On Monday, March 15, President Obama submitted a “Blueprint for Reform” to Congress outlining the Administration’s proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) applauds the President for his focus on ensuring that students are prepared to be both college ready and career ready upon graduation from high school.
NASDCTEc would like to emphasize that being college and career ready requires more than just competency in core academic subjects. The Administration’s grants for ensuring a well-rounded education should support states and districts with helping students to explore careers and become engaged, employable, contributing citizens. Career technical education (CTE) is one way to help students become well-rounded and gives relevancy to their education that helps them see the real world connection in their school work. Better integration between CTE and academic subjects, through comprehensive programs of study, would also help to add relevance to student learning.
The inclusion of CTE in the proposal to upgrade and improve the quality of assessment systems shows that the Administration understands the value of CTE for preparing students for both college and careers. With this funding, states would be able to make their CTE assessments more robust and comprehensive.
NASDCTEc is also encouraged by the College Pathways and Accelerated Learning proposal, which would provide competitive funding to states, districts, and nonprofit partners to increase access to accelerated learning opportunities, such as early-college or dual-enrollment programs. This proposal would help students make a smooth and successful transition into postsecondary education, and is directly in line with NASDCTEc’s ESEA reauthorization recommendation to expand the use of accelerated learning programs.
We were also pleased to see other proposals that fell in line with our ESEA recommendations included in the Blueprint. First, the current NCLB system of accountability unfairly punishes states and schools that make significant progress toward reaching proficiency levels, yet still fail to meet their adequate yearly progress performance target. The use of growth models to measure student achievement rather than test scores is a better indicator of student achievement.
Second, the proposed use of data throughout the Blueprint is a good first step in assisting states and districts with making data-driven decisions that can improve student learning, better tracking the achievement of all students, and reporting more accurate data to state and federal agencies. We believe that data systems could go further in helping prepare students for careers by linking the systems to labor market information and by integrating CTE. Doing so would incorporate essential information about technical skill attainment and transitions among learner levels and employment.
NASDCTEc is eager to work with Congress, the U.S. Department of Education and the Administration to ensure that CTE is supported by and is a key partner in the implementation of ESEA.