NOCTI: Honoring our Past and Embracing our Future

March 3rd, 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.

From our early days 49 years ago as part of the “vocational” teacher certification process, to our current leadership in the areas of technical data-driven instructional improvement, credentialing and digital badging, NOCTI has always been proud to be an important member of the career NOCTI--Navy-11-2009and technical education (CTE) community.  As a non-profit entity lead by a board elected by the 56 state directors of CTE around the country and in US territories, we do our best to stay ahead of the needs of the field we serve. 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.

At our core, we consider everyone we work with to be a partner striving to make CTE as strong as it can be.  Recognizing outstanding established and promising CTE teachers and administrators is important to NOCTI and one reason why we provide awards each year to these CTE professionals. NOCTI’s awards focus on the qualities important to our founders and are awarded each year at the ACTE Vision conference.  In addition, we participate in additional opportunities for our students to show off their skills, most recently through the NOCTI-sponsored Video Contest as part of CTE Month.  NOCTI received 44 video submissions from media classrooms across the nation focused on the 2015 theme “Mission CTE.”  Check out the videos here!  Finally, here are a few other resources worth mentioning.

Collaborations: In addition to the numerous industry association partnerships we maintain, we believe that connecting to our community and related communities is critical. NOCTI has close relationships with NASDCTEc and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) as well as the National Academy Foundation, the International Baccalaureate Program, Mozilla, the National College Test Administrators and the Association of Test Publishers.

Teacher Tests: We continue to fulfill our commitment to expand our current teacher testing battery. We recognize that we are the only organization with the ability to assure that incoming instructors have experiences in all aspects of their particular industry, and that this has always been part of our history. NOCTI has increased its teacher test offerings to reinforce a commitment to this important population.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA): By leveraging our association with the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS), NOCTI is able to assess experiences that have occurred outside the classroom through Prior Learning Assessments. This service has been particularly successful with our returning servicemen and servicewomen and community college partners.

Digital Badges: NOCTI currently offers over 120 digital badges. We are collaborating with multiple partners to deliver badges that include both summative and formative structures, as well as badges for both cognitive and hands-on skills.  Badges are also being explored that are based on both asynchronous and synchronous evaluation.  Lastly, we have also started work with a number of our industry partners in building customized badging platforms.

Deep Analytical Reports: By utilizing NOCTI-collected data, we can assist states and regions in identifying which programs–and by extension which teachers–are able to deliver technical instruction that facilitates student competence. What would you do as a curricular leader in your state if you were able to objectively identify the best blueprint reading program in your state? We think we know the answer and we are providing the data to help states get there.

Industry Credentials: All NOCTI assessments are industry credentials and include benchmarks established by industry.  When utilized properly, the assessments provide a way to compare student competence against current industry standards in over 100 unique programs of study.  Local industry practitioners play an important role in assisting with the comparison between knowledge and skills learned and applied.  NOCTI also currently delivers over 40 collaborative industry association credentials.

Contact us at  to see how we can help you. NOCTI is excited to be a Gold sponsor of the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.; be sure to seek us out and say hello!

Thank you NOCTI for sponsoring the 2015 Spring Meeting!

Register today for NASDCTEc’s 2015 Spring Meeting!

February 11th, 2015

The NASDCTEc Spring meeting is just around the corner, so register now!
With confirmed speakers from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, Aspen Institute, Education Week, Education Daily, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Manufacturing Institute, among others, our upcoming Spring meeting is shaping up to be our best yet!

Participants will learn from national experts and each another on topics such as career pathways, private sector credentialing and CTE in the media, and get the latest on federal policy through panels, collaboration roundtables and breakout sessions. Visit our agenda page for more details.

Don’t miss out on this exciting and informative event!

Member registration
Non-member registration

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

2015 Spring Meeting Registration Open

January 15th, 2015

Join us April 8 – 10, 2015 in Washington, DC 2014-11-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-washington-dc-back-Marko-Berndtfor NASDCTEc’s annual Spring Meeting. This meeting is designed to bring together secondary and postsecondary leaders in Career Technical Education (CTE), as well as national partners and CTE stakeholders to share and learn from one another. Meeting themes include cross-systems collaboration, innovative state solutions and a state and federal policy outlook. We hope you can join us! Get more information on the Spring Meeting’s agenda and logistics on the event homepage.

Be sure to register by February 2 to take advantage of our early bird registration. Members and non-members should register today to secure these special rates.

We look forward to seeing you in April!

Member registration
Non-member registration

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Spring Meeting Recap: CTE a Growing Priority for State Associations

April 9th, 2014

Leaders from three major education associations – representing key state policymakers and education leaders – discussed their growing interest and key initiatives related to CTE on Wednesday April 3 at NASDCTEc’s Spring meeting. The overarching theme from the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE): while CTE hasn’t necessarily been a key area of focus in the past, it certainly is going to be moving forward.

Kristen Amundson, Executive Director of NASBE, noted that given the lack of movement at the federal level on any education policies, including Perkins, the real leverage point is the states. She mentioned some emerging work of NASBE to convene a career council and a tech council, which will pull together state board of education members, CTE educators and leaders, and representatives from business/industry to identify how to best structure state-level CTE policies. She laid out some common challenges with CTE policy – how to measure career readiness, how to break down the “academic” and “CTE” worlds – and that NASBE would also focus on identifying innovative programs and practices to share with their network.

Next, Steven Bowen, Strategic Initiative Director for Innovation at CCSSO, announced a new Career Readiness Task Force being launched this month. This task force – largely instigated by CCSSO’s current chair, Terry Holliday the State Superintendent of Kentucky – will meet over six months to develop a set of recommendations for state CTE policy and touch on Perkins as well. Early areas of focus include standards, secondary-postsecondary alignment, assessing career readiness and addressing barriers to access. Kim Green, NASDCTEc’s executive director, will serve on this task force, along with NASDCTEc’s President John Fischer and Vice President Scott Stump.

Finally, Stephen Parker the NGA’s Legislative Director shared the governors’ perspective on CTE. First he noted that CTE and workforce development were among the most common education priorities identified in the 2014 State of the State addresses (see here and here for NASDCTEc’s take on these addresses). While many governors are exploring state-level policies and levers to support CTE, they have also encouraged the NGA to develop principles for Perkins reauthorization. Last week, coinciding with the Spring meeting, the NGA held conference calls with many State CTE Directors participating to open dialogue. Parker noted that some of the emerging priorities include more state-level flexibility in supporting innovation, a clearer and stronger gubernatorial role, the removal of red tape and the need to address maintenance of effort.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Spring Meeting Recap: Business and Industry Panel

April 9th, 2014

At a time when U.S. global competitiveness is slipping and a skills gap persists among American workers, business and industry representatives are looking to Career Technical Education (CTE) to skill up help solve many of the problems in the American workforce.

Yet, state CTE directors, institutions and programs often find it difficult to forge true, substantial partnerships with business and industry. Jason Tyszko, Senior Director of Education and Workforce Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) hinted that a gap in communications remains between those in the business and education worlds.

Tyszko sat with Dane Linn, Vice President of the Business Roundtable (BRT) and Timm Boettcher, Chairman of the Industry Workforce Needs Council (IWNC) on a panel titled, “Other Views: Business/Industry Perspectives on Perkins and CTE,” at NASDCTEc’s 2014 Spring Meeting. All three underscored their support for CTE as well as their opinions regarding the forthcoming reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.

Employers often feel education officials seek partnerships to procure equipment for their programs without helping businesses engage in deeper and more substantive ways, Tyszko said. He suggested that educators pitch employers by explaining how their programs will help drive entrepreneurship and improve the company’s prospects in the long-run. A focus on cost, performance and return on investment—key focuses of any business—is more likely to catch the attention of an employer, he concluded.

Linn agreed, highlighting the partnership between Northrop Grumman and the University of Maryland, which worked together to develop cybersecurity programs that integrated Northrop Grumman’s expertise into program development. Linn said CTE leaders need to set clear expectations with their business and industry counterparts so that a partnership would amount to more than coming to the table once a month.

The BRT Vice President called CTE a critical pathway to creating a pipeline of qualified workers to fill the high-wage, high-skill jobs of the future. He cited BRT’s upcoming toolkit for a U.S. model of apprenticeships to encourage employers to become more engaged in CTE.

The skills gap is the top reason why the USCCF is talking about CTE, Tyszko said, and it sees the reauthorization of Perkins as one of the many solutions to close the skills gap. He added that the organization has several recommendations to transform the public-private partnership – a list that its members are also taking to Congress, including:

  • Promoting industry credentials to make students career-ready and career-competitive;
  • Encouraging innovation, including competency-based education; and
  • Increasing accountability based on the return on investment.

Boettcher called CTE the backbone of America. The IWNC is amplifying the message about CTE: Learning that works for America® through speaking engagements by its members, whitepapers and advocacy in conjunction with NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

For the upcoming Perkins reauthorization, Boettcher said that IWNC plans to continue its alliance with NASDCTEc and ACTE around a more coordinated effort to target areas in the law that need the most improvement. He also suggested that a major point for crossover between business and CTE lay in promoting CTE’s visibility to the public and changing outdated perceptions of CTE equating the modern field to vocational education programs of the last century.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Spring Meeting: Competency-based education gaining momentum at state level

April 8th, 2014

Time, place and pace are three elements that have defined the traditional education model. However, a growing number of states are moving toward competency-based education (CBE), which insists that time isn’t a constant, place doesn’t decide who gets an education and pace should be determined by the student and the educator.

Panelists at NASDCTEC’s 2014 Spring Meeting panel, “Other Views: Competency Based Education and CTE,” discussed the growing CBE movement and its application in Career Technical Education (CTE). While panelists agreed that well-structured CBE can be an important tool in the delivery of high-quality CTE, most also agreed that CBE continues to face serious challenges related to public perception and general function before it can become a widely accepted practice.

The CBE learning model judges student success based on their mastery of skills, rather than the amount of time spent in class. Students are required to demonstrate technical proficiency before progressing to a new unit, the next grade level or graduation.

NASDCTEc/NCTEF Board President John Fischer outlined Vermont’s recent experience with CBE in its secondary schools. As his state moved towards a CBE system, state education leaders quickly realized that they needed to attack simultaneously issues of practice and public will, Fischer explained. As a result of these efforts, the Vermont Board of Education approved new Education Quality Standards last year.

Fischer said Vermont’s experience indicates that there is a place for CTE to help show how a competency-based system can help increase attainment and show that deeper learning is occurring.

Panelist Eve Goldberg, Senior Research and Policy Associate at The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, added that states are taking a variety of routes to CBE, including Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Kentucky.  The Nellie Mae Foundation, whose mission is to reshape public education across New England, also supports the website, a new online resource for CBE information, practitioner knowledge, and materials.

Postsecondary institutions have been more open to CBE but typically in its more traditional format, said panelist David Bergeron, Vice President for Postsecondary Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. However, he cited a handful of schools that are doing transformative work with CBE including Sarah Lawrence College, College for America, Western Governors University and Capella University. He indicated that these institutions had continued to innovate in postsecondary CBE in spite of structural challenges with the credit-based financial aid system currently in place at the U.S. Department of Education and suggested that this system would have to change for a postsecondary education to fully embrace CBE.

Bergeron also signaled that accountability is a critical piece of the puzzle at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. He suggested that federal accrediting agencies responsible for maintaining accountability for Title IV eligible institutions could partner with the business community to help determine institutional quality.

Goldberg said she is seeing similar alignment with the K-12 system and the business community. She pointed to New Hampshire’s Sanborn Regional High School as an example because the school reached out to regional employers while creating its four career pathways programs.

Andrea Zimermann, State Policy Associate

Spring Meeting Recap: #CTE in 140 Characters

April 8th, 2014

twitterLast week, NASDCTEc held its annual Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. The meeting’s full sessions and lively debate spilled onto Twitter, where participants turned in repeated feats of brevity (unlike this sentence) to sum up the meeting’s lively panel discussions and Q & A in 140 characters or fewer with #ctespringmtg. Thanks to everyone who attended, sponsored, wrote, blogged, tweeted and otherwise engaged with NASDCTEc (@careertech and to make last week’s meeting one to remember!

The following are some of the top tweets from this year’s meeting:

NASDCTEc @CTEWorks:  Timm Boettcher of @IWNC_DC: need to change image of varied career options (many of which #cte prepares students for) #ctespringmtg

Glynis O’Leary ‏@GOlearyNYC: “Nothing is as important to national security as education.” – Congressman Jim Langevin, D-RI #ctespringmtg

Nebraska Career Ed ‏@NECareerEd: Career & Technical Education can help resolve the shortage of skilled workers for H3 careers. #CTESpringMtg @CTEWorks

@CTEWorks Fascinating idea! Why aren’t there biz/industry reps required to be on higher ed accrediting boards? Bergeron from @EdProgress #ctespringmtg

NASBE ‏@NASBE: MT @CTEWorks: Takeaway from state associations panel w / @CCSSO @NASBE @NatlGovsAssoc – increased focus on state #cte policy! #ctespringmtg

Business Roundtable ‏@BizRoundtable: @CTEWorks: @dlinn1 from @BizRoundtable: #careerteched needs to be given more credibility, needs to take on more leadership #ctespringmtg

Sean Lynch ACTE ‏@CTEMedia: Joining @CTEWorks for their #ctespringmtg today – excited to learn about how we can partner to make #careerteched work for all students!

NASDCTEc ‏@CTEWorks: Asst Sec Uvin: our work must be responsive, both to labor market needs and to local/state innovation. #CTESpringMtg

Timmothy Boettcher ‏@timmboettcher: #ctespringmtg great discussion on competency based education – anyone have a great example of how to apply this to work based learning?

NOCTI ‏@NOCTI1: Congressman Glenn Thompson R-PA receives Star of Education Award and thanks CTE directors for preparing students for future. #CTESpringMtg

Workforce DQC ‏@WorkforceDQC: Excited to attend & present today at #CTESpringMtg. Great to start the day hearing about aligning postsec w/labor market

Nebraska Career Ed ‏@NECareerEd: STEM skills are in demand well beyond STEM occupations. #CTESpringMtg

NOCTI ‏@NOCTI1: Great morning filled with good conversation surrounding federal funding and Perkins. #CTESpringMtg

NASDCTEc ‏@CTEWorks: OCTAE’s Sharon Miller and our own Kim Green reflect on Dr. Dann-Messier’s work to strengthen CTE. #CTESpringMtg

NASDCTEc ‏@CTEWorks: .@usedgov‘s Brenda Dann-Messier helping to kick off our #ctespringmtg

See you this summer!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Spring Meeting Recap: Beyond Perkins

April 7th, 2014

Our final panel discussion on the morning of Tuesday April 1, 2014, was on other major federal policies and initiatives that impact – or have the potential to impact – Career Technical Education (CTE). David Blaime, Senior Vice President at the American Association of Community Colleges, opened the panel by discussing some of the major provisions he believes will be addressed in future reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which won’t likely occur before 2015. He identified three themes emerging from the current discussions: reducing complexity in student lending (in terms of regulation and the number of programs), accountability tied to the quality of postsecondary institutions, and a potential shift to outcome-based accreditation, as well as how the U.S. Department of Education oversees accrediting bodies.

Angela Hanks, Policy Analyst from the New Skills Coalition next gave an update on the current state of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which has been due up for reauthorization since 2001. In the last year, the House and the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee each passed an updated WIA bill. While these two bills were developed and passed largely along party lines, last week the leadership from both the House and Senate met in conference to discuss opportunities for a new WIA. NASDCTEc will keep everyone informed as details emerge from those discussions.

Finally, Dr. Johan Uvin, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, shared some of the Administration’s major initiatives to support CTE and workforce development aligned to President Obama’s goal of ensuring every American has at least one year of postsecondary education or training. Specifically, he mentioned the $100 million in Youth Career Connect grants and the Performance Partnership pilots, which will allow a state, region, locality, or Federally-recognized tribe to pool a portion of discretionary funds they receive from multiple federal agencies while measuring and tracking specific cross-program outcomes, to facilitate better coordination and reduce redundancies. He also highlighted a number of new items put in the 2015 budget including $150 million for competitive high school redesign grants, $110 million for STEM innovation networks and $75 million for accelerated pathways.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

NASDCTEc 2014 Spring Meeting Recap

April 7th, 2014


State CTE Directors, NASDCTEc members, CTE expert panelists and many more converged on the nation’s capital beginning on March 31, 2014. Over three days, NASDCTEc’s annual Spring Meeting covered a broad array of subjects, from the pending reauthorization of The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to breakout sessions on secondary-postsecondary collaboration, just in time labor market information, accountability initiatives and much more.

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), spoke after NASDCTEc/NCTEF President, John Fischer, formally opened the Spring Meeting. In a bittersweet moment for everyone in the CTE community, we learned that Dr. Dann-Messier plans to leave OCTAE in late May. Dr. Dann-Messier received repeated praise from fellow panelists and membership for her five years of dedicated service at the head of OCTAE and at the forefront of CTE.

Tuesday’s sessions continued with panels outlining the state of federal funding and guidance on CTE, with many commentators commending the CTE community’s assiduous advocacy on behalf of CTE along with reminders to remain in contact with your senators and representatives going forward.

On Wednesday, NASDCTEc was proud to honor five critical advocates for CTE with Star of Education Awards. Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) both received the Star of Education—Congressional Award for their years of dedicated service as congressional advocates for CTE. Later, recently-retired State CTE Directors Dr. Patrick Ainsworth of California and Dr. Kathy Shibley of Ohio were inducted into the ranks of State CTE Directors Emeriti, while Ainsworth’s successor Russ Weikle received the first-ever Rising Star of CTE Award for his pioneering work in the state of California. Wednesday also included sessions on CTE’s role in the ongoing push to improve STEM enrollment and outcomes nationwide, the growth of competency-based education and CTE, and strategies to utilize postsecondary CTE as a way to maintain the American workforce’s place as one of the most highly-skilled worldwide.

More outside experts on CTE offered their perspectives on Thursday morning’s panels. Beginning with a focus on new reporting guidance regarding the Office of Management and Budget’s “Omni Circular,” Thursday’s sessions focused on developments that will affect CTE in the weeks and months ahead. Panelists throughout the morning reiterated their efforts to establish partnerships with CTE programs, and offered their insight on how the CTE community can facilitate collaboration with business and industry groups and state-level education leaders to broaden the CTE stakeholder base and stimulate the national conversation on CTE. The session closed with updates from the Division of Academic and Technical Education and the National Center for Innovation in Career Technical Education.

Couldn’t make the Spring Meeting? Resources and information on several sessions are available online! While on the site, be sure to sign-up today for the next gathering of Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders in Phoenix, June 16-18, 2014, at Achieving Excellence in CTE: The Career Clusters Institute. Don’t delay — April 8, 2014, is the last day of the early bird registration rate.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

NOTE: Photo courtesy Bob Witchger, all rights reserved

NASDCTEc Spring Meeting Blog Series: Odysseyware Offers Individualized, Self-Paced Learning that Inspires Students

March 27th, 2014

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 the Washington, DC area.

“Yeah, like I’m ever gonna use any of this stuff in real life!”

By Mercedes Doyle

Think about how many high school students have said something similar to this. I know I did once or twice during my teenage years. Sometimes it’s a very true statement. However, for students enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE), it’s a rare expression.

More than ever before, CTE is a powerful driver in college and career readiness. For the high school graduates moving on to higher education (approximately 66%), CTE empowers them with valuable “real life” perspectives, and equips them with unique problem-solving skills that don’t always come from core textbooks. For fresh graduates going directly into the job market, having a CTE head start in a chosen Career Cluster can mean the difference between employment and frustration.logo_1

For college- and career-bound high schoolers, CTE is ideal for both career exploration and position-specific preparation. Students can dabble within multiple Career Clusters to zero in on industries that resonate with their interests and proficiencies. Or, if they’re passionate about a particular career pathway, they can focus their concentration within one cluster and potentially earn certifications that can pay dividends in the workplace.

However, CTE can only work it’s magic if it’s well implemented, properly staffed and comprehensively executed. Herein lies some definite challenges: The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) has identified 16 Career Clusters ( Within each cluster there exists a number of focused subjects.

Ask yourself: what Career Clusters appeal to my region’s distinct industries, economy and cultural landscape? If you teach in heart of New York City, then maybe Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources isn’t a preferred Career Cluster for your students. But if you live in rural New York Mills, MN, then courses in agriculture can truly benefit your students.

Need help answering CTE questions?

If you feel overwhelmed by the many considerations involved with CTE implementation, Odysseyware can help. No other online curriculum provider offers more CTE courses or Career Clusters than Odysseyware – including recent introductions in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Career Cluster, plus Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security Career Cluster coming soon! We’ve invested the time, effort and expertise in developing the online content and technology you need. So ask us for recommendations, and lean on us for professional development by calling 877-795-8904.

CTE is here to stay. It’s growing roots and growing fast, because it prepares our nation’s young adults to be viable and competitive in the ever-changing workplace. As an online component to blended CTE instruction, Odysseyware allows individualized, self-paced learning – which provides valuable life lessons in independence. It also empowers educators to make a big impact on students’ lives, and enjoy the tangible rewards that come with blended learning. In a nutshell, Odysseyware CTE inspires students to say the words every educator wants to hear: “yes, I’ll use this stuff in real life.”

(Mercedes Doyle is an Education Specialist at Odysseyware)

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager