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This Week in CTE

May 1st, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@AsiaSocietyPGL Australian Education Gives All Students Skills for the Workplace http://asi.as/5cLEDS  #CTEblog-thumbnail-thiswek @CTEWorks thanks for the post!
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Baldwin: Technical Education can Boost our Workforce
Senator Tammy Baldwin makes the case why Career Technical Education (CTE) is a high priority for her work in the U.S. Senate.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Learn more about President Obama’s Upskill Initiative providing workers with the education and skills they need to be successful in the workplace through the White House report and fact sheet.

NASDCTEc RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Looking for an introduction to CTE? Visit our CTE Videos page to brush up on your CTE knowledge.
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 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Inside International CTE: Australia’s Challenges and Advice

May 1st, 2015

This interview with Dr. Phillip Rutherford, one of the world’s leading experts on VET/CTE training and education systems, explores the CTE/VET system in Australia. He has been central in the introduction of such systems in many countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and the Middle East. The interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc and is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on Ed Week.

  1. Every system has its challenges – what are yours? What are some solutions you are looking to implement?

What was once one of the best CTE/VET systems in the world is now considered to be slipping by those who work within it. In the 1990s, the purpose of CTE was to prepare people for careers or lifelong learning. The system was based singularly around the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace and the successes it achieved were measured by how well individuals and teams improved and, by extension, the economy grew.

But that has changed. Today we have a system that is very similar to that which existed in the 1980s when the notion of workplace competence was centered only on what could be taught for the a specific workplace, not what was needed of a competent worker. There is reliance on the qualification as the indicator of competence, and as a result, supervisors and managers have to work hard to identify the gaps new employees have in their skills and knowledge, and provide additional resources to bring their competence to a level acceptable to the employer.

All VET systems have this objective: To help students get a job, get a better job, get better at their job, or when all else fails, to create a job. But there is not a great deal of evidence in Australia that this is happening. There are numbers that tell us how many students have undertaken VET courses, or the total of vacancies being filled having increased or decreased, but these statistics don’t tell us how well our economy is growing as a result of the VET system.

As a result, many private training providers have become disillusioned with the way the Australian system is structured and managed. They don’t like being monitored by the federal government and having to reframe the programs they offer to meet the quality criteria of external auditors. This is especially true of those training providers whose main focus is on the skills needs of their students and their current or future employers.

From what I’ve seen, the best VET/CTE systems around the world have a very complex system that is made up of many moving parts, all working in tandem, to provide a whole system that begins with a vision for the national economy and finishes with an evaluation of whether or not this vision is being achieved. Our system has become very linear – beginning with the development of curriculum (with little or no needs analysis), progressing to the hands of training organizations that conduct the course, and finishing with students who are expected to apply their new skills and knowledge in the workplace. The implication of this is that being “qualified” is the same as being “competent.” More needs to be done in the Australian system to turn this belief into reality.

The real challenge is this: If the VET system in Australia is to survive, will it be better to start all over again, or cut it right back to the basics and begin to rebuild? There are many who are calling for the former as they don’t believe it can get better, but there are also many who, like me, know how well it can work and can see that within the current system there are many good elements that can be saved.

  1. What advice do you have for other systems attempting to reform their VET/CTE systems? What are some of the policies in Australia that could assist others in overcoming the challenges they face in VET/CTE?

Right now there are over 150 different VET systems in the world. Some are very linear and concentrate only on low-level training and others are highly complex and aimed at national and international competitiveness. Very few give as their prime focus the needs of the workplaces in which graduates of CTE/VET programs expect to be employed. As a result, after more than 25 years’ experience pursuing the promise of an integrated and workplace-centered education and training system, few countries can point to their CTE/VET system as being the prime reason for economic success. This, after all, should be the purpose of every CTE/VET system but there is little evidence of this either driving the systems found around the world or achieving what such a system should achieve.

I have either designed or been involved in the creation of VET systems adopted by several countries, and in each case I have strongly encouraged the key decision makers to focus on one thing – the purpose of the system. Once the purpose is defined, and everything put in place to ensure that both the purpose and the system continually adjust to meet evolving economic and individual needs, then what will emerge is the type of system that the country requires. It will do more than just train people; it will ensure that people are given the support (including training) to achieve objectives important to themselves, their employers, their communities and their country.

A national system has to be aligned against national interests which, by extension, should also be those of the states. In Australia we have a fair way to go before this ideal is achieved but we continue to look to the U.S., Japan, Switzerland and other countries for solutions to our shared challenges.

 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

April 30th, 2015

teachersToday in CTE research … a scan of career pathway models, a peek into employers’ views on competency-based education, recommendations to strengthen the teacher pipeline, and research into the labor market’s return on investment for higher education.

First up – MDRC’s new research, “New Pathways to Careers and College: Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

Over the years, the high school reform debate has evolved to view CTE as a means to prepare all students for success in college and careers, and CTE programs are changing along with it. More programs are emerging that blend CTE, rigorous academic coursework and opportunities for career exploration. With that in mind, MDRC researchers took a first-ever scan of the most prominent career pathway models and their underlying principles, the localities where they are most popular, and some evidence of success.

At least one career pathway model can be found in high schools in virtually every state and most large cities, the researchers argue, and yet still only a small percentage of students are enrolled in pathways that include the key elements of success. Much work remains to scale programs that are anchored by infrastructure that ensures high-quality implementation, sustainability and continuous improvement.

NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green and Oklahoma State CTE Director Marcie Mack were among the national experts interviewed for this report.

The Pipeline of Teachers

ACT and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) have published new research that takes a closer look at the pipeline of future
teachers as well as how they fare during their first five years in the classroom.

In “The Condition of Future Educators 2014,” ACT examines which students are expressing interest an education career from administration to classroom teachers, and found that the number of students interested in becoming educators continues to drop significantly – just five percent of all ACT-tested graduates. There continues to be a lack of men and diversity among those who expressed interest in the profession. The study was based on the 57 percent, or 27,000 students, of the U.S. graduation class who took the ACT test in 2014.

Among the findings, just one percent, or 224 students, planned to make CTE teaching a focus of their postsecondary pursuits.

The report offered three recommendations to help drive more high-achieving and diverse students into the teacher pipeline:

  • Recruit high-achieving college students who are undecided about their future careers;
  • Promote alternative pathways to teaching; and
  • Improve educator benefits.

At NCES, researchers provided a first look at the results of a nationally representative study of 2,000 teachers who entered the profession in 2007-08. After five years in the field, 17 percent of the teachers were no longer teaching, the study found. Salary was one of the greatest reasons why teachers remained in the profession. Education level had little impact. Those teachers who started with a $40,000 salary were more likely to still be teaching a year later.

Competency-based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is gaining traction in communities across the country, particularly within higher education. But what do we know about how employers see it?

The American Enterprise Institute recently published a first-of-its-kind survey of 500 hiring managers to better understand how employers view CBE. The study found:

  • Overall employer awareness of CBE was low despite engagement efforts;
  • Those who were aware of CBE, a small minority, generally viewed the model and its graduates favorably;
  • The lack of awareness correlated to employers’ lack of understanding the benefits of hiring graduates of CBE programs;
  • Employers struggle to articulate discreet needs as competencies, and rather continue to hire based on generalizations of a new hire’s “fit”, which makes it difficult to create an effective competency map;
  • Two-thirds of employers believe they could be doing a better job of identifying students with the specific skill set required for the job.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Inside International CTE: Australia

April 29th, 2015

This interview with Dr. Phillip Rutherford, one of the world’s leading experts on VET/CTE training and education systems, explores the CTE/VET system in Australia. He has been central in the introduction of such systems in many countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and the Middle East. The interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc and is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on Ed Week.

  1. What is the progression of Vocational Education and Training (VET)/CTE in Australia?australia

The VET system in Australia is unique in that it was among the first in the world to identify, on a national basis, the skills and knowledge required of competent employees in the workplace. Competent, in this respect, meaning not only the possession of certain skills and knowledge but also the proven ability to apply these in different situations and contexts, individually as well as in teams (where necessary), and in a managed, self-directed and self-motivated way.

