Ask Your Members of Congress to Support Perkins Reauthorization!

September 8th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, Congress returned from its annual summer recess to begin the final stretch of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers have been out of session since mid-July, but that doesn’t mean everyone s has been away from the Capitol. In fact, work has continued in both the House and the Senate to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—the first comprehensive Perkins reauthorization legislation to be considered by Congress since the current law’s passage in 2006. This month the House chamber has the opportunity to build on this strong showing of bipartisan support by voting on this bill.

Ahead of further consideration of Perkins in the House, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement of support urging both Chambers of Congress to move forward with its efforts to renew Perkins before the end of the year.

In order to make sure this legislation gets across the finish line, we need your help! Please take a few minutes to contact your member(s) of Congress and let them know how important Perkins reauthorization is to your community, your state, and our country.

You can find your member of Congress by visiting here. By visiting ACTE’s CTE Action Center you can contact your Senators and Representative directly to express your support for moving the Perkins reauthorization process forward. We also encourage you to take to social media to make the case for Perkins and CTE. Sample tweets are available here.

As Perkins reauthorization continues, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Bipartisan Interest in Perkins Grows with Pending Legislation on the Hill

August 31st, 2016

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act last month with a 37-0 vote. Prior to and after the introduction of this reauthorization proposal, members from both houses of Congress have continued to introduce legislation to make their priorities for Career Technical Education (CTE) known. Three bills of interest — two in the Senate and one in the House — aim to expand dual credit opportunities for CTE students, increase representation of nontraditional genders in high-wage career pathways, and equip students with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. While these bills have little chance of advancing further on their own, they do represent areas of interest for members as Perkins reauthorization continues to take shape in Congress.

The Workforce Advance Act (S. 3271)

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in July introduced the Workforce Advance Act, which aims to expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities for CTE students across the country. According to Sen. Bennet, dual and concurrent enrollment strategies have “helped more [Colorado students] enroll and do well in college.” The bill would amend the permissible uses of Perkins funds at the state and local levels to include tuition, books, fees and transportation costs for students completing dual or concurrent enrollment courses. The bill would also allow Perkins funds to be used for professional development costs for teachers seeking to obtain credentials needed to teach these courses. At the national level, the Workforce Advance Act would allow the Department of Education to use CTE national activities to research strategies for expanding dual or concurrent enrollment programs in high schools.

The Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2016 (S. 3417)

Citing gender disparity in high-wage career pathways, the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act aims to help schools fully implement Title IX, a federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education. The bill, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would create an Office for Gender Equity under the Department of Education that would be responsible for helping educational entities in their implementation of Title IX. The Office would provide technical assistance, share best practices, administer a new competitive grant program and more. Under the bill, the Office would also be responsible for training Title IX coordinators annually.

The Four C’s for Careers Act (H.R. 5663)

And in the House, Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced legislation to promote what he calls the “four C’s CTE providers should promote in their curriculum: critical thinking, communications, collaboration, and creativity.” According to Rep. Costello, these are the skills that industry leaders say will best prepare students for success in the workforce. The bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), would amend Perkins to promote these four skills through a number of educational strategies, including blended learning, public-private partnerships, and data-driven career counseling. The bill would also encourage participation with local industry leaders by allowing states to use Perkins funds for a needs assessment to identify the strategies, tools and resources needed to promote greater engagement with industry partners.

While Advance CTE has not endorsed these proposals, we will continue to work with these offices to ensure that some of these key concepts find their way into future Perkins legislation. Stay tuned for future updates on all things Perkins as the 114th Congress heads into its final stretch.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Early Bird Registration Closes Wednesday!

August 29th, 2016

A lot has changed in Career Technical Education (CTE) this year. With renewed interest from policymakers, attention from the media, fallmeetingand major investments by the philanthropic and private sectors, it’s an exciting time for CTE. Join us October 17-19, in Baltimore, Maryland, to tackle some of today’s most important CTE issues through informative breakout sessions, facilitated small-group discussions and expert-led panels.

Session Highlight:

Leveraging Opportunities to Drive Change within Your State
With career readiness and CTE a top priority for many states and national organizations, there are many new and exciting opportunities to strengthen, support and better position CTE in our education and workforce landscape. As a result, states may need to coordinate multiple initiatives, take advantage of unexpected opportunities, and lay the foundation for future reforms. Learn about how states are leveraging national and state-driven policies and initiatives to drive and implement sustainable change to support learners at all levels.

We’ll also dive into additional topics including:

  • Preview the State of CTE: Industry Experts in the Classroom
  • Learn how states are implementing Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE

Register Today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE: Let Us Know How You Get Industry Experts in the Classroom

August 26th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Kansas released a new tool to help users find high-demand, high-wage occupations in their communities, along with what education and training it takes to work in those occupations.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

Winners of the Reach Higher Career App Challenge were announced by First Lady Michelle Obama this week. The challenge, which called on students, educators and the public to develop mobile applications that helped middle and high school students navigate career pathways was won by ThinkZone Games, who will receive $100,000.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

We released a new brief this week as part of our Connecting the Classroom to Careers series exploring work-based learning. The latest installment highlights examples from three states that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.

WE NEED YOUR HELP

One of the five principles of Advance CTE’s Shared Vision for CTE is that all learning should be facilitated by knowledgeable experts. Within that principle is a call to action to build and support a pool of experts to supplement learning, including bringing experts in as full-time, part-time or adjunct instructors through alternative and dual certification, along with other strategies.

To advance this principle, we are surveying state and local leaders across the country to understand how they are approaching this issue. In particular, we are hoping to discover what local innovations are happening in this area. The information from this report will be analyzed and released in a report later this year.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores State Strategies for Measuring Work-based Learning

August 25th, 2016

Measuring WBLWork-based learning provides a continuum of activities — from career exploration and job shadowing to internships and apprenticeships — that help students develop technical and professional skills in an authentic work environment. While many work-based learning programs are designed and operated at the local level, several states have begun building a data collection and evaluation strategy to ensure program quality, identify and scale successful programs, and share promising practices. To support state efforts in this work, Advance CTE today released a brief that explores strategies for measuring work-based learning.

The brief is the latest installment in the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” series, which examines the state’s role in expanding work-based learning opportunities for K-12 students. This issue highlights examples from three states that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.

  • In West Virginia, the Department of Education partners with industry leaders to evaluate the quality of Simulated Workplaces, student-run programs that create an authentic work environment in the classroom. Programs that fail to meet industry standards receive technical assistance from the state.
  • In 2014 Tennessee adopted a new framework to improve the quality of work-based learning. Under this framework, local districts conduct their own program evaluations and strive for continuous program improvement. The state supports local efforts through a toolbox of surveys, rubrics and other resources.  
  • And in Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses a work-based learning plan to evaluate skill gain for students participating in the School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative. Worksite supervisors assess students on technical and professional skills at least twice during the course of the program, allowing the state to measure skill gain against a baseline.

The brief, Measuring Work-based Learning for Continuous Improvement, is available on the Learning that Works Resource Center. Other titles in the series explore Setting a Statewide Vision, Removing Legal Barriers, and Leveraging Intermediaries to Expand Work-based Learning.

To learn more about work-based learning, be sure to sign up for Advance CTE’s fall meeting, which will take place in Baltimore, MD between October 17 and 19. The convening will feature a session on state strategies for measuring and scaling work-based learning. Register by August 31 to receive the early bird discount.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Election 2016: From Governor’s Mansions to the Senate, the Democratic Ticket Boasts Years of CTE Experience

August 24th, 2016

This is the second part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Democratic ticket. A previous post covering the Republican ticket is accessible here.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in AnnandaleAn Advocate for Children and Families, Clinton Sees Opportunity in Free College

With decades in the public eye, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity to define and hone her position on education, which she says “should be the great door-opener.” Her campaign aims to knock down barriers to the middle class through apprenticeships, career technical education (CTE) and debt-free college.

