Archive for December, 2013

Call for Presentations NOW OPEN for Achieving Excellence in Career Technical Education: The National Career Clusters Institute

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

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The Call for Presentations is NOW OPEN for Achieving Excellence in Career Technical Education: The National Career Clusters® Institute.

We are looking for sessions that feature high-quality programs of study, with proven track records of success; offer strategies for successful collaboration, implementation and innovation at the classroom, district or system level; and/or provide opportunities for participants to engage in interactive and hands-on learning activities.

MORE DETAILS
Proposal Deadlines
Proposals will be accepted through February 21, 2014. Speakers will be notified of status early March, 2014.
Submit your proposal now!
Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Career Clusters®, Meetings and Events, National Career Clusters Institute, News
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Senate Passes Budget Deal, BLS Releases New Employment Projections

Friday, December 20th, 2013

CapitolOn Wednesday, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) by a vote of 64-36 sending the measure to President Obama who is expected to sign the bill into law sometime this week. This is the first budget bill successfully passed by both chambers of Congress since 2009 and establishes overall spending levels for the next two years. As we shared last week, the deal reduces FY14 and FY15 sequester cuts by approximately $63 billion. These reductions are paid in part by increased airline fees, pension benefit cuts for federal workers, and a two-year extension of parts of the current sequester past the original 2021 expiration date.

It is important to note that the BBA only sets a top line budget number, or 302(a) allocation, which puts into place a FY14 funding cap of $1.012 trillion for all discretionary spending. Congressional appropriators must still craft 12 individual spending bills— known as 302(b) allocations— to fund the various agencies, departments, and programs that compose much of the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Education and the appropriations bill that funds the Perkins Act. It is hoped that House and Senate Appropriations Committees can incorporate the individual spending measures into a larger omnibus bill before the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on January 15, 2014.

As the appropriations process continues, NASDCTEc and its partners in the Career Technical Education (CTE) community are actively seeking a restoration of the $58 million sequester reduction sustained by Perkins. Please check our blog in the coming weeks as this process continues.

BLS Releases New Employment Projections

Yesterday, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released updated employment projections for 2012 to 2022. Total employment over the next decade is projected to increase by 10.8 percent or 15.6 million with occupations in the Health Science and Human Services Career Clusters® accounting for much of that growth. When taking into account replacement needs— the need to replace workers who permanently leave their occupation or retire— total job openings are projected to be 50.6 million during this period with replacement needs accounting for over two-thirds of that figure.

These projections are essential to planning one’s future educational and career goals. For instance, in 2012 approximately one-third of all jobs in the U.S. required some form of postsecondary education. Yet between 2012 and 2022, close to two-thirds of the occupations projected to grow the fastest will require some form of postsecondary education. Moreover, occupations typically requiring apprenticeships are expected to grow by over 22 percent. The full press release from BLS can be found here.

As these trends continue, the need for some form of postsecondary education or additional training beyond a high school diploma will become even more pronounced. CTE programs are vital to preparing students for these rapidly changing requirements for entry into the workforce. Through rigorous coursework and experiential learning opportunities, CTE programs across the country are preparing students to meet the needs of the 21st century economy.

OMB Releases Super Circular

Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit, and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards or “Super Circular” as it is more commonly known for public inspection on the Federal Register. The Super Circular marks OMB’s latest attempt to streamline the administration of grants and awards by the federal government through the consolidation of eight other OMB circulars into one. The full text can be found here. The finalized guidelines and rules are expected to be published on December 26, 2013.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy

CTE Research Review

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013

Welcome to the final CTE Research Review of 2013! Below are some new and notable reports on issues impacting Career Technical Education.

The Education Commission of States (ECS) launched a 50-state database of dual/concurrent enrollment policies, including state reports, comparable data and links to specific legislation and regulations. The database includes information on access, finance, quality assurance and transferability. With about a third of all dual/concurrent credits earned by high school students in CTE disciplines, this is a key issue for CTE leaders and students.

The Afterschool Alliance released a new brief, Computing and Engineering in Afterschool, which explores why and how afterschool programs can help equip students with the skills they need to pursue engineering and computer science education and careers – and help fill gaps in traditional K-12 education. For more on STEM and the Afterschool Alliance, check out their STEM Impact Awards.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has released two briefs in the last two months focusing on reforms in the higher education space: Meeting Students Where They Are: Profiles of Students in Competency-Based Degree Programs” and “A Path Forward: Game-Changing Reforms in Higher Education and the Implications for Business and Financing Models.“ The first report explores various competency-based education models at the postsecondary level. In addition to laying out these models – from direct assessment to hybrid degrees – the brief also captures students’ perspectives and experiences earning degrees at their own pace and leveraging knowledge already gained in school and the workplace. It’s a compelling read and was discussed at a recent CAP event, which can be watched here.

The latter report focuses on some identified “game changers” for postsecondary education, notably stackable credentials, competency-based education and the Guided Pathways to Success model, laying out the benefits and the barriers that need to be removed to ensure more Americans have access to high-quality postsecondary learning, aligned with the demands of industry.

Finally, this week the National Center for Education Statistics released the annual Trial Urban District Assessment results, which was designed to explore how feasible it is to use the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at the district level. For the 2013 administration, 21 districts participated. While a number of districts posted gains over previous years’ assessments, the results are by and large still very low across these urban districts, particularly for minority students. For a good (and honest) analysis of these results, check out Education Next.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Research, Uncategorized
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New NASDCTEc Paper & Webinar: CTE Is Your STEM Strategy

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Today the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released a new policy paper entitled CTE Is Your STEM Strategy, exploring the inherent relationship between CTE and STEM goals, elements and expectations.

Simply put, STEM must not be viewed as a separate enterprise from CTE. While a state’s CTE programs may not encompass everything within a state’s STEM strategy, high-quality CTE programs can provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM competencies and skills for a broader range of students. Too often, STEM strategies are created separately from and without a clear understanding of how CTE can support and strengthen such efforts. This paper aims to bring this disconnect to the forefront and demonstrate the natural connection for the many stakeholders working to advance CTE and STEM in their communities.

Looking ahead, state and local leaders should work collaboratively to identify where CTE is delivering high-quality STEM skills and competencies successfully, where efforts need to be shored up, and how to best scale those programs with the greatest value to students, employers and our nation.

The paper was released during a webinar featuring Tina Marcus, Project Manager, STEM Education and Leadership, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools in North Carolina; Dr. Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation; and Kate Blosveren, NASDCTEc’s Associate Executive Director.

Click here to download CTE Is Your STEM Strategy and access the recording and slides from the webinar here.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Webinars
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Gainful Employment Negotiators Meet, Budget Deal Moves to the Senate

Friday, December 13th, 2013

CapitolToday the Department of Education’s (ED) negotiated rulemaking committee wraps up the third round of negotiations on newly proposed regulations and stricter standards regarding “gainful employment” for vocational education programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. As we shared last year, an earlier effort by ED to establish rules concerning debt repayment and “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” were struck down by a D.C. district court. The ruling, a victory for many for-profits, preserved ED’s authority to make such rules, but made clear that any new regulations must have clearer justification. These regulations impact postsecondary students’ ability to use federal financial aid at an institution considered to be failing under the proposed guidelines.

Negotiations between representatives of for-profits institutions, community colleges, and other relevant stakeholders are discussing ED’s most recent set of regulations which are somewhat different than its much stricter proposal sent out last month. This latest set of rules no longer evaluates programs on loan portfolio repayment rates and also drops the 40 percent cohort default rate detailed in our update last month. Instead graduates of programs whose loan payments comprise 30 percent or more of discretionary income or 12 percent of total income would fail. A program default rate of 30 percent or more for three consecutive years would also fail under these new proposed regulations. In addition to these changes, programs which fall within ranges close to failure would be required to send students, prior to enrollment, a written warning informing students that their ability to use federal financial aid at their institution is in jeopardy and that their program may not fully prepare them to pay off the amount of debt they are likely to incur.

These more stringent regulations would affect 11,735 programs and 13 percent of that figure would fail under these new rules. ED has released a summary of how many programs would be impacted under this proposal which can be found here. It is important to note that the committee’s final guidance is non-binding and ED can still move forward on new gainful employment rules with or without consensus from the committee. An overview of the rules can be found here and the draft can be found here. Please check our blog for more updates as this process continues.

Budget Deal Update

Yesterday, the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) the details of which we shared on Wednesday. The bill sets total discretionary spending levels to $1.012 trillion for FY14 and substitutes $63 billion of sequester cuts over the next two years. The House overwhelming supported the two-year budget agreement on a 332-94 vote and it has now moved on to the Senate where it is pending consideration. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday next week and President Obama has indicated that he will sign it into law.