This enabled employers to have greater control over what was taught to potential employees and helped smooth their pathway into the workforce. However, over the years the processes has become more aligned with what adult educators are capable of teaching as opposed to what workplaces need, and has begun to lose its direct connection to the workplace. So even though VET in Australia continues to focus on trades and entry-level professional skills, those who teach within this system are expected to be in continuous touch with what current and future employers want from graduates of their courses even though that is not always possible. For example, in a large city it is easy to teach ICT programs on the assumption that students have access to a wide range of technology and software, whereas in a small country center it has to be assumed that students do not have such access. Regardless of access to the technology or industry, the curriculum remains pretty much the same and is just contextualized to local conditions.

One unique feature of Australia’s VET system is that the standards against which vocational curricula are developed are based on the skills and knowledge required within individual industries, and are created to meet the needs of specific industries and trade sectors. They are not aligned against individual workplaces but are sufficiently flexible to enable trainers to contextualize their programs to meet the needs of local and regional employers.

Students’ skills and knowledge can then be assessed on the job and under realistic working conditions. Once students meet the standards – whether through the studies they undertake as part of the course or by bringing forward skills and knowledge they gained elsewhere – they receive the same certification as someone who entered the training program directly.

  1. Please describe the landscape of Career Technical Education/VET in Australia:

What percentage of the student population is a CTE/VET student?

Students in Australia completing their secondary studies go either directly to university as undergraduates or into the labor market. Therefore, under law, all students must take part in VET studies, either integrated with their academic subjects or as stand-alone apprenticeships or trainee programs as part of their secondary education.

VET is taught in schools as a means of giving all students part or all of a vocational qualification (certificate) prior to entry into the workforce. Like the U.S., each state in Australia has a slightly different approach to VET where some schools have comprehensive VET programs which they run themselves or programs which are conducted by an external training organisation and provide students with real workplace experience. Regardless of where the program is conducted, the standards remain the same across the country.

What sectors/fields of study does it encompass? Which are most popular with students?

The Australian VET/CTE system encompasses almost every trade, para-professional or professional field found in the workplace. The only areas not covered are those for which students must attend university to study such as engineering, medicine and dentistry. Therefore, students are able to study any subject they wish, just so long as the school has the capacity to support them.

The choice of fields usually depends on student interest and the competencies required in those areas where they intend to seek work. For example, in rural areas subjects of study such as agriculture, water control, horticulture, transportation and nursing are very popular, while in urban locals subjects such as IT and management tend to attract the most students. There are also a lot of international students studying in Australia and they pursue skills that they can utilize when they return to their home countries.

How is CTE/VET funded in Australia (publicly, privately, by federal or local funds, etc.)?

Funding for VET comes from three sources:

For VET in secondary school programs, funding comes from the state government and is subsidized by families and, in some cases, employers who train and assess students in the workplace.

National programs, such as programs for unemployed people and the socially disadvantaged, are funded by the state government as a study assistance loan. This means the costs of the VET program must be paid back when the individual graduates and earns above a certain wage. This is in effect, a loan paid by the state to the student (but paid directly to the training provider) that the student does not have to repay until they achieve an income above a certain level.

Finally, individuals and/or the organisation with whom they are employed can pay on a fee-for-service basis. VET in Australia is not only taught in schools, but also by public and private training providers who serve secondary students, employees of companies and individuals who sign up to learn new skills or enhance those they already have. School-based apprenticeships and traineeships are generally run in conjunction with a private training provider. The government largely funds the creation of the curriculum against which all VET training is conducted, and provides a quality assessment of training providers registered to offer nationally-accredited courses. The training is conducted by qualified trainers who are employed by either public colleges (known as Technical and Further Education – TAFE – colleges) or private for-profit or not-for-profit training organisations.

CTE is integrated within a framework or hierarchy of qualifications (certificates) known as the Australian Qualifications Framework. This framework starts with foundational knowledge and skills and increases in industry-specific knowledge as students move through their education and training. For example, Certificate I focuses on entry-level skills, Certificate II on skills for competent or experienced employees, Certificate III on skills for supervisors or those who need greater depth of understanding and so on. The VET hierarchy has eight certification levels with the last two integrated with undergraduate degrees providing students with the opportunity to earn Bachelors and Doctorate degrees. The certification structure is funded by the federal government, which provides financial support to industry bodies at the state level that create and administer the curriculum for each vocational or professional area.

  1. What are the major goals of VET/CTE in Australia?

There have been many objectives of the VET system but the most recent one is more of a statement of purpose than objective: ‘….enable students to gain qualifications for all types of employment, and specific skills to help them in the workplace.’

