NOCTI: The Right Credentials

April 18th, 2016

As a longstanding member of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, NOCTI has seen the pendulum swing many NOCTI--Navy--Med--Web-Usetimes regarding technical training. Sometimes the pendulum swings in favor of the CTE community while other times it does not. At least from a current media perspective, it certainly appears the pendulum is in CTE’s favor and CTE is enjoying some time in the “spotlight.” From most perspectives, being in the spotlight provides a positive opportunity to broaden public support. Because the spotlight moves from issue to issue quickly, it generally forces those who are under it to focus their message quickly. Sometimes that message can become generalized and lose its specificity. We fear this generalization may be happening within the area of credentialing.

Most readers of this blog know that NOCTI spent its early days as part of the “vocational” teacher certification process. They may also be aware that through its current foci on leadership in the areas of technical data-driven instructional improvement, credentialing, and digital badging, NOCTI continues to be proud to be a contributing member of the CTE community. As a non-profit entity lead by a board elected by the 56 state directors of CTE across the country and in US territories , NOCTI is determined to stay ahead of the needs of the field it serves. Since NOCTI’s primary focus links to credentialing and the assessment associated with it, we’d like to share a few of our observations. Aside from obvious issues of cost and delivery, the focus will be on five areas NOCTI believes every CTE program should consider during the credential selection process.

1. Proprietary vs. Non-Proprietary Credentials: Simply put, assess the motive of the credential provider. Is the ultimate goal of the credentialing assessment to focus on a particular product line or service? Is it to establish a lifelong pattern of acquiring certificates by the learner as a revenue generator for the providing organization? Can an administrator access the technical manual (this provides statistical data on test construction and performance) on which the assessment is based?

2. Quality: Does the credentialing assessment meet accepted national and international standards? There are thousands of credentials that claim to meet legally defensible standards but do they? Nationally accepted standards are the American Psychological Association (APA), American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) and international standards for credentialing bodies are found in ISO 17024.

3. Program of Study Alignment: Does the credential assessment provide an outline of what is measured in the assessment? More importantly, do the credential and your program of study align? Are you setting your students up for failure by assessing information they have never been taught?

4. Instructional Improvement Value: A credential that provides a simple pass/fail score provides no ability to improve a teacher’s instruction for succeeding cohorts of students. It is like shooting at a target wearing a blindfold. Does the credential provider offer meaningful data to continuously improve your instruction?

5. Relevant Information for Employers: Credentials and certifications can be seen as a “shorthand” for the skills and knowledge a learner has acquired, but a certificate alone may not provide enough detail for the employer during the hiring process. Does the credential identify specific skills obtained that can be compared against an individual employer’s needs? Detail is key!

This blog was written by NOCTI, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting. For more information about NOCTI, reach out to nocti@nocti.org or be sure to meet them at the Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.! 

International Baccalaureate Prepares Students for the Real World

April 13th, 2016

When Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, decided to add the International Baccalaureate’s new Career-related Programme (CP) to its offerings in 2012, it already had five career academies in place. They offered courses in engineering (affiliated with Project Lead the Way), finance (affiliated with NAF), early child development (affiliated with the Maryland Department of Education and Montgomery College), hospitality management (completion and graduation certified by the National Restaurant Association) and medical careers (after successfully completing the first year of the program, students are eligible for certification as a nursing assistant by the Maryland Board of Nursing). Since then, students and academies have benefited in many ways, says CP coordinator Lisa Ingram.IB_logo_FC (1)

The Career-related Programme has enriched everything about the CP students’ experience and learning, Ingram says. “The CP prepares students to be amazing learners for whatever future they anticipate. They’ve had strategic lessons. That’s huge when they transition to the real world.” Meanwhile, the academies have grown and retained students, and Watkins Mill even added a computer science pathway. The medical academy actually doubled in size.

The CP is an excellent choice for students who have already decided on their area of career specialization, seek academic challenge and want hands-on learning and experience in their chosen field. The program provides students with an impressive portfolio of accomplishments for college study and employment. It allows students to create an individualized path that leads to higher education or to employment after graduation.

Here’s how the CP works: It combines courses from the International Baccalaureate’s highly regarded Diploma Programme with an approved career-related study and a unique CP core. The core consists of four components— a personal and professional skills course, service learning, language development and a reflective project–blended together to enhance both critical and ethical thinking and intercultural understanding. Combined, these elements help students develop the communication and personal skills necessary for success in a rapidly changing world.

A key feature of the CP is that it offers flexibility to allow for local differences. Each school creates its own distinctive version of the program to meet the needs and backgrounds of its students. The school selects both the DP courses it offers as part of the CP and the career-related study best suited to local conditions and students’ interests. The career-related study must meet International Baccalaureate criteria.

At Watkins Mill, Ingram talks about one student who chose the Child Care Academy. “She was born to be a teacher,” Ingram says. “She thrives in the child care environment, and since we have an onsite child care center, she’s in the thick of it here.” She has been deeply involved in a CP service learning project that provides child care for Watkins Mill feeder middle schools during evening parent meetings and on Saturdays.

Ingram also remembers the day that educators from Colorado visited her school to learn about how the CP worked there. Watching students answer questions from these adults, she couldn’t help but think about how the kids “would have been blushing purple as sophomores. But they were completely poised this year talking about their research projects and the program. I think there’s a lot of risk taking and stretching your learning in IB classes. It kind of forces those kids out of their comfort zone.”

Not everyone can tour another school to learn about the CP. However, Ingram strongly recommends getting into details and seeing how it really works. “Presuppositions will sell it short,” she says. “The program gives all these worthy tools to the kids and really respects the way they learn.”

To hear what other educators say about the Career-related Programme, visit http://ibvideolibrary.org/category/programmes/cp

Thank you to International Baccalaureate, one of our 2016 Spring Meeting Sponsors! Want more information on how you can become a sponsor? Email Karen at khornberger@careertech.org. 

Advance CTE Spring Meeting: Early Bird Registration Closes Next Week!

April 6th, 2016

The early bird registration deadline is approaching fast and you don’t want to miss United States CapitalAdvance CTE’s annual Spring Meeting featuring speakers from across the country including:

  • Experts from 10 national organizations who will share insights into the future of CTE
  • State leaders who will discuss best practices and what’s most effective in their states, and
  • Congressional staffers and policy experts who will provide updates of federal policies including the Carl D. Perkins Act and Every Student Succeeds Act.

Hear From Your Peers
States across the nation are leading CTE in innovative and exciting ways. Learn from your fellow State CTE Directors and Advance CTE members on what’s working in their states on topics ranging from accountability to workforce development.

Celebrate Excellence
Join us to honor Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action award winners during a ceremony and luncheon on May 24th. Learn about and meet the winners spanning 11 Career Clusters from 9 states!

Early bird deadline: Thursday, April 14

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Spring Meeting Agenda Announced!

March 2nd, 2016

Twitter_SpMtgJoin us for Advance CTE’s annual Spring Meeting! You can tap into the vast talent pool in attendance, engage in collaborative discussions with national resource experts, network with your peers from across the country, and get an in-depth look at the most important topics in the field today including the latest state-level trends and federal policy updates. Below is a day-by-day look at the panels, breakout sessions, discussions and celebrations we’ll feature at this year’s Spring Meeting.

We’re offering an early-bird registration rate, so be sure to register today!

A New Vision for CTE
The meeting will kick off with an entire day dedicated to the new Vision for CTE. Advance CTE’s officers will present the vision, followed by panels of Future of CTE Summit co-conveners and leaders in the education reform community who will reflect on the new vision, what it means for members and what work needs to be done for the vision to be realized.
The second half of the day will focus your work, and how participants can help to implement and advance the new vision through interactive roundtable discussions.

Excellence in Action
The second day of the meeting will begin with a panel discussing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and what the new law means for the CTE community. Next, State CTE Directors will share their experiences and strategies in implementing the the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and encouraging collaboration between education and workforce systems.
Our 2016 Excellence in Action award winners will be announced and honored at an awards ceremony luncheon celebrating winners across the country.

Participants will then choose from a series of engaging small group breakout sessions and hear from state leaders around topics from supporting students through career coaches to increasing career readiness through state accountability systems.

CTE in 2016: Federal Policy Outlook
The meeting will conclude with a half day focused on the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), where you will hear from key stakeholders and staff about the reauthorization process and where the law is likely to go moving forward.

Learn more about the Spring Meeting agenda here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Spring Meeting Recap: Career Pathways Systems and Performance Based Funding

April 24th, 2015

During NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of concurrent workshops. Below we have highlighted two workshops, one focused on advancing CTE in Career Pathway and another on Performance Based Funding systems. 

Since 2012, five states have worked with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to integrate CTE programs of study with state and local career pathways systems.

