Secretary DeVos Defends Cuts to Career Technical Education, Continues to Promote School Choice

June 7th, 2017

Congress returned from last week’s recess ready to dive into the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget and appropriations process – and we’re ready to advocate on your behalf! Please continue to send your stories about what the proposed 15 percent cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant would mean for you to Katie Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@careertech.org and we will follow up with you about featuring your story in our advocacy communications. Find more on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee’s hearing on the FY18 Department of Education (ED) Budget and details on the Administration’s proposed initiatives around school choice below.

Secretary DeVos Defends Cuts to Career Technical Education

Keep your calls to Congress coming! It’s not too late to reach out to your Members of Congress to encourage them to support a strong investment in Perkins. Because of your advocacy, CTE was in the spotlight during the FY18 Budget hearing for ED (you can watch it online here) held by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. The proposed cuts to CTE came up quickly, as the subcommittee’s Chairman, Senator Blunt (R-MO) pointed them out specifically in his opening statement:

In reviewing this budget request it is difficult to know whether you made cuts because you believe the programs are truly ineffective or because your budget number required these reductions just to reach the bottom line. For example, I believe significant reductions to programs like Career and Technical Education, TRIO, and Federal Work Study will make it harder for students to get into and complete college, and go on to well-paying jobs.”

While Secretary DeVos did not have the opportunity to respond during the opening statements, she did have the opportunity to do so when Senator Shelby (R-AL) asked about the perceived implications of the proposed cuts to the Perkins Basic State Grants in light of the continued need for skilled workers. Secretary DeVos responded by saying that there’s an opportunity to look at how some CTE efforts have been siloed, that there is some overlap between CTE and programs administered through the Department of Labor, and that there is a need to think holistically about how higher education legislation can support opportunities in CTE. Secretary DeVos provided a similar answer and emphasized the need to foster innovation when Senator Baldwin (D-WI) asked how the $20 million for competitive grants would make up for over $1.5 billion lost via formula grants through Perkins, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and the Student Success and Academic Enrichment grants (authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act). Senator Schatz (D-HI) mentioned CTE in his remarks and Senator Murphy (D-CT) referenced the “massive cuts in CTE” when addressing the Administration’s school choice proposal (more details below).

More Than $1.4 Billion in Increases for School Choice in FY18 ED Budget Proposal

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee’s hearing on the FY18 Department of Education Budget included many questions about the additional $1 billion in Title I funding for school choice and the increases for other programs that would focus on it. What are the specific funding levels and purposes of the programs? The ED press release describes them as follows:

  • $1 billion increase for Title I for new Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS) grants. FOCUS grants would provide supplemental awards to school districts that adopt student-centered weighted student funding formulas combined with open enrollment systems.
  • $250 million increase for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program for competitive awards for applicants to provide scholarships for students from low-income families to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.
  • $167 million increase for the Charter Schools Grants program to strengthen State efforts to start new charter schools or expand and replicate existing high-performing charter schools while providing up to $100 million to meet the growing demand for charter school facilities.”

It is ultimately up to Congress to determine the fate of these programs and the others included (and excluded) in the Administration’s FY18 Budget Proposal for ED: appropriators make the call as to whether ED programs are funded and the level at which to fund them. We will continue to provide updates as Congress works through the budget and appropriations process for FY18.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Despite Federal Budget Constraints, States Forge Ahead with ESSA Planning

June 5th, 2017

Earlier this year, 16 states and the District of Columbia submitted plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the Department of Education, detailing strategies to strengthen standards, accountability, teacher effectiveness and student supports. Since then, the remaining 34 states have continued work drafting their own plans. Despite uncertainty from Washington, DC, states such as New York and California are taking advantage of ESSA’s increased flexibility to promote career readiness, specifically through new accountability systems.

Despite lawmakers’ intentions to expand local flexibility, state planning has been somewhat constrained by the federal budget process. In May, Congress approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that fell short of the authorized funding for certain ESSA programs. Specifically, the Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program — which consolidated a basket of categorically-funded initiatives in order to expand state flexibility — was funded at only $400 million for the year, far short of the authorized $1.6 billion (the program is eliminated entirely under the President’s proposed FY18 budget). As such, lawmakers decided to give states the option to distribute grants competitively rather than through a formula, as is prescribed in the law. It is not year clear if states will take this opportunity, though switching to a competition may discourage smaller districts from applying.