While it isn’t the most inspiring goal, we consider it to be accurate and achievable. As can be seen, however, this ‘purpose’ has more to do with what the trainer or educator does than what the student achieves as a result.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

April 24th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@VP By the end of the decade, we need: ✓ 1.3 million IT jobs ✓ 600,000 nurses ✓ 100,000 high skilled manufacturing jobs https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-blog-thumbnail-thiswekoffice/2015/04/24/fact-sheet-administration-announces-new-commitments-support-president–0 …
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GRAPHIC OF THE WEEK
The Bloomberg Recruiter Report: Job Skills Companies Want But Can’t Get
Bloomberg surveyed corporations to find out what skills are missing from recent MBA graduates. Though the survey is focused on this demographic, this chart provides insight into what businesses are looking for in their employees.
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REPORT OF THE WEEK
Employer Perspectives on Competency-Based Education
Employers weigh in on how competency-based education (CBE) impacts hiring. A survey of 500 hiring managers found that there is very little awareness around CBE and how hiring credential-bearing graduates may benefit them and their organization.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Lifelong Learning Skills for College and Career Readiness: Considerations for education policy
The College & Career Readiness & Success Center (CCRS) developed an annotated bibliography of the research into lifelong learning skills, the skills needed to master a subject and translate knowledge into action. From the bibliography, CCRS Center developed a brief summarizing the policy considerations for including lifelong learning skills in educational objectives.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Spring Meeting Recap: Career Pathways Systems and Performance Based Funding

April 24th, 2015

During NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of concurrent workshops. Below we have highlighted two workshops, one focused on advancing CTE in Career Pathway and another on Performance Based Funding systems. 

Since 2012, five states have worked with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to integrate CTE programs of study with state and local career pathways systems.

During a breakout session, CTE leaders from Kansas, Minnesota and Colorado discussed their wide-ranging efforts that include employer engagement initiatives, a transformational state pathways project and a toolkit for industry-recognized credentials.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation added funding to the Career Pathways initiative specifically to support transportation-related career pathways. As part of this work, the Transportation Learning Center launched a large data project to examine the current and future workforce needs across six transportation sectors.

Age is one of the greatest liabilities for the industry, with 49 being the average age for a new mechanic hire. Through retirements and attrition, it’s estimated that 4.2 million jobs will be open between 2012 and 2022. When accounting for industry growth, the Center estimates that one new transportation worker will need to be hired every minute over the next 10 years to fill industry demand.


During a concurrent session led by Steve Klein and Laura Rasmussen Foster of RTI International and the National Center on Innovation in Career Technical Education, presenters discussed opportunities and challenges to performance-based funding (PBF) systems.

This session drew on findings from the recent report, State Strategies for Financing CTE, which was discussed in detail on this co-hosted webinar, but was moderated as an open forum, with state leaders engaging in an candid discussion on what was working and what barriers stood in the way in supporting PBF.

For example, Texas shared details on their incentive grant program, which uses Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) funds to encourage higher enrollment in CTE programs, particularly in rural communities. Districts meeting a certain threshold of their Perkins performance indicators are eligible for a sliding amount of incentive funds. Kansas shared early successes of its (state-funded) district incentive grants for students earning state-approved industry-recognized credentials.

Some of the major takeaways shared include:

  • Be clear about the goals and intent when designing PBF (“If you pay for it, you will get more of it”),
  • A little money can go a long way in changing behavior,
  • PBF systems will only work if they are based on quality indicators, which rely on valid and reliable data, and
  • Be sure to build support among policymakers and practitioners early and often to make PBF happen.

Post written by Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate and Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director 

Spring Meeting Recap: Ohio’s Unified State Plan and Vermont’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

April 23rd, 2015

During NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of concurrent workshops. Below we have highlighted two workshops, one focused on how states can develop a Unified State Plan, with Ohio as a premier example while another discussed how Vermont integrated Career Technical Education (CTE) in their state’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), there is a lot of discussion about cross-program and systems collaboration. The state of Ohio is a well ahead of the game. At the behest of Governor Kasich, the state has been engaged in a collaborative planning process among state agencies with the goal of creating and submitting a unified state plan under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that would fulfill planning requirements for the state’s three largest workforce programs – WIA, Adult Basic and Literacy Education and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

The vision for the collaboration was to make sure Ohio had a literate and prepared workforce by ensuring Ohioans had the knowledge, skills and abilities to fill the top in-demand jobs in the state. This meant a shift in thinking away from planning driven by institutions or the delivery system and instead a focus on students and career pathways. The state also developed a Workforce Success Measures data dashboard and common metrics focused on outcomes (employment, increased skills, increased wages and value to employers) to help guide the work.

Some lessons learned:

  • Leadership must be committed: This is crucial. Leadership needs to be engaged at the highest levels and be committed to a shared vision. In Ohio, the Governor set the vision and tasked agency leadership with the specific goal of developing the unified plan.
  • Be patient: Change is difficult and often feared. This sort of shift takes time and building of trust. In Ohio this was accomplished through a lot of outreach, meetings, learning, and stakeholder/public input.
  • Be Open to Learning: A lot of learning happened as the agencies shared through what they do, who they serve, etc. With the shared commitment and focus on student success, an openness to see the potential of new partnerships and ways to serve Ohioans emerged.

The Ohio unified state plan was submitted to the federal agencies for approval. At the time of the presentation, the plan was pending approval.  The state will likely have to resubmit a plan under WIOA but with the groundwork laid to break down silos and to focus on students and results, Ohio is well-positioned to lead the way!

For more information make sure to check out a copy of Ohio’s presentation, delivered by Steve Gratz, Tony Landis and Bill Bussey.


 

Last summer, after facing a series of economic and natural challenges, Vermont became one of only a handful of states in the country to develop and implement a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS). The strategy brought together stakeholders from the state’s education, workforce and economic development communities to develop a cohesive economic development “road map” for the next five years. Much of this planning was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) CEDS program which sought to help businesses prosper in the state while ensuring all student populations— both traditional and nontraditional— were fully served.

So what was notable about this endeavor? Quite a bit according to Vermont CTE Director John Fischer and David Ives, a Sustainability and Planning Coordinator for EDA. The two took an in-depth look at Vermont’s CEDS during a breakout session at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring meeting which looked at Career Technical Education’s (CTE) role in the plan and ongoing implementation. One message was clear throughout— education and training is a “key ingredient” to economic development and should be incorporated into the wider “workforce ecosystem.” Significantly, Vermont’s CEDS has served as a catalyst for the state to prioritize its CTE investments and has been a strong policy lever for leaders to implement high-quality statewide CTE programs of study.

Be sure to check out the plan and the newly updated CEDS guidelines on the meeting resource page!

Post written by Kimberly Green, Executive Director and Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements

April 22nd, 2015

With Career Technical Education (CTE) in the spotlight and a priority among state leaders across the country, high school graduation requirements are a common leverage point for policies that aim to increase assess to, incentivize participation and recognize success in CTE programs of study.

In 2013 and 2014 alone, 23 different states made adjustments to their high school graduation requirements with some direct impact on Career Technical Education (CTE) course taking or credentials. It should come as no surprise that the requirements look very different from state to state.

NASDCTEc’s newest policy brief, Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements, explores common approaches to offering or requiring CTE courses and assessments within a statewide set of graduation requirements, offers illustrative examples of state-level policies and elevates implementation issues for consideration.

So what did we find?

  • Eleven states offer separate diplomas or endorsements on existing diplomas that either serve to recognize successful completion of CTE programs and earning of credentials and/or to incentivize more CTE participation, including Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • A number of states, such as Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky and West Virginia, require a certain number of electives, which are directed to be “career focused” or “aligned with students’ post-high school plans.”
  • A growing group of states are creating ways for CTE assessments, typically industry-recognized credentials, to meet certain exit exam requirements, such as New York, Ohio and Virginia.

Regardless of the approach, some common implementation considerations emerged, such as having processes in place for ensuring equality of rigor and quality across pathways and assessments; providing flexibility to allow students to engage in CTE programs of study without having to give up other areas of interests, such as the arts, foreign languages or other academic courses; ensuring students have the opportunity to take the full range of courses that will prepare them for college and careers; and publicly reporting the percentage of students earning the various endorsements to understand their value.

Read the full report to learn more about state graduation requirements and see how your requirements compare.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director

 

Spring Meeting Recap: WIOA Implementation

April 21st, 2015

Last year Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Due for reauthorization for well over a decade, WIOA was passed in an effort to promote a greater degree of cross-program and cross-systems collaboration at the federal, regional and local levels.

Since the law’s passage last summer, the three primary federal agencies— the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Education (ED), and Health and Human Services (HHS)— have been hard at work modeling this type of collaboration and determining how the law should be implemented over the next few years.

While WIOA contained many improvements to the current workforce system such as common performance metrics across programs, an emphasis on unified and combined state planning, and a wider promotion of career pathways and sector strategies, the law still left a lot to be determined by the Agencies for how many of the legislation’s provisions would ultimately be implemented.

Earlier this month NASDCTEc convened a panel of prominent representatives from the three main Agencies tasked to develop regulations governing WIOA at its recent 2015 Spring Meeting:

  • Mark Greenberg— Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Johan Uvin— Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Byron Zuidema – Deputy Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Just before the panel was set to begin, these Agencies released a series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)— the Administration’s first attempt to develop and promulgate new regulations for WIOA.  Because of the panel’s proximity to this release, the panelists were not able to discuss the regulations in depth, but they did share their collective vision for the law’s implementation.

Speaking about the regulations, Dr. Uvin pointed out during his formal remarks that the proposed rules were developed collaboratively between and among the Agencies so that “they could lead by example for law’s implementation.” Throughout the opening remarks, both Greenberg and Zuidema emphasized the need for the public’s comments over the next few months in order to strengthen and enhance their proposal.

Another area of discussion revolved around WIOA’s combined state planning provision— an option available to states to jointly develop and submit a single plan for core WIOA programs along with their required partners (Carl D. Perkins Act programs are among the latter). Although there remains much to clarify with regards to this option, the panelists agreed that CTE leaders should be proactive regarding WIOA implementation in their state and that combined planning presents “an unprecedented opportunity to create a unified state vision for education and workforce development”.

Be sure to check our blog for further coverage of the WIOA’s implementation in the coming year.

Spring Meeting Recap: HEA and Other Postsecondary CTE Initiatives

April 20th, 2015

While a long-needed update to the federal law governing U.S. elementary and secondary education winds its way through Congress, advocates are hoping the next critical reauthorization on lawmakers’ agendas will be the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Or perhaps it should be said – advocates are hopeful but not optimistic about HEA’s chances of reauthorization during the 114th Congress. Advocates and an Obama Administration official shared their perspectives about postsecondary education with NASDCTEc members during the 2015 Spring Meeting.

David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges, called the reauthorization of HEA “of critical importance to vocational and training programs.”

Baime said the law primarily focuses on student financial assistance, which includes the ever-important Pell grants. Baime said 20 percent of revenues for community colleges – roughly $11 billion a year – are tied to students who receive money through Pell grants. AACC’s HEA policy recommendations include a call to expand the list of institutions eligible to receive Pell funds, including some short-term postsecondary CTE programs.

In fact, HEA – a $130 billion program – is really more of a job training bill rather than a higher education law, as it has historically been considered, said Mary Alice McCarthy, senior policy analyst from the New America Foundation.

In a 2014 policy brief, “Beyond the Skills Gap,” McCarthy argues that five policy gaps within HEA “make it too easy for institutions to provide high-cost, low-quality CTE programs while also making it too difficult for institutions to build the partnerships and programs that will facilitate student transitions to jobs and careers.”

Of the five gaps, three are related to how institutions are accredited – an important marker for being eligible to receive Pell funds. Other gaps include a focus on enrollment rather than outcomes and paying for time rather than learning.

McCarthy argued that Congress can fix these issues five ways:

  • Ensure policies support students going to school for careers;
  • Make accreditation reviews transparent;
  • Demand quality assurance for credentials – and right now there is too little;
  • Encourage innovation and experimentation in postsecondary education; and
  • Align HEA to other bills with overlapping missions such as the Perkins Act and the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act.

However, Congress’ minimal activity around HEA isn’t stopping the Obama Administration from putting forth bold proposals for postsecondary education. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges Mark Mitsui laid out the Administration’s proposals from the 2016 budget, which included:

Be sure to check out NASDCTEc’s previous coverage of these proposals to learn more!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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