During a breakout session, CTE leaders from Kansas, Minnesota and Colorado discussed their wide-ranging efforts that include employer engagement initiatives, a transformational state pathways project and a toolkit for industry-recognized credentials.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation added funding to the Career Pathways initiative specifically to support transportation-related career pathways. As part of this work, the Transportation Learning Center launched a large data project to examine the current and future workforce needs across six transportation sectors.

Age is one of the greatest liabilities for the industry, with 49 being the average age for a new mechanic hire. Through retirements and attrition, it’s estimated that 4.2 million jobs will be open between 2012 and 2022. When accounting for industry growth, the Center estimates that one new transportation worker will need to be hired every minute over the next 10 years to fill industry demand.


During a concurrent session led by Steve Klein and Laura Rasmussen Foster of RTI International and the National Center on Innovation in Career Technical Education, presenters discussed opportunities and challenges to performance-based funding (PBF) systems.

This session drew on findings from the recent report, State Strategies for Financing CTE, which was discussed in detail on this co-hosted webinar, but was moderated as an open forum, with state leaders engaging in an candid discussion on what was working and what barriers stood in the way in supporting PBF.

For example, Texas shared details on their incentive grant program, which uses Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) funds to encourage higher enrollment in CTE programs, particularly in rural communities. Districts meeting a certain threshold of their Perkins performance indicators are eligible for a sliding amount of incentive funds. Kansas shared early successes of its (state-funded) district incentive grants for students earning state-approved industry-recognized credentials.

Some of the major takeaways shared include:

  • Be clear about the goals and intent when designing PBF (“If you pay for it, you will get more of it”),
  • A little money can go a long way in changing behavior,
  • PBF systems will only work if they are based on quality indicators, which rely on valid and reliable data, and
  • Be sure to build support among policymakers and practitioners early and often to make PBF happen.

Post written by Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate and Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director 

Spring Meeting Recap: Ohio’s Unified State Plan and Vermont’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

April 23rd, 2015

During NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of concurrent workshops. Below we have highlighted two workshops, one focused on how states can develop a Unified State Plan, with Ohio as a premier example while another discussed how Vermont integrated Career Technical Education (CTE) in their state’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), there is a lot of discussion about cross-program and systems collaboration. The state of Ohio is a well ahead of the game. At the behest of Governor Kasich, the state has been engaged in a collaborative planning process among state agencies with the goal of creating and submitting a unified state plan under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that would fulfill planning requirements for the state’s three largest workforce programs – WIA, Adult Basic and Literacy Education and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

The vision for the collaboration was to make sure Ohio had a literate and prepared workforce by ensuring Ohioans had the knowledge, skills and abilities to fill the top in-demand jobs in the state. This meant a shift in thinking away from planning driven by institutions or the delivery system and instead a focus on students and career pathways. The state also developed a Workforce Success Measures data dashboard and common metrics focused on outcomes (employment, increased skills, increased wages and value to employers) to help guide the work.

Some lessons learned:

  • Leadership must be committed: This is crucial. Leadership needs to be engaged at the highest levels and be committed to a shared vision. In Ohio, the Governor set the vision and tasked agency leadership with the specific goal of developing the unified plan.
  • Be patient: Change is difficult and often feared. This sort of shift takes time and building of trust. In Ohio this was accomplished through a lot of outreach, meetings, learning, and stakeholder/public input.
  • Be Open to Learning: A lot of learning happened as the agencies shared through what they do, who they serve, etc. With the shared commitment and focus on student success, an openness to see the potential of new partnerships and ways to serve Ohioans emerged.

The Ohio unified state plan was submitted to the federal agencies for approval. At the time of the presentation, the plan was pending approval.  The state will likely have to resubmit a plan under WIOA but with the groundwork laid to break down silos and to focus on students and results, Ohio is well-positioned to lead the way!

For more information make sure to check out a copy of Ohio’s presentation, delivered by Steve Gratz, Tony Landis and Bill Bussey.


 

Last summer, after facing a series of economic and natural challenges, Vermont became one of only a handful of states in the country to develop and implement a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS). The strategy brought together stakeholders from the state’s education, workforce and economic development communities to develop a cohesive economic development “road map” for the next five years. Much of this planning was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) CEDS program which sought to help businesses prosper in the state while ensuring all student populations— both traditional and nontraditional— were fully served.

So what was notable about this endeavor? Quite a bit according to Vermont CTE Director John Fischer and David Ives, a Sustainability and Planning Coordinator for EDA. The two took an in-depth look at Vermont’s CEDS during a breakout session at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring meeting which looked at Career Technical Education’s (CTE) role in the plan and ongoing implementation. One message was clear throughout— education and training is a “key ingredient” to economic development and should be incorporated into the wider “workforce ecosystem.” Significantly, Vermont’s CEDS has served as a catalyst for the state to prioritize its CTE investments and has been a strong policy lever for leaders to implement high-quality statewide CTE programs of study.

Be sure to check out the plan and the newly updated CEDS guidelines on the meeting resource page!

Post written by Kimberly Green, Executive Director and Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Spring Meeting Recap: WIOA Implementation

April 21st, 2015

Last year Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Due for reauthorization for well over a decade, WIOA was passed in an effort to promote a greater degree of cross-program and cross-systems collaboration at the federal, regional and local levels.

Since the law’s passage last summer, the three primary federal agencies— the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Education (ED), and Health and Human Services (HHS)— have been hard at work modeling this type of collaboration and determining how the law should be implemented over the next few years.

While WIOA contained many improvements to the current workforce system such as common performance metrics across programs, an emphasis on unified and combined state planning, and a wider promotion of career pathways and sector strategies, the law still left a lot to be determined by the Agencies for how many of the legislation’s provisions would ultimately be implemented.

Earlier this month NASDCTEc convened a panel of prominent representatives from the three main Agencies tasked to develop regulations governing WIOA at its recent 2015 Spring Meeting:

  • Mark Greenberg— Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Johan Uvin— Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Byron Zuidema – Deputy Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Just before the panel was set to begin, these Agencies released a series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)— the Administration’s first attempt to develop and promulgate new regulations for WIOA.  Because of the panel’s proximity to this release, the panelists were not able to discuss the regulations in depth, but they did share their collective vision for the law’s implementation.

Speaking about the regulations, Dr. Uvin pointed out during his formal remarks that the proposed rules were developed collaboratively between and among the Agencies so that “they could lead by example for law’s implementation.” Throughout the opening remarks, both Greenberg and Zuidema emphasized the need for the public’s comments over the next few months in order to strengthen and enhance their proposal.

Another area of discussion revolved around WIOA’s combined state planning provision— an option available to states to jointly develop and submit a single plan for core WIOA programs along with their required partners (Carl D. Perkins Act programs are among the latter). Although there remains much to clarify with regards to this option, the panelists agreed that CTE leaders should be proactive regarding WIOA implementation in their state and that combined planning presents “an unprecedented opportunity to create a unified state vision for education and workforce development”.

Be sure to check our blog for further coverage of the WIOA’s implementation in the coming year.

Spring Meeting Recap: HEA and Other Postsecondary CTE Initiatives

April 20th, 2015

While a long-needed update to the federal law governing U.S. elementary and secondary education winds its way through Congress, advocates are hoping the next critical reauthorization on lawmakers’ agendas will be the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Or perhaps it should be said – advocates are hopeful but not optimistic about HEA’s chances of reauthorization during the 114th Congress. Advocates and an Obama Administration official shared their perspectives about postsecondary education with NASDCTEc members during the 2015 Spring Meeting.

David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges, called the reauthorization of HEA “of critical importance to vocational and training programs.”

Baime said the law primarily focuses on student financial assistance, which includes the ever-important Pell grants. Baime said 20 percent of revenues for community colleges – roughly $11 billion a year – are tied to students who receive money through Pell grants. AACC’s HEA policy recommendations include a call to expand the list of institutions eligible to receive Pell funds, including some short-term postsecondary CTE programs.

In fact, HEA – a $130 billion program – is really more of a job training bill rather than a higher education law, as it has historically been considered, said Mary Alice McCarthy, senior policy analyst from the New America Foundation.

In a 2014 policy brief, “Beyond the Skills Gap,” McCarthy argues that five policy gaps within HEA “make it too easy for institutions to provide high-cost, low-quality CTE programs while also making it too difficult for institutions to build the partnerships and programs that will facilitate student transitions to jobs and careers.”

Of the five gaps, three are related to how institutions are accredited – an important marker for being eligible to receive Pell funds. Other gaps include a focus on enrollment rather than outcomes and paying for time rather than learning.

McCarthy argued that Congress can fix these issues five ways:

  • Ensure policies support students going to school for careers;
  • Make accreditation reviews transparent;
  • Demand quality assurance for credentials – and right now there is too little;
  • Encourage innovation and experimentation in postsecondary education; and
  • Align HEA to other bills with overlapping missions such as the Perkins Act and the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act.

