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The Obama Administration Unveils Youth CareerConnect Grants and a New Apprenticeship Program

April 7th, 2014

Obama Announces YCC AwardsThis morning President Obama visited Bladensburg High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland to announce the winners of the Administration’s Youth CareerConnect (YCC) grant program. This competitive grant initiative, administered jointly by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Education (ED), seeks to scale up successful collaborative partnership models between school districts, postsecondary institutions, the workforce investment system and employers.

Specifically it aims to improve the high school experience by encouraging the integration of classroom and workplace learning experiences in an effort to better equip students “with the knowledge, skills, and industry-relevant education needed to get on the pathway to a successful career, including post-secondary education or registered apprenticeship,” a White House official said.

Structured similarly to the Administration’s Race to the Top program, the YCC grants are comparable to the “innovation fund” proposed in the President’s 2012 Career Technical Education (CTE) Blueprint. “The idea behind this competition is, how do we start making high school in particular more interesting, more exciting, more relevant to young people?” the President said. “We want to reward the schools that are being most innovative.”

In all, the President announced twenty-four grants totaling $107 million which derive funding from H1-B visa fees collected by the Department of Labor. Bladensburg High School, the venue for today’s announcement, was part of a larger group within Prince George’s County which received a $7 million award. Their portion of the grant will support the school’s efforts to expand its Health and Biosciences Academy which was prominently featured during the announcement.  As President Obama pointed out, these grants support “cooler stuff than when I was in high school.”

More information on the YCC grant program can be found here. The White House has also released an additional fact sheet on the program which includes a full list of awards.

Vice President Biden Announces Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium

The President’s unveiling of these grants also coincided with Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement of a new Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC) initiative. The main objective of this new effort is to ensure students who participate in certain apprenticeships have the opportunity to earn credits that will transfer to a community or technical college of their choice. RACC is aiming to make these types of articulation agreements more common throughout the country by creating a national network of postsecondary institutions, employers, unions and associations which will expedite the process of transferring a student’s work experience within a Registered Apprenticeship into credit for a program at a participating institution.

The RACC is part of the Administration’s larger goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships over the next several years and will be jointly administered by the Department of Labor and Education. “As a result of this exciting new consortium, graduates of a Registered Apprenticeship program will not only have better access to jobs that lead to a sustainable career, but they’ll also have better access to an education – all with little or no debt” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said at a separate announcement. Consortium participants must be accredited degree granting institutions in order to be eligible. At the moment, specific third-party organizations will evaluate the postsecondary credit value of a particular apprenticeship for the purposes of a completion certificate at the end of a program.

More information on RACC, including how to join the consortium, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

NASDCTEc 2014 Spring Meeting Recap

April 7th, 2014

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State CTE Directors, NASDCTEc members, CTE expert panelists and many more converged on the nation’s capital beginning on March 31, 2014. Over three days, NASDCTEc’s annual Spring Meeting covered a broad array of subjects, from the pending reauthorization of The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to breakout sessions on secondary-postsecondary collaboration, just in time labor market information, accountability initiatives and much more.

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), spoke after NASDCTEc/NCTEF President, John Fischer, formally opened the Spring Meeting. In a bittersweet moment for everyone in the CTE community, we learned that Dr. Dann-Messier plans to leave OCTAE in late May. Dr. Dann-Messier received repeated praise from fellow panelists and membership for her five years of dedicated service at the head of OCTAE and at the forefront of CTE.

Tuesday’s sessions continued with panels outlining the state of federal funding and guidance on CTE, with many commentators commending the CTE community’s assiduous advocacy on behalf of CTE along with reminders to remain in contact with your senators and representatives going forward.

On Wednesday, NASDCTEc was proud to honor five critical advocates for CTE with Star of Education Awards. Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) both received the Star of Education—Congressional Award for their years of dedicated service as congressional advocates for CTE. Later, recently-retired State CTE Directors Dr. Patrick Ainsworth of California and Dr. Kathy Shibley of Ohio were inducted into the ranks of State CTE Directors Emeriti, while Ainsworth’s successor Russ Weikle received the first-ever Rising Star of CTE Award for his pioneering work in the state of California. Wednesday also included sessions on CTE’s role in the ongoing push to improve STEM enrollment and outcomes nationwide, the growth of competency-based education and CTE, and strategies to utilize postsecondary CTE as a way to maintain the American workforce’s place as one of the most highly-skilled worldwide.

More outside experts on CTE offered their perspectives on Thursday morning’s panels. Beginning with a focus on new reporting guidance regarding the Office of Management and Budget’s “Omni Circular,” Thursday’s sessions focused on developments that will affect CTE in the weeks and months ahead. Panelists throughout the morning reiterated their efforts to establish partnerships with CTE programs, and offered their insight on how the CTE community can facilitate collaboration with business and industry groups and state-level education leaders to broaden the CTE stakeholder base and stimulate the national conversation on CTE. The session closed with updates from the Division of Academic and Technical Education and the National Center for Innovation in Career Technical Education.

Couldn’t make the Spring Meeting? Resources and information on several sessions are available online! While on the site, be sure to sign-up today for the next gathering of Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders in Phoenix, June 16-18, 2014, at Achieving Excellence in CTE: The Career Clusters Institute. Don’t delay — April 8, 2014, is the last day of the early bird registration rate.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

NOTE: Photo courtesy Bob Witchger, all rights reserved

NASDCTEc and ACTE Release Report on Developments in CTE

March 28th, 2014

NASDCTEc and ACTE wrapped 2013 by conducting an extensive poll to track developments in CTE state by state. The report, “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2013 Year in Review” contains several key findings indicating that CTE Picture6has not only weathered the storm of tight budgets and shifting education policy, it has thrived in most states.

Crucially, 47 states and the District of Columbia were found to have taken action on CTE in 2o13, many with multi-year initiatives to shake up the structure and practice of CTE in their state. 31 states increased funding to CTE programs in the last year, and multiple governors have already conveyed an interest in expanding funding and access further in 2014.

The report features a state-by state breakdown of policy developments, as well as an overall summary. Check the table (right) for more details and read the whole report at the link above!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

NASDCTEc Spring Meeting Blog Series: Odysseyware Offers Individualized, Self-Paced Learning that Inspires Students

March 27th, 2014

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in the Washington, DC area.

“Yeah, like I’m ever gonna use any of this stuff in real life!”

By Mercedes Doyle

Think about how many high school students have said something similar to this. I know I did once or twice during my teenage years. Sometimes it’s a very true statement. However, for students enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE), it’s a rare expression.

More than ever before, CTE is a powerful driver in college and career readiness. For the high school graduates moving on to higher education (approximately 66%), CTE empowers them with valuable “real life” perspectives, and equips them with unique problem-solving skills that don’t always come from core textbooks. For fresh graduates going directly into the job market, having a CTE head start in a chosen Career Cluster can mean the difference between employment and frustration.logo_1

For college- and career-bound high schoolers, CTE is ideal for both career exploration and position-specific preparation. Students can dabble within multiple Career Clusters to zero in on industries that resonate with their interests and proficiencies. Or, if they’re passionate about a particular career pathway, they can focus their concentration within one cluster and potentially earn certifications that can pay dividends in the workplace.

However, CTE can only work it’s magic if it’s well implemented, properly staffed and comprehensively executed. Herein lies some definite challenges: The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) has identified 16 Career Clusters (http://www.careertech.org/career-clusters/glance/careerclusters.html). Within each cluster there exists a number of focused subjects.

Ask yourself: what Career Clusters appeal to my region’s distinct industries, economy and cultural landscape? If you teach in heart of New York City, then maybe Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources isn’t a preferred Career Cluster for your students. But if you live in rural New York Mills, MN, then courses in agriculture can truly benefit your students.

Need help answering CTE questions?

If you feel overwhelmed by the many considerations involved with CTE implementation, Odysseyware can help. No other online curriculum provider offers more CTE courses or Career Clusters than Odysseyware – including recent introductions in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Career Cluster, plus Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security Career Cluster coming soon! We’ve invested the time, effort and expertise in developing the online content and technology you need. So ask us for recommendations, and lean on us for professional development by calling 877-795-8904.

CTE is here to stay. It’s growing roots and growing fast, because it prepares our nation’s young adults to be viable and competitive in the ever-changing workplace. As an online component to blended CTE instruction, Odysseyware allows individualized, self-paced learning – which provides valuable life lessons in independence. It also empowers educators to make a big impact on students’ lives, and enjoy the tangible rewards that come with blended learning. In a nutshell, Odysseyware CTE inspires students to say the words every educator wants to hear: “yes, I’ll use this stuff in real life.”

