Archive for March, 2011

Legislative Update: Appropriations, SECTORS Act

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Congress Still Negotiating on Long Term Funding Bill

With just one week left to work out a deal before the current continuing resolution expires and the government shuts down, Congress is still trying to find a middle ground that they can agree on regarding cuts. As of Thursday evening, it was being reported that House Republicans and Senate Democrats are close to striking a deal that would cut $33 billion from current spending levels, but nothing had yet been agreed to.


This week, Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Olympia Snowe (ME) introduced S. 665, the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act. This bill would promote job creation by preparing workers with education and training tailored for jobs in high-growth industry sectors—like biosciences, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing—in regions across the country by supporting partnerships between businesses, unions, educators, and the public workforce system. Representatives Dave Loebsack (IA) and Todd Platts (PA) introduced companion legislation in the House.

“Workforce development and job creation go hand-in-hand. Even in this time of high unemployment, I’ve heard from Ohio companies in high-growth industries who say they’re ready to hire but can’t find workers with the specialized skills needed to fill the position,” Senator Brown said. “We need to do a better job of creating tailoring workforce development programs to meet the demands of these 21st-century industries. The SECTORS Act creates partnerships between educators, industry, and workforce training boards to ensure that workers have the right skills to get hired in high-tech, good-paying jobs. And by ensuring a skilled, local workforce, we can attract clusters of employers in high-growth industries.”

By Nancy in Legislation
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Meet John Fischer, NASDCTEc Region I Representative

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

“Meet Your Board Member” series continues…

In order for our members to know the individuals who serve them at the national level, NASDCTEc is presenting a blog series called “Meet Your Board Members;” today we are featuring John Fischer, Region I Representative, and State Director of Vermont. Region I encompasses Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

John FischerJohn’s official title is Director, Secondary and Adult Division, Integrated Support for Learning. His office is based out of Montpelier.

According to the VT website, career technical education (CTE) in Vermont is delivered through a system of regional career centers aligned with high schools within each region. The CTE staff at the department provide technical assistance and support for program improvement, new program design, state and federal grant compliance and high school transformation initiatives related to CTE. Programs of Study are organized in alignment to the National Career Clusters Model.

Mr. Fischer joined the Vermont Department of Education in 2006, working with VT’s regional CTE centers and high school renewal initiatives. He became the State Director in August 2008. Prior to that, he worked in NH in the university system and the community/technical college system for 20 years, serving as the Provost and Vice President. John can be reached at

By Ramona in News

FIPSE Grants Now Available

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Last week the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education announced that applications for new discretionary grants under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Comprehensive Program are now available. According the Federal Register notice announcing the awards, the Comprehensive Program “supports innovative grants and cooperative agreements to improve postsecondary education. It supports reforms, innovations, and significant improvements of postsecondary education that respond to problems of national significance and serve as national models.”

Institutions of higher education (IHE) or combinations of IHEs and other public and private nonprofit institutions and agencies are eligible to apply. Approximately $20 million in grants will be available (pending Congressional appropriation). Grants will range from $500,000–$750,000 over three years, with $150,000-$200,000 being awarded for the first year. The Department estimates that 28 grants will be awarded.

There are three competitive and two invitational priorities that applicants should be aware of:

Competitive Preference Priorities (applicants can receive up to an additional two points for each priority met):

  1. Increasing postsecondary success
  2. Enabling more data-based decision-making
  3. Improving productivity

Invitational Priorities:

  1. Curriculum alignment
  2. Reducing instructional costs

The deadline to apply is May 23, 2011.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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State Strategies Provide Lower-Skilled Individuals with Postsecondary Options

Friday, March 25th, 2011

More than half of jobs created by 2018 are projected to require some form of postsecondary education. For lower-skilled individuals with basic skills deficiencies, maintaining employment may become a challenge. Forty-five percent of adults have a high school diploma or less. Those hoping to earn a family-sustaining wage may need to attain a postsecondary credential or certificate to increase their job prospects.

A recent report from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) explains that, while federal programs can increase lower-skilled individuals’ access to postsecondary education, state and local policy decisions influence student success and completion in higher education.

CLASP’s report, Beyond Basic Skills: State Strategies to Connect Low-Skilled Students to an Employer-Valued Postsecondary Education, suggests that states implement these strategies to help lower-skilled individuals attain postsecondary credentials:

By using the above strategies, states can connect basic skills education with postsecondary education to meet the needs of lower-skilled individuals and the state’s labor market demands.

For more information on the suggested strategies, related challenges, and program examples, please read CLASP’s full report here.

By Kara in Research
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Please Welcome New State Director Theresa Vendrzyk Kough, DE

Friday, March 25th, 2011

The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) is pleased to announce Theresa Vendrzyk Kough has begun her new duties as the Director for Title I and Career Technical Resources within the College and Workforce Readiness Branch, effective October 11, 2010. Ms. Kough brings in-depth expertise in federal and state program administration, extensive experience with agency policies and procedures, and an extensive IT systems background. 

Ms. Kough has been employed at the Department since January, 1995.  In that time she has worked in the Career, Technical and Title I Resources work group, Curriculum Development work group, School Improvement work group and as the Director of the Technology Management and Design work group. She has worked as state program manager for both state and federal programs and provided technical assistance to districts on the use of federal and state funds.

In addition, prior to working at the Department Ms. Kough was employed by the New Castle County Vocational and Technical (NCCVT) School District and was an active participant in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) reform initiative High Schools That Work.  She was highly involved in the planning and implementation of the reform effort at both the district and school level.

She brings a combination of managerial skills, program management skills, data systems management experiences and experience in school and district restructuring to her new position.

NASDCTEc welcomes Ms. Kough to the State Director family!

By Ramona in Advance CTE Announcements, Advance CTE State Director

New Report and State Profiles Show Economic Benefit of Cutting Dropout Rates

Friday, March 25th, 2011

The Alliance for Excellent Education released a report and individual state profiles this week that show how cutting the high school dropout rate can have a positive impact on the economy. Education and the Economy: Boosting the Nation’s Economy by Improving High School Graduation Rates found that if the high school graduation rate were cut in half, these 650,000 “new graduates” would benefit the economy in some of the following ways:

The dollar amounts included in the report represent the economic returns from cutting the dropout rate for only one high school class. The Alliance points out that increasing the graduation rates for future classes would create cumulative benefits that would be exponentially greater.  Later this spring, the Alliance will release similar projections for metropolitan areas.

“Decisions on how to close budget gaps and build a strong economy must begin with ensuring better educational outcomes for the nation’s students,” said Alliance president Bob Wise. “There’s been a lot of talk about how budget deficits threaten our children’s future, but the best way to cut budget deficits is to cut dropout rates.”

You can access information about the economic benefits of cutting the graduation rate in your state here.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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CTE Program in Nebraska Provides Opportunities for Student to Create a New Family Legacy

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A new program at Lincoln Southwest High School in Lincoln, Nebraska is helping students to realize their goals through career technical education programs.

According to reporter Dennis Burke of, who shared student Joana Torres’ success story, “Joana Torres is a senior at Southwest Lincoln High School. In a couple of months, she’ll be the first in her family to graduate from high school. And thanks to a Lincoln public schools program called “Project Lead the Way”, she’ll be going all the way to the University of Nebraska to study engineering next fall.” Torres is serving as a model for her siblings.

Burke also interviewed Eric Knoll, the Assistant Curriculum Specialist at Lincoln Public Schools, who said “I think a lot of students exposed to all the different options they have at Southwest high school, and all the other high schools in the district, really get into a good picture of what it looks like outside of these walls when they graduate. So, we want them to be college and career ready.”

According to their website, Project Lead the Way (PLTW) prepares students to be the most innovative and productive leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to make meaningful, pioneering contributions to our world. PLTW partners with middle schools and high schools to provide a rigorous, relevant STEM education. Through an engaging, hands-on curriculum, PLTW encourages the development of problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creative and innovative reasoning and a love of learning.

State Director Richard Katt shared that “Career technical education creates the opportunities for students to become career and college ready and to have a focus when they enter into postsecondary education.”

By Ramona in News

New Framework for Conducting CTE Return on Investment Analysis

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Many states produce impressive statistics regarding career technical education (CTE) student performance, including high rates of technical skill attainment and high language arts and mathematics performance levels. Still, states and districts often fail to provide evidence of CTE’s return on investment (ROI) for communities and the economy. A recently released framework provides guidance for CTE evaluators seeking to show the positive impact of CTE programs on the economy.

In the study, Conducting Return on Investment Analyses for Secondary and Postsecondary CTE: A Framework, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) finds that secondary CTE students receive positive returns at very little or no cost for secondary CTE. The study also reveals that postsecondary CTE participants yield short-term and long-term positive returns on investment.

Further ROI analysis of CTE programs is necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness and necessity of CTE within communities and across the nation. According to Deputy Director Pradeep Kotamraju, the NRCCTE recognizes the difficulty of conducting CTE ROI analyses and hopes to provide rigorous analysis alternatives for CTE stakeholders.

By Kara in Research

House Hearings in PA and NY Look at Role of Higher Ed in Job Training

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

This week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held two field hearings in Pennsylvania and New York entitled, “Reviving our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and Development.” At these hearings, the Committee heard from representatives from local schools and colleges about the education and workforce needs in their communities and their ability to prepare graduates for the local economy.

At the hearing in Wilkes-Barre, PA, several witnesses cited the need for increased funding for education and job training programs, community colleges and Pell grants that help students get the preparation they need for jobs at a time when demand for these programs is increasing.

One of the witnesses at the hearing in Utica, NY asked in his written testimony, “… with understandably limited resources, how does a medium-sized community such as ours embark on the capacity building it needs to do in order to develop a workforce development education and training infrastructure that keeps pace with the needs of the future? As our economy is requiring higher and higher skills, the capacity of our systems to deliver those skills must continue to grow.”  This is a question that communities of every size across the country are asking at this critical time. Let’s hope Congress is listening.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Leaders Call for Curriculum That Link Standards to Achievement

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Education, business, and policy leaders are calling for curriculum that will help teachers prepare students to meet Common Core State Standards. The “Call for Common Content” states that a core curriculum should build a bridge from standards to achievement.

“To be clear, by ‘curriculum’ we mean a coherent, sequential set of guidelines in the core academic disciplines, specifying the content knowledge and skills that all students are expected to learn, over time, in a thoughtful progression across the grades. We do not mean performance standards, textbook offerings, daily lesson plans, or rigid pedagogical prescriptions.”

Indeed, the progression of the Common Core movement will certainly inform the CTE community as it moves toward its revalidation of the Career Clusters Knowledge and Skills Statements. The development of high-standard and consistent CTE programs are a top priority for CTE leaders, who must also balance common goals with the importance of state flexibility.

The Albert Shanker Institute is spearheading the Call for Common Content, which organizations and individuals may add their name online.

By Erin in Career Clusters®, News
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