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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

Excellence in Action: Henderson County High School

May 14th, 2015

In April, we awarded our 2015 Excellence in Action Awards to nine programs of study from across the country in secondary and postsecondary education. These programs of study were selected based on their uniquely inventive and effective approaches to stimulating student learning, offering extensive work-based learning experiences, maintaining strong partnerships with industry and community organizations, and preparing students for postsecondary and career success. We will feature a monthly blog post highlighting each award winner.

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at Henderson County High School (HCHS) in cte-careercluster-banner-humanservicesHenderson, Kentucky began in 1970 and has expanded dramatically in the past 10 years to address the complex social and economic issues that individuals, families and communities currently face. By the time students graduate, they have the opportunity to earn multiple certifications and up to nine college credits, and have gained a year of internship experience in a preschool classroom, truly preparing them for their next step be it postsecondary education or the workplace.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE AND CAREERS

A key component to the ECE program of study is the delivery of state-required and nationally-recognized HCHScredentials. These credentials are vital in a child care career and are a stepping stone for students who plan to pursue the ECE pathway post-graduation. ECE offers up to five certifications and educator Emily Johnston was the first Family Consumer Science teacher in Kentucky to obtain the Early Care and Education Trainer’s Credential so that she could teach and award the certification to her students without having to hire additional staff.

Through a partnership with Henderson Community College, students receive articulated credit upon completion of the third course in the program of study, which is equivalent to the first course in the college sequence. And, students who earn a CDA credential receive nine college credits at any institution in the Kentucky Community Technical College System in the field of ECE.

As part of their third (articulated) course – Child Development Services II – students are also expected to complete 180 hours of work-based learning and a capstone project.

MEANINGFUL PARTNERSHIPS

The ECE program has built an incredible array of highly engaged partners at the local and state levels. Employers like the Little Stars Child Care, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center and Riverview School provide work-based learning opportunities in the community. From its inception, the Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center was designed to incorporate the ECE program at Henderson County High School, where students take a nine-week training course and work in the preschool classroom to gain daily, hands-on experience.

Little Colonels Daycare, located at HCHS, offers students in grades 9-11 hands-on experience one day per week. This gives students the opportunity to learn how children develop from ages 0-3 and gain workplace readiness skills to prepare them for their senior year, off-site work-based learning requirement.

IMG_0191Additionally, HCHS has a strong relationship with the University of Kentucky Quality Enhancement Initiative, which provides higher educational opportunities for students post-graduation and funding for the Commonwealth Child Care Credential (CCCC) and the CDA for students who stay in the ECE field.

Through stellar partnerships and a commitment to providing students with opportunities to participate in work-based learning experiences, 100 percent of students graduated high school, 18 percent earned an industry-recognized credential and 68 percent enrolled in postsecondary education. Additionally, lead teacher in the program, Emily Johnston, was recently named Teacher of the Year in Henderson County, Kentucky.

All awardees were honored at the 2015 NASDCTEc Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Learn more about Henderson County High School’s Early Childhood Education program here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

May 8th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
@APS_Foundation
“If you’re in business in CO & not investing in education, then you’re not in business in CO.” -Kelly Brough of @DenChamber #GradNation
Read More

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
School Reform for Rural America
With one in four rural children living in poverty, and the vast majority of the 50 U.S. counties with the highest child-poverty rate being rural, it is clear that much is to be done to improve the education system in rural communities.
Read More

MEDIA OF THE WEEK
This week we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week with this video. Thankful to all of our CTE educators out there!
Watch the video

REPORT OF THE WEEK
The Economic Value of College Majors analyzes 137 college majors and their economic benefits. The report includes a list of key findings, one of which is that the top-paying college majors  like STEM and business earn $3.4 million more than the lowest-paying majors such as early childhood education and the arts, over a lifetime.
Read More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE: The Choice for All Students

May 7th, 2015

HeadshotFriends of CTE guest blogger is Dr. Vince Bertram is president and CEO of Project Lead The Way and the New York Times bestselling author of “One Nation Under-Taught: Solving America’s Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Crisis.”

In three and a half years as CEO of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), I’ve visited all 50 states and Washington, D.C., been in hundreds of schools, and talked with thousands of teachers and students. People often ask me whether PLTW is or should be considered a CTE program. My response is simple—all education should be Career and Technical Education (CTE).