(Mercedes Doyle is an Education Specialist at Odysseyware)

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

NASDCTEc Spring Meeting Blog Series – Today’s Class: Engaging, Empowering, ELearning

March 26th, 2014

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in April.

TodaysClassLogo295Today’s Class is a web-based educational program delivering interactive coursework to school systems and technical institutions. Today’s Class programs, supplemental resources, are designed to enhance an instructor’s existing curriculum with self-paces textual content, vivid animation, and interactive exercises. Supplying concepts and theory allows for up to 50% reduction in lecture time, which in turn allows instructors more time for hands-on lab work and in-class demonstrations.

Currently, Today’s Class offers cosmetology, health science, and automotive programs. The cosmetology program aligns with most states’ standard cosmetology curricula, providing comprehensive theory and step-by-step methodology. The health science program explores each system of the body and the protocol for vital sign measurement and emergency response. The automotive program touches on seven of the eight core NATEF areas and related technician services.

The newest program by Today’s Class is agriculture-based and contains: Concepts of Agriscience, Science of Agricultural Animals, Science of Agricultural Plants, Science of Agricultural Environment and Science of Agricultural Mechanization.

Over 5,600 instructors currently manage their classes and students using the Today’s Class Learning Management System.

Today’s Class offers more than 55 uniquely interactive courses designed to enhance student learning.

Many attendees know Dr. Rod Boyes, a long-time NASDCTEc supporter and President of the organization. Representing Today’s Class at the Spring Meeting will be Peggy Albano – please say hello to her and learn more about Today’s Class programs and initiatives. Today’s Class is a Gold Level Sponsor at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Today’s Class is also on Twitter!

The NASDCTEc Spring Meeting will be held in Washington, DC April 1-3 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

NASDCTEc Spring Meeting Blog Series: Certiport Partners with CTE Programs to Bridge Technology Skills Gap with Certification

March 25th, 2014

Certiport-Pearson-Logo-Final (214x51)This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in the Washington, DC area.

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, is the world leader in performance-based certification exams and practice test solutions for academic institutions, currently delivering nearly 2 million certification exams each year around the world.

There has never been a more important time for Career Technical Education programs to implement certification. There is a global technology skills gap, with more open positions in technology than there are qualified individuals to fill them. Helping students earn relevant certification builds their resumes and prepares them to win jobs and internships.

Many CTE programs are already arming students with industry-recognized certification to boost student resumes while satisfying state assessment requirements. In Alabama, for instance, the Department of Education started a statewide technology program just one year ago that has already reaped amazing results. Alabama’s Microsoft IT Academy provides opportunities for students to earn Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification in areas such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint.

“Through this program, we can assure business and industry of a skill set in the area of technology and ensure students entering college are equipped with the technical skills to succeed academically,” Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said.

During the 2012-2013 school year 96 Alabama schools offered MOS certification and students earned over 1900 certifications.  An additional 51 schools have joined the program during the 2013-2014 school year and the number of certified students is expected to double.

Greene County High School’s Career Center Certification Wall

Greene County High School’s Career Center Certification Wall

In addition to MOS, Certiport manages a sophisticated portfolio of leading certification programs including: the Microsoft Technology Associate certification program, the Adobe® Certified Associate certification program, the Adobe Certified Expert certification program, the HP Accredited Technical Associate, the CompTIA Strata™ IT Fundamentals, the Autodesk Certified User certification program, the Intuit QuickBooks Certified User certification program and the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³®).

To learn more about how Certiport can help your CTE program teach and validate in-demand workforce skills with industry-recognized certification, visit Certiport’s sponsor table or visit www.certiport.com.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

NASDCTEc Spring Meeting Blog Series: CompTIA – Supporting Efforts in Helping Students Succeed

March 24th, 2014

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This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that is being shared at the NASDCTEc Spring Meeting. Guest bloggers are partner organizations, supporters and other experts that will be present at the national gathering in the Washington, DC area.

Greetings to all conference attendees and organizers!

We look forward to seeing you at the NASDCTE Spring event in Washington!

The students in your states are in the process of becoming the workforce of tomorrow and they need to be as prepared as possible to meet the challenges of the workplace. The rapid pace of change in computer technology has created a constantly growing skills gap. Businesses are struggling to find qualified job candidates that have the documented skills they need to implement critical innovation or to simply keep them current on existing technologies.

Like you, our main interest is student success.  We’re participating in this conference to meet with educational leaders, listen to your ideas and concerns and discuss ways that we can assist you in helping prepare students for their careers. We believe that working together with you, we can begin to close that skills gap.

Schools and dedicated teachers are on the front line – doing their best to lead their students to high achievement and prepare them for the challenges of college and careers.

We can help your teachers keep their skills current and provide industry recognized documentation of skills that provide your students with a valuable credential to accompany their diplomas or degrees.

CompTIA has been facilitating the development of high stakes certification exams with subject matter experts from the IT industry for over 20 years. As the technology industry has expanded into more specialized areas, CompTIA has been a leader in developing standards that detail the knowledge and skills needed by the workforce.  Since the release of our first A+ exam in 1993, we now have 18 vendor neutral certifications that are consistently listed as some of the most valuable credentials for job seekers.

The CompTIA Academy program is our Association’s academic outreach program that was designed to help schools implement effective technology program and help students gain experience and industry credibility as they transition from education to the workforce.

We would like to meet with you and share information about our programs, our professional development conference and the other services that we provide to support your efforts in helping your students succeed.

Visit us in our Studio in the Calvert Room April 1-2, 2014.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Legislative Update: House Education & the Workforce Committee Holds CTE Field Hearing

March 21st, 2014

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On Tuesday the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a field hearing titled “Reviving Our Economy: How Career and Technical Education Can Strengthen the Workforce” which was the first of two similarly themed hearings convened this week in locations outside of Washington, D.C. The purpose of this hearing was to highlight the significant positive impact education— specifically Career Technical Education (CTE)— and workforce training programs have on state and local economies. The hearing took place in Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada, a portion of the state represented by Congressman Joseph Heck (R-NV) who was among one of four Committee members who made the trip to the Silver State.

Chairman Kline (R-MN), Rep. Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX) alongside their colleague Rep. Heck conducted the field hearing where five witnesses provided testimony centering on the positive effects CTE programs have on their state and in particular Clark County, Nevada. For instance, nearly four out of ten students in Nevada— approximately 50,000 total— enroll in at least one CTE course. Witnesses also pointed out that the graduation rate for those students who choose to concentrate in CTE is a full 17.1 percent higher than their peers in the state. The economic gain reaped by Nevada through increased graduation rates and the reduced number of high school drop-outs demonstrates a compelling return on investment which many members of the Committee took special interest in.

Perhaps the most dominant theme throughout the hearing focused on the importance of the federal investment, principally through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), to Nevada and other states’ ability to equitably deliver high-quality CTE programs to their students. Perkins, like other critical federal investments in education and the nation’s workforce, has not been exempt from various funding cuts over the past several years. Witnesses described how this has negatively impacted CTE’s ability to effectively prepare students for further education and the workforce.

Congressman Heck noted in particular that over the past few years states like Nevada, which have experienced tremendous population growth over the past decade, have received proportionally larger reductions to their Perkins state allocations due to certain provisions contained in the law. To remedy this he touted a proposed amendment he and Rep. Grijalva introduced last August which would ensure states receive at least 90 percent of the funding amount allocated the previous year.

Another theme that resonated throughout the hearing was CTE partnerships with the business community. Chairman Kline questioned how much time school administrators devote to developing relationships with area employers and whether more could be done to support these types of partnerships. Additionally he inquired about a school’s ability to adapt its CTE curriculum to meet the changing needs of businesses and industry.

At the hearing’s conclusion Congressman Heck summed up the discussion nicely saying “I think one of the resounding themes we heard today is partnerships. It’s partnerships amongst the secondary and postsecondary institutions, as well as private partners and employers. These things are all critical. I think we see that there is a very high return on investment for Career Technical Education . . . as well as the follow-on effects for economic development”

An archived webcast of the hearing including Committee statements and witness testimony can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Announcing the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Public Comment Period

March 17th, 2014

If you haven’t already, click here to shape the future of Career Technical Education (CTE) by contributing to The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ (NBPTS) public comment period for the revised Career and Technical Education Standards, 2nd edition.

Drafted by a committee of CTE educators and other experts in the profession, the standards will be available for review from March 16 to April 13. Once approved, they will serve as the foundation for National Board Certification in CTE.

Public comment is crucial to the process of getting all stakeholders’ perspective on what constitutes high-quality CTE. NASDCTEc/NCTEF’s membership, including State Directors and Associate Members are content experts with a great deal to contribute to the discussion. Visit NBPTS’s website and leave your informed feedback today!

Legislative Update: ED Introduces New Gainful Employment Regulations, The FIRST Act Moves to Full Committee

March 14th, 2014

CapitolAs we have shared previously, last December the Department of Education (ED) concluded a three-part series of negotiated rulemaking sessions regarding the Department’s proposed regulations on “gainful employment.” These proposed rules aim to introduce stricter accountability requirements for vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges across the country in an effort to ensure they are helping their student’s find gainful employment upon graduation. ED assembled a negotiated rulemaking committee, composed of representatives from for-profits institutions, community colleges, and other relevant stakeholders, to establish a consensus on these proposals.

Unfortunately, the committee failed to come to such a consensus on ED’s draft regulations during the last of the negotiated rulemaking sessions this past December. Per the Department’s policies, a lack of consensus among the rulemaking committee allows ED to introduce new regulations on its own. Today, ED released these new regulations and will soon open them up for public comment over the next two months.

The regulations—over eight hundred pages in length— introduce stricter standards for the amount of debt students can accrue while attending institutions offering career-training programs. There are three main criteria a program must pass in order to maintain eligibility to receive federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The first two are related to loan payments. Programs which have student loan payments higher than 30 percent of discretionary income or 12 percent of total income would fail under the new rules if those ratios persisted for any two out of three consecutive years. The third criterion is tied to a program’s cohort default rate (pCDR) for both completers and non-completers. If a program’s pCDR exceeds 30 percent for three consecutive years, the program is deemed failing.

Another important feature of these new regulations affords programs the ability to appeal for those that have less than half of their completers take on debt. This is an important change from ED’s last draft proposal in December and will benefit programs at Community Colleges and elsewhere which typically offer two-year programs at a relatively lower cost to students.

Barring any major revisions between now and October 30th of this year, these regulations are set to go into full-effect in 2016. As with previous iterations of ED’s gainful employment regulations, these new rules will likely be challenged in court. As this process unfolds, please check our blog for updates on how these regulations will likely impact those in the Career Technical Education community.

ED’s full gainful employment regulations can be found here and additional information on the process can be found here.

House Subcommittee Passes the FIRST Act

Yesterday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology passed the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186). The bill would reauthorize the America Competes Act of 2010 and has now moved on to the full committee for consideration.

While some Democrats on the Subcommittee voiced concerns over reduced levels of funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Republicans highlighted the bill’s focus on better coordination of existing federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives. Among other provisions, the FIRST Act would create a STEM Education Coordinating Office to better manage STEM education activities and programs at the federal level and would be overseen by NSF.

Notably, the legislation would broaden the definition of STEM to include not only the core components laid out in its acronym, but also “other academic subjects that build on these disciplines such as computer science and other academic subjects that a State identifies as important to the workforce of the State.”

NASDCTEc will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves to the full Committee. The full bill can be found here and a statement from the Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) can be found here.

JOBS Tax Credit Act Introduced in the House

This past Tuesday, Representative Maffei introduced the Job and Opportunity Bonus (JOB) Tax Credit Act which seeks to address the nation’s persistent skills gap by creating a temporary tax credit for employers to help pay for the cost of training their employees.

According to the Congressman, “So many of our local businesses want to invest in training for current and new employees, but don’t have the resources to do it. My bill helps address this issue by providing a tax credit for worker training programs.”

Among the provisions contained in the bill, the JOBS Tax Credit Act would pay for 50 percent of the cost to train employees in an approved program which would include apprenticeship programs, training offered by vocation or technical schools or community colleges, and a variety of industry or labor union-sponsored training programs. The tax credit would only be able to be utilized by employers with 500 employees or less and would last between 2015 to 2017.

NASDCTEc applauds Rep. Maffei’s work to better address the nation’s skills gap and urges Congress to take up this important piece of legislation.  His office’s full press release on the JOB Tax Credit Act can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

 

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