However, Congress’ minimal activity around HEA isn’t stopping the Obama Administration from putting forth bold proposals for postsecondary education. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges Mark Mitsui laid out the Administration’s proposals from the 2016 budget, which included:

Be sure to check out NASDCTEc’s previous coverage of these proposals to learn more!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Spring Meeting Recap: Advancing Employer Engagement in Education

April 16th, 2015

Business-education collaboration is a “classic win-win,” says John Colborn, director of the Aspen Institute’s Skills for America’s Future initiative. Employer engagement was one of many critical issues featured during last week’s NASDCTEc Spring Meeting.

“It’s seems so obvious,” Colborn said. “So what is it so hard?”

Yet, there are ongoing challenges to breaking down decades-old silos, and there are no quick solutions. Challenges include the differences between national and local interests as well as views between the long-term perspectives of educators and the often short-term views of employers; finding the time necessary to nurture strong relationships; and developing a common language to create common understanding among all partners.

At Skills for America’s Future, Colborn said they are trying to operationalize the idea of effective employer-led partnerships. To do this, the initiative has been evaluating the grantees of the U.S. Department of Labor’s TAACCCT program, which provides community colleges with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that prepare workers for high-wage, high-skill occupations.

The evaluators have found that grantees did a number of things to build and develop employer partnerships, a key feature of the grant. Activities included curriculum alignment to the needs of employers as well as experiential learning, which Colborn said was critical to ensuring students graduated with the skills necessary to perform at full capacity from their first day on the job.

Another collaborative effort highlighted came from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

“(The skills gap is) no longer a gathering storm on the horizon,” said Jason Tyszko, senior director of policy and programs at the Foundation.

With mounting evidence such as the recent Lumina/Gallup poll that showed dramatic differences between the views of chief academic officers and employers about college graduates’ career readiness, Tyszko said the recent work at the U.S. Chamber Foundation is seeking to close that gap by applying supply chain management strategies to the pipeline of skilled workers. Read more coverage about the Chamber’s “Managing the Talent Pipeline” initiative on our Research Review blog series.

Since the 2014 release of the Talent Pipeline research, the Chamber has been working to implement some of its recommendations including toolkits about how to better build employer capacity as the end consumer of education.

Tyszko said he often gets asked about how education can engage employers better, but he offered that the entire question needed to be turned around to put the employer in the driver’s seat. Among the many ways to do this, Tyszko said this might mean moving away from traditional CTE local advisory boards to working with an intermediary to connect all of the right partners in the conversation.

To make employer engagement meaningful, Colborn encouraged institutions to dedicate someone whose entire job is engage employers and to devise strategies to grow this work and further, how to measure it over time.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Spring Meeting Recap: Featuring Excellence in the Press

April 16th, 2015

Last week, NASDCTEc held its 2015 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. bringing together leaders from across the country in Career Technical Education (CTE). As part of the meeting, NASDCTEc hosted a panel, Featuring Excellence in the Press, highlighting why the media is telling CTE’s story, and to offer insights into how CTE advocates can best and most effectively engage the media in support of CTE.

The panel began stressing how the CTE conversation has shifted over the years including rebranding from the more traditional vocational education programming. Along with the shift in moving from ‘vocational education’ to ‘career technical education,’ panelists noted a focus on the concept of college and career readiness and showing students early in schooling how their education is relevant to careers they can have in the future. In addition, speakers saw a noted shift in CTE’s inclusion of career-ready and employability skills as integral to today’s CTE.

Emily Hanford, Education Corresponded at American RadioWorks and correspondent and producer of Ready to Work highlighted how her year working on the documentary greatly influenced her perspective on CTE. “CTE is really exciting and refreshing,” said Hanford. “I came away from filming this documentary with a sense of envy. No one had challenged me to see what I wanted to do.”

Panelists also offered up tips to the audience on how to best tell their CTE story. Emily Ann Brown, K-12 Education Policy Reporter at Education Daily stressed the importance of introducing high-quality data, along with providing access to a variety of stakeholders when pitching a story to the press. Caralee Adams, Contributing Writer at Education Week emphasized showing the press that your story is backed up by local and national trends, but also showing how those trends translate into real-life successes by including the voice of teachers, administrators and students. Hanford, on the other hand, suggested a missing voice in the CTE narrative is alumni of CTE reflecting on how their education successfully prepared them for their career.

Check on a wide array of materials and resources shared by the speakers on our Spring meeting resource page.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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