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National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

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

Announcing NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Registration

July 31st, 2014

As teachers and administrators gear up for the school year, we’re gearing up for our Fall Meeting! This year’s program will stimulate discussion between State Directors, Associate Members and a number of outside experts as we touch on exciting developments surrounding CTE today and how we can help CTE realize its full potential as learning that works for America. 

Join us in Baltimore from October 20 – 22, 2014 to expand your professional network and to gather examples of high-quality CTE programs nationwide to apply in your state or community.

More information on the Fall Meeting is available on the event homepage, including the agenda and logistical information. Keep your eyes open — our blog and homepage will be updated repeatedly with more details as we approach the Fall Meeting kickoff!

NASDCTEc Member and non-member registration portals opened July 30, 2014 and are currently featuring a $100 early bird discount (expires August 29, 2014). Don’t delay, sign up to contribute your perspective today!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

The Common Career Technical Core, Programs of Study & Industry-Based Standards

July 30th, 2014

Yesterday, NASDCTEc released a new paper - The Common Career Technical Core, Programs of Study & Industry-Based Standards - during a webinar. Leveraging the methodology used to compare over 45 states’ CTE standards to the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) last year for The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of State CTE Standards, this new paper examines how a set of 18 industry-based standards match up to the CCTC, with deep implications for state and local development of standards-based programs of study.

Critically, as we state in the paper, “The intent of this analysis is not to judge any industry-based standards…rather the intent is provide actionable information to state and local CTE leaders as think through how they use industry-based standards within the context of a program of study.”

What Did We Find?

For one, the industry-based standards, on average, were not particularly well aligned with the CCTC. However, this was largely as expected based on scope and design of the CCTC compared to most industry-based standards. The CCTC are benchmark standards that identify what a student should know and be able to do after completing a program of study. As “benchmark standards,” the CCTC are intentionally broad; as “end of program of study standards,” the CCTC cover the full range of knowledge and skills to be imparted over a sequence of courses, from the broadest career exploration to the more occupationally-specific skills. Alternatively, most industry-based standards focus squarely on those occupationally-specific skills, leading to a disconnect between them and the CCTC.

We also found that the majority of industry-based standards did not, on average, address the 12 Career Ready Practices, which are the cross-cutting skills and dispositions necessary for any individual in the workplace. Perhaps the most surprising finding was that less than half of the industry-based standards fully aligned to such Practices as “communicate clearly, effectively and with reason” and “work productively in teams while using cultural/global competence,” which are so highly demanded in today’s economy.

However, the analysis showed that many of the industry-based standards reviewed did align well with the Career Pathway-level standards, which are the most specific standards within the CCTC. Additionally, industry-based standards developed by consortia, such as the National Council for Agriculture Education and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, were much  more likely to address both the Career Cluster and Career Pathway-level standards.

What Are the Implications?

The bottom line is that industry-based standards play an important role in preparing students for careers, but that they cannot alone make up a program of study as they often fail to address the broader career exploration skills, as well as those key cross-cutting or “employability” skills that have utility in any career. As state leaders and other stakeholders develop, review and/or approve programs of study, they must:

  • Ensure the standards not only address the key occupationally-specific skills, but also those addressed at the Career Cluster level, as well as the Career Ready Practices, and
  • Provide guidance to local leaders and educators on how to implement the various sets of state and industry-based standards available and build out a coherent sequence of courses and learning experiences aligned to those different standards.

Read the full report here, watch the webinar recording or download the webinar PPT.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director, NASDCTEc

Legislative Update: WIOA Becomes Law, VP Releases Federal Job Training Review as Competency-Based Education Gains Support

July 30th, 2014

CapitolLast Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), historic legislation which supports workforce development activities throughout the country and funds job training programs for displaced youth and adults. This legislation reauthorizes and modernizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and makes a number of positive improvements to that law. Over the past two months, WIOA was approved in both the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities before making its way to the President’s desk for signature.

Following its enactment into law, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have now set to work developing the necessary policies and regulatory guidance for states and local areas to implement the provisions of WIOA.  NASDCTEc will continue to engage in this process and keep the CTE community up-to-date as the law is implemented. Additional information from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education can be found here and here. Important dates and key deadlines for WIOA’s implementation can be found on this timeline.

Vice President Releases Review of Federal Job Training Programs

On the same day that President Obama signed WIOA into law, Vice President Joe Biden released a long anticipated review of federal job training programs. Following his 2014 State of the Union address President Obama directed the Vice President to lead an across-the-board review of these programs, working closely with members of the President’s Cabinet. This review is the result of that months-long process. In Vice President Biden’s remarks, he called the passage of WIOA an opportunity to outline in greater detail “how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world.”

The  report titled “Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity” presents a number of findings on the effectiveness of existing job training programs and makes a series of recommendations for how to improve on those efforts. Among the many actions steps proposed in the report is a seven-component “Job-Driven Checklist,” which will guide the Administration’s efforts to strengthen existing workforce programs and supplement the positive steps taken in WIOA:

  • Employer engagement/involvement for determining local or regional labor market needs;
  • Establish opportunities for work-based learning as a clear pathway to employment;
  • Leverage data more effectively to drive program accountability;
  • Measure and evaluate employment and earnings outcomes for program participants;
  • Promote pathway systems which provide opportunities for additional training or credentials;
  • Increase access for high-need populations through the promotion of additional support services;
  • Promote regional partnerships between workforce and education systems and other stakeholder groups.

Beginning on October 1, all eligible applicants for 25 different federal competitive grant programs across federal agencies will be required to incorporate each of these elements into their application. In total, these programs represent approximately $1.4 billion in annual funding for workforce development activities throughout the country. Additionally, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education will begin to encourage states to incorporate this checklist into their unified state plans— a new requirement introduced under WIOA.

The report goes on to highlight a number of other Administration-led initiatives which have already been announced, such as the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), the Performance Pilot Partnerships for Disconnected Youth (P3), and the American Apprenticeship Grant among a handful of others. As part of the report’s release, the Department of Education also announced that it will launch the Career Pathways Exchange, “an online information dissemination service that will give all states and interested stakeholders access to resources and guidance to develop, expand, and strengthen their career pathways systems.” Read the full report here.

Support for Competency-Based Education Grows

In conjunction with the Vice President’s report, the Department of Education (ED) also announced a new round of its “experimental sites” (ex-sites) initiative, which aims to test and showcase innovative strategies and approaches to delivering postsecondary education. These experimental sites hope to demonstrate that it is possible to transition away from “seat time” in favor of demonstrated student competency— an approached widely known as competency-based education.

Since the early 1990s, ED has had the ability to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA). These restrictions determine if postsecondary institutions can receive funds from federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of HEA. Through the ex-sites initiative, ED will waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA) requirements which affect Title IV federal student aid funding to provide institutions greater flexibility when implementing competency-based programs. Learn more about this announcement from ED here and Department’s official notice with detailed application instructions can be found here.

Activity around competency-based programs is also happening in Congress. Following a voice vote from the House Education and Workforce Committee, H.R. 3136 – also known as the Advancing Competency-based Education Demonstration Act – went before the full House and passed unanimously. This bill is part of the House committee’s larger strategy of reauthorizing HEA through a series of smaller bills aimed at renewing the law. The legislation has similar objectives to ED’s ex-sites initiative by allowing up to 20 institutions to offer competency-based education programs without meeting existing federal aid requirements under Title IV HEA. Eleven amendments were proposed and adopted during the bill’s vote. Among them was one offered by Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), encouraging the greater dissemination and collection of enrollment and employment information of students participating in programs supported by the legislation.

Congressional Appropriations Lose Steam

Both the House and the Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 appropriations processes have stalled after months of negotiations. Congress looks set to pass a Continuing Resolution, a move that would temporarily extend current FY 2014 funding levels past the October 1 deadline when current federal funding is set to expire. Encouragingly, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its intended FY 2015 Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education appropriations bill which included a $5.4 million increase for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program.

Although the appropriations process has since stalled and this funding increase is unlikely to be realized in the upcoming fiscal year, the release of the subcommittee’s text is an encouraging demonstration of Congress’ commitment to the Career Technical Education (CTE) enterprise. It is also important to note that Senate appropriators rejected the Obama Administration’s proposal for a new competitive CTE “innovation fund”- a sign that Congress largely remains opposed to a shift from the current formula-funded structure in the Perkins Act to a competitive model.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 5)

July 25th, 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 andthepreviousinstallments. 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.

Credentials

Florida lawmakers added a few more provisions to the state’s Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE), adding to the major changes from last year’s session. The law now requires school boards to inform parents of the projected return on investment should their child complete an industry-recognized certification during high school versus completing one after graduation. It also directs the state Department of Education and Workforce Florida, Inc. to begin collecting return-on-investment information for industry-certified CTE programs and career-themed courses as part of its broader collection of student achievement and performance data. The law creates two new features as well – CAPE Acceleration and CAPE Innovation – which will take effect in the 2015-2016 school year, and further incentivizes school districts to offer industry-recognized credentials for articulated college credit.

In a separate bill, the legislature also permitted computer science courses to count for one high school graduation requirement in math or science if the course is deemed of sufficient rigor and a related industry certification is earned. Similarly, a computer technology course in 3D rapid prototype printing with a related industry certification may satisfy up to two math requirements.

In an effort to support and integrate technology in the classroom, the same legislation also provided that grades K-12 will give students the opportunity to earn digital tool certificates and grade-appropriate, technology-related industry certifications.

Military experience for academic credit

Washington and Utah joined a growing number of states that will now offer academic credit for veterans’ military experience as well as in-state tuition. The Connecticut General Assembly directed the state’s licensing authorities to certify, waive, or award certain licenses, examinations or credit to veterans or National Guard members who have military experience similar to the existing requirements.

In Washington, a new law requires the state’s higher education institutions to adopt policies that would award academic credit for military training applicable to the student’s certificate or degree requirements. Meanwhile, Utah lawmakers modified a 2013 law to require that veterans receive college and career counseling before the credit is awarded. According to an analysis by the Education Commission of the States, seven state legislatures also passed similar laws in 2013 related to prior learning assessments for veterans.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Educators Wanted: Give Your Input to the Mobile Learning Partnership!

July 16th, 2014

According to Innovate+Educate, mobile learning (m-learning) is no longer exploding onto the scene or the hot new trend, it’s a $1.4 billion industry with serious implications for teaching and learning. As mobile learning settles in as another instructional tool to deepen the student-teacher relationship, educators and advocates have the opportunity to contribute to the development of m-learning apps, infusing technological development with the expertise of years of instructional and institutional knowledge.

Launched in conjunction with the Verizon Foundation, Innovate+Educate’s Mobile Learning Partnership (MLP) initiative is designed to “connect, partner and facilitate communication between educators, mobile app developers and technology enthusiasts for the advancement of mobile learning in the classroom.” With new m-learning apps springing up all the time, the MLP initiative is offering a unique opportunity for professionals to provide input into what teachers and students need most out of a m-learning app. You can contribute to the conversation here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

July 16th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) recently released a review of the state budget landscape for fiscal year (FY) 2015, which began on July 1. Career Technical Education (CTE) receives its funding through a variety of streams – including from these state budgets. While the report does not speak to CTE funding directly, understanding a state’s fiscal health is important, particularly after many continue to recover from the recession.

According to the governors’ proposed budgets, state spending is projected to grow moderately for the fifth consecutive year – to $750.1 billion, a 2.9 percent increase from FY 2014.  Though state revenues are projected to grow, gains are expected to be constrained by economic growth and a weak labor market, as they were in 2014. On average, states expected to see an estimated 5 percent increase in FY 2014, but in the end, only saw growth of 4.3 percent. While many states are expected to surpass pre-recession spending levels in FY 2015, 10 recommended states budgets remain below pre-recession highs.

Mid-year program cuts can be a clear sign of fiscal distress, according to the report. In FY 2014, nine states made mid-year cuts to K-12 and five made cuts to higher education. With modest fiscal advances for FY 2015, 39 governors have proposed increases to core services such as K-12 ($10.9 billion) and postsecondary education ($3.5 billion). Three states have proposed overall cuts to K-12 and five recommended slashing higher education funding.

Be sure to check out the full NASBO report for a state-by-state breakdown of changes to state aid, expenditures, revenues and much more.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Legislative Update: House Passes WIOA, Senators Introduce New Perkins Amendment

July 11th, 2014

CapitolWednesday evening, the House passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA),  bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act. As we shared previously, the Senate approved WIOA by a substantial margin of 95-3 in June, which then sent the bill over to the House for further consideration.

The House followed in much the same way, overwhelmingly supporting WIOA’s passage by a margin of 415-6. This enormous vote of confidence from both chambers of Congress now sends the legislation to President Obama, who is expected to sign the bill into law. NASDCTEc’s initial overview of the bill can be found here and a joint press release on Wednesday’s vote can be found here.

WIOA’s passage this week is the result of more than a decade of work from members of Congress, their staff and advocates alike to overhaul and modernize the nation’s workforce system. The legislation makes many improvements that will help ensure that workers and employers have the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy. NASDCTEc applauds this historic legislative achievement and looks forward to additional Congressional bipartisanship in the coming weeks and months as Congress continues work on other major pieces of federal education and workforce legislation such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

Senators Introduce Perkins Legislation

Last week, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) announced their intention to introduce a new Career Technical Education (CTE) bill that would make several positive modifications to Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). Yesterday, these Senators officially introduced this legislation and took to the Senate floor to voice their continued support and commitment to the CTE enterprise. An overview and press release on the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act of 2014 (ETWA) from both Senator Kaine and Portman’s offices can be found here and here.

ETWA would introduce a more rigorous definition for CTE programs of study (POS) — a framework for delivering high-quality CTE first introduced in the 2006 reauthorization of the Perkins Act. The newly proposed definition would require alignment to state-identified college and career ready standards, support the attainment of employability and technical skills, allow for multiple entry and exit points throughout a program’s secondary and postsecondary components and ultimately result in a recognized postsecondary credential or placement in an apprenticeship.

The legislation would also create an annual needs assessment for local Perkins recipients to better enable them to identify and meet the shifting needs of local CTE students and empower programs to more effectively respond to the evolving needs of the local, regional and state labor market. ETWA would also encourage the wider adoption of career academies among programs receiving Perkins funding.

NASDCTEc supports this legislation and looks forward to a comprehensive reauthorization of the Perkins Act where elements of this bill can be incorporated into the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s efforts to renew this vitally important law.

The full text of the bill can be found here and a joint letter of support from NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education can be found here.

House Committee Moves on Competency-Based Education

Yesterday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) passed by voice vote the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136). This bipartisan legislation is part of series of bills the Committee hopes to move forward in an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). As we shared previously, the HEW Committee announced a set of principles for HEA reauthorization that will guide their efforts as this process continues.

H.R. 3136 would authorize the creation of competency-based education demonstration projects through HEA and waive current statutory regulations that have acted as an impediment to a wider adoption of competency-based education models at the postsecondary level. Currently, for the purposes of federal financial aid provided under Title IV of HEA, student progress is predominantly measured and determined by credit hour rather than by other more direct methods of measuring student learning. This bill’s cosponsors hope that the legislation will reduce the amount of time it takes to work towards a degree while also reducing the financial burden placed on students seeking a postsecondary education.

NASDCTEc is supportive of competency based education approaches such as the one put forward in H.R. 3136, and looks forward to the wider utilization of these models in a comprehensive reauthorization of HEA. A factsheet on the bill can be found here and the full text here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Catching up with … State Legislatures (Part 4)

July 9th, 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 and thepreviousinstallments. 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.

As STEM education and jobs continue to garner attention across the country, state legislatures this spring devoted funds, attention and policy language to help increase awareness and opportunities for students in this critical field.

In Utah, lawmakers directed the state’s STEM Action Center to award competitive grants to school districts and charter schools to fund STEM-related certification programs for high school students.  The legislation calls for successful grantee programs to include preparing high school students to be job ready for available STEM-related positions and result in a “nationally industry-recognized employer STEM related certification.” The law also allows grantee schools to partner with community colleges or a private sector employer to provide the certification program.

Drawing from a 2012 report calling for improvements to the state’s STEM education and workforce, Oklahoma lawmakers passed legislation for the new “Oklahoma – A STEM State of Mind” program. The legislation creates a designation for a city or region to be named a “STEM community or region” as a means to shore up the awareness about STEM fields and jobs in Oklahoma. Those seeking to be designated a STEM community or region must a gather a broad base of stakeholders from the area to form partnerships with education and industry as well as develop and execute action plans for improving STEM education and training. The act, which was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in April, codifies part of the state Department of Education’s STEM strategy, and specifically cites that the state’s CTE centers should be included in these efforts.

Legislatures in Oklahoma and Washington also passed laws changing high school graduation requirements to allow students to take STEM or STEM CTE courses as an equivalent for a traditional math or science credit. Iowa lawmakers dedicated $1 million to STEM internships with Iowa employers that will be administered through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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