Under ESSA, at least 95 percent of SSAE funds are to be awarded to local education agencies for one of three priorities: supporting a well-rounded education, fostering a safe and healthy school climate and providing for the effective use of technology. These funds can be used to strengthen or enhance local Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, which are covered under the statutory definition of “well-rounded education.” Although funds go primarily to the local level, states have leeway to signal how they should be used. They can also expend state set-aside funds under Title IV-A to administer technical assistance in certain priority areas. While SSAE grants provide a clear leverage point to promote CTE statewide, many states are approaching the opportunity with caution, leaving it up to local education agencies to determine how such funds will be spent.

In the Wake of April’s Submission Window, Five States — Including New York and California — Release Draft Plans

In addition to the 16 states and D.C. that submitted plans during the first window, another 20 states have released draft plans or guidelines as of June 2017. The newest states to release draft plans include Arkansas, California, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Below we examine different approaches that New York and California are taking to leverage ESSA in support of statewide career readiness.

New York’s Plan Envisions Success in College, Careers and Citizenship

Building on the state’sgraduation pathways work, one of the key threads throughout New York’s first ESSA state plan draft is ensuring all students graduate “prepared for success in postsecondary education, careers, and citizenship.” The plan envisions a K-12 system that provides rigorous instruction, positive learning environments, and appropriate opportunities and supports so that all students can succeed.

One area in the plan where this priority is reflected is the state’s accountability system, which adopts a measure of College, Career and Civic Readiness as one of two School Quality and Student Success indicators at the high school level. ESSA requires states to adopt at least five accountability indicators, four that are loosely prescribed and a fifth measure of school quality that is up to a state’s choosing. As we’ve reported in the past, many states are seizing the opportunity to measure not only college preparedness but career readiness as well.

In New York’s case, the proposed College, Career and Civic Readiness Index encourages both college and career preparation and awards bonus points for students who surpass the minimum Regents or Local Diploma requirements. Under the proposal, schools will receive full points for students who earn a standard diploma, an additional half point for students who enroll in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or dual credit courses, and a full two points for students earning a CTE endorsement, an industry-recognized credential or a passing score on an AP or IB exam (among other options).

Furthermore, the plan explicitly encourages local education agencies to use SSAE grants to offer multiple pathways to graduation and career readiness. The state plans to use up to 4 percent of its permitted set-aside funds to support local education agencies to implement this, and other, priorities. And while the plan is light on details, the state promises to support student access to extra-curricular opportunities, including “community-based internships and … sports and arts.” New York’s state plan is still in the public comment stage and subject to change prior to the September submission deadline.

In California, Local Control Accountability Plans Will Drive ESSA Implementation

California meanwhile is approaching ESSA’s increased flexibility as an opportunity to supplement ongoing state efforts. In 2013, the Golden State transformed the way it funds education using a Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to consolidate state education funding and empower local education agencies to create and implement their own strategic priorities. Under the policy, local districts are required to create Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) to set goals and plan their delivery strategies. Additionally, California last year adopted a new multi-measure accountability system aligned to the LCFF to hold local districts accountable for using state education funds effectively. Just this year the state Department of Education released a school accountability dashboard that illustrates student performance on a variety of different measures.

California’s state plan proposes to use LCFF as a vehicle to implement ESSA. The plan, appropriately titled “The California Way,” proposes to map local ESSA planning efforts against the current LCAP to create a “single, coherent system that avoids the complexities of having separate state and federal accountability structures.” Local education agencies will submit an LCAP addendum as a supplement to address additional requirements under ESSA.

So how will California’s ESSA plan support career readiness? For one, the current accountability system includes a career and college readiness index. Interestingly, and unlike most other state proposals thus far, the index will count toward the state’s academic success indicator, along with student performance and growth on assessments. While the State Board of Education has blessed the indicator, it has yet to determine how it will be measured. Current considerations include dual enrollment, AP exam performance, IB exam performance and CTE pathway completion. Additionally, California’s plan points to other recent initiatives — such as the state’s three-year, $900 million CTE Incentive Grant Program — that are designed to enhance and expand regional CTE pathways in the state.

What New York’s and California’s ESSA state plans tell us is that states are taking full advantage of newfound flexibility to align federal initiatives with their own efforts. In the case of California and New York, both states have undergone work in recent years to revise graduation and accountability policy to better promote career readiness in high school. Others should consider how to align opportunities under ESSA to support their own state and local initiatives.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

June 2nd, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Can you imagine a world where all learners have the opportunity to realize their full potential and achieve career success? Check out our newest video, which demonstrates what the world would look like if all vision principles of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE are put into action.Advance_CTE_5.16.17_Final_HD1080P

RESEARCH OF THE WEEK

New America released national survey data about perceptions of higher education. Some interesting findings:

  • 75 percent believe it is easier to be successful with a college degree than without
  • 64 percent believe that two year community colleges “are for people in my situation” (though this is virtually the same for public four-year colleges and universities)
  • More people (80%) believe that two year community colleges prepare people to be successful. This is higher than four-year public (77%) four-year private (75%) and for-profit (60%).
  • 82 percent believe two-year community colleges are worth the cost. This is higher than four-year public (61%) four-year private (43%) and for-profit (40%).
  • 83 percent believe two-year community colleges contribute to a strong workforce. This is higher than four-year public (79%) four-year private (70%) and for-profit (59%).

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Scholarships for Career or Technical Certificates or Degrees: The Horatio Alger CTE Scholarship program is pleased to announce it is now accepting applications for more than 1,000 awards of up to $2,500 each.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Have completed high school (or earned a High School Equivalency credential) by Summer 2017
  • Will be enrolled in an eligible CTE program in Fall 2017
  • Exhibit a strong commitment to pursue and complete a career or technical program at an accredited non-profit post-secondary institution in the United States
  • Demonstrated financial need (must be eligible to receive the Federal Pell grant as determined by completion of the FAFSA)
  • Demonstrated perseverance in overcoming adversity
  • Be under the age of 30
  • Be a United States citizen

Funds may be used for tuition, fees, books and supplies.  All scholarship funds are paid directly to the institution on behalf of the recipient.

More information can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/le9ovq2

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

New Resources to Help You Sell CTE to Parents and Students

June 2nd, 2017

In April, Advance CTE released a new report, “The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Findings from a National Survey of Parents and Students.” The report explores findings from a national survey to better understand parents and students attitudes about CTE, and how we can better ‘sell’ CTE to parents and students. The report findings include:

  • Finding a career passion was the most important critical selling point for parents and students (over 90 percent) – even surpassing having a career that pays well;
  • The vast majority of parents and students (85 percent) continue to value college as the post-high school aspiration;
  • Across the board, CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits related to college and career success;
  • These findings were consistent across all socio-economic groups; and
  • Counselors, teachers and CTE students and alumni are among the most trusted sources of information for students and parents alike.

As part of this research, we have developed core messages to use with parents and students to encourage them to enroll in CTE programs in their communities. To help you use use these messages and this research, we’ve created a number of materials:

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Tennessee Expands Access to Community College for Adult Learners

May 30th, 2017

Image Credit: https://twitter.com/GreeneSun/status/867755597755805696/photo/1

This month Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s vision for increasing postsecondary credential attainment in his state came one step closer to reality. On May 24, Gov. Haslam signed the Tennessee Reconnect Act into law, providing tuition scholarships for adult learners to access one of the state’s many community colleges and Colleges of Applied Technology. The Reconnect Act, a core piece of the Governor’s 2017 state of the state address, will be available to eligible non-degree holding adult students who are admitted into qualifying postsecondary institutions beginning in the fall of 2018.

The program is expected to have a substantial impact. The Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee estimates that 5,503 additional part-time students and 4,102 full-time students will be eligible to receive the grant award in Fiscal Year 2018-19, at an estimated cost of $8.5 million.

Expanding access to postsecondary education and training has been a priority for Gov. Haslam during his tenure. In 2014, Tennessee launched the Tennessee Promise program, a last-dollar tuition scholarship that has seen tremendous growth and success since it was proposed in 2014. The state is seen as a pioneer in expanding access to free community college.

Separately, Gov. Haslam approved bills

Coming Soon to Iowa Schools: New K-12 Computer Science Pathways

Meanwhile, Iowa passed a law to enhance digital literacy with new K-12 computer science standards and funding for teacher professional development. The legislature’s goal is that by July 2019, all elementary, middle and high schools in the state will offer some form of computer science instruction. The bill directs the Department of Education to establish a computer science education workgroup to put together a plan to adopt new graduation requirements, integrate computer science instruction into CTE pathways and develop new K-12 computer science pathways.

Additionally, the law establishes a computer science professional development incentive fund, which Governor Terry Branstad has proposed to fund at $500,000 in his 2019 budget. The fund is designed to help school districts pay for teachers to get additional training on computer science.

South Dakota Approves CTE Standards in Six Clusters

Speaking of standards, the South Dakota Board of Education voted in its May meeting to adopt new Career Technical Education (CTE) standards in six Career Clusters®: Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Arts, Audio-Video Technology and Communications; Finance; Health Science; Human Services; and Manufacturing. The standards were developed by workgroups of secondary CTE teachers, postsecondary faculty, industry representatives and others. Standards for five additional Career Clusters® will be developed later this summer.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

President’s Budget Proposal Raises Questions

May 26th, 2017

As we reported, the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) was released on Tuesday. This proposal includes a $168 million cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant, a 15 percent decrease from the current level of funding, while increasing $20 million for National Programs for competitive grant program to spur innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Find our full statement on the budget here. We have details on the budget itself, a briefing at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Congressional hearing on ED’s budget, and a resource update below. Additionally, we encourage you to send us your stories on how these budget cuts would impact CTE programs in your state.

Budgets for Departments of Education and Labor Slashed

Overall, when comparing the proposed FY18 ED budget to the FY17 levels appropriated by Congress (including the Pell grant rescissions included in both), the total cut is $7.9 billion (12 percent). Some notable proposed cuts are outlined below:

  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment state grants, new grants under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are eliminated. These block grants received $400 million in FY17 and were authorized by ESSA to receive $1.6 billion for FY18. They have a variety of allowable uses, one of which includes CTE programs and activities that meet the requirements of ESSA’s definition for a “well-rounded education.”
  • Pell grants are reduced by $42.7 million and the maximum award size is frozen at the 2017 level, but year-round Pell grants are supported. However, the proposal also includes a $3.9 billion rescission that would lower the reserve amount available in the future.
  • Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants are reduced by $96 million (16 percent).

Find charts with the ED numbers for FY17 compared to the President’s FY18 budget proposal and the overall federal investment in education over time from the Committee for Education Funding here.

The proposed FY18 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) cuts $2.5 billion (21 percent) when compared to the FY17 levels appropriated by Congress. Some notable proposed cuts are outlined below:

  • State formula grants provided through Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) are reduced by over $1 billion (40 percent).
  • Apprenticeship grants are reduced by $5 million.

You can find a helpful table that compares FY17 appropriations to the President’s FY18 budget proposal for key programs under WIOA, DOL, ED, and more from the National Skills Coalition here.

Budget Events Draw Crowds, Questions

On Tuesday afternoon, ED held a briefing on the President’s budget (you can find the slide deck and more here). Secretary Betsy DeVos gave opening remarks, Erica Navarro, the Budget Service Director at ED, presented, and then the floor was open for questions. Many questions focused on how programs up for elimination would be phased out, questions to clarify specific numbers, and the rationale for particular cuts). When Advance CTE posed a question about the rationale behind the cut to the proposed $168 million (or 15 percent) to Perkins Basic State Grants, the response was that ED wanted to give Congress flexibility in the reauthorization process. In addition, we asked about the proposed $20 million increase to National Programs (which has historically been used for research and evaluation of CTE programs) and were provided with a similar answer to what appears in the ED Budget summary document: that it is meant to spur innovation in STEM CTE programs. The overall theme of this briefing was that “tough choices” had to be made.

On Wednesday, Secretary DeVos appeared in front of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss ED’s budget (you can watch the hearing here). In contrast to the day before, the main themes were state and local control, parental choice, and an emphasis on the idea that past approaches haven’t worked (see the written testimony from Secretary DeVos here). The hearing drew a large crowd and Members of Congress used the entire time allotted for the hearing for their questions, which focused on a wide variety of programs in the budget and the role of ED more broadly in regard to accountability. Representatives Womack (R-AR), Moolenaar (R-MI) and DeLauro (D-CT) all spoke in favor of CTE. Secretary DeVos recalled her visits to community colleges with CTE programs, discussed the importance of multiple pathways to success in the workforce, and reinforced her support of dual-enrollment programs, but did not address the proposed $168 million cut to Perkins Basic State Grants. Rep. DeLauro pointed out the irony of this at the end of the hearing, as have others, including AFT and the Atlantic.

What Would the Cut to Perkins Mean for you? Send Us Your Stories!

One of the most effective ways to illustrate to Members of Congress the importance of a strong investment in Perkins is real stories about what a cut to those funds would mean on the ground (you can find your state’s potential allocation in FY18 here – see page 21). What would a cut mean for your program? Could fewer students enroll? Would it mean that students will have to use outdated equipment? Send your stories about what cuts to Perkins would mean for you to Katie Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@careertech.org and we will follow up with you about featuring your story in our communications.

ICYMI: Perkins Reauthorization Update

H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) was marked up by the House Education and the Workforce Committee last week. Find our updated summary and analysis here, which incorporates changes from the mark up.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Celebrating One Year of Transforming Education Through CTE

May 24th, 2017

Today, Advance CTE is excited to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, which establishes a bold vision for all of education that includes, but is not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE).

The vision calls for a systemic transformation of the education system, and identifies CTE strengths and role in this transformation. It challenges our community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity, while providing the leadership necessary to continue to re-examine, grow and transform CTE into a system that truly prepares all students for a lifetime of success.

Over the past year, national, state and local leaders have taken up the charge and begun to integrate the vision into their work and communities, from aligning their strategic plans to the vision principles to leveraging the vision to engage many critical stakeholders around the promise of CTE. We are thrilled to celebrate a number of successes including:

  • Five more national organizations have committed to the vision, for a total of 12,
  • Nearly half of states have supported the vision through presentations, cross walking vision principles with strategic plans, and sharing it with critical stakeholders,
  • Advance CTE has presented the vision on webinars, and at numerous state and national conferences across the country,
  • 41 states are represented in the Putting Learner Success First sign-on campaign, which you can sign onto here!

In addition, we have a number of new resources to share including a new vision video, that envisions a world where all vision principles are enacted.

We have continued to develop resources and materials to help you better communicate about, and integrate the vision in your work including:

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Congress Shows Support for Perkins on the Heels of Proposed Cuts

May 23rd, 2017

Career Technical Education (CTE) gains major win in the House Education and the Workforce Committee, followed by a potentially devastating 15 percent cut to CTE proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget. Find information on the budget, legislation related to the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), and cybersecurity and the workforce below.

President’s Budget Proposal Cuts Perkins 15 Percent

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Budget was released earlier today. This proposal includes a $168 million cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant, a 15 percent decrease from the current level of funding. This cut is especially disappointing given the Administration’s public support of CTE. Just last month President Trump said, “Secretary DeVos is working to ensure our workers are trained for the skilled technical jobs that will, in the future, power our country.” This proposal also includes an increase of $20 million for National Programs, which according to the Department of Education’s FY18 Budget Summary and Background Information would “support a competition to promote the development, enhancement, implementation, or expansion of innovative CTE programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.”

In a statement released earlier today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) stated, “This proposed $168 million cut from state grants for CTE significantly reduces states’ abilities to use these resources to improve and expand CTE programs based on their specific needs. It’s incredulous that an Administration that wishes to devolve authority to the states proposes to increase its own funding at the federal level by $20 million; this essentially equates to taking funds out of the pockets of states, colleges and schools to a create a new, untested program run by the Secretary of Education.” Find the rest of the statement about the President’s FY18 Budget here.

Allocations for other Department of Education programs can be found here and the Committee for Education Funding will post an updated budget chart here as soon as possible. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will have a hearing on the Department of Education Budget on Wednesday, May 24 at 11 a.m. ET (watch it live here), during which Secretary DeVos is scheduled to testify.

It is also important to note that previous administrations have proposed similar cuts to Perkins (and even elimination of the investment entirely), but that Congress has continued to approve appropriations bills that surpassed the amounts outlined in past Presidents’ proposals. Now is the time to reach out to your Members of Congress to encourage them to support a strong investment in Perkins.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Unanimously Passes H.R. 2353 

On May 17, the House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (the bill that would reauthorize Perkins). You can watch the mark up here and see the letter that Advance CTE and ACTE sent to the committee outlining our support of many provisions included in H.R. 2353 and our main outstanding concern around how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

Cybersecurity and the Workforce: Implications for CTE

On May 11, President Trump signed an executive order entitled, “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” Among other provisions, the order includes a “Workforce Development” component that directs the Secretaries of Education, Commerce, Homeland Security, Defense and Labor along with the Office of Personnel Management to “jointly assess the scope and sufficiency of efforts to educate and train the American cybersecurity workforce of the future, including cybersecurity-related education curricula, training, and apprenticeship programs, from primary through higher education,” and submit a report with the findings and recommendations to the President within 120 days.

The need for a workforce with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the cybersecurity sphere was also the topic of a recent Senate CTE Caucus briefing. The panelists, Casey O’Brien, the Executive Director and Principal Investigator at the National CyberWatch Center, Sophie Webb-Lopez, Deputy Director at the Department of Homeland Security, Aaron Cohen, Director of Cyber Skills Development at Symantec Corporation, Margaret Leary, the Chair of the Cybersecurity Program at Northern Virginia Community College, and David Tobey, Assistant Professor at Indiana University South Bend and Founder and CEO at VivoWorks Inc., discussed the challenges facing the cybersecurity workforce, including the need for professionals who are innovative and can apply technology to solving problems. They also shared how competency-based education, broader understanding and awareness of the issue, and high-quality CTE programs can play a role in solving these problems.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy 

Inside International CTE: Looking to Germany as a Model for Workforce Training

May 23rd, 2017

Letitia Zwickert, a high school teacher at Naperville Central High School and a K-12 Education Advisor to the University of Illinois’ International Outreach Council, explores the German-style dual education system. This post part of our ongoing partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning Blog.

By guest blogger Letitia Zwickert

As we near the end of another academic year, we see many of our high school students leaving to take on the world of higher education. In 2016, 69.7 percent of students were enrolled in college. However, this leaves 30 percent of students not involved in a degreed program—where are they headed? Has our education system served them to the best of its ability? And of those students enrolled in a degree program, 40 percent will end up dropping out of college. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to create opportunities for success for all of our students.

Some of our high school students find themselves with course options that do not serve their needs or interests, leaving them without realistic paths to finding a career. Most of our school districts continue to cater to the traditional college-bound student. And yet, a four-year college degree is not necessarily the right path for all students. Students who are socio-economically disadvantaged, or who face other struggles, have more hurdles to overcome and must work harder than others to achieve the same results. In the end, these students face a greater challenge to finding successful employment.

Add to this a crisis in our labor pool. The skills gap in the U.S. will leave more than two million jobs vacant in skilled manufacturing and information technology over the next decade. STEM entered the education discussion some years ago, pushing schools to offer new courses, moving students to double up on math and science classes, and leading to numerous education workshops, conferences, and seminars across the country. These adjustments and discussions have not fixed the significant skills gap and have made little progress toward increasing equity.

The German Dual Education System

In the last half decade, Germany has entered the conversation regarding the U.S. education system. Germany ranks 5th as an American trading partner. They have invested heavily in the United States, with approximately 3,700 German-owned businesses in our country, and have deep incentives to create good conditions for economic growth.

German companies have taken note of the skills gap and training challenges they are facing in the United States. According to German American Trade Quarterly, in 2015, 65 percent of German-American companies reported difficulties finding employees with the skill set they needed, up from 49 percent just the year before, putting investment in education and training at the top of “the reform agenda of German companies.” Consequently, the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) brought in a not-so-secret, but very powerful weapon to support businesses: “dual education.”