I recently participated in a gathering of our nation’s education leaders focused on college and career readiness. By the conclusion of the meeting, we realized the real focus should be on career readiness. After all, students take many different pathways en route to their careers, but a successful career is the end goal. As a result, we must focus on career readiness for all students.

It makes sense, then, that CTE should be at the center of career preparation—not a separate program for some students, but an education for all students. CTE programs help students explore careers and develop valuable skills—skills that are relevant, in high demand, and lead to high-wage careers.

Staying relevant

With career and technical education, we must ensure that the programs we offer are relevant to the job market and teach applicable skills across all sectors. Career readiness is not necessarily about a specific career, but rather a skillset that leads to opportunities. Through hands-on, activity-, project-, and problem-based learning, students—as early as elementary school—will develop critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills. As students progress through grades K-12, they can explore career paths, be mentored, and develop strong technical skills.

It’s about skills

CTE programs and educators are doing some of most important work in our economy. There is a growing realization across the United States— from governors to federal policymakers, and from local educators to the business community—that CTE is essential for our students, states, and nation. It is also becoming clear that education is not just about earning four-year college degrees, many that lead to underemployment and massive student loan debt. Rather, education must be about developing skills—skills that lead to the greatest career opportunities.

Moving forward, we must impress upon decision-makers the critical nature of this work. In the last several decades, CTE has suffered from a stigma that it is “the other choice.” Today, we find ourselves with 4 million unfilled jobs, over 8 million people who are unemployed, and millions more underemployed because they lack appropriate skills. To solve this crisis, and to ensure the United States remains a strong and prosperous nation, we must rethink the way we view education. Career and Technical Education is not just for some students, it’s for all students.

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. Want to provide your perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education? Contact kfitzgerald@careertech.org 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Spring Wrap-Up Edition (Part II)

May 5th, 2015

cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150A lot has happened this season on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), new CTE-related legislation and various announcements from the Obama Administration. As summer draws closer, we wanted to take a moment and re-cap all of the exciting activity going on in Washington D.C. as we look ahead to what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part II in a two part series of springtime legislative updates. 

Implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

On April 16th, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services (DOL, ED, HHS) formally published a long overdue series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). These NPRM’s are a proposed set of rules developed by the Obama Administration that would govern the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). They were released in five parts:

  1. Unified and combined plans, performance accountability and the one-stop system (DOL/ED)
  2. DOL-administered activities (DOL only)
  3. Title II adult education and family literacy activities (ED only)
  4. Miscellaneous program changes (ED only)
  5. State vocational rehabilitation services program, state-supported employment service programs and limitations on the use of subminimum wage (ED only)

 

The National Skills Coalition recently released a helpful summary and webinar overviewing the main elements of this proposal. Moreover, DOL recently released a Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) that outlines the governance-related activities that States must complete by July 1st of this year. As a reminder, all of WIOA’s required implementation dates can be found here.

While the five NPRM’s cover the full spectrum of WIOA implementation, the most relevant proposal for the CTE community is the first NPRM listed above, jointly developed and released by both DOL and ED. This NPRM seeks to provide additional guidance to states as they choose to pursue the unified or combined planning options available under WIOA, a clearer articulation of two of WIOA’s common performance metrics— “indicators of effectively serving employers” along with “measurable skills gains”— and attempts to provide clarity regarding the sharing of infrastructures costs for WIOA’s One-Stop system of which postsecondary CTE is a required partner.

Published in the Federal Register on April 16th, the Obama Administration has opened up these NPRMs for public consumption and comment. Responses to the department are due no later than June 16, 2015 and can be submitted here by following the on-screen instructions.

NASDCTEc and its partners plan to provide formal comments on the issues outlined above in the coming weeks and will continue to monitor and engage with the federal rulemaking process as it continues throughout the rest of this year.

CTE Legislation Round-Up

In March Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, introduced the Next Generation High Schools Act (NGHS), a bill that would create a $300 million competitive high school redesign program to increase the number of students who graduate college-and-career ready by connecting schools with comprehensive, evidence-based reform models similar to those found in CTE.

