Archive for October, 2013

College Board & PDK Publication Examines Benefits of CTE

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Last month the College Board, in conjunction with Phi Delta Kappan (PDK), released an article extolling the virtues of Career Technical Education (CTE) and how best to ensure quality and access to it across the nation. Written by Jean-Claude Brizard, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and Senior Advisor at the College Board, the article titled Toward a Common Model of Career-Technical Education, highlights the positive impact CTE programs had on three students who each took different pathways to academic and professional success. It later expands on their individual experiences and argues that these success stories are increasingly becoming the norm for students who choose to enroll in CTE programs— an encouraging trend considering  94% of all high school students in the U.S. take at least one CTE course. Brizard identified three core components for what he termed “great CTE” programs:

The author asserts that CTE offers, “the greatest opportunity for multiple entry and exit points,” and notes  that, “Students may exit the educational experience with an industry credential, go to work, and then re-enter at a later time to stack a credential on ones previously earned.” This is an important feature of many CTE programs and one that is not lost on students who must compete in a rapidly evolving global economy. More than ever before, new technologies are changing the nature of the workplace and CTE is one of the best ways to equip students with the skills necessary to stay competitive and relevant.

However, Brizard does contend that CTE suffers from a slight perception problem with some students and parents. Despite studies indicating that two-thirds of new jobs in the United States will require at least some form of postsecondary education—half of which are expected to go to candidates with an associate’s degree or occupational certificate— some families still view CTE from the vantage point of, “a 1950s economic model in which a large percentage of occupations required unskilled labor.” Brizard dispels this notion without qualification and argues that CTE prepares students both for college and careers, invoking the experiences of many of his CTE students who went on to college and even advanced degrees.  He also pointed out that 27 percent of workers with postsecondary licenses or certificates earn more than the average B.A. recipient– a fact which runs counter to the notion that a college degree is the only pathway into a high-wage career.

Brizard also identifies the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as a primary component to ensuring quality and rigor in education. He goes on to argue that similar standards should be applied to CTE and he was supportive of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium’s (NASDCTEc) recent efforts to develop the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC), a set of state-developed, common, program-level standards for CTE programs. These standards are critical to ensuring quality and access to CTE programs throughout the United States. According to Brizard the CCTC represents, “the highest academic and industry standards” which, “successfully serves both education and industry sectors.”

The full publication can be found here and a recent NASDCTEc webinar in which the College Board participated can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Common Career Technical Core, News, Publications

Fall Meeting Recap: Common Core State Standards & Career Technical Education

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

CCSS LogoLast week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting,  which featured a panel of state CTE leaders sharing their strategies for implementation the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Kicking off the panel was Meredith Liben, Director of Literacy at Student Achievement Partners (SAP), who described the three major instructional shifts within the CCSS in English Language Arts/Literacy, which in essence boil down to “texts worth reading, questions worth answered and work worth doing.” Liben highlighted the challenge among CTE teachers who often don’t have a literacy background in internalizing such shifts within their classrooms, and gave a sneak peek into the work SAP plans to take on in this space moving forward.

Next up was Katharine Oliver, Assistant State Superintendent of Career and College Readiness at the Maryland State Department of Education who described the state’s efforts to identify ways to measure student growth in CTE through the development of student learning objectives (SLOs), as well as the professional development that brings interdisciplinary teams of teachers together to collaborate to understand and identify complex texts. An early lesson learned is the importance of keeping teachers in “like groups,” as CTE teachers want to be able to see literacy through the lens of their own content areas rather than for all CTE subjects. Oliver also mentioned a new Blackboard site where the state will be posting lessons in “those difficult to teach areas” including CTE.