Germany’s dual system of vocational education and training (VET) dates back to the middle ages. The system partners technical schools and businesses, allowing students to combine training in advanced areas of manufacturing or technology while getting on-the-job work experience at a company. Studies are paid and jobs are salaried. An Atlantic article, Jobs For Americans: A Lesson From Germany, shares, “Germany’s educational system incorporates courses that give students a general sense of various careers, but much of its success springs from the generous support that the country’s corporations give to on-site apprenticeship programs—part of a system in which companies are required to support training programs through their local chambers of commerce. As a result, apprenticeship programs are integral to employers.”

The perception of dual education in Germany also contributes to its success there. In Germany, vocational training doesn’t come with the stigma it does in the United States. In fact, 50 percent of college-bound German students who decide not to go to university end up choosing a vocational training path instead. Dual education offers a viable way to achieve any student’s goals, allowing for the freedom to earn money while learning and gaining experience.

American Vocational Education Traditions

Back in the U.S., there is historical precedent for vocational training. The apprenticeships that once helped establish young workers in the early years of our country declined as the industrial revolution led to factory jobs that no longer required long hours of training. Around this time, Horace Mann began his push for universal education and the opening of large numbers of public schools. With the decline in the availability of youth and the rise in the need for specialized workers, eventually the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 was passed, which promoted vocational education in public schools and formed the Federal Board for Vocational Education.

But by the 1950s, tracking was in vogue and vocational training began to be seen as a remedial track, according to Nicholas Wyman. Tracking students soon lost popularity when equity issues arose, and a new push to prepare all students for college began. But, vocational training continued to be perceived as a “lower” option outside of mainstream education. Amy Scott, a Senior Education correspondent at Marketplace wrote, “For a long time…skilled trades have been seen as somehow less valuable than white-collar jobs. What used to be known as vocational training in high school had a reputation as a dead-end track for struggling kids, or for failing to prepare students for in-demand jobs.”

Read the full article on Education Week

Two States Report Positive Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Results

May 18th, 2017

Colorado and Washington both released reports recently citing positive numbers on participation dual and concurrent enrollment. In Colorado, 38,519 students, which equals 30 percent of all 11th and 12th graders, participated in concurrent enrollment during the 2015-16 school year. Nearly 40 percent of those students participated in Career Technical Education (CTE) concurrent enrollment courses, which allow students to apply credit towards a technical certificate or degree. Students passed 93 percent of all the credit hours attempted in any concurrent enrollment program.

In Washington, 190,000 students, or two-thirds of Washington high school students, earned dual credit in the 2015-16 school year, which is an increase of 18,000 students over the previous year. In addition to promoting Advanced Placement courses, the state provides supplemental funding for students who enroll in college-level courses at community and technical colleges. While this is an encouraging mark of progress, state officials were quick to note that work remains to be done in closing gaps between racial subgroups.

ACTE Releases Recommendations for Effective Career Counseling in Middle School

The Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), in partnership with Career Cruising, recently released a report and set of recommendations related to career counseling in middle schools. Research has shown that middle school is an excellent time to explore different careers and take introductory CTE courses. The report goes on to describe six recommendations, which are listed in the graphic on the right, for effective career counseling programs and dives into some of the barriers middle schools can face in providing students with quality career exploration experiences. Though many of the recommendations are focused at the local level, the authors note that state leaders have an important role to play in supporting these local innovations and practices.

Odds and Ends

A new analysis out of the California Community College system finds high salary returns for students completing an associate degree. According to the study, which draws on public earnings data through Salary Surfer, 48 percent of students graduating with an associate degree and 44 percent of students graduating with a certificate earned $56,000 or more within five years of completing their credential.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow computer science coursework to fulfill a core graduation requirement. That’s according to a new state scan from EDC and other research organizations examining state strategies for writing, adopting and implementing computer science standards. The report describes state policies related to ten policy priorities and identifies common challenges and approaches across the states.

A survey of entry-level employees, conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation and Edelman, finds that 49 percent of employees aren’t using skills they learned in college while 90 percent feel they are using skills they learned on the job. The authors suggest that screening candidates based on college degree may limit the talent pool and cut off high-quality employees who could be trained on the job.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

 

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