Tackle Important CTE Issues at the 2016 Fall Meeting!

August 11th, 2016

Join us October 17-19, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! 2016 has been an Advance CTEexciting year for Career Technical Education and Advance CTE. This is your chance to get behind-the-scenes information about the ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, learn about how other states are implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act and Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, and take a deep dive into how you can help advance Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE.

In addition, we’ll dig into some exciting topic areas through informative panels and breakout sessions, as well as collaborative small-group discussions including:

  • Work-based learning including apprenticeships
  • Career-readiness measures
  • CTE and industry experts in the classroom

Don’t miss out on this unique professional development experience! Early bird registration closes August 31,  so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Programs Motivate Students with Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship

November 7th, 2014

Industry-recognized certification is a key part of successful CTE programs, allowing schools to validate technology skills while helping students build their resumes and preparing them to win jobs and internships.

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, is the world leader in performance-based certification exams and practice test solutions for academic institutions, currently delivering nearly 3 million certification exams each year around the world. Many students see the value of certification, but a good healthy dose of competition never hurts.

Thirteen years ago Certiport held the first Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship, a competition to designed to inspire more students to earn MOS certification. Over time the competition has grown in popularity and now educators use it to inspire greatness and generate excitement about certification among their students.

This year more than 300,000 students in the United States entered the MOS competition to demonstrate their level of proficiency in utilizing the world’s foremost desktop computing applications. 40 finalists traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to the MOS U.S. National Championship, where they participated in timed exams and interviews to demonstrate their expertise in Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs. The champions in each program, along with a chaperone, won an all-expense-paid trip to participate in the 2014 MOS World Championship in Anaheim, California.

One of those world finalists, Tyler Millis, is a student of Dunbar High School in tylerFlorida. Dunbar is a magnet school in Ft. Myers, Florida with an enviable CTE program. Dunbar’s Technology Academy Programs offer an outstanding 24 certifications and has certified hundreds of high school students in MOS over the past several years.

Tyler heard about the competition from his teacher, Denise Spence, who has sent finalists in the past. “My teachers all supported me in everything I did and Ms. Spence encouraged me to do my best so I could make it to the World Championship,” said Tyler. He did, and he is already looking ahead since students are allowed to compete for a second time in different exam tracks. “I’m really excited to come back next year if I can,” he said.

Tyler beat out 123 finalists from 40 countries and won the MOS World Championship for PowerPoint 2007 and has become a local celebrity, but the proof is in the pudding, so they say – Tyler has an application development job at a local software engineering company and says winning the MOS World Championship will look amazing on his resume.

Participating in the MOS World Championship is easy – any state, district or school can promote it with marketing materials readily available from Certiport and students enter the competition simply by checking a box when they take MOS certification. Top scorers will be invited to the 2015 MOS United States Championship and the U.S. winners will be invited to compete in the 2015 MOS World Championship in Dallas, Texas next August.

In addition to MOS, Certiport manages a sophisticated portfolio of leading certification programs including: the Microsoft Technology Associate certification program, the Microsoft Certified Educator program, the Adobe® Certified Associate certification program, the HP Accredited Technical Associate, the CompTIA Strata™ IT Fundamentals, the Autodesk Certified User certification program, the Intuit QuickBooks Certified User certification program, and the IC3 Digital Literacy certification.Certiport-Pearson-Logo-Final (1)

Certiport was a wonderful sponsor of our 2014 Fall Meeting held in late October. To learn more about how Certiport and the MOS World Championship can help your CTE program teach and validate in-demand workforce skills with industry-recognized certification, visit www.certiport.com.

NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Blog Series: The State of CTE: Employer Engagement

November 3rd, 2014

In late October, at NASDCTEc’s annual Fall Meeting, five state and business leaders joined a panel to discuss their reactions to The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE, a paper to be released accompanied by a free webinar (register now) on December 3rd. The following are highlights from the panel.

Marie Barry, Director of Career and Technical Education, New Jersey Department of Education, started us off by highlighting ways in which state leaders can use the report once it is released. First, she suggested using it as a reflection tool to answer questions such as: does your state have the right employers at the table? How can your state help in defining what a quality employer and CTE partnership is? She also encouraged states to employee a model of working with schools to ensure states are engaging businesses effectively, while also finding businesses to champion CTE in the state.

Next, Andrew Musick, Director of Policy and Research, New Jersey Business & Industry Association spoke about his group’s support of an effort to pass an eight-bill package, which among other objectives, would increase funding for the state’s Country Vocational Technical Schools. Along with the eight bills, which delve into everything from funding and teacher preparedness to implementation of indicators for student career readiness, Musick identified further goals:

  1. Focus on workforce alignment;
  2. Promote CTE as a resource for employers;
  3. Create a strong infrastructure for school and employer partnerships

Lolita Hall, State CTE Director, Virginia Department of Education, showcased a premier partnership example the Virginia Department of Education has with the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. Through this partnership, the Association has place over 1,000 students in automobile internships since 2000. Using this collaboration as a model, Hall cited the following steps in developing an effective partnership:

  • Determine compatible procedures and policies;
  • Agree on roles and responsibilities of each partner organization;
  • Define ways in which you can leverage resources;
  • Define common outcomes and communicate it to stakeholders;
  • Establish mutual goals and objectives;
  • Monitor results;
  • Implement measures to mature partnerships; and
  • Recognize partners.

Lastly, Matthew James, President and CEO, Peninsula Council for Workforce Development, Newport News, Virginia, provided a call to action to states. “Your advantage is relevancy; there is a sense of urgency. Entrepreneurs need you.” Though CTE has the opportunity to create a workforce ready population, he stated the importance of recognizing the international implications developing career-ready students has on the U.S. “Businesses will leave if you don’t provide a skilled workforce,” said James.

For more information and resources from the 2014 Fall Meeting, visit the Fall Meeting page.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Blog Series: Teachers, Employers, Students and the System: What needs to change?

October 24th, 2014

Earlier this week at NASDCTEc’s annual Fall Meeting, Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education, delivered a strong call to action to the CTE community. Highlighting Gallup’s research on the education system the economy in America today, Busteed urged attendees to leverage this data to reframe CTE in national and local conversations about education and careers.

Gallup conducted a national poll of students and found that students become significantly less engaged each year they are in school. More than 75 percent of elementary school students identify as engaged, while only 44 percent of high school students report feeling engaged at some point during the school day.

Busteed noted that there are reasons for student disengagement. Student success is measured through graduation rates, SAT scores, and G.P.A., which rarely – if ever – takes into account the student as a whole person. While these measures are certainly important, hope, mentorship and the opportunity to work on long-term projects are stronger indicators of success.

“What are we doing to identify entrepreneurship in our schools right now?” said Busteed. “We identify athletic talent with ease, we identify IQ; we don’t work to identify the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. There are no indicators the education system uses to determine who will be an effective or successful entrepreneur.”

To that end, Busteed cited a recent interview with Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, who called grades and test scores worthless predictors of successful employees.

Just as internships are valuable experiences for students, teacher externships can be incredible opportunities that may be key in helping connect classroom curriculum to the modern workplace. Given the typical capacity issues for work-based learning, 3 million teacher externships would be the equivalent of more than 50 million student internships.

Businesses also value a stronger partnership with higher education. Currently, only 13 percent of business leaders think there is “a great deal” of collaboration between higher education and employers, while almost 90 percent favor an increased level of collaboration.

What implications does this research have for CTE? High-quality CTE programs provide all the opportunities Busteed called essential to student success: a focus on employability skills and technical skills, mentorship through work-based learning and curriculum that is made relevant by tying learning to the real world.

Busteed left the group with a final charge – the CTE community needs to better communicate career technical education not as option B, but instead as a staple of all students’ educational experience.
To view Busteed’s PowerPoint, please visit our 2014 Fall Meeting page.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CompTIA: The IT Industry Trade Association

October 2nd, 2014

CompTIA_Logo_PantoneCompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. As a non-profit trade association, we advance the global interests of IT professionals and IT channel organizations and enable them to be more successful with industry-leading certifications and business credentials, education, resources and the ability to connect with like-minded, leading industry experts.

Learn about our focus areas and find out who we are and what we do.


Becoming a CompTIA member indicates a commitment to learning, growing and personal and business success in the IT channel. All of our benefits are aimed at providing our members with a wealth of resources that, when leveraged, result in measurable impact to the member organization.


You can’t get a job or successfully run a business without all the right tools. In the ever-changing IT industry, education is essential. CompTIA’s educational efforts include a comprehensive suite of channel training, a variety of events and meetings and a steady stream of research and market intelligence studies. Everything is designed to help you succeed.


It all started with A+. Back in 1993, we developed a revolutionary IT certification that was not tied to a particular manufacturer, but vendor-neutral. The concept took off and today CompTIA offers four IT certification series that test different knowledge standards, from entry-level to expert.

Public Advocacy

TechAmerica, the public sector and public policy department of CompTIA, champions member-driven business and policy priorities that impact the entire continuum of technology companies – from small IT service providers and software developers to large equipment manufacturers and communications service providers.


The shortage of IT workers in the U.S. stands at about 300,000 and there continues to be high demand for motivated and capable employees. It’s the job of CompTIA’s philanthropic arm, the Creating IT Futures Foundation, to help unemployed individuals and populations under-represented in the field obtain the right training for an IT role; not just a job, but a foothold into a career. In order to help supply the IT worker pipeline, Creating IT Futures is exploring ways to nudge more youth in the direction of tech careers.

Click here to learn more about CompTIA and get involved today!

CompTIA is a gold level sponsor at the NASDCTEc 2014 Fall Meeting

One Week Left: Register Today for NASDCTEc’s Fall Meeting

October 1st, 2014

With registration closing on ONE WEEK, time is running out to register for NASDCTEc’s annual Fall Meeting.

The theme of this year’s meeting is Preparing for the Future, which refers to preparing for Perkins reauthorization but also to positioning your state or organization to best meet the evolving needs of students, employers and the entire CTE community.

You can download the draft agendahere, but there are a few features we wanted to point out:

  • Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education, will be kicking off Tuesday morning with a presentation on education, the economy and its intersection in the minds of the students, parents and the public. He’s a dynamic and not-to-be-missed speaker!
  •  An entire morning is being dedicated to discussing the challenges and opportunities around employer engagement in CTE, including the release of new 50-state data, a panel featuring policy and business leaders, and collaboration roundtables to dig in and identify creative, collaborative solutions.
  • All told, the agenda features presenters and resource experts from over 20 states and national organizations, as well as four leaders from the U.S. Department of Education, leveraging expertise from every corner of the country.

We hope you can join us! Register and find more information here!

Print or Online? What Is Best for Your Classroom?

September 30th, 2014

Remember when the only option was a print textbook? Times have changed as more and more schools are choosing to use online textbooks exclusively. What is the best choice for Career Technical Education (CTE) classes? It depends on classroom needs.

There are pluses and minuses to both print and online textbooks. Here are some considerations to take into account when making the choice.

Print Textbooks

  • Accessible to most students as technology is not required for use
  • Available at all times with no power required
  • Portable within a classroom, especially when dealing with utensils, tools, or machinery
  • Substantial when students have several textbooks to carry
  • Liable to wear and tear, as well as student damage

Online Textbooks

  • Flexible in location and time – use at school or at home when needed
  • Searchable for the instances when students need to find information quickly
  • Durable as there are no physical pages to tear or deface
  • Susceptible to downtime if there are Internet connection issues
  • Vulnerable to school technology and budgets as a computer or a tablet, in addition to Internet access, is required for use

There is no answer that fits every situation. When deciding between print and online, develop a list of specific needs for your classroom and evaluate each against what the formats have to offer. Maybe the answer is a blended solution that combines both, leveraging the advantages of print and online.

If you need assistance in making a decision, contact a publisher, such as Goodheart-Willcox, that specializes in CTE. They have helped many schools in similar circumstances and can provide free advice and recommendations to help you as well.

Goodheart-Willcox Publishing are gold level sponsors at NASDCTEc’s 2014 Fall Meeting

Microsoft IT Academy & CTE Community: Closing the Skills Gap Together

September 25th, 2014

IT Academy-stacked-large

Technology plays an ever increasing role in our daily lives.  It changes how we communicate, how we learn and how we function in the world today. With all of the growth in the technology sector, workplace needs have shifted and technical skills have become vital to employment.

A current IDC study discovered that cloud-based companies will create 14 million new jobs by 2015, half of which will be in IT. The same study predicts over the course of the next ten years 77% of all jobs will require technology skills. That’s where Microsoft IT Academy and the Career Technical Education community join forces to close the gap.

Microsoft IT Academy provides industry-leading technology training and certifications. Currently, there are 13 Microsoft IT Academy statewide initiatives in place, and still more state programs to be deployed in the near future. Microsoft IT Academy and the CTE community are helping drive economic development by improving education outcomes for students and pathways for current workers to advance their careers. See our blog for recent success stories.

Microsoft certifications differentiate students in today’s competitive job market and broaden their employment opportunities. Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams prepare students to be more productive in school and business careers. For students considering IT careers, Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams provide an entry-level opportunity to explore various technical careers. Both MOS and MTA certification validates a student’s knowledge of specific technology concepts and helps them stand out when submitting college and internship applications.

With the Microsoft IT Academy program, academic institutions and their educators, students and staff get digital curricula and certification for fundamental technology skills as well as courses critical for students to be successful in today’s technologically evolving world. Microsoft IT Academy offers training at all levels: from basic fundamental computing to advanced technical courses for those who are interested in pursuing a career in IT. For more information on Microsoft IT Academy benefits visit: http://www.microsoft.com/education/itacademy/Pages/benefits.aspx

Microsoft IT Academy is a proud sponsor of the 2014 NASDCTEc Fall Meeting.  Amy Merrill and Lance Baldwin will be representing Microsoft Learning and IT Academy at the conference. For the latest information on Microsoft IT Academy, follow us on social media!

Twitter: @MS_ITAcademy   |    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MicrosoftITAcademy

Contacts: Amy Merrill – MS Learning, Business Deployment Manager: amyme@microsoft.com

Lance Baldwin – MS Learning, Senior Solutions Specialist: Lance.Baldwin@microsoft.com

This blog was contributed by Microsoft IT Academy, diamond level sponsor at the 2014 Fall Meeting.

Countdown to NASDCTEc’s Fall Meeting

September 22nd, 2014

Time is running out to secure your spot at this unique professional development event! Join State Directors of Career Technical Education and CTE leaders from across the country October 20-22 in Baltimore to build collaborative solutions to some of CTE’s stickiest problems.

Whether it’s your first or fiftieth year in CTE, the Fall Meeting offers a chance to broaden your professional network and content knowledge. Get examples from experts coming in from across the country while contributing your own unique perspective at our collaboration roundtables.

Network. Learn. Build. Join us at the Fall Meeting and help prepare for the future of CTE.


How Pathways Address the Motivation and Decision-Making Gaps

September 22nd, 2014

NC3T logo clean large Recently, I heard the U.S. described as a country where there are “workers without jobs” and “jobs without workers.” This is pithy way to describe the skills-worker mismatch that explains the paradox of our modern workforce.

In this paradox, America has millions of long-term unemployed who can’t find meaningful, gainful employment. America also has millions of jobs (mostly with specific skill requirements) that can’t find qualified workers.

When we play out a root cause analysis, there are many complicated and interconnected factors, such as globalism and the rise of internet-enabled and robotic technologies. These factors are disrupting entire industries and reshaping the way work is done, which has a tumultuous impact on staffing.

But we also know that one root cause of the workforce mismatch is that too few young Americans – only about 50 percent – are completing postsecondary degrees and earning skill credentials by their mid-20s. This low rate of postsecondary attainment occurs despite the fact that about two-thirds of them are enrolling in postsecondary education fairly soon after high school graduation.  At the same time that our young people are underperforming in attaining skills and degrees, our relatively higher-skilled baby-boomers are beginning to leave the workforce.

Further root cause analysis ultimately takes us back to the K-12 environment.

I’m going to focus on two essential gaps in the preparation of many teens. Based on the work of the Gallup Organization and Dr. William Damon respectively, we know that over one-half of high school students are disengaged learners, and that three-quarters of teens are disengaged, dabbling, or dreaming, whereas only one-quarter are “purposeful.” I believe we can safely estimate that at least one-half of our high school aged students are part of a personal motivation gap, a college-career decision-making gap, or possibly both.

Here’s what I mean by personal motivation gap and the college-career decision-making gap.

Personal motivation gap: Too many students lack the personal motivation to put forth personal effort into their education. They may be students of average achievement who could be higher performers with stronger personal motivation. They could be students from difficult economic circumstances who need extra internal motivation to make the effort needed to strengthen their personal academic skills and find a way to participate in postsecondary education and training. The clear fact is, if students aren’t personally invested in the purpose of education, many simply won’t do the work. Their personal options will be limited as a result, and the education system won’t attain its goals of higher rates of student proficiency.

College-career decision-making gap: Too many students don’t have the knowledge and skills to make reasonable, well-informed choices about education and training after high school. The result of this gap is that students enroll in postsecondary education without clear purpose, and often drift from one major to the next. If they do graduate, it takes significantly longer than it should – but many never graduate at all. And many other students who should consider education and training after high school write it off entirely, because they feel it’s unaffordable or they just don’t like school.

Not surprisingly, the personal motivation gap and the college-career decision-making gap are intertwined. If students have more knowledge and positive experiences with skills, careers, and how postsecondary education could be affordable and attainable, it would have a positive impact on their personal motivation.

The Solution?

The Pathways System approach, which includes intentional and sustained career development, high quality pathways programs of study that reach all students, extensive employer engagement with students, and a partnership structure among community stakeholders, is a key organizing strategy to address the twin challenges of motivation and informed decision-making.

I believe that offering signature pathway programs that only reach a small percentage of students is a good start, but it’s not enough: Having programs for the elite students or the very needy students or so-called “pocket” career academies, existing within a general high school system, simply perpetuates the notion of college OR careers.  It perpetuates the idea that career-themed programs are for those students who can’t cut it in the traditional college-prep environment, rather than promoting the concept that pathways will also boost the achievement and engagement of higher achieving students. The Pathways System will work to engage all students, strengthening personal motivation and informed decision-making.

Please take a look at how we’ve laid out the pathways concept and the process for communities to develop a Pathways System plan. PATHWAYS SYSTEM OVERVIEW

Let’s continue our work at strengthening the quality of CTE and STEM programs, and integrating them into comprehensive Pathways Systems.

This blog post was contributed by Hans Meeder, President of the National Center for College and Career Transitions, a participant and gold level sponsor at the 2014 NASDCTEc Fall Meeting.