NASDCTEc applauds this initial first step by Congress to inject much needed certainty into the budget process and to partially reverse a portion of the highly damaging sequester cuts. However, further Congressional action is still needed to more fully address the federal disinvestment in education programs over the past several years. At a time when the American economy is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, restoring funding to Career Technical Education (CTE) programs is critically important to safeguarding the economic vitality of the United States for years to come.

JPMorgan Chase Announces New Job Skills Program

Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase unveiled a five-year $250 million initiative that seeks to address the United States’ skills gap— a problem the IMF says accounts for approximately one-third of the current unemployment rate. The New Skills at Work initiative was announced in D.C. in conjunction with the Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and hosted by the Aspen Institute. “Addressing the skills gap can be one of our most powerful tools for reducing unemployment and creating more broadly shared prosperity” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told those in attendance. The initiative will invest $50 million annually over the next five years in metropolitan areas across the United States and Europe and will fund research and training programs to improve upon existing workforce development and educational efforts in these areas.

One such proposal, “Workforce Readiness Gap Reports”, would help facilitate data-driven investments by producing detailed reports on regional labor markets and identify areas where there are skill shortages. It is hoped that eventually these reports will help guide workforce investment decisions and allow employers to better communicate the specific skills they are currently seeking. New Skills at Work will also support successful training programs already in existence such as Chicago’s College to Careers program (among other such programs) and seek to improve upon those accomplishments. A list of specific grants and partnerships to be funded under New Skills at Work is expected in early 2014. More information on this new initiative can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy

Reminder to Register Now for NASDCTE Webinar: CTE is Your STEM Strategy

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Registration is open and continuing to accept attendees for the NASDCTEc webinar CTE is Your STEM Strategy, which broadcasts December 17, 2014.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is attracting interest across the nation. In many states, top policy leaders, including governors, K-12 chief state school officers and economic development commissioners,  have made STEM central to their reform platforms. A significant number of states have STEM coalitions in place to coordinate  STEM activities across agencies and industries.  Business leaders routinely call for more STEM-ready graduates broadly and within specific industry and specialty areas at the national, state and local levels.

While states, districts and schools strive to operationalize a concept like STEM, many already are offering high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that impart critical academic, technical and employability skills. To connect the dots between CTE and STEM for policymakers and advocates, NASDCTEc will be releasing a new report entitled “CTE is Your STEM Strategy.” This report will be released to coordinate with the webinar on December 17, 2013. The paper makes the case that STEM must not be viewed as a separate enterprise from CTE, as high-quality CTE programs can help provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM skills and competencies for a broad range of students.

Join the following speakers for a webinar that will discuss this paper, how CTE and STEM can advance one another, and provide examples from states successfully integrating their CTE and STEM strategies.

Date: December 17, 2013

Time: 3 p.m. Eastern

Link to Register: https://cisco.webex.com/cisco/onstage/g.php?d=205708527&t=a

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Webinars
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Congressional Budget Conference Committee Reaches a Deal

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

CapitolLate yesterday evening, the budget conference committee came to an agreement on the federal budget for the next two years. Co-chaired by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the committee successfully crafted the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 which amends by way of substitution the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2014 (H.J.Res. 59) the stalled continuing resolution (CR) or short-term spending measure which failed in Congress earlier this fall. As we shared last week, the proposed deal would raise the allowable 2014 spending level to $1.012 trillion— a figure that falls directly between the $967 billion level supported by many Republicans and the $1.058 trillion level supported by many Democrats.

The agreement, which still needs to be approved by both chambers of Congress, replaces $63 billion of sequester cuts over the next two years. The deal provides $45 billion in sequester relief for FY14, split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending. This means that NDD programs will receive $22.5 billion this year above the existing sequester caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) accounting for an 87 percent restoration of total spending on domestic discretionary programs including education. In FY15, $9 billion will be allocated to NDD programs in much the same way, although aggregate spending caps for discretionary spending will not rise to the same degree as the previous year.

If passed, it is important to note that this budget deal only sets a top-line spending level known as a 302(a) allocation and would still require additional bicameral negotiations for the 12 necessary individual spending bills— or 302(b) allocations— to fully fund the federal government.  This gives House and Senate Appropriations Committees a little over a month to figure out how to divide up appropriations according to this new total.

While this agreement would provide significant relief from sequestration for FY14, it still does not address these mandated cuts to the same degree for FY15 and beyond. Nonetheless the deal, while far from perfect, is a good initial step from Congress to begin addressing the harmful effects sequestration has had on the CTE community and other NDD programs as a whole. A summary of the proposal can be found here and the full text of the agreement can be found here. Please check our blog for updates as this process continues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy

House Holds Hearing on Federal Aid, Conference Committee Inches Closer to Deal

Friday, December 6th, 2013

House Holds HEA Hearing Focusing on Pell Grants

CapitolOn Tuesday the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held the eleventh in a series of planned hearings on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The hearing titled, “Keeping College Within Reach: Strengthening Pell Grants for Future Generations” focused on the federal Pell Grant program, authorized under Title IV of HEA, and ways in which it could be improved. Recently, the effectiveness of the Pell Grant program has increasingly come under scrutiny and proposals to change aspects of the grant have been numerous and varied.

While some members of the subcommittee voiced concern about the long-term solvency of the Pell program, there was no question regarding the critical importance the grant program has towards its fundamental goal of improving access to postsecondary education. Witnesses put forward a host of recommendations to improve upon this overarching goal. Among many policy proposals a few stood out: simplifying the application process, reducing barriers to access for non-traditional students, increasing grant amounts, strengthening eligibility requirements, and the creation of a “Pell Well” to encourage persistence rates.

These policy recommendations are encouraging, but those on the subcommittee and their witnesses failed to address a central issue affecting many who need federal financial aid the most. Under current law the Pell Grant program— like other federal financial aid— is not available to students taking “noncredit courses.” However, these programs often award certificates or other postsecondary credentials which are crucial for students who are entering a labor market where 65 percent of all job openings in 2020 will require some form of education beyond high school.

At a time when a certificate is now the second most awarded postsecondary credential in the country, excluding these students from federal aid assistance eligibility is counterproductive, undermines the global competiveness of the United States, and needlessly punishes students who often need federal assistance the most. NASDCTEc and its partners in the CTE community urge Congress to address this oversight as the reauthorization process continues.

An archived webcast of the hearing can be found here. The Senate HELP committee announced today another HEA hearing, this time on accreditation and is scheduled for December 12th next week. Check our blog for updates as this process continues to unfold.

Budget Conference Committee Nears a Deal

With the December 13th deadline fast approaching, members of the budget conference committee have kept a possible deal on the budget mostly under wraps. The committee, formed as part of the deal which ended the most recent government shutdown, originally envisioned a larger budget agreement which would have incorporated tax and entitlement reform along with additional tax revenue. Details of a possible deal have been emerging, one that would be much smaller in scope and size. No topline number for discretionary spending— known as a 302(a) allocation— has been agreed to yet, which would put an overall cap on discretionary spending for FY 2014.

Sources close to the committee have said it will likely fall somewhere  near $1 trillion, putting it directly between the $967 level supported by Republicans and the $1.058 trillion level pushed by Democrats.  A higher cap on discretionary spending would replace some, but not all of the sequester cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) for FY14 and FY15 to a lesser extent. NASDCTEc will continue to update the CTE community on the progress of these negotiations as details of an agreement become clearer.

Education Secretary Speaks at ACTE Conference

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the keynote speaker at the Association for Career Technical Education’s (ACTE) annual conference on Wednesday. The Secretary organized his remarks around the Obama Administration’s 2012 Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education and on the Education Department’s (ED) recent creation of the Youth CareerConnect competitive grant program in conjunction with the Department of Labor. Secretary Duncan reiterated ED’s CTE priorities for the reauthorization of Perkins saying, “these grants are designed to complement, not replace, the Perkins Blueprint. We plan to make up to forty grants, on an ambitious timeline. We expect to announce the awards early next year.” More information on this program, including the deadline which is in late January 2014, can be found here.

House Considers Reauthorization of the COMPETES Act

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing last month to consider the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 111-358). COMPETES was last reauthorized in 2010 and supports investment in scientific research as well as requiring better federal coordination of its STEM programs. The subcommittee had witnesses testify and provide feedback on a discussion draft of legislation titled Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act which is part of the broader reauthorization effort for the COMPETES Act.

The draft legislation is similar in purpose to the Obama Administration’s FY14 budget request, which proposed a reorganization of existing STEM education programs within the federal government through the consolidation or elimination of 120 existing programs, bringing the total number of federal STEM education programs to 110. According to the subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-IN), the discussion draft, “improves coordination for federal STEM programs and recognizes the importance of industry investment in outcome-oriented STEM education efforts.” Members of the committee emphasized that the draft legislation was still in the early stages of development and that amendments and other changes to it were likely. Check back at our blog as these reauthorization efforts progress.

Commerce Secretary Announces New Departmental Focus

Last month Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced a new policy agenda for the Commerce Department after a four-month “listening tour” where the Secretary met with hundreds of business representatives across the country. For the first time in its history, skills will be a core priority for the department. According to Secretary Pritzker, “too many jobs are going unfilled when millions of Americans are still looking for work.” In an effort to better address this skills gap she argued that better coordination between her Department and the Departments of Education and Labor would, “better align federal funding for workforce development to support demand-driven skills training.” NASDCTEc supports the Commerce Department’s encouraging steps towards prioritizing skills training and looks forward to their future work in the area. The Secretary’s full speech can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy

Connecting Youth and Adult Learners: Youth and Adult Career Pathways Event Series

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Continuation of the Youth and Adult Career Pathways Event Series

The U.S. Department of Education is pleased to announce the continuation of its Youth and Adult Pathways (YAP) Event Series, a new microgroup series within the Career Pathways community on the LINCS Platform.  The YAP Event Series is designed to bring together professionals with a shared interest in connecting youth and adult learners with career pathways.  Presenters are experts in their fields, and events are designed to enhance your knowledge and give you usable information in each area.  Centered around a live webinar with an established expert, each topic in the series is presented as a month-long “microgroup” within the LINCS Career Pathways community and will include ongoing engagement and discussion before and after the live events.  If you miss one of the live webinars, all materials and webinar recordings will be available for download.

Upcoming events include:

The full schedule of events in the YAP Event Series is as follows:

To join the YAP Event Series, log on to:

https://community.lincs.ed.gov/group/youth-and-adult-pathways-yap-series 

To receive regular updates on the series, sign up for our email list at:

http://bit.ly/1k1l2p4 

For further information, please contact

YAPEventSeries@manhattanstrategy.com

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in News, Resources
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CTE Research Review

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Yesterday, results from the 2012 Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) were released. PISA assesses literacy in mathematics, science and reading for over 500,000 15-year olds from across over 60 countries. The major takeaway is that U.S. students’ scores have remained flat from the last assessment, released in 2009, although scores are largely remained unchanged since 2000. However, as the U.S. stood still, other countries demonstrated progress, surpassing the U.S.

On the math portion, 28 countries tested better than the United States, including Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Korea, Japan, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany, Slovenia and others. In reading, 19 countries had higher scores than U.S. students, while 22 countries posted better results than the United States in science.

For the first time, three states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida — participated in the test and were ranked as if they were individual countries to see how their students compared internationally. Students in Massachusetts and Connecticut scored above the U.S. and PISA average in all three content areas, while students in Florida lagged in math and science and was on par with the U.S. and PISA average in reading.

Education Week created an interactive tool for comparing PISA results, found here.

A new report out of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research by Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA calls on the private sector to engage in Career Technical Education (CTE). Vocational Education 2.0: Employers Hold the Key to Better Career Training makes the case that CTE can provide reliably effective pathways to skilled and well-paying careers, but only with strong engagement and support from the business community. The policy paper tracks the evolution of CTE from old-school vocational education to a more rigorous career-focused set of programs and explores the role CTE is playing as more attention is put on middle-skill jobs, or those that require some education and training beyond high school, but less than a four-year degree.The paper lays out a few models for business engagement in CTE; from Germany’s apprenticeship model and ProStart, which is supported by the National Restaurant Association among other companies, to the National Center for Construction Education and Research, which provides standardized assessments and credentials in the construction trades.

The Data Quality Campaign (DQC), of which NASDCTEc is a partner organization, released its annual state progress report: Data for Action 2013. Data for Action tracks states’ progress on the adoption and implementation of its 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, which include linking data systems across the K-12, postsecondary and workforce systems; developing funding and governance structures; implementing systems to provide timely access to information for stakeholders; creating progress reports using individual student data to improve student performance; among others. For the first time, two states (Arkansas and Delaware) have met all 10 Actions, while most other states continue to make progress, including 15 states that have met eight or nine Actions.

However, only 19 states have linked their K-12 and workforce data, leaving the majority of states limited in their ability to measure districts’ and schools’ success at supporting students’ career readiness.

The College & Career Readiness & Success Center at the American Institutes for Research has developed the CCRS Interactive State Map, which provides snapshots of each state’s key college and career readiness initiatives, including CTE programs of study, dual enrollment and early college high schools, progress on state longitudinal data system and many others.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Research
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