Getting to Know… Virginia

February 13th, 2017

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: Virginia

State CTE Director: Lolita Hall, State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Virginia Department of Education

About Virginia: Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Virginia has for years benefited from strong enthusiasm in the state legislature as well as sustained support and commitment from the Office of the Governor. Just this year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe in his State of the Commonwealth speech said that Virginia is “transforming our K-12 system to prepare students for the jobs of the 21st Century, with a particular emphasis on modernizing the [Standards of Learning] and how we deliver high school education.” This effort to modernize the Standards of Learning was initiated by major legislation passed in 2016. The law directs the Board of Education to identify a “Profile” for a Virginia graduate and adopt a more flexible high school experience. Currently, the Board is working with various state agencies to identify opportunities for a new high school graduation system, which is scheduled to be implemented in 2018.

A more seasoned initiative under way in Virginia is the Governor’s STEM and Health Sciences Academy network, which was launched and expanded under McAuliffe’s predecessors, Governors Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell. The network, which includes 22 STEM Academies and 8 health science academies, are embedded within comprehensive high schools and CTE centers. Through partnerships with business leaders and local institutions of higher education, these academies expose students to a rigorous education with pathways to postsecondary opportunities. Each program includes at least two pathways and undergoes an intensive review process before qualifying for an official Governor’s Academy endorsement.

Programs of Study: Virginia students can also access CTE through 132 school divisions, approximately 350 comprehensive high schools, 10 regional technical centers and 47 local technical centers. Using local labor market information, Virginia identifies and funds programs aligned to priority high-wage, high-demand industries in each region. These programs are aligned with the 16 Clusters and 79 Pathways in the national Career Clusters framework.

A current priority in the Commonwealth is developing a rigorous curriculum in computer science to meet the rapid rate of growth in that sector. This work began in the 2013-14 school year and included cybercamps that provided students with project-based learning opportunities and guest lectures from industry experts through an intensive summer program. In 2016, Virginia held 32 cybercamps, reaching approximately 700 students across the Commonwealth. Moving forward, the Department of Education aims to finalize and launch cyber security curricula to be piloted in the 2017-18 school year.

Cross-Sector Partnerships: Although 85 percent of Virginia’s Perkins allocation is distributed at the secondary level, the Commonwealth has strong, collaborative partnerships across various agencies and sectors. One example is Gov. McAuliffe’s goal to help Virginia students and jobseekers attain 50,000 credentials, a primary objective of the Commonwealth’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) plan. This goal is now shared across 24 state and federally funded workforce programs, each working through various means to increase credential attainment in the Commonwealth. The New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program, for example, is a performance-based grant passed last year that covers up to two-thirds of the cost of tuition for noncredit workforce training programs that culminate in a credential. The initiative is administered by the Council of Higher Education, in partnership with several higher education institutions, and draws on a list of credentials identified and reviewed by the Board of Workforce Development.

On the Horizon: After a busy legislative session in 2016 that culminated in eight CTE-related laws and substantial increases in funding for credentials and CTE equipment, Virginia is fully engaged in implementing and expanding new programs. Even still, the legislature is eying new policies related to apprenticeships and CTE teacher licensure. Additionally, the Office of Career and Technical Education recently merged with the Office of Adult Education in order to streamline programs and facilitate more efficient program and service delivery under WIOA. The office, under Lolita Hall’s leadership, is engaged with integrating both the CTE and adult education portfolios in order to strengthen workforce preparation services for individuals all across the Commonwealth.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Increased State Investments in CTE Highlighted by Governors

February 7th, 2017

The beginning of the new year means governors are giving their annual state of the state addresses, celebrating accomplishments and outlining priorities in their states for the coming year. Speeches are scheduled to continue over the next few months, but some governors have already made bold statements to advance CTE.

Indiana’s Governor Eric J. Holcomb vowed to re-configure and align existing workforce development programs with new initiatives in order to develop a skilled and ready 21st century workforce. This includes a promise to invest $2 million in a regional “Jobs Ready Grants” program to help current workers complete credentials in high-demand, high-wage fields. Additionally the governor plans to invest $1 million each year to better coordinate STEM education across the state.

In South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard applauded his state’s recent efforts related to CTE and dual enrollment. In 2016 the state awarded workforce education grants to help transform high school CTE programs, which resulted in new auto mechanic, precision agriculture and nursing programs. The state’s postsecondary Build Dakota program provided full-ride scholarships to approximately 300 students for a second year. Students in the program attend a technical institute in a high-need program and promise to work in that field in South Dakota upon graduation. Governor Daugaard celebrated the fact that while enrollment in two-year institutions is down nationally by 17 percent, enrollment in Build Dakota programs has increased by 10 percent.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker discussed multiple workforce development initiatives his state has undertaken in recent years, including investments in the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, a grant program supporting employer-led programs for training workers. The state has also doubled enrollment in the Youth Apprenticeship program. Another investment has been Project SEARCH, which provides students with disabilities with targeted classroom support and internships. There are currently 18 Project SEARCH sites, and the state aims to increase that number to 27 by the next school year. Additionally the state has increased investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System, opening 5,000 more slots for students in high-demand areas. At the secondary level, the state has focused in the last year on investing more in college and career readiness planning and increasing access to dual enrollment options.

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas made quite a few statements regarding education in his address. Among more general promises to continue to build high-quality CTE programs and improving the state accountability system, he also encouraged the state’s postsecondary institutions to provide bachelor’s degree options for $15,000 or less. Additionally he announced plans to reform the state teacher certification and salary systems to attract more teachers to the state.

In Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper celebrated programs like Skillful and CareerWise Colorado, which help students develop new skills for new careers and have received over $15 million in grant funding over the last 18 months. He also held up the state’s work specifically in cybersecurity training, and the growing demand for more skills-based training. The state is facing a $170 million drop in education funding from property taxes this summer, which Governor Hickenlooper vowed to address.

Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect were major features in Governor Bill Haslam’s address. Through Tennessee Promise, students attend community and technical colleges tuition free, and Tennessee Reconnect offers that same opportunity for adults already in the workforce. The governor also addressed plans to fully fund the Basic Education Program, which would provide an additional $15 million for CTE equipment.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

THIS WEEK IN CTE: CTE MONTH!

February 3rd, 2017

Happy CTE Month! This month we are celebrating the best of Career Technical Education (CTE). We’ll be taking part in Twitter chats, advocating for CTE on Capitol Hill, exploring model programs, and lifting up fantastic work happening at the national, state and local level throughout the month. If you haven’t already, email Katie at kfitzgerald@careertech.org to let us know how your community is celebrating CTE in February.

RESOURCE(S) OF THE WEEK

Wondering how to get involved in CTE Month? Check out our CTE Month page for some quick ideas on where to start and some state and local examples from last year, then head over to the Association for Career and Technical Education’s CTE Month page and you’ll find the official CTE Month logo, a sample CTE Month proclamation, tips on hosting a school site visit for policymakers, and a number of additional resources.

ARTICLE(S) OF THE WEEK

Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required, New York Times

Career and Technical Education Advocates Pushing for Changes Under Trump, Education Week

Why Apprenticeships are Taking Off, City Lab

The Increasing Value of Technical Education in Chicago, Chicago Business Journal

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK 

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Betsy DeVos’s Narrowing Path to Confirmation

February 3rd, 2017

On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee voted to advance Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, out of committee. The vote was narrowly decided along party lines with 12 Republicans voting for and 11 Democrats voting against her nomination.

Since then, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both announced they would not be voting for the nominee, putting Betsy DeVos’s nomination on very shaky ground. That leaves her with just 50 Republican votes, meaning the final decision may fall to Vice President Mike Pence, who casts a vote in the Senate in the event of a tie.

Shortly before the Senate HELP committee vote, DeVos released written responses to 139 questions from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Among them was a question related to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). DeVos called Perkins reauthorization “an important priority,” and added that she aims to work with the HELP committee to update the law to “provide flexibility at the state and local levels” and “ support transparency of data so parents, students, and other taxpayers can see how well their programs are working.”

Early this morning, the Senate voted 52-48 to end cloture, a procedural hurdle that needed to be cleared before the Senate would be able to conduct the final vote on DeVos’s confirmation. The final vote is now scheduled for Monday, February 6.

Trump Appoints Jerry Falwell, Jr. to Task Force for Higher Education

According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, will be advising the Trump administration on higher education policy. He was appointed this week to lead a task force that will study issues related to accreditation, student loan forgiveness, campus sexual assault and more. While Falwell’s positions on such issues are unclear, he has made statements indicating that he aims to scale back the role of the federal government in postsecondary education.

Meanwhile, Lots of Support for CTE on the Hill

Last week, House and Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs received a letter urging them to resume Perkins reauthorization. The letter, which was signed by 85 organizations and businesses, praised Perkins as a tool for meeting the needs of the 21st century economy and helping employers close critical skills gaps. Advance CTE was a co-signer of the letter.

Additionally, Senate Democrats last week introduced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that aims to create more than 15 million jobs. The bill is an attempt at bipartisanship in response to President Donald Trump’s comments, both on the campaign trail and during his inauguration, that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a priority in the early months of his administration. Included in the bill is $75 billion for school construction projects, which will be disbursed to schools based on need.

In the House, Republicans introduced a resolution on Thursday under the 1996 Congressional Review Act to revoke Obama-era regulations for accountability and teacher preparation under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the regulations were already frozen temporarily under a recent executive order from the White House, this resolution would revoke the regulations entirely. Further, President Trump’s administration would be prohibited from issuing “substantially similar” regulations, casting uncertainty over the future of ESSA implementation. The resolution must be approved by both the House and the Senate before going into effect.  

Finally, to help celebrate CTE month, the Senate CTE Caucus will be hosting an event that examines the role and impact of federal CTE policy.  Once this event is confirmed, we will share a link so you can participate virtually, as the event will be livestreamed.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

2017 School Counselor of the Year will Keynote Advance CTE Spring Meeting

February 2nd, 2017

We’re proud to announce the keynote speaker for this year’s meeting: Terri Tchorzynski, the 2017 School Counselor of the Year!

Tchorzynski is a school counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center in BattleCreek, Michigan, where she and her fellow counselors use the power of data to identify interventions and support students’ social-emotional health, college and career readiness preparation, and academics. Tchorzynski’s remarks will focus on the importance of school counselors and bring some insights into counseling CTE students.

The School Counselor of the Year program is presented by the American School Counselor Association, and finalists are chosen based on creative school counseling innovations, effective programs, leadership skills and contributions to student advancement.

Or hear from one of her former students – now a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Michigan – in her own words.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Welcome to Elaine Perea, New Mexico’s State CTE Director!

February 2nd, 2017

When Elaine Perea was studying ancient Greek philosophers at St. John’s College in 1990, she never imagined she would one day become the State Director for Career Technical Education (CTE) in New Mexico.

Yet, her first job after graduating was as a bookkeeper, and she soon realized she had a knack for numbers and finance. This led into varied career in business including accounting and eventually to an investment company where she bought commercial office buildings. Over time, however, this began to wear, she said. So Perea decided to return to college once more; this time, to earn her doctorate in social psychology and enter the next phase of her professional career – as a college professor in Florida, where she taught for three years.

But New Mexico was home, so when a position became available over two years ago in the state’s Public Education Department, she was able to leverage her unique blend of business experience and teaching to get hired as an Education Administrator. Shortly after joining the department, she assumed additional responsibilities as the Deputy Director of CTE.

After being named as the State CTE Director in January, Perea said she intends to continue focusing on how to increase secondary students’ access to CTE. In New Mexico, roughly half of school districts have fewer than 200 students and many struggle to offer a three-course program of study due to enrollments and resources.

Perea also said another of her top priorities is to increase the use of dual credit courses in secondary CTE programs, and to encourage students to take such courses as part of their program sequence. To do this, Perea said she is working closely with the state bodies that govern higher education enrollment policies.

“We believe dual credit is an important tool in supporting rigorous CTE programs and helping students get the credentials they need for entering into the workforce,” Perea said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

New Putting Learner Success First Resources

January 31st, 2017

As the first month of the New Year comes to a close, we’re excited to share a new resource and new supporter of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE!

In partnership with the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges, we released a new paper on why this vision is critical to postsecondary leaders. Postsecondary leaders are important partners in the CTE system, providing high-quality CTE programs that arm learners with a range of credentials from a short-term certificate to an advanced degree. Learn more about how postsecondary leaders can get involved here. Also, learn more about how state leaders and educators can support Putting Learner Success First on our resources page.

Additionally, we’re thrilled to have National FFA join the growing list of vision supporters. Learn more about why they chose to support this important work here.

Wondering how you can get involved? Join the nearly 40 states who have signed on to our Putting Learner Success First sign-on campaign, and let us know how you plan to put this shared vision for CTE into action.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

President Trump’s First Week in Office

January 29th, 2017

Trump Freezes Pending Regulations, Including those Related to ESSA Accountability

President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office on Friday. During the inauguration ceremony, the President said the U.S. has “an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge,” though he did not provide additional details about his plans for improving the federal education system.

Upon taking office, Trump immediately revoked any regulations not yet submitted to the Federal Register and postponed the effective date of pending regulations by 60 days. This echoes a similar move from the Obama administration in early 2009. Although the most recent round of ESSA regulations, which detail accountability and state plans, were published in November 2016, they were not set to take effect until January 30. As a result, those regulations will now go into effect on March 21, 2017. While this could implicate ESSA plan submissions, state officials and consultants do not anticipate the pause will affect state timelines, according to Education Week.

President Trump has also hinted that he wants to reduce federal regulations by 75 percent, though he has not indicated where these reductions will come from.

Lastly, positions at the White House are starting to be filled. Rob Goad, a former staff with Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) has been selected to fill the position of Education Advisor at the Office of Domestic Policy Council.  The Education Advisor position is not a “required” position, so the fact that the position has been filled early on is a potential signal of the administration’s intent to develop education policy priorities.

DeVos Vote Rescheduled to January 31

Last week we provided an overview of Education Secretary to be Betsy DeVos’s hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. While questions related to Career Technical Education (CTE) or reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006 were limited, the hearing turned out to be quite contentious, with Democrats protesting the limited time to review the nominee’s ethics report prior to a confirmation vote. Responding to concerns from his committee, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) postponed DeVos’s hearing by one week to Tuesday, January 31 to allow Senators additional time to review the Office of Government Ethics’ report. On Friday, Senator Todd Young (R-IN)  recused himself from voting on the DeVos confirmation, citing a conflict of interest because she donated to his campaign.

Senators Kaine and Portman Reintroduce JOBS Act

On the Hill, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, reintroduced the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act of 2017 (JOBS Act). The bill aims to expand the Federal Pell Grant program to include postsecondary CTE job training programs in in-demand industries. Under the bill, such programs must provide no less than 150 clock hours of instructional time over eight weeks and enable students to obtain a license or credential. Advance CTE has endorsed the proposed legislation.

WIOA Infrastructure Guidance

On January 18, 2017, Former Acting Assistant Secretary John Uvin, put out an extensive memo articulating additional information related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) infrastructure guidance. While the memo was directed to State Directors of Adult Education, Perkins is mentioned throughout. Advance CTE is in the process of analyzing the memo and will provide a more in depth analysis to members next week. We should note that it is unclear whether any of the non-regulatory guidance put forth by the Obama Administration will hold, given the Trump Administration’s push to reduce federal oversight and burden on states by reducing regulations.  

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

CTE Remained a Priority for State Policymakers in 2016

January 25th, 2017

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Release Annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review, Highlighting State Policy Trends from 2016

Supporting and strengthening high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) remains a priority for state policymakers, according to a new report from Advance CTE and ACTE. The report, State Policies Impacting CTE: 2016 Year in Review, is the fourth annual policy scan highlighting state activity. Below are some key takeaways from the report.

More States Passed CTE-Related Policies in 2016 than the Year Before

In recent years, both state and national policymakers have demonstrated a growing interest in strengthening career readiness systems through legislation, executive orders, rulemaking, budget provisions and ballot initiatives. In 2016, states continued that trend, completing a total of 139 policy actions across 42 states. This is a slight increase over 2015, when 39 states passed a total of 125 policies.

This activity reflects that states are increasingly buying into the notion that alternative pathways such as two-year degrees, apprenticeships and industry-recognized credentials can lead to high-wage, high-demand careers. This is fueled in part by national initiatives such as the New Skills for Youth initiative, Pathways to Prosperity and the National Governors Association’s Talent Pipeline Policy academy, which each aim to catalyze the transformation of career preparation in states.

Funding Remains the Most Popular Policy Category for the Fourth Year

Funding was the leading category of policies passed in 2016, consistent with the past four years. Related policies this year include new grant initiatives such as the Strong Workforce Grant in California, which provides $200 million in noncompetitive funding to strengthen workforce development programs in California community colleges, and Massachusetts’ Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program. Last year also saw the restoration of funding for the Arizona Joint Technical Education Districts after a $29 million cut in 2015.

Other extant trends from the past year include policies related to industry partnerships and work-based learning; dual and concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college; and industry-recognized credentials.

States Are Gearing up for ESSA Implementation

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was signed into law in December, 2015 and includes numerous opportunities for states to accelerate work around CTE and career readiness. While most states spent 2016 engaging various stakeholder groups and developing draft plans to implement the law, some states took initial steps to pass policies in support of implementation. West Virginia and Oklahoma, for example, each adopted accountability systems that recognize and value career preparation. West Virginia’s accountability system includes an indicator that recognizes the percentage of 12th grade CTE concentrators, while Oklahoma adopted a “Postsecondary Opportunity” indicator that includes dual credit coursework, internships, apprenticeships and industry certifications.

Successful Ballot Initiatives Demonstrate Voter Support for CTE

Several states saw and passed initiatives related to CTE on the November ballot. In Oregon, voters approved Measure 98, which establishes the College and Career Readiness Fund and directs the legislature to allocate $800 per pupil to establish and expand new programs, including CTE. Meanwhile, Arkansas voted to legalize medical marijuana and subject sale of the drug to state and local sales tax. Under the approved amendment, 60 percent of the revenue generated through the sale of medical marijuana will go to support skills development and training. South Dakota voters also approved a measure that directs the legislature to restructure the way the state technical colleges are governed and remove authority from the Board of Regents.

2016 saw growing momentum in support of CTE at the state level, and this year’s activity tees 2017 up to be an important year for CTE and career readiness in the U.S. We anticipate states will continue the work started in 2016 by picking up legislation introduced in 2016, adopting new strategies to implement federal legislation and beginning the work of implementing policies passed in 2016.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Welcome to Quentin Suffren, Texas’ New State CTE Director!

January 24th, 2017

Quentin Suffren admits he’s not your usual State Director for Career Technical Education (CTE).

For more than 16 years, Suffren worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors, leading large-scale education projects such as managing data and reporting systems with the New York-based Amplify Education, implementing a teacher evaluation system with The New Teacher Project in Houston, Texas, and serving as the chief academic officer for The Learning Institute.

In August 2016, he joined the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to serve as the Executive Director for College, Career and Military Prep, which includes the state’s CTE office.

The TEA reorganized last year, and as a result, CTE gained a higher profile within the department when the state joined the Pathways to Prosperity Network, which is a group of states working to build seamless career pathway systems that link high school, work and postsecondary education. The career pathways initiative is what brought Suffren to the agency, and since joining in August, has been working to coordinate the state’s efforts.

“What became really clear as I joined TEA, a lot of those pathways run directly through CTE,” Suffren said. “This puts CTE in the limelight and acknowledges that it is direct preparatory pathway to college and careers.”

In his new role, Suffren said he is looking forward to finding new and better ways to increase students’ access to high quality career pathways, expanding college and career counseling for all students and their parents, and removing barriers to work-based learning.

“It’s not college or career anymore. It’s both, and CTE is a huge part of that,” Suffren said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate of Member Engagement and Leadership Development

 

Series

Archives

1