U.S. Department of Education Plans to Rescind Gainful Employment Regulations, Senate Considers FY19 Appropriations Bills

August 15th, 2018

While the U.S. House of Representatives remains in recess until September 4, there’s still news from the Capitol this week. Read below to learn more about a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Education and the Senate’s plans to continue work on the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) appropriations process.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Plan to Rescind Gainful Employment Regulations 

On August 10, the U.S. Department of Education released details about a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that includes rescinding the federal gainful employment regulations. Developed in 2014, these regulations established criteria for eligibility for federal student aid based on the debt-to-earnings ratio for students who had received federal student aid for programs at for-profit colleges and certificate programs at non-profit community colleges and other postsecondary institutions. Additionally, the notice in the Federal Register states that, “The Department plans to update the College Scorecard, or a similar web-based tool, to provide program-level outcomes for all higher education programs, at all institutions that participate in the programs authorized by title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.” Comments on the proposal can be submitted through the Federal Register until September 13.

Senate to Consider Appropriations Bill on the Floor This Week

The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill this week, which covers a number of key education and workforce programs. The bill will be bundled with the Senate’s Defense appropriations bill into a “minibus.” The House has not yet considered its FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill on the floor. Given that October 1 marks the beginning of the government’s new fiscal year, Congress will need to take action before then to avoid a government shutdown. As we reported, any differences between the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies FY19 appropriations bills (e.g., the House bill proposes a $102 million increase for the Perkins Basic State Grant for FY19 and the Senate bill proposes funding at the FY18 level) would need to be worked out before allocations for education and workforce programs could be finalized.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Making the Most of Outcomes-based Funding: Aligning Postsecondary Funding with Labor Market Needs

August 14th, 2018

One of the smartest investments state policymakers can make is in postsecondary education. As the economy moves towards more specialized, technology-based industries, learners will need education and training beyond high school to fill the jobs of tomorrow. Today, the ticket to the middle class, and the key ingredient for a thriving state economy, is a strong system of higher education.

Yet, this system is not as efficient as it could be. Three out of every four students who enroll in a public, two-year college do not graduate with a degree or certificate within three years. Whether due to financial or family circumstances, lack of clarity about future career goals, or poor academic preparation, too many students are getting saddled with debt and nothing to show for it.

In recent years states have led renewed efforts to improve student outcomes by restructuring postsecondary funding formulas. This approach, known as performance-based or outcomes-based funding, aims to align state dollars with outcomes that support learner success and economic growth, including progress toward and attainment of a postsecondary credential.

As of Fiscal Year 2016, 30 states were either implementing or developing outcomes-based funding formulas for postsecondary education, though two-year institutions were included in the funding formula in only 22 states. While the widespread enthusiasm for accountability and alignment in higher education funding is remarkable, states vary considerably in their degree of commitment. According to HCM strategies, which published a national scan of outcomes-based funding formulas, only four states (OH, NV, ND and TN) in FY2016 distributed more than 20 percent of state funds to postsecondary institutions based on outcomes.

In 2017, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) reported that a little more than half of the revenues for postsecondary institutions came from state appropriations (the remaining funding came from local appropriations (6.4 percent) and tuition revenues (43.3 percent)). This gives state policymakers a powerful lever to incentivize change in institutions of higher education.

And, while evidence in support of outcomes-based funding is mixed, positive results have been documented in states with more sophisticated funding systems:

  • After enacting a new funding formula in 2014-15, the Wisconsin Technical College System documented a 5 percentage point increase in graduates employed in jobs related to their field of study and a 7 percent increase in the number of degrees awarded.  
  • In Tennessee, after the state enacted a new funding formula in 2011, researchers noted a significant impact on the likelihood of graduating with an associate degree in three years,  completing certifications, and accumulating 12 and 24 credits.
  • After the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges enacted the Student Achievement Initiative, researchers documented an increase in the number of short-term certificates issued, though attainment of associate degrees remained flat.

Many states have learned from these lessons and either modified existing or adopted new outcomes-based funding formulas to apply best practices. Arkansas is one such state. In 2016, the state legislature passed HB1209, directing the Higher Education Coordinating Board to design a productivity-based funding formula for state colleges and universities. The formula, which will be used to determine how the Higher Education Coordinating Board distributes general revenue for two-year and four-year institutions,  includes three dimensions:

  • Effectiveness (weighted at 80 percent): measures credential attainment, progression, transfer and gateway course success.
  • Affordability (20 percent): measures time to degree and credits at completion.
  • Adjustments and efficiency (+/- 2 percent): includes adjustments for rural schools, research-based institutions, etc.

What is notable about Arkansas’ approach is the use of best practices to incentivize credentials with labor market value and encourage equitable access.

The points an institution receives in the formula for credential attainment are multiplied if the credentials are in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) or state-defined “high-demand” fields. Qualifying fields are designated by the the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Department of Workforce Services. The multiplier for STEM degrees is 3 points; the multiplier for degrees in high-demand fields is 1.5 points.

The formula also includes adjustments for historically underserved students by race, income, age and academic proficiency. For certain elements of the formula — such as credential attainment or progression — the point value is increase by 29 percent for each student meeting these criteria.

While it is too early to tell the impact of these changes, Arkansas’ productivity index aims to improve postsecondary outcomes by aligning state funding with labor market needs and encouraging institutions to support historically underserved populations.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

August 10th, 2018



U.S. Department of Labor Releases Notice on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships

The Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion wrapped up its work and submitted its final report in May, which included recommendations around industry-recognized apprenticeship programs. Read more of the news this week from the Administration, the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor and Congress related to Career Technical Education (CTE) on our blog. To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that impacts Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!


Watch the first episode of the video series This Is CareerTech from the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. This ten episode series gives your a behind-the-scenes look at Career Technical Education in Oklahoma.


Ensuring Career Pathway Quality: A Guide to Pathway Intervention

This guide from Advance CTE, as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative, outlines the different types of intervention needed for pathways, and explores the steps leaders should take when making decisions to transform or phase out pathways that do not have labor market relevance. Read the guide here.

U.S. Department of Labor Releases Notice on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships

August 7th, 2018

There’s news this week from the Administration, the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor and Congress related to Career Technical Education (CTE). Read below to find out more about these updates and where to find recently released resources from Advance CTE.

Administration Releases Priorities for Research and Development 

On July 31, Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, sent a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies on the Administration’s Research and Development Budget Priorities for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020). The memorandum notes that it “provides guidance to agencies as they formulate their FY2020 budget submissions.” It includes eight research and development priority areas and five priority practices, one of which is “Educating and Training a Workforce for the 21st Century Economy.”

U.S. Department of Labor Posts Notice on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs

As we reported, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion (which was called for by President Trump’s June 2017 Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America) wrapped up its work and submitted its final report in May, which included recommendations around industry-recognized apprenticeship programs. On July 27, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a Training and Employment Notice that includes a framework for industry-recognized apprenticeship programs. The notice describes such programs and notes that they must be “certified as a high-quality program by a third-party certifier that has received a favorable determination from DOL.” The notice includes high-level descriptions of the “policies and procedures that certifiers will be expected to have in place to establish standards, establish certification intervals determined by those industries, evaluate and certify programs focused on outcomes and process, report results, and maintain records.”

U.S. Department of Education Intends to Create Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Regulations for Federal Student Aid

On July 30, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced its plans for establishing regulations for Federal Student Aid programs (which are authorized through Title IV of the Higher Education Act). The Federal Register Notice outlines USED’s intent to create a negotiated rulemaking committee to craft such regulations and that this committee would be divided into two subcommittees: one on “direct assessment programs/competency-based education” and another on: “the eligibility of faith-based entities to participate in the title IV, HEA programs.” The topics on which these committees could create regulations includes, accreditation of postsecondary institutions, definitions for job placement rates and credit hours, distance education requirements, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants and more. The notice also announced that USED will collect suggestions for other topics on which the negotiated rulemaking committee could take action through written comments and three public hearings.

Senator Kaine (D-VA) Introduces Legislation to Address Teacher Shortages 

On July 31, Senator Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act (S. 3308) to help address teacher shortages facing the country. The bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the press release for the bill notes that it would:
  • “Expand the definition of “high need” districts under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to include those experiencing teacher shortages in rural communities and in areas such as special education, English language, science, technology, engineering, math, and CTE, to allow for access to additional support and improvement;
  • Encourage school districts to create partnerships, including Grow Your Own programs, with local community colleges and universities to ensure their programs are educating future teachers in areas where there is a shortage of educators;
  • Increase access to teacher and school leader residency programs and preparation training;
  • Require states to identify areas of teacher or school leader shortages by subject across public schools and use that data to target their efforts;
  • Increase support for teacher preparation programs at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to support a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce.”

You can find the text of the PREP Act and a section-by-section summary online. Advance CTE is proud to support this bill.

In Case You Missed It: Perkins V Resources from Advance CTE

Looking for resources related to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) that was signed into law last week? Check out  Advance CTE’s Perkins webpage for a summary and analysis of the new law and more.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy 

This Week in CTE

August 3rd, 2018



ACTE, Advance CTE Statement Upon Signing of Perkins CTE Reauthorization

President Trump signed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). Advance CTE and ACTE released a joint press statement after the President signed H.R. 2353 into law. You can also find additional resources on our Federal Policy section on our website. To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that impacts Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!


Learn how Career Technical Education prepares learners for their futures while closing the skills gap for employers across the country. Watch the video here.




Driving Quality in Postsecondary CTE: Approval and Evaluation Policies

Postsecondary education is more important than ever, with the majority of family-sustaining careers requiring some education post high school. Learn how states ensure postsecondary programs are quality and preparing learners for future success. This report examines examples of the role states can play in ensuring postsecondary CTE program quality in California, Florida and Wisconsin. Read the report here.

Tackling Rural CTE Challenges on Capitol Hill

August 2nd, 2018

What can state leaders do to expand access to high-quality career technical education (CTE) in rural communities? That was the focus of an event held last Thursday by the Congressional CTE Caucus, in coordination with Advance CTE.

The event featured state and local leaders from diverse geographies, who shared their experiences with delivering CTE in rural  communities, highlighting both barriers and best practices. The co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), also stopped by the event to provide remarks about the value of CTE and weigh in on the state of rural CTE.

As Representative Thompson (R-PA), who comes from a largely rural area in Pennsylvania, noted at the beginning of the event, “CTE restores rungs on the ladder of opportunity. We need to make sure that we are dealing with the barriers,” so that CTE can help close opportunity gaps and extend a bridge to lifelong career success. However, rural communities often face obstacles like scarce resources, critical teacher shortages and a limited employer base that make it difficult to deliver high-quality CTE at scale. As Advance CTE found through their interviews with state CTE leaders, these challenges are common across geographies, yet they are often exacerbated in rural communities (find all of the briefs in the CTE on the Frontier series here).

How can state and local leaders tackle these challenges? During the event, Dr. Marcie Mack — state CTE director for Oklahoma, spoke about Oklahoma’s career-tech system and the value of employer partnerships in rural CTE, particularly with Oklahoma’s technology center districts, which deliver CTE programs to high school, postsecondary, adult and justice-involved students.

We were pleased to also feature on the panel a 2018 Excellence in Action award winner, Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center. Stephanie Long, curriculum supervisor for TBAISD, shared about the difficulty of connecting learners from rural districts with the high-quality CTE programming her career-tech center provides. The center serves a region as large as the state of Delaware, with many students traveling hours a day to get to and from classes. The center provides buses during the day and bus passes after school hours to help these learners access high-quality CTE.  

Jan Hanlon, executive director for the Mountain State Education Service Cooperative, discussed how West Virginia is tackling access challenges through Simulated Workplace programs. Through Simulated Workplace, more than 24,000 students annually develop real-world skills by participating in a realistic classroom-based company where they have to meet expectations for attendance, safety, sobriety and professionalism, just as they would need if employed by a local business. Representative Langevin (D-RI) of Rhode Island wrapped up the discussion with an important closing thought: “We can’t expect businesses to grow if we don’t have the workforce available.”

As the event’s panelists underscored, CTE is a critical strategy to help rural America adapt to the 21st century economy. The aftershocks of the Great Recession are still being felt in rural America today, where many learners are disconnected from opportunities to reskill and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. CTE can help these learners build the skills they need for lifelong success and equip them with the knowledge and abilities to adapt to an ever-changing economy.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Advance CTE Releases Report on Postsecondary CTE Program Quality

August 1st, 2018

With the majority of “good jobs” that pay a family-sustaining wage requiring at least some college education — such as a technical certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or another credential of value — ensuring the existence of high-quality postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and pathways is more important than ever before in preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.  

Although postsecondary programs are typically considered to be the purview of individual institutions, supported by academic freedom and local control, states have an important role to play in ensuring that each learner has access to only high-quality and relevant programs, notably by leveraging program approval and program evaluation policies and processes. Today, Advance CTE released Driving Quality in Postsecondary CTE: Approval and Evaluation Policies, a report that explores how states are leveraging this role to ensure quality.

Without question, states and postsecondary systems and institutions face unique challenges and opportunities in the quest to ensure program quality and relevance. These challenges include a variety of governance and delivery models, state and federal requirements, and multiple layers of program approval through regional and occupation-specific accreditors. At the same time, states, systems and institutions have meaningful opportunities to support and fund those programs that are best serving learners and their communities’ workforce needs.

Advance CTE’s report also explores a few specific state examples:

  • In Wisconsin, the Technical College System (WTCS) uses its statutory authority to review and approve all postsecondary programs in two phases: concept, where the system office and then the State Board review program foundations, including labor market justification, and program, where the system office and State Board review program curriculum. WTCS also suspends as many associate degree programs as it approves, so that programs that no longer have labor market relevance and/or quality outcomes are phased out and newer programs with higher quality and more relevance are adequately supported.
  • The California Community Colleges system is the largest system of higher education in the nation, with 114 colleges serving 2.1 million students. In 2004 the Chancellor’s Office developed what is now called the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee (CCCCC) to coordinate efforts between local and statewide curriculum processes and work on program and course approval and evaluation. Through the CCCCC, the state has been working to delegate some of the responsibility of program approval and evaluation to individual institutions, but with policy guidance from a thorough and robust handbook. In this way, the system is working to reduce the burden on colleges while still maintaining quality of programs.
  • The Florida College System (FCS) and State Board of Education (SBOE) work together to ease the burden of program approval processes by designing and validating curriculum frameworks at the state level. These frameworks involve input from numerous industry partners and content experts and list key standards and benchmarks that programs must meet. Once a curriculum framework has been approved by the SBOE, other FCS institutions may apply the framework to new programs and are not required to undergo an approval process. Most FCS institutions start programs by using an existing framework, allowing them to start their program more quickly and avoid a lengthy approval process.

Check out Advance CTE’s report to learn more about ensuring quality in postsecondary CTE programs.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Legislative Update: Perkins Reauthorization Signed into Law

July 31st, 2018

Today, the President signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

As we reported, the House and Senate voted to pass this bill last week. President Trump will travel to Tampa Bay Technical High School this evening to provide remarks about the bill and host a roundtable on workforce development. Watch it live at 6:10 p.m. Eastern Time.

Advance CTE and ACTE released a joint press statement after the President signed H.R. 2353 into law. Check out additional resources on our webpage. To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that impacts Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Saginaw Career Complex, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program

July 31st, 2018

In honor of Culinary Arts Month, we are highlighting the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program of study in Saginaw, Michigan. It provides learners with rigorous coursework and the work-based learning opportunities they need for careers in the food service, lodging and tourism industries.  Learners gain valuable work-based learning experiences through the operation of an on-site restaurant, industry tours, and culinary competitions. The dedication to a high-quality academic and technical education is clear in the numbers – In the 2015-16 class, every student earned an industry-recognized certification along with college-level credit.

This year, the program received the annual Excellence in Action award in the Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster®.  It is one of the most diverse programs offered at the Career Complex, including learners from 11 different schools and high enrollment from minority populations.

Since winning the award, the program has continued to set learners up for success. This year, 100 percent of learners earned industry certifications in ServSafe Allergens and/or ServSafe Managers, certifications recognized by the National Restaurant Association.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are also a critical component of the program. In fact, this program of study is the only one in Michigan to have two national championships from two different student organizations, SkillsUSA and ProStart. Learners enrolled in the program have received  four national medals in the past five years. Leadership is aware of possible barriers that can prevent students from being able to participate in these competitions, so they continue to make applying for grants and sponsorship opportunities a priority.

Participation in CTE programs opens many doors for learners. Eighty-six percent of parents and students want real-world, hands-on opportunities as part of their high school experience, and this program does exactly that. Maria Buko graduated in June of 2014 and participated in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program for two years. Since graduating, Maria won a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America where she is completing her bachelor’s degree. She was also the first person in the United States to compete in the Worldskills bakery competition where she placed ninth in the world! Maria continues to give back to the program when she can.

All learners like Maria deserve to have access to quality programs facilitated by individuals with passion, experience and expertise. Julie Ivan has been teaching this culinary program for more than 30 years and exemplifies a passion for her work and learners. She incorporates a robust advisory committee with businesses that support every facet of the curriculum, to ensure that students are learning the most up-to-date knowledge and skills that will serve them in their careers. Next year, Ivan will travel to Kazan, Russia to serve as the Chief Bakery Expert for her third Worldskills event. She is the only high school culinary teacher in the United States to receive the Worldskills Expert title.

To learn more about Saginaw Career Complex, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program read the profile here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

Perkins Reauthorization Bill Heads to President’s Desk

July 25th, 2018

With one day before the House goes into recess, Members of Congress were busy this week passing and introducing legislation! Read below for a Perkins reauthorization update and news about a proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that impacts Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!

Perkins Reauthorization Heads to the President’s Desk

Today, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, H.R. 2353, as amended by the Senate, on an unanimous voice vote. This is the bill that will reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). A total of 16 Members of Congress from both parties spoke in favor of the bill, many noting the importance of Career Technical Education (CTE) in helping to close the skills gap and the significant role CTE plays for employers in their districts.

Advance CTE and ACTE released a joint press statement on the bill’s passage. We anticipate that the President will sign the bill into law in the near future. Advance CTE and ACTE will be updating the summary and analysis of the bill to reflect changes that have been made to the bill between the Senate markup of the bill on June 26 and the bill’s passage. Find all of Advance CTE’s Perkins resources on our website.

House Democrats Release Details on the Aim Higher Act to Reauthorize HEA

On July 24, the 17 Democrats on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce released details on the the Aim Higher Act, which would reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The summary, fact sheet, and additional materials from Committee Democrats can be found here. According to the summary, the bill:
  • “Makes college more affordable today – by investing in federal student aid –  and helps states make public college tuition more affordable in the future – by incentivizing states to reinvest in higher education,
  • Cracks down on predatory for-profit institutions that target students and veterans with expensive, low-quality programs,
  • Protects and expands the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which is eliminated in the GOP PROSPER Act, and makes student loans simpler and easier to repay,
  • Provides students the tools they need to graduate on time with a quality degree,
  • Invests in teachers and strengthens training for teachers and school leaders to improve the quality of our schools.”
This proposal comes as a response to the H.R. 4508, the PROSPER Act, which was the Republican HEA reauthorization proposal that passed out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on a party-line vote on December 12, 2017, as we reported. Advance CTE will provide additional analysis as soon as possible and you can find resources and Advance CTE’s recommendations for the reauthorization of HEA on our website.
Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy