industrial Technology and a BA in Industrial Arts from California State University, Fresno. He holds credentials in School Administration, Counseling, Industrial Arts education, and a Designated Subjects credential in Carpentry.

Russell has been serving as the interim State CTE Director since Dr. Patrick Ainsworth’s November 2012 retirement.

NASDCTEc welcomes Russell Weikle, a true CTE advocate. He can be reached at RWeikle@cde.ca.gov.

For additional information please visit the California Career and College Transition Division web page.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

 

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