Russ Weikle, Director of Career and College Transition Division at the California Department of Education framed much of the work in his state as “deliberate” alignments to the CCSS. The approach California took when modifying their CTE standards framework was to create anchor standards (a term borrowed from the CCSS’s ELA/Literacy standards) that are consistent across all Career Clusters, making them “CTE standards that CTE teachers can own, while still teaching CCSS.” Under the anchor standards are performance indicators that are specific to the state’s Career Pathways. Next, the state convened educators to review the Career Pathway-level standards and look for “substantial and natural alignment” between them and the CCSS. The task put before them was to determine if a pathway standard would enhance, reinforce or apply a specific core subject standard.” The result of this effort are Academic Alignment Matrices for each of the state’s 15 Career Clusters.

In addition, 500 educators in California have gone through a train the trainer module around disciplinary literacy and are not replicating the training in their schools and districts. The module can be found here.

Sharing Wisconsin’s efforts to date, Sharon Wendt, Director of Career and Technical Education at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction discussed the state’s efforts around literacy, jumpstarted by the adoption of the CCSS and the launch of a Governor’s Task Force on literacy in 2010. With CTE engaged in the task force from the get-go, it has allowed for that work to inform the revision of the state’s CTE standards and for CTE to inform the broader statewide discussion of college and career readiness.   One major takeaway Wendt shared is how the CCSS are helping core academic teachers better understand what happens within CTE classrooms through such inter-disciplinary professional development and resources being developed. Wisconsin has some terrific materials for disciplinary literacy, which can be found here.

Most of the conversation was focused around the ELA/Literacy standards and the panelists did admit much less work had been done in mathematics to date in part because they are not technically required for CTE educators and because there is more resistance from the mathematics community to integrate. Maryland is working to develop senior year transition courses in mathematics, particularly for students who do not meet the college- and career-ready determination on the state test, with a heavy emphasis on mathematics applications. Another idea on the table in Maryland is to identify where a CTE course or sequence of courses with enough math may count as a fourth-year math requirement.

While it is too early to measure results with implementation still underway, all of the panelists noted “appreciative teacher”s and “positive feedback” from core academic educators as early signs of success.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Resources Available Online

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting last week in Baltimore, Maryland. Many State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors and other CTE stakeholders were in attendance during the three-day event where a variety of presentations and panel discussions took place on a wide range of topics.

Presentation resources are available online. We are awaiting a few more documents to finalize the collection of all the resources, but in the meantime, please take advantage of the resources now available here.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Advance CTE Fall Meeting, Meetings and Events, Resources

Fall Meeting Recap: Panel Discusses OECD Report

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Last week the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting where a distinguished group of panelists discussed a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report. As we shared previously, the publication critically assessed the challenges facing the postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) system in the United States. The authors argued throughout the report that the diversity and inherent decentralization of the postsecondary CTE system was both the United States’ biggest strength and its greatest weakness.

Mary Alice McCarthy, Senior Policy Analyst for the New America Foundation, gave the keynote presentation on the report’s findings which framed the rest of the panel discussion. Three overarching policy recommendations were given:

McCarthy examined each of these recommendations in greater detail and identified specific policies for achieving them.  She argued that improvements in “quality, coherence, and transparency” would lead to better outcomes for students. Towards the end of her remarks McCarthy illustrated an alarming trend when comparing reading scores across generations—American’s scores, compared to the rest of the world, had plateaued or declined for the most recent generation of 16-24 year-olds. This “skill plateau” framed the remainder of the discussion and served as the basis of analysis for the rest of the panel.

The other members of the panel echoed many of the core sentiments found in the report and highlighted the many ways in which their organizations are helping to improve the postsecondary CTE system. Dalila Bonilla Wortman, Director of Engineering at Lockheed Martin, emphasized her company’s use of interns as a viable strategy for transitioning students from the classroom to the workplace. Michael Baumgartner, Vice President of Finance and Special Projects at Complete College America argued for the need to increase the number of U.S. adults with a postsecondary certification, credential, or degree to 60 percent or more and also noted the importance of programs, like Lockheed Martin’s, that provide work-based experiences as part of that process.

Scott Stump, Dean of Career Technical Education for the Colorado Community College System and current Vice President of the NASDCTEc Executive Board, brought the discussion full-circle by stressing the need for a “coherent postsecondary CTE system, when it was never designed to be coherent.” He and the other panelists remained optimistic about the future prospects of postsecondary CTE in the United States and agreed that the challenges facing them today can be solved with the right policies moving forward.

The full report can be found here and the McCarthy’s slides can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Public Policy, Research

Legislative Update: Budget Conference Committee to Meet Next Week

Friday, October 25th, 2013

As we shared last week, the federal government was reopened with a Continuing Resolution (CR) and the debt limit was raised under legislation (H.R. 2775) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Per this agreement, a budget conference committee was created to develop a longer term FY14 budget. The committee was recently announced and is composed of the entire Senate Budget Committee along with four House Republicans and three House Democrats. The bipartisan, bicameral group is led respectively by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) who have been charged with negotiating an agreement between the House and Senate budgets— a $90 billion difference that will need to be reconciled and likely include broader issues such as tax and entitlement reform in a final deal.Capitol

Sequestration also is looming in the background of these negotiations, with the FY14 sequester cuts from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) set to go into effect by mid-January, the same time the current CR is set to expire. These additional sequester cuts would lower the aggregate spending cap for the federal budget to $967 billion and trigger further across-the-board spending cuts to the federal budget. Both sides have recently voiced interest in replacing, or at the very least mitigating, these cuts. However, Democrats favor increasing revenues to pay for additional spending beyond the $967 billion level, while Republicans are seeking reductions to entitlements and broad-based tax reform to offset those costs.

The conference committee set its first meeting for Wednesday October 30th to begin talks on these topics. As we have shared previously, sequestration has adversely effected and continues to negatively impact the CTE community. It is critical that NASDCTEc and its partners in the CTE community continue to engage their members of Congress, especially those on this conference committee, as they grapple with these important issues. Please check our blog for updates as this process continues to unfold.

New Addition to OVAE and Third Round of TAACCCT Grants Announced

With the federal government reopened, the Department of Education and its Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) are getting back to normal operations. Mark Mitsui, the recently appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges at OVAE, announced a new section for community colleges in the OVAE Connections newsletter. The section will, “provide useful information to community college leaders and their campus communities regarding relevant federal policy, grants and research.” Feedback and input for the new community college section can be sent directly to: ovaenewsletter@ed.gov

The third round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program just finished and approximately $474.5 million in grants are set to go out to community colleges and universities across the country. The four-year, $2 billion initiative, jointly administered by the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, funds the development and expansion of career training programs that are linked to the needs of business and industry. The grant program also invests in staff and educational resources and supports access to free digital learning materials. As Labor Secretary Thomas Perez noted, “These investments in demand-driven skills training bring together education, labor, business and community leaders to meet the real-world needs of the changing global marketplace.”

More information on TAACCCT can be found here and a list of grantees by state, along with project descriptions, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy

NASDCTEc Recognizes All Stars at Fall Meeting

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Earlier this week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held a luncheon at its Fall meeting to honor the organization’s All-Star sponsors. NASDCTEc is fortunate to have a group of dedicated sponsor partners who provide critical and ongoing support to the organization and its work. The NASDCTEc All Stars include:

Representatives from eight All Stars attended the luncheon and received a certificate of appreciation, presented by NASDCTEc Vice President Scott Stump, and Region XI Representative Bernadette Howard.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Advance CTE Announcements, Meetings and Events

Fall Meeting Recap: Federal Policy Update

Friday, October 25th, 2013

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting this past week in Baltimore, Maryland. Many State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors and other CTE stakeholders were in attendance during the three-day event where a variety of presentations and panel discussions took place on a wide range of topics.

One subject that garnered interest among attendees was the Federal Policy Update Panel which provided an overview of the State Mapmajor pieces of federal legislation relevant to the CTE community. John Fischer, NASDCTEc board President and Vermont Agency of Education Deputy Commissioner, moderated the discussion. Kimberly Green, NASDCTEc’s Executive Director, also participated on the panel along with James Hermes, Associate Vice President of Government Relations at the American Association of Community Colleges and Alisha Hyslop, Director of Public Policy at the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Each of the panelists gave a broad update on how major pieces of federal legislation, such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Higher Education Act (HEA), and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) were progressing on the national level, when each was due for reauthorization, and how that process was likely to unfold. The panelists also discussed their organizations’ related advocacy efforts as well as the prospects for reauthorization and challenges facing each piece of legislation.

Hyslop began the panel by outlining the current political landscape and explaining in greater detail the ongoing debate between both parties over the federal budget. She contended that both Democrats and Republicans see a need to grapple with the federal deficit and related national debt, but have starkly different strategies for how to do this.  In particular she highlighted that the majority of spending cuts currently underway have targeted only a small fraction of the federal budget— 16 percent — known as nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending. Of that portion merely 2 percent is spent on education. As a consequence, spending reductions made to NDD programs are felt much more strongly than in other areas of the federal budget.

Green followed by speaking about some of the positive trends currently happening on the federal level with regards to CTE. She argued that there is an increasing amount of recognition among policymakers that students should be prepared both for college and careers. Green used ESEA as an example of this, explaining that the current version of ESEA in the Senate (S. 1094) uses the phrase “college and career readiness” throughout the proposed bill. Moreover, Green expressed her optimism over renewed federal interest in Perkins, which recently culminated in a Congressional hearing last month.

Despite these promising trends, Congressional gridlock and partisanship was cited as the main reason for the slow progress made towards reauthorization much of this legislation. For instance, both Hermes and Green stressed that WIA has been due for reauthorization since 2003, but because of the politics surrounding some of its components, progress had slowed considerably. Competing versions of WIA, one still in the Senate (S. 1356) and the other passed contentiously by the House (H.R. 803), illustrate this point. However, the panel noted that unlike WIA or ESEA, Perkins continues to enjoy wide bipartisan support. Even with other federal education bills still awaiting reauthorization, Hyslop and Green expressed optimism that Perkins would be reauthorized in the coming years, possibly even ahead of others already in the queue.

John Fischer posed a number of interesting questions to the panel and asked why interest in CTE has persisted over the last few years. Hermes answered pithily saying, “Jobs.” Both Green and Hyslop agreed with his assessment. They argued that now was the time to harness much of the enthusiasm surrounding CTE as a way to address the skills gap and to reduce the lingering effects of the most recent recession. The panelists formed a consensus around this and encouraged the audience to engage their members of Congress on these important issues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, Public Policy

Fall Meeting Recap: State Policy Update

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Earlier this week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting, which had a strong focus on state policy. To lay out some of the major trends being led by legislatures, state agencies and state boards across the country impacting Career Technical Education (CTE), Amy Loyd, from the Pathways to Prosperity Network at Jobs for the Future, Jennifer Dounay Zinth, from the Education Commission of States, and Robin Utz, from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education participated in the State Policy Update session.

Dale Winkler, Associate Commissioner, Kentucky Office of Career and Technical Education, moderated the panel and opened by describing three major pieces of legislation passed over the last few years in Kentucky impacting CTE, strengthening the state’s CTE standards and accountability, pathways and governance. Jennifer Dounay Zinth provided an overview of cross-state legislation and governors’ agendas citing five overarching trends: career-ready performance indicators, governance structures to facilitate better CTE and industry alignment, finance through accountability and incentives, CTE pathways or industry-based credentials being embedded into high school graduation requirements, and greater coordination between K-12, postsecondary and workforce development/industry.

Amy Loyd shared some highlights from the eight states working within the Pathways to Prosperity Network to better connect their education and workforce development systems to support more seamless student transitions. An early takeaway from that work is the importance of cross-agency efforts. The most successful states are those that bring together the major state agencies – such as state departments of education, higher education commissions, workforce development boards, governors’ offices, and economic development commissions – to develop common language, common goals and metrics, and even common funding as possible.

Finally, Robin Utz discussed some of the work OVAE is supporting in states and trends emerging around career pathways and programs of study. Specifically, she mentioned performance-based funding, graduation requirements recognizing or even requiring programs of study, legislative support for Career Technical Student Organizations, and dual and concurrent enrollment as some of the major levers being pulled across states in support of CTE. She, along with the other panelists, all agreed that this widespread interest in CTE and improving career pathways is the result of the economic uncertainly and persistent skills gap, along with the broader support for the college- and career-ready agenda, which has led to CTE being “invited to the adults’ table.”

Among the common themes that emerged as policy areas that still need more attention were dual/concurrent enrollment, credit transfer and articulation agreements, career guidance and counseling, and structures and incentives for more work-based learning experiences.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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UNESCO Releases Report on Global Trends in TVET

Friday, October 18th, 2013

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently published a digital volume of essays encompassing a broad swath of current practices, trends, debates, and ideas in the field of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). At its core TVET is the global terminology used to describe much of what the United States labels as CTE. According to UNESCO TVET is concerned primarily with, “the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.”UNESCO

Titled Revisiting Global Trends in TVET: Reflections on Theory and Practice, this e-publication was produced by UNESCO’s International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC) at a time when global policymakers and stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and value of TVET programs around the world. This global appreciation culminated with the 3rd International Congress on TVET which took place in Shanghai in May of last year. At its core TVET is the global terminology used to describe much of what the United States labels as CTE. According to UNESCO TVET is concerned primarily with, “the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.”

This international meeting provided a forum for discussion about the future trajectory of TVET and the challenges UNESCO member states and TVET stakeholders face. What resulted from this forum was a set of policy recommendations, known as the Shanghai Consensus, which put forward seven overarching principles for how to promote and better implement TVET programs worldwide. They were:

These broad-based recommendations echo many of the core principles found in NASDCTEc’s vision paper Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education and put them into a larger global context. To that end, the set of essays contained in the UNESCO publication seeks to further develop, explain, and more fully realize the doctrine set forth in the Shanghai Consensus.

Please check our blog over the next few weeks as we examine in further detail specific chapters within this e-publication.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate

By Steve Voytek in Publications, Research

Congress Agrees to End Government Shutdown, Lift the Debt Ceiling

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Over the past several weeks NASDCTEc has been sharing updates regarding the most recent Congressional impasse over the budget and the need to increase the United States’ borrowing limit. Until yesterday, partisan gridlock had largely prevented Congress from accomplishing either of these important tasks. A Continuing Resolution (CR), which was needed to temporarily fund the government atCapitol current spending levels, failed to be negotiated by the October 1st deadline. A partial government shutdown ensued. Thousands of “non-essential” federal workers were furloughed, interrupting many important governmental functions and disrupting the wider economy.

Looming in the background of this stalemate was the fast-approaching need to raise the nation’s debt limit— the legislative restriction on how much the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow to pay for existing debts. Today marked that deadline for this critical limit.

Encouragingly, Congress came to a negotiated deal on both of these pressing issues late yesterday. The full text of the amendment can be found here along with a summary. The key aspects of the agreement are as follows:

The Senate passed the agreement decisively 81-18 and the House passed the measure on a narrower margin of 285-144. President Obama signed the legislation into law late last night and federal government employees are set to return to work today. Senator Patty Murray (D-OR) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be the conference committee leaders where both sides hope to establish long-term spending plans. Sequestration, the mandated across-the-board spending cuts from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), will likely be a significant issue for the conference committee.

Additional sequester cuts for FY14 are set to take effect on the same day as the expiration date for the current CR by lowering the aggregate spending cap for the federal budget to $967 billion. These spending levels will likely be at the core of these budget negotiations as both sides try to replace, or at the very least mitigate, the effects of sequestration. As we have shared previously, sequestration continues to impact the CTE community and other nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs more broadly. Tax and entitlement reform efforts are also expected to be discussed during these negotiations.

Please check our blog for more updates on these quickly developing issues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy

 

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