Archive for February, 2012

Today’s CTE Poised to Meet 21st Century Demands

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

In a recent commentary from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, organization president Chester Finn opined that high school diplomas and four-year college credentials are not enough to equip students with the skills needed to land jobs and meet the needs of employers.

Our contribution to this discussion is below. Visit Fordham’s Web site to view the entire discussion and add to the conversation.

Finn wrote that “Somewhere between the dead-end of old-style vocational high schools and the fashionable but ill-advised ‘college for everyone’ campaign is a course of action that will actually equip young Americans for both successful citizenship and the real economy that they will inhabit.” We absolutely agree. However, what Finn does not mention is that education programs that balance those needs for employability skills and higher-level learning are in fact available in the United States through Career Technical Education (CTE).

Many CTE leaders across the nation have been spearheading the transformation of “old-style” vocational education into more rigorous, comprehensive CTE. Today, progressive CTE programs connect directly to postsecondary education and the workforce to meet industry demands and prepare students with high-level knowledge, skills, and credentials.

Finn’s notions of vocational education are formed by existing, but also well-expired, approaches to education and training. In the days of the industrial era, shop classes that prepared students for the assembly line served their purpose. However, since then, CTE leaders have been charging ahead with a new vision for CTE to meet current demands, and schools like Biotechnology High School (BTHS) in Freehold, New Jersey are leading the way.

BTHS focuses on teaching students knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through research, critical thinking, technology, and teamwork. The school partners with pharmaceutical companies across the state to provide students with internships that are directly related to their coursework. In addition to these work-based experiences, all junior and senior students receive rigorous academic preparation through International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. The demanding blend of academic and technical instruction works – every BTHS graduate from the class of 2011 entered a 4-year degree program and 85 percent are pursuing STEM majors. The school’s efforts were recognized nationally last year when Newsweek named BTHS one of the “Best High Schools in America.” In fact, a total of seven New Jersey CTE schools made that Newsweek list. CTE leaders are working to bring all CTE programs aligned and up to speed to meet our nation’s evolving needs.

Finn’s concerns about student preparation parallel those of employers across the country in industries such as advanced manufacturing and STEM. Employers in these fields lament that the kinds of workers they need to hire, knowledgeable workers with specific technical skills, are unavailable despite high unemployment rates. This is where CTE provides value. Many CTE school leaders partner with business and industry organizations to develop programs that teach students the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the current, emerging, and projected market. CTE prepares students for high-demand fields such as health care, energy, and manufacturing by providing real-world experience guided by organizations that are active in the field.

And CTE is serving students entering all levels of higher education. As Finn noted, last year’s Pathways to Prosperity report showed that only 30 percent of jobs by 2018 will require a bachelor’s degree and fewer will demand only a high school diploma. CTE aligns high school and college programs so that students are ready for college – from two- or four-year programs to technical schools that lead to certifications and/or diplomas – and prepared to meet the demands of business and industry.

In the past, vocational education programs delivered mostly technical skills to students who often entered the workforce immediately after high school. Over the decades, however, it has become apparent that most students need more than a high school diploma to obtain a solid career and earn family-sustaining wages. There is certainly more work to be done, but it is important to note that the “bold makeover” of vocational education to rigorous CTE is taking place.


By Kara in News

NCES Releases Version 2 of Common Education Data Standards

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

In an effort to make data more usable and comparable, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in collaboration with education stakeholder groups, has established voluntary standards that will help states develop their statewide longitudinal data systems by bringing consistency to the way we talk about education across learner levels and sectors.

The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) are a shared vocabulary for education data to improve the consistency of definitions used across the states. NCES recently released its second version of CEDS that focuses on postsecondary elements in addition to the K-12 elements found in the first version.

The CEDS Web site lets users view the CEDS in three ways – by element, relationship, or comparison. For example, a user looking for a definition of a Career Technical Education (CTE) completer would type their query into the search field. Under “Career and Technical Education Completer,” the user would find a common definition, an alternate name, related categories, and other notes.

The Data Quality Campaign hosted a webinar on the topic last week, and a recording and slides are now available. During the webinar, NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley said that many comments from CTE stakeholders were received during the development of the latest version of CEDS, and that NCES plans to create a subgroup for CTE in the next version of CEDS.

To learn more, visit the Common Education Data Standards Web site.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in Research
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More Information on President’s Career Academy Proposal

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

As we told you a few weeks ago, in his FY13 budget, President Obama proposed a $1 billion investment in career academies. In a fact sheet released by the Department of Education, there are new details to share. According to the Department:

“Through this new initiative, States would award competitive grants to partnerships of school districts and local employers, creating 3,000 new career academies and increasing the number of students served by 50 percent. This means that half a million more students would have access to programs that studies suggest can lead to higher earnings and better academic outcomes.”

As we learn more about this and other proposals in the President’s budget, we will be sure to share that information with you.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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New Round of Community College Grants Now Open

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a solicitation for a new round of grant applications for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program. The announcement was made with Second Lady Jill Biden during the “Community College to Career” bus tour at Davidson County Community College in North Carolina.

Congress allocated $2 billion for the TAACCCT program to be awarded in each of fiscal years 2011-2014. This round will fund up to $500 million in grants to community colleges for targeted training and workforce development to help dislocated workers obtain the skills they need to change careers. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide career pathways and build instructional programs that meet industry needs. The deadline to apply is May 24, 2012.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Apply Today to the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Microsoft is seeking innovative examples of how technology is impacting student learning. The US Forum is open to all K-12 educators. The intent is to showcase examples of classroom innovation. Apply to this unique professional learning experience, share ideas and collaborate with inspiring educators from across the country.

Kelly Green, Microsoft Partners in Learning Manager, shared the application opportunity with us. The event is designed to recognize exceptional teachers across the country, that are integrating technology into teaching and learning.

Please pass this information along to any educator you feel deserving of this opportunity.

Who can apply:

• K-12 educators or teams of two educators who lead class projects that use technology to positively impact student learning
• School leaders who direct programs and initiatives that use technology to enhance education throughout the school community

Application link:

Deadlines: Final application deadline is May 15, 2012. Applications received by April 1, 2012 will be included in the “early decision” round. We will notify the chosen applicants by April 15, 2012. All other chosen applicants will be notified by June 1, 2012.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in News

CTE Month: USA TODAY Offers Free Future Forward Curriculum

Friday, February 24th, 2012

In honor of CTE Month, USA Today is offering free access to its recently-published curriculum, Future Forward: Tools to Fuel College and Career Readiness.

The curriculum was developed specifically to address the unique needs of the CTE teacher and their classroom; the company enlisted CTE practitioners to create the resource, including ACTE, and CTE and reading teachers (such as Dr. Travis Park of Cornell University) to design the curriculum. Further, USA Today involved CTE educators and administrators across the country (including NASDCTEc’s Dean Folkers) in the review process.

And for just a few more days, access to this resource is free.

The purpose of Future Forward is to increase students’ success in college and careers by engaging them with current industry news and information while supporting essential literacy skills.

The entire program offers online access to resources such as:

  1. A collection of 10 graphic-organizer based reading guides.
  2. A collection of six vocabulary building guides that specifically support CTE vocabulary needs.
  3. A library of 180 industry-related USA TODAY articles, with Lexile® Measurements, organized by 16 Career Clusters.
  4. A repository of mini-assessments, also organized by 16 Career Clusters.


Access to the program can be gained online, using the username: USATEACHER and the passcode: FEBFREE. Give me your feedback on the program (

 Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By Erin in Resources
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CTE Month: CTE Changes Student’s Life Today, Tomorrow

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Career Technical Education (CTE) Month is coming to a close, however CTE students are confidently looking toward the months and years ahead. Taylor D. Sarman, National President of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)–Phi Beta Lambda, in particular, says his CTE experiences has allowed him to develop the knowledge and skills to take on the upcoming challenges of the quick-moving, ever-changing world.

“Through FBLA and CTE, my confidence level exploded, my work ethic prospered, and my understanding of the world around me—and how I could contribute to it—has advanced by leaps and bounds,” said Sarman in a recent blog. “CTE and FBLA forever changed my life and continue to give me the skills to develop with new changes in my life.”

“In a world where change is the only constant, students who are enrolled in CTE courses and involved in Career a Technical Student Organizations (CTSOC) are fully prepared to tackle any challenge that presents itself,” he added.

At a time when our nation’s leaders are searching for solutions to address education and workforce issues, it is critical that the CTE community share positive experiences that shed light on the value of CTE. For CTE Month, take the time to tell your CTE story. FBLA is collecting CTE student stories, e-mail them at and support CTE.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By Erin in News
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Michigan Teacher of the Year Applauds Career Technical Education as Key to Student Success

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Paul Galbenski is the first Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher to be honored as Michigan Teacher of the Year. Galbenski is a Business Management, Marketing and Technology instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus Southeast in Royal Oak with over 19 years of classroom experience. In a video shared by Michigan State Director Patty Cantu, he shares his passion for CTE.

Galbenski’s remarks from the video include:

Galbenski also shared two success stories on the video:

In a quote from the Michigan Department of Education Web site, Galbenski said “I feel my greatest accomplishment in education is engaging and working with students on a personal level as they are preparing for post-secondary education or employment. In my eyes, being able to build a trusting relationship with students is one of the greatest accomplishments a teacher can experience.”

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Career Clusters®, News
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Webinar: Achieve and State CTE Directors: Integrating the Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education

Friday, February 24th, 2012

As states and districts begin to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), teachers may need to redesign their lessons and classroom activities to ensure that course content is rigorous and aligned to the CCSS. To help teachers and education leaders address this challenge, Achieve and NASDCTEc have joined to pilot a process in which secondary and postsecondary educators develop and evaluate instructional tasks that demonstrate how for high school mathematics expectations can be applied using Career Technical Education (CTE) content. Hear about the process, pilot results, and the plans for the future related to using the protocol.

Dean Folkers, Deputy Executive Director of NASDCTEc/NCTEF, and a representative from Achieve, will discuss the implementation and outcomes of the initiative. Mark Williams, CTE State Director in Illinois, will describe his state’s role in the pilot project.

Title: Achieve and State CTE Directors: Integrating the Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education

Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST

Register here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in Webinars

CTE Month: NASDCTEc Launches Facebook Page

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

NASDCTEc has launched its Facebook page! Log in to Facebook, Like our page and gain access to up-to-date information on NASDCTEc and CTE news. We will keep you connected to the latest CTE happenings and link you to the CTE community.

Support NASDCTEc and CTE by:

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By Erin in Advance CTE Announcements, News