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

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:

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:

Contacts: Amy Merrill – MS Learning, Business Deployment Manager: [email protected]

Lance Baldwin – MS Learning, Senior Solutions Specialist: [email protected]

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.

Why Is Workplace Safety Training Important?

September 19th, 2014

According to the CDC, there were approximately 18.1 million young people entering the workforce under the age of 24 in 2013—but this does not mean that these young workers are necessarily prepared and able to handle risks and hazards that can occur in a work environment.[i] Not being knowledgeable of hazards related to a specific job or knowing how to assess and correct a problem can lead to devastating injuries or even death for a worker.

Safety training can make workers more conscious of hazards and risks such as falls, vehicle accidents, overexertion injuries, and workplace violence. Unfortunately, workplace safety has the potential to be unintentionally overlooked which can leave workers and others on the job site unprotected. Every nine minutes, a U.S. teen is injured on the job.[ii] By preparing students for their first entry-level jobs and future career opportunities with safety and health training, young workers will be more capable protecting themselves and others.

The Department of LabCareerSafe Logo Orange Blueor reports that nearly 600,000 workers miss work each year because of muscoskeletal disorders related to work injuries alone; the collective cost to employers, insurance companies, and the government is estimated at $50 billion each year.[iii]

Workplace injuries not only affect the company, but can also lead to devastating consequences for a worker. Being injured while at work can lead to lost wages, large medical bills that may not be completely covered by workers’ compensation, and even disabilities that result in long-term unemployment. In addition to learning how to identify safety and health hazards, workplace safety training, especially OSHA training, provides workers with information regarding their rights in the workplace. First and foremost, workers are entitled to working conditions that are safe and do not pose a risk of serious harm or injury.

Successful occupational health and safety programs require the collaborating efforts and participation of employers and employees. Understanding and implementing safety and health standards related to the work environment is not only the responsibility of an employer but also an employee’s. Promoting health and safety as well as implementing training in the classroom can lead to young workers actively identifying, accessing, and correcting hazards in the classroom and at work. Incorporating a health and safety training program or OSHA safety training in the classroom is a way to lower risks to young workers and begin to prepare future business leaders and workers on practicing safe methods in the workplace. Online OSHA training, like the courses offered by CareerSafe Online, is an easy and affordable way to implement workplace safety training in any career and technical education (CTE) classroom. Because 80% or more of young workers are still in high school when they begin their first job, it gives educators an opportunity to prepare their students for employment as well as apprenticeships and internships related to their studies.[iv]

The more education and training workers receive, the more likely it is that there will be a reduction in injuries and the repercussions of those injuries. Young workers who have received OSHA safety training and possess an industry recognized credential are enhancing their resumes, becoming more employable, and may receive pay increase from employers. Employers want to hire individuals who not only understand the work involved in a position, but are also aware of the risks associated with daily tasks.

Students are our future. Let’s make safety a priority and enroll them in safety training today.

[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014) Young Worker Safety and Health.

[ii] Department of Labor, YouthRules. (2012) Are You a Teen Worker?

[iii] Jeffress, Charles N. (2000) BEACON Biodynamics and Ergonomics Symposium. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor.

[iv] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013) Health and Safety of Young Workers.


This blog post was written by CareerSafe Online, a participant and gold level sponsor at the 2014 NASDCTEc Fall Meeting

Today’s Class: Partners for CTE Success

September 16th, 2014

Todays Class Logo- Registred Trademark-1-7-14(1)Today’s Class is a web-based educational program delivering interactive coursework to school systems and technical institutions. Today’s Class programs are designed to enhance an instructor’s curriculum with content, vivid animation, and interactive exercises. Supplying concepts and theory allows for up to 25% reduction in lecture time, which in turn allows instructors more time for hands-on lab work and in-class demonstrations.

Currently, Today’s Class offers automotive, cosmetology, health science, and agriscience programs.  Assessments are included for automotive, cosmetology, and health science programs.

The cosmetology program aligns with NIC standards that most states base their curriculum from, providing comprehensive theory and step-by-step methodology.

The health science program explores body systems, the protocol for vital sign measurement, emergency response, ethical & legal responsibilities, and other necessary health science courses.

The automotive program covers the eight core NATEF areas and the new MLR series.  Job sheets, crosswalks, and blueprints are included in the automotive modules.

The newest program by Today’s Class is agriculture-based and contains: Concepts of Agriscience, Science of Agricultural Animals, Science of Agricultural Plants, Science of Agricultural Environment and Science of Agricultural Mechanization.

Many attendees know Dr. Rod Boyes, a long-time NASDCTEc supporter and President of the organization. Also representing Today’s Class at the meeting will be Peggy Albano – please say hello to her and learn more about Today’s Class programs and initiatives. Today’s Class is a Gold Level Sponsor at the NASDCTEc 2014 Fall Meeting.

NOCTI: Responding to the CTE Community

September 15th, 2014

NOCTI--Navy-11-2009NOCTI is proud to be an important member of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. We have a long-standing history and commitment to providing the services that CTE needs. Data that accurately and objectively validates the competency of the nation’s technical training programs and the technically skilled individuals coming from these programs is critical for many reasons. Though we won’t discuss the specifics of those needs in this blog, we will mention how NOCTI is working to provide forward-thinking solutions for the CTE community.

Last spring our blog entry focused on a data-driven improvement book entitled “Putting Your Data to Work: Improving Instruction in CTE”, co-published with ACTE. In this entry we are excited to highlight our second book. This publication focuses on surviving and thriving in a CTE classroom during the first few months. It is written by four seasoned CTE practitioners with combined experiences totaling well over 150 years. In addition, this book contains the experiences of many others in the CTE community and provides examples of how they succeeded in their early years. Here are a few other resources worth mentioning.

Teacher Tests: We have made a commitment to expand our current teacher testing battery. This is in response to a number of states who requested the ability to use our test to assure that incoming instructors have experiences in all aspects of their particular industry. We have increased our teacher test offerings to include over 35 assessments, and more are on the way.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA): By leveraging our association with the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) we are able to assess experiences that have occurred outside the classroom. This service has been particularly successful with our community college partners.

Open Badges:The beta test conducted in five states and discussed in last Spring’s blog was successfully completed. Any student taking any NOCTI assessment this fall who meets the established benchmark will be eligible for a college credit recommendation digital badge at no additional cost.

Curriculum Partners: Though NOCTI is a not-for-profit company, working in the field of industry credentialing we are often asked for curriculum resources for CTE programs of study. We have begun exploring potential collaborations with several companies who are able to tie their curriculum to our industry standards. Watch our web page and social media pages for further developments.

Industry Credentials: All NOCTI assessments are industry credentials. When utilized properly, NOCTI assessments compare student competence against current industry standards in over 100 unique programs of study and use local industry practioners to make that comparison. In addition, passing scores are determined by national industry experts. We collaborate with numerous Industry association groups to deliver their credentials as well.

Contact us at [email protected] to see how we can help you. NOCTI is also a Gold sponsor of the NASDCTEc fall meeting; be sure to seek us out and say hello!