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NASDCTEc Spring Meeting: Reaction to the Vision Paper

The unveiling of NASDCTEc’s new vision paper at the Spring Meeting last week spurred comments from partners/education stakeholders who said the vision can set CTE on a course that breaks through silos constructed by bureaucracy, legislation and traditional approaches to education. They advised the CTE community to move forward in that direction.

Representatives from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, National Education Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Governors Association provided insight on their views of Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education – NASDCTEC’s new document intended to guide the transformation of CTE as the nation responds to the global economy. While all panelists held different perspectives, they shared interest in the vision paper’s concept of developing CTE into a comprehensive program that prepares students of all ages for the workforce through college and career readiness.

Business and Industry

Indeed, business and industry are seeking more students who fit that readiness criteria, said Karen Elzey, ICW Executive Director. In fact, industry is searching for more students who earn certifications or industry credentials from two-year institutions. That means CTE would best work with industry if it can show demonstration of or interest in creating programs – from secondary to postsecondary — that set students on course to earn such credentials, Elzey said. The challenge will be collecting and providing return on investment data that proves programs can or have the potential to educate and train students. This effort would require partnerships with secondary and postsecondary institutions, and business and industry.

Further, to gain support from industry, the CTE community will have to do a better job at providing clearer, simpler explanations of what programs of study are and how advocates can become involved in their success, Elzey said. The lack of clarity makes it difficult for the two sectors to communicate and find common ground. Somehow, education and industry need to find a common language so they can work together.

Elzey urged members to address some main issues to strengthen business and industry partnerships:

  • Identify the reauthorization of WIA a strategy for CTE to address the employment rate
  • Identify the common goals  between CTE and the business community
  • What credentials are valued in the education market?
  • Focus on the associations and businesses that are already interested in CTE.
  • Foster new business champions

Teachers and Administrators

Policies play a significant role in how CTE can be implemented. A broad approach to delivering comprehensive CTE programs to all students should open discussions about legislative opportunities beyond the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, said Donna Harris-Aikens, NEA Policy Advisor. She suggested NASDCTEc explore alignment opportunities in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and policy-driven projects such as the Common Core. Also, NASDCTEc should conduct outreach to all congressional members, not just those who belong to the CTE caucuses. Take hold of any opportunity to cross-pollinate the message about CTE, she advised.

The message of CTE is traveling through the circles of school principals, said Mel Riddle, NASSP Associate Director of High School Services. He said many but not all principals recognize that CTE provides students with multiple pathways to success. Riddle said more needs to be done to increase the presence of CTE in secondary schools. Currently, principles are bounded by shortage of CTE classes and increased core graduation requirements, which make it difficult to usher students into good CTE programs.

Policymakers

Perhaps access to CTE programs would increase if the value of CTE was clearly and effectively articulated, David Wakelyn, NGA Center for Best Practices Education Division Program Director. He suggested a marketing effort that would underscore the value of CTE and programs of study as a way for “people to commit their kids to something that shows the future for them.” He also noted policymakers’ outdated recollection of CTE, which still brings visions of limited, skill-focused vocational education courses to mind.

Also, Wakelyn embraced the vision paper’s notion of ridding of the “false dichotomy of college and career readiness.” He added that college included two- and four-year institutions, saying that other nations in Europe have increased their college success and competitive advantage by stepping up student achievement at two-year institutions.

As conversations move forward regarding common academic standards, Wakelyn told NASDCTEc to be equipped to demonstrate where technical standards align with the Common Core. CTE is expected to be part of that conversation.

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