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Achieving Excellence in the New School Year – Computer Information Technology at TCAT-Shelbyville

August 20th, 2014

As the new school year commences, our Excellence in Action award winners are hard at work, improving upon the great work that earned them our annual commendation in their respective Career Cluster®.

Our Information Technology Career Cluster winner, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Computer Information Technology (CIT) program has been working hard over the summer to expand its outreach efforts, stretch its curriculum across Career Clusters and reach more students.

While CIT already provides an impressive six diplomas, eight certificates and nine industry-recognized certifications, it plans to add the high-demand Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certification, multi-leveled server certification and a more comprehensive wireless program to align their offerings to industry needs.

CIT has also seen its alumni paying it forward to the latest generation of graduates in the form of advising and mentorship. CIT regularly brings graduates back to counsel current students in the scope of the IT field today, and received feedback over the summer from recent graduates who have stayed in the region receiving strong mentorship from more senior CIT alumni who are now their colleagues and supervisors.

Click here for our Excellence in Action profile on CIT, and click here for more information on CIT from TCAT-Shelbyville.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Council of State Governments’ National Conference

August 15th, 2014

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend The Council of State Governments’ (CSG)  annual national conference as a member of the National Task Force on Workforce Development and Education, which is part of their “State Pathways to Prosperity initiative.”  With members representing all three branches of state government, CSG brought a broad set of perspectives together to discuss the key challenges and opportunities in developing a strong education and workforce pipeline.  The final Task Force framework and recommendations will be further developed and released in the coming months.

In addition to the Task Force meeting, I also had the opportunity to attend a policy academy where I learned about an array of  impressive state- and business-led efforts to support students’ career readiness and U.S. competitiveness. One such example is the MC2 STEM High School, developed through a partnership between the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and GE Lighting.  Students attend school on the GE campus during their sophomore year, where they engage in a year-long project that culminates in a presentation to GE leaders, and then spend their junior and senior years at Cleveland State University. All students complete at least one internship, have a GE “buddy” and must demonstrate 90 percent “proficiency” to earn credits. Since the school opened in 2008, nearly 100 percent of MC2 STEM students have graduated, and 84 percent of the graduates have matriculated into college.

Another fascinating model shared was the Automotive Manufacturers Technical Education Collaborative (AMTEC), or the National Center for Excellence in Advanced Automotive Manufacturing. AMTEC is an effort supported by the major automotive manufacturers – Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, etc. – to develop a set of common expectations to anchor training programs for multi-skilled employees. AMTEC provides industry-developed and verified curriculum and assessments to its member community colleges, companies and high schools, as well as professional development and other resources.

Alaska 1And did I mention the meeting was in Anchorage, Alaska as a bonus? As evidence, here’s a picture of me…and a picture of a moose. 

Alaska 2

 
Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

Georgia Program Highlighted for Learning that Works — through Work

August 14th, 2014

“The idea is to bring abstract concepts to life to make them easier to understand.”

Those words are the crux of a recent 1,000 word profile of a school-industry partnership between Southwire, a Georgia-based manufacturer and its local school district called 12 for Life that is designed to tie education — particularly in math and science — to career skills.

In the report, the Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan House documents collaboration between company executives who were “increasingly alarmed by their difficulty finding reliable employees, a problem they attributed at least in part to an elevated high-school dropout rate” and school officials to build a program that ties four hours working with experienced professionals on Southwire’s factory floor to eight hours of classroom learning in an innovative summer school experience.

Though restricted to the Manufacturing Career Cluster, the Southwire partnership is a model for positive employer engagement. It embodies principle two of Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education, asan active partnership between employers and educators that delivers a dynamic experience to local high schoolers, and has already demonstrated a positive return on investment (principle five) for the company.

Against the backdrop of Georgia’s new bill expanding youth apprenticeship programs to increase work-based learning opportunities, Southwire provides a clear example of Learning that works for Georgia.

Learn more about the program here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

FOLLOW UP: Forbes also profiled Southwire’s 12 for Life initiative in their August 18 edition. That story is available here.

CTE Research Review

August 14th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Although apprenticeships make up just 0.2 percent of the U.S. labor force, they are garnering more attention this summer thanks to recent reports, including from the White House’s Ready to Work initiative and a set of policy recommendations from The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.

American University economics professor Robert I. Lerman posited that investing, expanding and re-branding U.S. apprenticeships has “the potential to reduce youth unemployment, improve the transition from school to career, upgrade skills, raise wages of young adults, strengthen a young worker’s identity, increase U.S. productivity, achieve positive returns for employers and workers and use limited federal resources more effectively.”

Despite such findings, the size of the U.S. apprenticeship system stands in stark contrast to other major developed countries such as Canada (2.2 percent), Britain (2.7 percent) and Australia and Germany (both 3.7 percent). In Britain, apprenticeships are coming back into favor after years of decline, much like the United States’ system. Recent surveys show that students and the wider public have a “growing appetite” for apprenticeships.

Federal investments would be one part of the approach to expanding the U.S. apprenticeship program. According to Lerman, the United States spends less than $30 million annually, whereas Britain spends about £1 billion (or $1.7 billion). If British spending on apprenticeships were adjusted to match the U.S. population, Lerman estimates that figure would be $8.5 billion.

Calling the expansion of apprenticeships a “potential game-changer”, Lerman offers recommendations for federal and state governments as well as examples of successful youth apprenticeship programs in Georgia and Wisconsin

Be sure to check out additional apprenticeship-related recommendations from the Center for American Progress, through their series of issue papers as well.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 6)

August 8th, 2014

Catching Up SeriesEditor’s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this year’s major state legislative activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be found here as well as the previous installments. For a comprehensive look-back at the 2013 legislative sessions, check out the “2013 CTE Year in Review,” which was published jointly by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education in March.

Within K-12, state legislatures were very active this year, making several changes to programs and high school graduation requirements, to name a few.

Programmatic Changes

Georgia lawmakers amended the state’s Youth Apprenticeship Program through the “Work Based Learning Act,” to increase the number of students and employers participating in such programs in order to produce a “successful twenty-first century workforce,” according to the bill’s text.

Florida also expanded its collegiate high school system by requiring each Florida College System institution to work with the district school board in its designated service area to establish one or more of these programs beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. Additionally, the programs must include an option for students in grades 11 or 12 to earn a CAPE industry certification and to successfully complete 30 credit hours through dual enrollment toward their first year of college.

In Mississippi, lawmakers approved a new pilot program for middle school dropout prevention and recovery. School districts that receive a “D” or “F” rating are eligible to participate if selected by the state Board of Education. The pilot’s purpose is to reengage students and increase the state’s graduation rates through an educational program that provides vocational technology and other instructional models that are self-paced and mastery-based, provide flexible scheduling and a blended learning environment with individualized graduation plans.

Graduation Requirements

Washington lawmakers directed the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop curriculum frameworks for a selected list of Career Technical Education courses with content in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that is considered equivalent to high school graduation requirements in science or math. The law also requires that course content must be aligned with industry standards and the state’s academic standards in math and science. Increasing CTE course equivalencies has been a priority of Washington Governor Jay Inslee. The frameworks are to be submitted to the state Board of Education for approval and implementation for the 2015-16 academic year.

Much like Florida’s change to its graduation requirements in math, Arizona school districts are now allowed to approve a rigorous computer science course to fulfill a mathematics credit for graduation.

As part of its “Alaska Education Opportunity Act” and Governor Sean Parnell’s priorities for this year’s legislative session, lawmakers repealed the state’s high school exit exam and replaced it with a college or career ready assessment such as the ACT, SAT or WorkKeys.

As districts look to implement these new requirements, a new report from ACT may bear some useful insight. In 2005, Illinois lawmakers changed the states’ graduation requirements to a minimum of three years of math and two years of science. ACT found that these new requirements had no significant impact on college-readiness test scores in math and science, though there was a slight improvement in college enrollment. ACT says that these findings suggest that advanced coursework alone isn’t enough to improve student learning.

Next time in the “Catching Up With…” series

This will be the last post for legislatures that wrapped their sessions by May 9. In the weeks to come, we’ll take a closer look at major CTE-related bills from the remaining 25 state legislatures. Stay tuned to learn more!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

CTE Research Review

August 7th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Research has shown time and again that finishing what you start in higher education is key to higher lifetime potential earnings, gainful employment and much more. Most researchers use the term, “some college” for students who enrolled in college but left without receiving a degree or certificate, but what does this enigmatic term really mean?

Though this category includes 31 million students over the past 20 years, little is known about the students themselves. The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) takes a closer look at who makes up this group with its new report, “Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion”.

Through national data on enrollments over time and across institutions, NSC was able to dig deeper than most reports, which traditionally survey a representative sample of adults. By using data, NSC excluded those who earned degrees or certificates and analyzed the enrollment pathways of the “some college” population.

In particular, the report focuses largely on two groups of students: those who had enrolled in multiple institutions, and “potential completers” — those with at least two full academic years’ worth of college.

The NSC researchers believe that potential completers should be at the center of the discussion about improving postsecondary completion rates. They say that policies still need to be tailored to fit their needs as older students returning to education after a period of extended absence from the system.

Most potential completers tend to be between 24 and 29 years old. Although women are slightly more represented overall in this group, men somewhat outnumber women within the 24-29 age bracket who have been out of the higher education system for two to six years. More than one in four potential completers enrolled continuously or intermittently for seven years or longer and their enrollment histories are equally split among two- and four-year institutions. These demographics, the researchers say, have unique needs that educators and policymakers need to address to bring these students back into schools and get them to graduation.

To learn more about the “some college group” including important policy recommendations, be sure to check out the full report.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Kentucky CTE Summer Program Highlights Learning that Works

August 7th, 2014

cte-socialmedia-kentuckyLearning that works for Kentucky was on full display as leaders from around the Bluegrass State joined students, educators and stakeholders at their annual 2014 CTE Summer Program, aptly titled “Learning that Works for Kentucky.” The event was developed by KACTE, the Kentucky Department of Education Office of Career Technical Education and statewide partners (see full program for details)

Part professional development, part CTE showcase, the event displayed Learning that works for Kentucky in the true spirit of the campaign, celebrating CTE’s ability to empower students and boost both technical and academic achievement.

At the general session, State CTE Director Dale Winkler presented career ready awards to 33 area technology centers, career technical centers and comprehensive high school CTE programs with exceptionally high percentages of students meeting the state’s career-ready benchmarks. Additional awards went out to educators, administrators and programs that displayed extraordinary commitment to excellence in CTE.

Have your own example of learning that works for your state? Contact us!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

August 1st, 2014

Research Image_6.2013As terms such as “data-driven” dominate discussions of student educational outcomes, a new report shines a light on the challenges of data collection within the Career Technical Education (CTE) system.

Data collection is a key mandate of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 as a means to hold state and local grantees accountable for achieving positive student outcomes, but grantees often face difficulty meeting these requirements due to a variety of external factors.

The report, titled, “Assessing the Education and Employment Outcomes of Career and Technical Education Students,” argues that additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and future legislation from Congress can help grantees generate valid, reliable and comparable state data. NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green authored the paper with Steve Klein, director of the Center for Career & Adult Education and Workforce Development at RTI International, and consultant Jay Pfeiffer.

The authors offer five recommendations for improving outcomes reporting:

  • Integrate CTE into state longitudinal data systems;
  • Promote state use of national data repositories;
  • Identify indicators of transition that promote federal policies;
  • Establish regulations governing placement; and
  • Provide states with reporting alternatives.

To learn more about data collection options, the challenges CTE grantees face in obtaining reliable data and more, be sure to check out the full report.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

College and Career Readiness in Context

August 1st, 2014

The College and Career Readiness and Success Center recently released a report that provides an important overview of every state’s college and career readiness definitions. It found that 37 states, including the District of Columbia, have defined college and career readiness; 15 states including Puerto Rico have none or are juggling multiple definitions.

While these definitions may “yield insight into state priorities and nationwide trends,” the report focuses exclusively on definitions, and does not examine the value and weight being given to college and career readiness within a state. In fact, when taking a closer look at a state’s public report cards and accountability systems, the story still appears to be college or career readiness with the focus of career readiness often being limited to a subset of students.

A recent report from NASDCTEc and Achieve titled, “Making Career Readiness Count,” found that although definitions abound for college and career readiness, only a few states are paving the way with comprehensive frameworks for public reporting and/or accountability formulas that encourages both college and career readiness.

Although 29 states publicly report at least one career-ready indicator, there could be a consequence – unintended or not – of siloing students and fields by developing a narrower approach to college- and career-ready indicators. A one-dimensional approach to college- and career-ready indicators could incentivize schools and districts to help students meet college or career ready benchmarks rather than a more comprehensive set.

When looking to improve existing public reporting and accountability systems, states should consider an expanded framework for college and career readiness indicators, thus ensuring that they are measuring whether all students are ready for both college and career, rather than just a subset of students.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Timm Boettcher Receives CTE Award

August 1st, 2014

Realityworks President Timm Boettcher was recognized this week for his contribution to the CTE enterprise by our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) with their 2015 Business Leader of the Year award.

The award, which “celebrates the contributions and achievements of an executive from the business community who has demonstrated a solid and sustained commitment to improving CTE” is well deserved by Mr. Boettcher. Throughout his career, Mr. Boettcher has promoted experiential learning, a passion that culminated in the foundation of the Industry Workforce Needs Council (IWNC) in 2011. The IWNC has attracted support from business leaders around the country, promoting the value of CTE and its central role in ensuring that the United States leads in global competitiveness with an educated, highly-skilled workforce.

Read ACTE’s recap of the award here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

 

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