Specifically, the bill would support applied learning instructional approaches and rigorous CTE curriculum to overhaul high schools in an effort to boost graduation rates and increase student achievement. NASDCTEc supported the introduction of this bill and has fully endorsed the proposal. A press release on the legislation can be found here and more information is located here. In a recent op-ed article, Senator Baldwin reiterated her intent to introduce additional CTE-related legislation further on this year.

Last week Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Go to High School, Go to College Act which seeks to increase student access to postsecondary education. The bill would incentive early college and dual / concurrent enrollment models offered at the high school level by expanding federal Pell Grant program eligibility to qualifying students to pursue these opportunities.

A companion bill sponsored by Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Chris Gibson (R-NY) has also been introduced in the House. NASDCTEc has fully supported and endorsed this legislation and applauds these lawmakers’ commitment to providing a quality postsecondary education to all students. More information on the bill can be found here and a press release from Senator Portman’s office is located here.

Updates from the Obama Administration

Last week, ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) released a fourth round of non-regulatory guidance for issues surrounding the implementation of the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins). Common questions regarding the law’s implementation and corresponding answers, along with the three previous versions of this Q&A, can be viewed on OCTAE’s newly renovated Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

OCTAE has also recently released a summary report of the responses ED, DOL, and HHS received from last year’s request for information (RFI) on quality career pathway development and implementation. NASDCTEc, along with 140 other stakeholder groups, provided comment during this solicitation. View the full report here.

In March, the Obama Administration announced the launch of their “TechHire” initiative which will provide $100 million in competitive grant funding through DOL to create partnerships between employers, eligible training institutions, and local governments.  Funded by DOL’s H1-B visa fees, the initiative seeks to invest in innovative, data-driven programs that provide participants specific occupational training. More information on available grants is expected later this year, but an overview of the effort can be found here.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and the Aspen Institute announced the launch of “Communities that Work Partnership”, a new joint effort that seeks to promote industry-led training and workforce development programs. Supported by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s (Commerce) Economic Development Administration, the announcement is part of Commerce’s ongoing “Skills for Business” initiative that is aimed at preparing workings for job opportunities in in-demand occupations and industry sectors. More information on the announcement, how to engage with this work, and relevant deadlines can be found here.

Sector partnerships are one of the new points of emphasis under WIOA. In an effort to support the creation and expansion of these partnerships, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has announced in a recent TEGL the availability of $150 million in grant funding for state agencies responsible for administering Title I programs and activities under WIOA. Funds may be used for the planning of individual sector strategies, related program services, and administration. More information is available from the National Skills Coalition’s blog.

Last week, the White House hosted its first-ever “Upskilling Summit” to bring together the employer and education communities. The event also marked the unveiling of a new report on how the Administration plans to promote a series of public-private partnerships aimed at supporting workers of all ages and background’s as they seek to secure high-skill, high-wage jobs. Read the report here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Spring Wrap-Up Edition (Part I)

May 4th, 2015

cherry-blossoms-at-jefferson-150x150A lot has happened this season on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As summer draws closer, we wanted to take a moment and re-cap all of the exciting activity going on in Washington D.C. as we look ahead to what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part I in a two part series of springtime legislative updates.  

The Federal Funding Landscape

As shared previously, President Obama formally kicked-off the FY 2016 budget and appropriations process this year with one clear message to Congress— end sequestration in order to make vital reinvestments in our nation’s domestic discretionary programs. At present, federal funding is constrained by specific limits required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These limits, also known as caps, are in place for each federal fiscal year and well into the next decade. They require Congressional appropriators to stay within those limits and if funding legislation exceeds those caps, the additional funds above each annual BCA cap are “sequestered” to bring them back down within the BCA funding ceiling for that particular year.

The President’s budget proposal requested billions of dollars above these caps, calling for new investments in many programs, including CTE. While the Administration requested flat-funding for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) basic state grant program (BSG), it has sought an additional $200 million in funding for the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF)— a proposed competitive grant program for consortia of CTE stakeholders and employers— as well as an additional $2 million to administer this new program. NASDCTEc’s response to the budget can be found here.

Since that time, Congress has been crafting budget resolutions— frameworks outlining the planned spending for the year and years to come— that would adhere to the BCA caps and essentially freeze FY 2016 funding at near current levels. In doing so, funding increases for most programs (including Perkins) become even less feasible and could further squeeze many education and workforce development programs which have already been cut dramatically since 2010.

Despite these unfavorable headwinds, well over 100 members of Congress signed two separate letters to Congressional appropriators urging them to make a strong investment in the Perkins Act’s BSG program in FY 2016. NASDCTEc has applauded the work of CTE Champions Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) in the House and the Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate for spearheading these efforts in both Chambers of Congress. The letters, similar to NASDCTEc’s own FY 2016 request, have urged Congressional appropriators to increase Perkins funding to pre-sequester levels— approximately $5 million above what the program received in FY 2014 and 2015. Make sure to thank your members of Congress for supporting CTE! Find out who signed-on here and here.

As the FY 2016 budget and appropriations cycle continues, check back here for updates and analysis for what the CTE community should expect from the federal funding environment.

Moving Past No Child Left Behind

The 114th Congress has been in full swing this spring, bringing with it warmer weather in D.C. and, surprisingly, the possibility of a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize one of the largest federal education laws in the country. While tourists have flocked to the Capitol to gaze at the Cherry Blossoms, Congress has been eyeing the possibility of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)— more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The primary source of federal funding for K-12 education throughout the country, the law has been due for renewal since 2007, but has languished in a Congressional limbo due to widespread disagreement on how to appropriately navigate the nation’s education system out of the NCLB era.

As with all federal education and workforce legislation, the first step in the ESEA reauthorization process has been for the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) and the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to develop and pass proposals to renew and reform the current law.

In the House the Student Success Act – successfully passed on a partisan basis by the full Chamber in the 113th Congress— was reintroduced in the early part of this Congress and passed the HEW Committee on a contentious, partisan basis. This legislation proposes to dramatically dissolve a majority of the current federal role in education, giving those responsibilities back to the states and their educational districts. Widely opposed by House Democrats and the Obama Administration, the Student Success Act made its way back to the House floor for the Chamber’s full consideration in the early part of this year. Despite the backing from House Republican leadership and many in their Caucus, the bill was removed from consideration after outside conservative groups began opposing the legislation for not doing more to diminish the federal role in education. Since that time, the House has not made future plans to consider the Student Success Act. You can learn more about the bill and the HEW Committee’s plans for it here.

In the Senate, the process seemed to be unfolding in much the same way. In January the new Chairman of the HELP Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), introduced a discussion draft to reauthorize ESEA and was similar in many respects to the House’s proposal. Following this, an impromptu meeting at a favorite D.C. eatery between the Chairman and the new Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), led to bipartisan negotiations on compromise legislation. The product of these months-long negotiations is the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA)— the first bipartisan proposal for ESEA reauthorization in the 114th Congress.

ECAA was successfully marked up by the HELP Committee in April and included an amendment from Senator Baldwin (D-WI) to add a requirement that student attainment of CTE proficiencies be incorporated into the law’s mandated report card system. ECAA also requires alignment between CTE standards and core academic standards which is an encouraging step as NASDCTEc works towards the further integration of the two.  The bill would also eliminate the harmful “highly qualified teacher” provision from current law— a significant priority for NASDCTEc in this reauthorization. Another encouraging aspect of ECAA was the retention of elementary and secondary education counseling programs in Title IV of the legislation. Aspects of the Career Ready Act (S. 478) and the Career Choice Act (H.R. 1079)— both supported and endorsed by NASDCTEc— found their way into this section of the proposed legislation before clearing the HELP Committee.

The path forward for ESEA remains long and full of potential roadblocks. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see this level of compromise on such a large piece of federal legislation. ECAA is widely expected to be considered by the full Senate sometime in the two weeks before or after the Memorial Day recess. However, the path forward for the Student Success Act in the House remains much more uncertain, throwing the wider reauthorization process into question. As this process continues, check back here for updates and analysis of this reauthorization process.

Part II of this legislative update will be released tomorrow morning.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE

May 1st, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@AsiaSocietyPGL Australian Education Gives All Students Skills for the Workplace http://asi.as/5cLEDS  #CTEblog-thumbnail-thiswek @CTEWorks thanks for the post!
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Baldwin: Technical Education can Boost our Workforce
Senator Tammy Baldwin makes the case why Career Technical Education (CTE) is a high priority for her work in the U.S. Senate.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Learn more about President Obama’s Upskill Initiative providing workers with the education and skills they need to be successful in the workplace through the White House report and fact sheet.

NASDCTEc RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Looking for an introduction to CTE? Visit our CTE Videos page to brush up on your CTE knowledge.
More

 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Inside International CTE: Australia’s Challenges and Advice

May 1st, 2015

This interview with Dr. Phillip Rutherford, one of the world’s leading experts on VET/CTE training and education systems, explores the CTE/VET system in Australia. He has been central in the introduction of such systems in many countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and the Middle East. The interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc and is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on Ed Week.

  1. Every system has its challenges – what are yours? What are some solutions you are looking to implement?

What was once one of the best CTE/VET systems in the world is now considered to be slipping by those who work within it. In the 1990s, the purpose of CTE was to prepare people for careers or lifelong learning. The system was based singularly around the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace and the successes it achieved were measured by how well individuals and teams improved and, by extension, the economy grew.

But that has changed. Today we have a system that is very similar to that which existed in the 1980s when the notion of workplace competence was centered only on what could be taught for the a specific workplace, not what was needed of a competent worker. There is reliance on the qualification as the indicator of competence, and as a result, supervisors and managers have to work hard to identify the gaps new employees have in their skills and knowledge, and provide additional resources to bring their competence to a level acceptable to the employer.

All VET systems have this objective: To help students get a job, get a better job, get better at their job, or when all else fails, to create a job. But there is not a great deal of evidence in Australia that this is happening. There are numbers that tell us how many students have undertaken VET courses, or the total of vacancies being filled having increased or decreased, but these statistics don’t tell us how well our economy is growing as a result of the VET system.

As a result, many private training providers have become disillusioned with the way the Australian system is structured and managed. They don’t like being monitored by the federal government and having to reframe the programs they offer to meet the quality criteria of external auditors. This is especially true of those training providers whose main focus is on the skills needs of their students and their current or future employers.

From what I’ve seen, the best VET/CTE systems around the world have a very complex system that is made up of many moving parts, all working in tandem, to provide a whole system that begins with a vision for the national economy and finishes with an evaluation of whether or not this vision is being achieved. Our system has become very linear – beginning with the development of curriculum (with little or no needs analysis), progressing to the hands of training organizations that conduct the course, and finishing with students who are expected to apply their new skills and knowledge in the workplace. The implication of this is that being “qualified” is the same as being “competent.” More needs to be done in the Australian system to turn this belief into reality.

The real challenge is this: If the VET system in Australia is to survive, will it be better to start all over again, or cut it right back to the basics and begin to rebuild? There are many who are calling for the former as they don’t believe it can get better, but there are also many who, like me, know how well it can work and can see that within the current system there are many good elements that can be saved.

  1. What advice do you have for other systems attempting to reform their VET/CTE systems? What are some of the policies in Australia that could assist others in overcoming the challenges they face in VET/CTE?

Right now there are over 150 different VET systems in the world. Some are very linear and concentrate only on low-level training and others are highly complex and aimed at national and international competitiveness. Very few give as their prime focus the needs of the workplaces in which graduates of CTE/VET programs expect to be employed. As a result, after more than 25 years’ experience pursuing the promise of an integrated and workplace-centered education and training system, few countries can point to their CTE/VET system as being the prime reason for economic success. This, after all, should be the purpose of every CTE/VET system but there is little evidence of this either driving the systems found around the world or achieving what such a system should achieve.

I have either designed or been involved in the creation of VET systems adopted by several countries, and in each case I have strongly encouraged the key decision makers to focus on one thing – the purpose of the system. Once the purpose is defined, and everything put in place to ensure that both the purpose and the system continually adjust to meet evolving economic and individual needs, then what will emerge is the type of system that the country requires. It will do more than just train people; it will ensure that people are given the support (including training) to achieve objectives important to themselves, their employers, their communities and their country.

A national system has to be aligned against national interests which, by extension, should also be those of the states. In Australia we have a fair way to go before this ideal is achieved but we continue to look to the U.S., Japan, Switzerland and other countries for solutions to our shared challenges.

 Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

April 30th, 2015

teachersToday in CTE research … a scan of career pathway models, a peek into employers’ views on competency-based education, recommendations to strengthen the teacher pipeline, and research into the labor market’s return on investment for higher education.

First up – MDRC’s new research, “New Pathways to Careers and College: Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

Over the years, the high school reform debate has evolved to view CTE as a means to prepare all students for success in college and careers, and CTE programs are changing along with it. More programs are emerging that blend CTE, rigorous academic coursework and opportunities for career exploration. With that in mind, MDRC researchers took a first-ever scan of the most prominent career pathway models and their underlying principles, the localities where they are most popular, and some evidence of success.

At least one career pathway model can be found in high schools in virtually every state and most large cities, the researchers argue, and yet still only a small percentage of students are enrolled in pathways that include the key elements of success. Much work remains to scale programs that are anchored by infrastructure that ensures high-quality implementation, sustainability and continuous improvement.

NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green and Oklahoma State CTE Director Marcie Mack were among the national experts interviewed for this report.

The Pipeline of Teachers

ACT and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) have published new research that takes a closer look at the pipeline of future
teachers as well as how they fare during their first five years in the classroom.

In “The Condition of Future Educators 2014,” ACT examines which students are expressing interest an education career from administration to classroom teachers, and found that the number of students interested in becoming educators continues to drop significantly – just five percent of all ACT-tested graduates. There continues to be a lack of men and diversity among those who expressed interest in the profession. The study was based on the 57 percent, or 27,000 students, of the U.S. graduation class who took the ACT test in 2014.

Among the findings, just one percent, or 224 students, planned to make CTE teaching a focus of their postsecondary pursuits.

The report offered three recommendations to help drive more high-achieving and diverse students into the teacher pipeline:

  • Recruit high-achieving college students who are undecided about their future careers;
  • Promote alternative pathways to teaching; and
  • Improve educator benefits.

At NCES, researchers provided a first look at the results of a nationally representative study of 2,000 teachers who entered the profession in 2007-08. After five years in the field, 17 percent of the teachers were no longer teaching, the study found. Salary was one of the greatest reasons why teachers remained in the profession. Education level had little impact. Those teachers who started with a $40,000 salary were more likely to still be teaching a year later.

Competency-based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is gaining traction in communities across the country, particularly within higher education. But what do we know about how employers see it?

The American Enterprise Institute recently published a first-of-its-kind survey of 500 hiring managers to better understand how employers view CBE. The study found:

  • Overall employer awareness of CBE was low despite engagement efforts;
  • Those who were aware of CBE, a small minority, generally viewed the model and its graduates favorably;
  • The lack of awareness correlated to employers’ lack of understanding the benefits of hiring graduates of CBE programs;
  • Employers struggle to articulate discreet needs as competencies, and rather continue to hire based on generalizations of a new hire’s “fit”, which makes it difficult to create an effective competency map;
  • Two-thirds of employers believe they could be doing a better job of identifying students with the specific skill set required for the job.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Inside International CTE: Australia

April 29th, 2015

This interview with Dr. Phillip Rutherford, one of the world’s leading experts on VET/CTE training and education systems, explores the CTE/VET system in Australia. He has been central in the introduction of such systems in many countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and the Middle East. The interview was conducted by Katie Fitzgerald of NASDCTEc and is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on Ed Week.

  1. What is the progression of Vocational Education and Training (VET)/CTE in Australia?australia

The VET system in Australia is unique in that it was among the first in the world to identify, on a national basis, the skills and knowledge required of competent employees in the workplace. Competent, in this respect, meaning not only the possession of certain skills and knowledge but also the proven ability to apply these in different situations and contexts, individually as well as in teams (where necessary), and in a managed, self-directed and self-motivated way.

This enabled employers to have greater control over what was taught to potential employees and helped smooth their pathway into the workforce. However, over the years the processes has become more aligned with what adult educators are capable of teaching as opposed to what workplaces need, and has begun to lose its direct connection to the workplace. So even though VET in Australia continues to focus on trades and entry-level professional skills, those who teach within this system are expected to be in continuous touch with what current and future employers want from graduates of their courses even though that is not always possible. For example, in a large city it is easy to teach ICT programs on the assumption that students have access to a wide range of technology and software, whereas in a small country center it has to be assumed that students do not have such access. Regardless of access to the technology or industry, the curriculum remains pretty much the same and is just contextualized to local conditions.

One unique feature of Australia’s VET system is that the standards against which vocational curricula are developed are based on the skills and knowledge required within individual industries, and are created to meet the needs of specific industries and trade sectors. They are not aligned against individual workplaces but are sufficiently flexible to enable trainers to contextualize their programs to meet the needs of local and regional employers.

Students’ skills and knowledge can then be assessed on the job and under realistic working conditions. Once students meet the standards – whether through the studies they undertake as part of the course or by bringing forward skills and knowledge they gained elsewhere – they receive the same certification as someone who entered the training program directly.

  1. Please describe the landscape of Career Technical Education/VET in Australia:

What percentage of the student population is a CTE/VET student?

Students in Australia completing their secondary studies go either directly to university as undergraduates or into the labor market. Therefore, under law, all students must take part in VET studies, either integrated with their academic subjects or as stand-alone apprenticeships or trainee programs as part of their secondary education.

VET is taught in schools as a means of giving all students part or all of a vocational qualification (certificate) prior to entry into the workforce. Like the U.S., each state in Australia has a slightly different approach to VET where some schools have comprehensive VET programs which they run themselves or programs which are conducted by an external training organisation and provide students with real workplace experience. Regardless of where the program is conducted, the standards remain the same across the country.

What sectors/fields of study does it encompass? Which are most popular with students?

The Australian VET/CTE system encompasses almost every trade, para-professional or professional field found in the workplace. The only areas not covered are those for which students must attend university to study such as engineering, medicine and dentistry. Therefore, students are able to study any subject they wish, just so long as the school has the capacity to support them.

The choice of fields usually depends on student interest and the competencies required in those areas where they intend to seek work. For example, in rural areas subjects of study such as agriculture, water control, horticulture, transportation and nursing are very popular, while in urban locals subjects such as IT and management tend to attract the most students. There are also a lot of international students studying in Australia and they pursue skills that they can utilize when they return to their home countries.

How is CTE/VET funded in Australia (publicly, privately, by federal or local funds, etc.)?

Funding for VET comes from three sources:

For VET in secondary school programs, funding comes from the state government and is subsidized by families and, in some cases, employers who train and assess students in the workplace.

National programs, such as programs for unemployed people and the socially disadvantaged, are funded by the state government as a study assistance loan. This means the costs of the VET program must be paid back when the individual graduates and earns above a certain wage. This is in effect, a loan paid by the state to the student (but paid directly to the training provider) that the student does not have to repay until they achieve an income above a certain level.

Finally, individuals and/or the organisation with whom they are employed can pay on a fee-for-service basis. VET in Australia is not only taught in schools, but also by public and private training providers who serve secondary students, employees of companies and individuals who sign up to learn new skills or enhance those they already have. School-based apprenticeships and traineeships are generally run in conjunction with a private training provider. The government largely funds the creation of the curriculum against which all VET training is conducted, and provides a quality assessment of training providers registered to offer nationally-accredited courses. The training is conducted by qualified trainers who are employed by either public colleges (known as Technical and Further Education – TAFE – colleges) or private for-profit or not-for-profit training organisations.

CTE is integrated within a framework or hierarchy of qualifications (certificates) known as the Australian Qualifications Framework. This framework starts with foundational knowledge and skills and increases in industry-specific knowledge as students move through their education and training. For example, Certificate I focuses on entry-level skills, Certificate II on skills for competent or experienced employees, Certificate III on skills for supervisors or those who need greater depth of understanding and so on. The VET hierarchy has eight certification levels with the last two integrated with undergraduate degrees providing students with the opportunity to earn Bachelors and Doctorate degrees. The certification structure is funded by the federal government, which provides financial support to industry bodies at the state level that create and administer the curriculum for each vocational or professional area.

  1. What are the major goals of VET/CTE in Australia?

There have been many objectives of the VET system but the most recent one is more of a statement of purpose than objective: ‘….enable students to gain qualifications for all types of employment, and specific skills to help them in the workplace.’

While it isn’t the most inspiring goal, we consider it to be accurate and achievable. As can be seen, however, this ‘purpose’ has more to do with what the trainer or educator does than what the student achieves as a result.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

April 24th, 2015

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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

 

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