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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

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 

Nine CTE Programs of Study Receive the Excellence in Action Award

April 16th, 2015

Last week we recognized our 2015 “Excellence in Action” award winners, representing the best Career Technical Education (CTE) has to offer. These programs of study were selected based on their uniquely inventive and effective approaches to award-blogstimulating student learning, offering extensive work-based learning experiences, maintaining strong partnerships with industry and community organizations, and preparing students for postsecondary and career success. Nine award winners from across the country were honored during a luncheon and reception at the NASDCTEc 2015 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The winners are:

  • Agriculture, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Illinois (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster)
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, Upper Valley Career Center, Ohio (Architecture & Construction Career Cluster)
  • Academy for Business and Finance, Bergen County Technical Schools – Bergen County Academies, New Jersey (Business Management & Administration Career Cluster)
  • Emergency Medical Services, Walters State Community College, Tennessee (Health Science Career Cluster)
  • Culinary Arts Academy, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, Ohio (Hospitality & Tourism Career Cluster)
  • Early Childhood Education, Henderson County High School, Kentucky (Human Services Career Cluster)
  • Welding Technology Program, Butte-Glenn Community College, California (Manufacturing Career Cluster)
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography, Marine Academy of Science and Technology, New Jersey (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Career Cluster)
  • Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Academy, Omaha Bryan High School, Nebraska (Transportation, Distribution & Logistics Career Cluster)

blog-2In addition to the award ceremony, winners will invited to present their programs of study to meeting attendees. “These Excellence in Action award winners exemplify everything that high-quality CTE programs can and should be,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of NASDCTEc. “These programs have students graduating at above average rates, are aligned with employer and industry needs and certification standards, and build meaningful partnerships, all to prepare students to succeed in their careers.”

Two-page profiles of each winner, detailing their unique strengths and opportunities are available here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Spring Meeting Recap: Certified to Work: Private Sector Credentialing and Certification Efforts

April 15th, 2015

Spring meetingIn a very spirited panel discussion, three leading experts in credentials shared some challenges and opportunities in building, validating and scaling industry-recognized credentials and certifications at NASDCTEc’s annual Spring Meeting last week.

The session kicked off with moderator Tamar Jacoby of Opportunity America describing credentialing as “one of the sexiest topics in CTE” and a “key to change” because of their capacity to validate the mastery of knowledge and skills, send signals to employers, and prepare individuals for a full range of careers that fall between low skilled jobs and those requiring a full four-year degree.

Jennifer McNelly, President of the Manufacturing Institute, shared her organization’s efforts to bring “market sanity” to the large universe of industry-recognized credentials in manufacturing. The Institute sees credentials as potential “translators between education and employers” because they can give employers confidence that incoming employees with credentials are qualified. This is particularly urgent as the manufacturing industry is projecting a skills gap of up to two million jobs going unfilled in the next ten years. They started the process by reviewing 450 credentials and ultimately endorsed five in the first pass, a number that has grown slightly in the past few years.

Jacey Cavanagh, Project Manager, National Network of Business and Industry Associations, spoke about the role industry-based credentials can play in validating individuals’ foundational employability skills that apply across all industries. The ability to measure and validate these foundational skills are especially important with millennials expected to change jobs and careers more often than previous generations, placing more value on those transferable skills.

From the perspective of Dr. Roy Swift, Executive Director, Workcred, the proliferation of credentials and certificates requires a form of “protection for students and the public.” With over 4,000 agencies and organizations certifying skills, and a lack of transparency around the development, scoring and value of those credentials, he warned “buyers beware.” Questions he raised include – are credentials validated by third-party organizations? How often is re-certification required? What process do states have for phasing out meaningless credentials? Workcred currently is working with Kansas to create criteria for evaluating the true value of credentials to students and employers alike.

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

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director

Why is Credentialing Important?

March 26th, 2015

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, D.C. in April. 

It is crucial, now more than ever, that students are preparing for the workforce along with the prospect of a college education simultaneously. The ever-developing and changing job market united with a flexible and adaptive education system is closing the significant skills gap between employers and qualified workers. There is concern that students are not entering the workforce with an adequate skills set that prepares them for success. According to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65% of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training. This skills gap between education and the workforce has caused a shift toward the importance of credentialing and additional training that is more comprehensive in order to meet the needs of employers and the U.S. work industry as a whole.

Career and technical education (CTE) programs are at the front of the initiative to create students that are career ready. CTE programs provide a basis for students to acquire technical and academic skills that are necessary for successful and long-term employment. Classroom education with hands-on training prepares students for the real work they will be completing in their career fields or as they work through and continue their educations at the collegiate level. Applying concepts and skills in lab, workshop, or actual work settings provides tangible learning experiences for students to build their knowledge base. As a result, students are better able to align their educations, and subsequently their skills, with their preferred career pathways. Successful CTE programs are complemented by the opportunity for students to obtain industry recognized credentials that are beneficial for students as they build resumes and portfolios for the future. Credentials provide proof of knowledge and verify a student’s capability to perform a particular trade, skill, or occupation. Credentialing opportunities bring value to CTE programs because they validate the education and training these programs provide as well as give students incentive for further achievement.

For entry-level employment, credentials are a good predictor of success and achievement for students who are seeking their first time jobs, apprenticeships or internships. Employers are able to easily identify what degree of competence potential employees possess. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for workers ages 16 to 24 rests at nearly 12%, and with nearly 18.1 million people entering the workforce under the age of 24, students require a way to show they have the desired technical and employability skills in a competitive job market. Industry recognized credentials and other certifications are a good way for students to make themselves more marketable to employers who are looking to invest in long-term, qualified workers. Leaving high school with more than a high school diploma is now a valuable means toward success upon entering a career field or continuing on to a two-year or four-year college or university.

Specific industry recognized credentials can give students better understanding of associated career pathways and college programs while other credentials provide general training essential to all 16 Career Clusters and beyond. Industry recognized credentials like ones offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) play a critical role in preparing students for the hazards and risks associated with various career fields and pathways. Through a partnership with OSHA, the CareerSafe Online program is committed to providing workplace safety training for students prior to their first jobs. The safety curriculum aligns with all 16 Career Clusters and can be easily implemented into any CTE program. It gives students an advantage moving forward toward post-secondary schooling or employment opportunities. With completion of CareerSafe OSHA 10-Hour safety training, students receive an industry recognized credential verifying that they have received workplace safety training. Students that have completed the CareerSafe program have experienced increased economic flexibility and employment opportunities over their peers that do not hold credentials. Feedback from educators across the country proves that industry recognized credentialing, like OSHA credentialing, makes a difference in the employment opportunities and wages of their students. Many CTE educators reveal that their students have been guaranteed jobs immediately upon their high school graduation and therefore have the ability to establish careers or have an opportunity to pay for further education without creating a large amount of student debt.

Credentialing opportunities can and should be easily accessible because of their added value to students as they complete their high school educations. The use of credentials will increase the likelihood of skilled, competent, and knowledgeable students entering the workforce. With career readiness as an integral part of education, students will be confident in their abilities to be successful.

If you would like to offer your students credentialing opportunities with CareerSafe or learn more about implementing a safety curriculum in your classroom, please visit, www.careersafeonline.com.

Written by Stacy Riley, CareerSafe Online

Thank you to CareerSafe for sponsoring the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring Meeting!

Sources: 

Foster, C. John & Sandra G. Pritz (2006). “The Certification Advantage.” Techniques. January, 14-20.
Hyslop, Alisha (2008). “CTE’s Role in Workforce Readiness Credentialing.” Techniques. September, 40-43.
Molnar, Michele (2014). “Career and Technical Education Gains Ground in Many States.” Education Week. April.
Muller, D. Robert & Alexandra Beatty. “Work Readiness Certification and Industry Credentials: What do State High School Policy Makers Need To Know?” Measures That Matter, 1-16.

Microsoft IT Academy & CTE Community: Bridging the worlds of technology education and business

March 23rd, 2015

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in April. 

Demand for technology education is surging from both students and employers. Interest in technology programs is spiking IT Academy-stacked-largeamongst incoming college freshmen, according to academic surveys (source). Concurrently, the business world is facing a shortfall of tech-literate graduates, with a projected one million more jobs than qualified graduates by 2020; as well as reports that 77% of all jobs require some degree of technology skills (IDC Research).

Academic institutions face the critical challenge of responding to student and business demand for technology curriculum in a race to produce enough skilled workers to fill future jobs This is where Microsoft and the Career Technical Education community join forces to close the gap.

Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) brings academic institutions and their educators, students and staff classroom-ready digital curriculum and certifications covering three areas of study—Productivity, Computer Science, and IT infrastructure—providing essential technology skills to be successful in today’s evolving world.

Currently, there are 17 Microsoft IT Academy statewide partnerships in place, with several more in the works for the next academic year. 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.

Bring Computer Science Into Any Classroom

Jobs requiring computer science skills outnumber trained graduates by 3-to-1, yet 90% of schools don’t teach it. Reverse the trend and prepare your students for success with the Microsoft IT Academy Computer Science curriculum. 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 2015 NASDCTEc Spring Meeting.  Amy Merrill and Lance Baldwin will be representing Microsoft Learning Experiences Group (LeX) 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: [email protected]

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

This blog was contributed by Microsoft IT Academy, diamond level sponsor at the 2015 Spring Meeting.

Finding the IB’s Career-Related Program (CP) was like Finding that Sweet Spot…

March 19th, 2015

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in April. 

What students really think of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programgirls

On a recent visit to South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia a group of CP Fashion Design students were asked what they thought of the IB’s Career-related Programme (CP).

Q: How have colleges reacted to the CP?

“They like it, they think it’s a cool program. They think of it highly, just  like the IB (Diploma) program.

Q: What about the CP do you like?

“I think it’s a good alternative for students who are more well-rounded, as opposed to just academic students because it gives you more flexibility with scheduling and time. I have plenty of time for my sports now because I do a lot of things outside of school, different coaching jobs, sports and stuff, so that with (CP) I don’t have the pressure of the full IB Diploma. I can do sports and still get sleep at night! Finding out about this program was like finding that sweet spot, I was able to do all that I wanted to do (outside of school) and take all the IB classes that I wanted.”

There are now 80 million millennials in America, more than their Baby Boomer parents. They have different IB_logo_FCattitudes from their parents too, less financially secure, but more optimistic about their future. Millenials are determined to steer their own course, entrepreneurial and willing to do what it takes to custom-fit their lives to their passions.

Programs like the IB Career-related Programme are tailor-made for both the parents of millenials who want assurance that their children are academically well- prepared for college and for their offspring who are specializing at an earlier age than ever and want to pursue a course of study that uniquely fits their interests.

The CP is a  framework of international education that incorporates the values of the IB into a unique program addressing the needs of students engaged in career-related education.

CP students undertake a minimum of two IB Diploma Programme (DP) courses, a CP core consisting of four components and a career-related study. For CP students, DP courses provide the theoretical underpinning and academic rigor of the program; the career-related study further supports the program’s academic strength and provides practical, real-world approaches to learning; and the CP core helps them to develop skills and competencies required for lifelong learning.

Schools choose their own externally recognized career-related study. Typical offerings include culinary arts, engineering, health science, business and marketing, but are not limited to these pathways.

Prior to now, schools were required to have the IB Diploma Programme in place   in order to offer the CP.   Beginning in 2016 any school can apply to become a CP school. For further information about the program and how to join the international community of IB World Schools , complete the School information form at: [email protected]/ibcc/

Thank you to International Baccalaureate for sponsoring the 2015 Spring Meeting!

Today’s Class – Interactive Online Textbook and eLearning Tool

March 16th, 2015

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in April. 

Today’s Class is an interactive online textbook and eLearning resource.  The educational program with learning management system Todays Class Logo- Registred Trademark-1-7-14(1)delivers interactive coursework to school systems and technical institutions. Today’s Class programs are designed with the instructor in mind and enhance an instructor’s curriculum with content, vivid animation, and interactive exercises. The program provides quizzes, final exams, eBooks, and a student time just to name a few features.  By supplying concepts and theory it allows for up to 25% reduction in lecture time, which allows instructors more time for hands-on lab work and in-class demonstrations.

Currently, Today’s Class offers automotive, cosmetology, health science, anatomy & physiology, 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.  Also included within the program is an assessment to gauge if the student is ready to take their state board exam.

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, the new Maintenance and Light Repair (MLR) series, and other automotive related materials to enhance student development.  The Automotive Service Technician (AST) modules will be released this summer.  Job sheets, crosswalks, and blueprints are included in the automotive modules.

The agriscience program 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 them both and learn more about Today’s Class programs and initiatives. Today’s Class is a Gold Level Sponsor at the NASDCTEc Meeting.

Thank you to Today’s Class for being a NASDCTEc Spring Meeting Sponsor!

You Spoke – We Listened. How we’ve Changed the 2015 Spring Meeting

March 11th, 2015

Every year we take your evaluations from previous meetings and adjust our agenda, presentations and topics based on your reviews. Here are some of the ways we’ve made changes to this year’s NASDCTEc Spring Meeting in Washington, DC. For more information, take a look at our full agenda.cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150

“Suggest in future you think about having interactive breakout sessions. We ask that our teachers engage our students in contextualized…we should do the same.”

Great suggestion! To make sure that there’s a balance between didactic and hands-on learning, we’ve structured this year’s meeting around a variety of keynotes, panels, breakout sessions and discussion roundtables. We want to make sure that you’re hearing from panelists, but encourage you as a CTE leader, to share during these sessions as well.

“How do we change the perceptions of CTE amongst key stakeholders (parents, business, students, administrators, etc.)?”

Though we have come a far way in advocating for CTE as education for all students, we still have work to do. We encourage you to join the Overcoming CTE Myths collaboration roundtable, where you’ll work with your peers to come up with actionable solutions, guided by states leading the way. In addition, we’re hosting a panel Featuring CTE Excellence in the Press, where journalists on the education beat will talk about how to make a successful pitch to press, what has changed in the CTE narrative and how to tell your CTE story.

The conference seemed to be very heavy on secondary CTE. Many of the sessions did not offer enough for those of us in postsecondary or higher education.”

Given the importance of secondary, postsecondary and workforce development engagement in CTE, we have an entire day focused on cross-sector collaboration, as well as other postsecondary-focused content offered throughout the meeting. With panels on federal agency coordination around WIOA implementation and the Higher Education Act, two breakout sessions on efforts to implement career pathway systems and WIOA, and relevant collaboration roundtables, there’s something for everyone.

 “How do states finance CTE through performance-based funding?”

It’s no surprise that in today’s financial climate questions on funding come up again and again. We have some stellar examples of how states are utilizing performance-based funding systems which you’ll learn about from two national experts during one of our concurrent sessions, Paying for Performance: Developing State Performance-Based Funding Systems.

 “We need more discussions around industry certifications and the impact on state programs.”

Employer and industry engagement has been a hot topic this year, and we’re excited to offer two panels and a roundtable discussion on how employers are getting involved at the state and local levels, and, in particular, around credentialing. We’ll also be kicking the meeting off with a keynote address from Chauncy Lennon, Managing Director and Head of Workforce Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase, who will discuss their efforts to close the skills gap.

Registration and discounted hotel rates closes Friday, March 20, so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Pathways for all – With CTE at the Heart

March 9th, 2015

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in April.

For a very long time, American education has offered an either/or choice for students: Either follow a career track OR enter the (default) baccalaureate track which, while well-intended, is failing LARGE numbers of students. Today’s Pathways model offers a third choice, combining the best of both. And CTE Leaders have an incredible opportunity today to provide leadership in defining and driving the NC3T logo clean largePathways agenda.

At NC3T (National Center for College and Career Transitions), we promote the notion that school districts thrive when they work with employers and postsecondary partners to create a “pathways for all” approach. The Pathways for All approach is more flexible, individualized, and based on the real needs and opportunities in today’s workforce, where skills and knowledge, not years of schooling, leads to meaningful work and family-sustaining earnings.  To accomplish this, each district develops a broad array of pathways, some which are more career- or occupation-specific, and some which are more thematic, like social justice, visual arts, and global leadership.  Ideally, each pathway is designed to lead to several post-secondary options, such as programs leading to certificate programs, associate degrees, and baccalaureate degrees.

To explore this comprehensive Pathways-for-All system, CTE local administrators and state leaders are well positioned (probably best-positioned) to help drive the conversation.  You can drive the Pathways conversation from several entry points, including   Readiness, Teaching and Learning, Effective Employer Engagement, Postsecondary Connections, and Career Development.

Help Define Student Readiness For Work and Life Success
CTE leaders can continue to advance the idea that readiness requires more than academic skills.  Readiness for all students includes Learning Skills, Thinking Skills, Communication Skills, Executive Skills, Persistence and Work Ethic, Interpersonal Competencies, Career Search and Career Management, Civic Awareness and Commitment.

We should stand against definitions that define Career Readiness separately from Postsecondary Readiness.  Yes, there are specific technical skills that are a gateway for certain careers.  But apart from that narrow band of skills, for the most part, the skills and knowledge and attitudes for work success and postsecondary success are the same, but they’re just applied differently based on the learner’s or worker’s context.  A student is really just a worker whose immediate job is learning.

Create Dynamic Teaching and Learning
CTE leaders can work to ensure that CTE teachers learn and apply the most promising and effective teaching practices, utilizing active learning strategies like project-based, problem-based, and inquiry-based learning.  Although CTE content is based on industry-based skills, CTE instruction can easily fall prey to the same trap as a core academic course, in which a teacher “stands and delivers,” conveying information about a career field or the processes of that field, without challenging the students to engage in deeper learning, problem solving, and creativity.  Some CTE teachers deep down may believe that their students can’t learn more deeply, and that simple regurgitation of information and imitation of skills are the best they will be able to accomplish.  This is where strong professional development, and challenging teacher perceptions through collaborative leadership, are essential.

Model effective employer involvement
In a strong pathways system, employers and volunteers are actively involved in classrooms, interacting regularly with students, and helping students get into the workplace.  CTE programs can always get better at utilizing employers in multiple facets of their work.  A good first step is to re-purpose your program Advisory Councils into “Partnership Councils” with the goal of driving deep business-industry involvement in all aspects of instruction, career mentoring, and experiential learning.

Engage leaders from postsecondary education
Each pathway program of study needs active collaboration among teachers and faculty, so that curriculum can be well-aligned and offer early college credits.  CTE teachers and administrators can create the structures and processes for collaboration and recognizing student learning for college credit that others in the school system and colleges can build upon.

Inform Career Exploration
CTE leaders and staff usually have the best understanding and access for career-based information.  They can help inform a comprehensive K-12 career exploration and career development system.

Start the Bigger Conversation
CTE leaders are particularly able, and well-positioned, to develop good working relationships with K-12 system leaders, postsecondary education, and employers. As a result, they are the ideal point people to convene these sectors and begin to explore what a Pathways System looks like.  You can host a business-education summit; create a Readiness-forum among K-12, postsecondary and employers; or call partners together to discuss the merits and challenges of the Pathways-for-All approach.

Positive Momentum
If you’re in the CTE movement, you may already recognize that the wind is behind our backs in this work.  Many educators, parents, and business/community leaders are troubled and looking for better answers: They realize that core standards and testing are necessary, but not sufficient, because alone they do not adequately engage enough students. They recognize that too many students are pursuing college and taking on debt without a realistic career objective. And they understand there is a broad continuum of postsecondary options for which our guidance systems and programs of study don’t match up well. The result is that only 40 percent of our young adults complete an Associate’s degree or BA program, and about half of young adults lack tangible knowledge and skills that are in-demand.

Just promoting college-going isn’t enough: We must promote discovery, exploration and postsecondary education that has purpose.

So, the wind is behind our backs, but it could change direction at any time. We need to act quickly and help build consensus about what a Pathways-for-All system can be in our communities.

Federal rules, regulations and funding are slow in coming, which is why the pioneering leadership we’re seeing at the state and local levels now is so critical. CTE isn’t the full answer, but it is a foundational part of what a pathways system will become, and CTE leaders can help leverage and engage all facets of our education system to create Pathway Systems that work.

Thank you for your indispensable leadership.  We are standing with you.

Hans Meeder, President and Co-Founder
National Center for College and Career Transitions

Thanks to NC3T for being a NASDCTEc Spring meeting sponsor!

 

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