Clinton’s work in public education dates back to 1983 when, in her role as First Lady of Arkansas, she led an initiative to develop more rigorous standards for public schools in the state. Years later, as New York’s junior Senator, she went on to serve on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. There, she worked on two foundational pieces of education legislation: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Clinton’s education policy platform for the 2016 election aims to expand access to the middle class by removing barriers to higher education. She has proposed a plan to make community colleges free and to cover the cost of tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities for families making less than $125,000. These proposals are loosely based on similar efforts in Tennessee and other states that have seen increased enrollment and higher retention rates at community and technical colleges.

As crucial as college is, Clinton asserted in her Democratic National Convention speech in July that, “a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.” She went on to say “we’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.” To do this, her campaign has proposed a tax credit of up to $1,500 for businesses hosting apprentices and is considering “options to incentivize CTE programs and help provide grants to train workers for the 21st century economy.”

Tim Kaine’s Support for CTE Dates Back to His Work as a Teacher in Honduras

Perhaps the the lengthiest CTE résumé this cycle goes to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine. His education record — which includes broad initiatives as Virginia Governor and tireless support for CTE in the Senate — dates all the way back to his childhood.

The son of a welder, Kaine briefly helped manage a technical school in Honduras before returning to complete his law degree at Harvard University. Kaine’s interest in CTE followed him to the Virginia Governor’s mansion where, in 2008, he announced an initiative to create six Career and Technical Academies across the state. The initiative, which was launched with a grant from the National Governor’s Association, aimed to align K-12 instruction in STEM fields with workforce and postsecondary expectations, while equipping more students with marketable skills that lead to high-demand, high-wage careers.

In Virginia, Kaine also launched the Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Awards Program, which recognizes CTE programs that align with industry standards, effectively engage local partners, provide relevant and integrated academic and technical instruction, and more.

In the Senate, Kaine co-founded the bipartisan CTE Caucus along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in 2014, stating that “career and technical programs … can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation.” His work with this caucus has led to the introduction of a number of CTE-related legislation, including the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would establish a formal definition for CTE programs of study within the Perkins Act.

His persistent advocacy for high-quality CTE in the Senate led to a number of legislative victories, most recently in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). With Kaine’s support, ESSA now includes provisions to fund career counseling programs, help teachers integrate academic and technical instruction, add CTE to the definition of a “well-rounded education,” encourage states to use career readiness indicators in their accountability systems, and fund professional development for CTE teachers.

CTE has long benefited from bipartisan support, and the 2016 election is no exception. With mere months until the election, we look forward to the candidates continuing to elevate high-quality CTE as an effective educational strategy in their platforms, in their speeches and in the debates later this fall.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

Illinois Tackles Career Readiness with New Education Bill; Meanwhile North Carolina Creates Credential Incentive Program

August 23rd, 2016

With Half of Illinois Community College Students Required to Take Remedial Courses, New Law Aims to Improve College and Career Readiness in the State

IL Graduation RatesLast month Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act into law, cementing a cross-sector effort to transform the educational system in Illinois and better prepare students for college and careers. According to Advance Illinois, an education nonprofit, half of high school students enrolling in community colleges in Illinois are required to take remedial education during their first year. The law aims to reduce the remedial education rates in the state and prepare students for future careers through four major strategies:

  • Defining Postsecondary and Career Expectations: The law calls on a joint committee (including the State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community College Board and the Student Assistance Commission) to define specific, grade-level expectations for career and postsecondary exploration. These expectations, which cover grades 8 through 12, are to be published by July 2017.
  • Piloting a Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Program: A new pilot program established under the law will permit selected school districts to replace current graduation requirements with competency-based learning systems. One challenge with competency-based education is evaluating student learning in a way that is recognized by colleges or employers. As such, the law requires participating school districts to create a plan to assess student mastery and to partner with two-year and four-year higher education institutions to ensure that a competency-based system can still provide colleges the information they need to admit incoming students.
  • Establishing a College and Career Pathway Endorsement Program: The endorsement program is designed to recognize student learning and incentivize entry into high-need career pathways. To be eligible for an endorsement, students must develop and maintain an individualized college and career plan, complete at least two years of coursework on a career pathway that leads to a degree or certificate with labor-market value, complete career exploration activities, and demonstrate readiness for non-remedial coursework.
  • Providing Transitional Instruction in Math and Reading: Finally, the law calls on community colleges and K-12 school districts to reduce remedial education in college by creating transitional math and reading opportunities in 12th grade. These classes will help prepare students for credit-bearing college courses and, as such, will be recognized by colleges across the state. In developing competencies for instructional coursework, the law also requires the state to draw on expertise from private sector employers.

The law will be implemented over the course of several years. The competency-based education pilot program will be launched during the 2018-19 school year;  the pathways endorsement program will be launched in the 2019-20 school year; and transitional mathematics courses will also be available statewide by 2019-20. 

North Carolina to Offer Teacher Bonuses for Industry-Recognized Credentials in New Pilot Program

When North Carolina passed its budget for fiscal year 2016-17 last month, it launched a new pilot program to encourage student learning in high-demand industries. The program — which will start immediately, using data from the 2015-16 school year — will reward Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers with up to $50 for each student who goes on to obtain an industry-recognized credential.

The size of the reward will depend on the academic rigor and employment value of the earned credential. Academic rigor will be evaluated based on the instructional hours, work experience and postsecondary credit that are associated with the credential. The second value criteria, employment value, will consider the entry wage, growth rate and job opportunities for the occupational category.

Before the pilot program sunsets in June 2018, the State Board will report back to the legislature on the amount of awards provided, the number of industry credentials earned, and the effects of the program on teacher performance and retention.


Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Federal Audit Adds Clarity to Competency-Based Education Policies for Colleges and Universities

August 18th, 2016

CBE photoIn the postsecondary world there is growing interest in Competency-Based Education (CBE), a strategy that organizes learning around mastery rather than seat time. CBE is already considered a promising strategy in secondary Career Technical Education (CTE) because it allows students to learn at their own pace in a flexible environment and helps them develop the skills necessary to be successful in their future careers. However, a newly published audit from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General shows that, in order for CBE programs to thrive, the higher education community will need to ensure that students receive regular, substantive interaction with their instructors.

The target of the audit is the Senior College and University Commission (part of an accrediting agency called the Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which reviews and accredits postsecondary programs in California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Among the Commission’s responsibilities is evaluating course content to ensure that the purposes, methods of delivery and measurement of learning are aligned with federal policy. These evaluations carry a lot of weight — programs are eligible to receive federal grant funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act depending on the results of the evaluation — which is why the Inspector General audited the Commission’s review process.

While CBE has enjoyed bipartisan support, the Federal Government’s priority is to ensure that CBE programs are held to high standards of quality. That is why the Higher Education Act restricts federal funding depending on the way that educational content is delivered. Traditionally, academic content has been delivered in a classroom environment, which is considered “campus-based education.” Non-traditional methods of delivery can still qualify for federal funding, but the amount of funding is contingent on the quality of instruction.

CBE courses that are delivered off-campus and are supported by “regular and substantive interaction between the instructor and student” are classified as distance education. In contrast, courses in which education is self-paced and interaction between the student and instructor is limited are considered correspondence education. Correspondence education has implications for funding because students enrolled in such courses are only eligible for a half-time Federal Pell Grant Award.

At issue in the Inspector General’s audit is the way that the Commission classifies courses as distance or correspondence education. The audit found that the Commission did not sufficiently evaluate whether courses would be considered correspondence education, meaning that some courses could have been classified incorrectly. While the Commission does not have the authority to approve correspondence courses — this authority is outside of the Commission’s scope — it is still responsible for identifying them. After receiving the Inspector General’s audit, the Commission revised its policies and procedures to ensure that students in CBE programs receive regular and substantive interaction with their instructors.

The Shared Vision for the Future of CTE calls on states and institutions to “embrace postsecondary competency-based education models … to expand access for more learners, and provide more flexibility so all individuals can get the skills they need when they need them.” While the Federal Government has already created avenues to promote CBE in higher education, accrediting agencies should consider how they evaluate the methods of delivery for CBE programs in order to realize this vision.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

SkillsUSA Supports Putting Learner Success First

August 17th, 2016

This post is written by by Tim Lawrence, Executive Director, SkillsUSA, a supporter of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. 

The past year was one of growth and change for Career Technical Education (CTE). With interest in the media and on Capitol Hill, CTE was 2c SkillsUSA® 72dpiin the spotlight as a strategy for addressing our education and workforce challenges. Helping more learners navigate pathways to careers and continued education is a national priority that’s shared by educators, employers and Congress.

I was proud to watch history unfold when Advance CTE and six national organizations released a collective vision that proposed a transformation of CTE. Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE is a clear call to action. It asks leaders, policymakers and practitioners to commit to a high-quality CTE system where learners prepare for success.

In Orlando last October, I attended the Future of CTE Summit. The event brought together leaders in K-12 and postsecondary education with those in workforce development. I was extremely honored to be a part of this important summit and provide input to the process. Together, we reviewed the CTE landscape and thought strategically about how CTE could expand its contributions to education. The vision that resulted from this gathering offers key guiding principles and action steps including high standards, empowering learners, flexible learning options led by knowledgeable experts, and systems that put students first.

One thing CTE leaders do well is collaborate and build off each success. Advance CTE is leading the charge, and SkillsUSA is proud to support these efforts. This vision is truly a shared vision across many organizations including SkillsUSA.

As it has for nearly 100 years, Advance CTE represents state leaders of CTE who support visionary state leadership and best practices, and who promote academic and technical excellence that ensures a career-ready workforce. This in turn helps position the United States to flourish in a global economy.

Like other Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), SkillsUSA considers itself is a vital solution to the growing skills gap. Our partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. We serve more than 300,000 member students and instructors annually in middle schools, high schools and colleges. Our diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into CTE through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.

We are proud to work with Advance CTE. Their work supports our mission and continues to seek better ways to advance learning and engage students. CTE is getting attention and gaining ground for one reason: because it works. CTE is a proven workforce and education strategy. CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in postsecondary education, be employed and earn higher wages.

Employers are hungry for more prepared students and future employees, so what is holding us back? CTE still faces a stereotype across our country as being a place for low-achievers or non-college-bound students. The systems in place keep CTE separate from other education, and not just in a silo — but often in a separate building. We have to keep pushing to educate the public about CTE to ensure that students know about it before they select high-school classes, and to review how programs are planned and delivered to ensure students can follow a career path and be college- and career-ready.

We are all accountable for our success and failure within CTE. We must swiftly eliminate programs that are no longer relevant in today’s economy and invest in what works. To support all learners on their career journeys requires nothing short of major transformation. The hard work has begun by Advance CTE and its leadership. They are changing the face of CTE one student at a time. We look forward to embracing and promoting the vision of Putting Learner Success First. Working together with Advance CTE, we will enhance our education and workforce systems and enable more of our learners to live successful and productive lives and grow in careers that support our schools, communities and our nation’s economic prosperity.

Putting Learner Success First: New Resources, New Supporters & More!

August 16th, 2016

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In May, Advance CTE and six partner organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, establishing a bold vision for all of education, which includes, but is not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE). Since the release, tens of thousands of copies have been distributed across the country and state and local leaders have begun to signal their commitment to its implementation.

To support leaders at all levels turn this shared vision into a reality – and truly support ALL learners on their paths to career success – Advance CTE has created a number of resources and materials. We will continue to build and share new tools and resources in coming months.

New Resources

Want to help spread the word about the shared vision? Check out our tips for sharing Putting Learner Success First or dive right in and use our PowerPoint and talking points.

Looking to make the case to state CTE leaders? Use this two-pager to get started.

Or, want to understand what work is already underway to support the vision’s principles and actions nationally? Review this chart of aligned national efforts to track progress and see where new investment are most needed.

New Vision Supporters

We are so excited to announce that SkillsUSA and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) have both officially signed on as supporters to Putting Learner Success First, joining the original seven supportive organizations! As two of the leading Career Technical Student Organizations in the country, they support the leadership, technical and academic skills of learners in all 50 states – serving over 450,000 learners and instructors. You can read their sign on letters here and be on the look out for their guest blogs soon.

Sign on Campaign

Finally, we recently created a sign on campaign, where leaders and supporters at all levels can show their support for the shared vision. We encourage you to join your peers from across the country and sign on today!

 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

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