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Legislative Update: Congress Announces Agreement on Workforce Development Legislation

May 23rd, 2014

CapitolMore than a decade has passed since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was originally due for reauthorization. In that time, Congress has come close to an agreement a few times for overhauling the law, but never got as far as it did this past Wednesday. After months of negotiations between both parties in the House and Senate, lawmakers announced they had reached a deal on the long anticipated reauthorization of the federal government’s largest piece of workforce development legislation.

Dubbed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the bicameral, bipartisan legislation is a compromise between the House-passed SKILLS Act (H.R. 803) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s WIA reauthorization legislation (S. 1356). A side-by-side comparison of the proposals can be found here.

The compromise legislation unveiled on Wednesday, contains a number of promising provisions that NASDCTEc and the broader Career Technical Education (CTE) community have been urging Congress to take up since the reauthorization process for WIA began. Specifically, NASDCTEc had raised concerns regarding provisions in both the Senate and House proposals to alter how one-stop infrastructure is funded. Proposals contained in each would have impacted state and local Perkins recipient’s capacity to effectively administer CTE programs and activities.

One-Stop Infrastructure Funding

Currently, WIA does not provide direct funding for the operational costs of one-stop centers and WIOA proposes to follow in that same vein. Much like the current system, WIOA would require that all mandatory partners contribute to the infrastructure costs of one-stop centers, but would do so with more vigor than in current law. The main impetus behind this is to spur greater collaboration among the WIA one-stop system and its partners. Additionally, funding the costs of one-stop infrastructure in this fashion will allow a greater portion of federal appropriations under this act to go towards direct training costs.

Postsecondary CTE programs which receive funding from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) are among the required partners in the WIA/WIOA one-stop delivery system—  a central point of service for state and local WIA/WIOA training and employment activities where activities with partner programs must also be coordinated. Funding for infrastructure would pay for the operational costs of these one-stop centers.

Under this proposal, local Workforce Development Boards (currently known as local workforce investment boards) are first directed to come to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure funding contribution levels, other shared costs, and how the partners would deliver services under the system. Put another way, an MOU is a consensus agreement on those issues among the local board, chief elected officials and one-stop partners in a local area. If such an agreement is not reached, a funding mechanism would be used to require each one-stop partner to contribute up to 1.5 percent of total grant funds available for administrative purposes. However, the contribution level could vary as the Governor must first make a determination for each local one-stop partner’s individual contribution based on a number of factors. By default, these funds would be sent to the Governor, who would then use the contribution to pay for costs of one-stop infrastructure in a local area.

During the process of determining a one-stop partner’s contribution, the Governor must take into account the existing statutory obligations and ability of a program to meet those requirements. Additionally, contributions are required to be calculated based on a “proportionate use” of the one-stop system. Both of these provisions were proposals NASDCTEc and its partners called for as Congressional negotiators worked towards this bipartisan compromise.

Significantly, if a state places the authority of a partner program’s funding outside of the Governor’s office, then the chief official within that agency or entity would execute the above responsibilities on behalf of the Governor. Since Perkins funding in many states flow through an eligible agency fitting this description, the state agency responsible for Perkins would still retain significant oversight  and input into how postsecondary CTE programs receiving Perkins funding would contribute to the one-stop system. While a separate funding stream for infrastructure funding would have been ideal to fully meet the infrastructure costs of the one-stop system, this compromise was needed given the tight fiscal and budgetary constraints under which this bill was negotiated and written.

To recap, only postsecondary CTE programs receiving funding from the Perkins Act would be required partners in the WIOA one-stop system. All of the one-stop partners in a local area must first attempt to come to a voluntary agreement, in the form of an MOU, to fund the costs of infrastructure and to decide how partners would deliver services in the one-stop system. Failure to reach an MOU would trigger the above funding mechanism which would be imposed only on local partner programs in a particular local area where an MOU was not reached. Additional provisions have also been added to this mechanism that would take into consideration partner programs’ statutory obligations and their ability to meet those requirements along with their proportional use of the one-stop system. Most importantly, if a state places Perkins funding authority outside of the Governor’s office, then the chief official in that agency or department would have a significant amount of oversight and input into how these contribution levels are determined.

Sequence of Services Eliminated, Along With 15 Existing Programs

WIOA also proposes to eliminate the “sequence of services” provision contained in current law that requires individuals to go through a prescribed sequence of core services before gaining access to more relevant training. This has been consolidated into “career services,” which holds as a goal to more effectively assess the unique needs of individuals seeking services from the various programs authorized under this legislation. WIOA also consolidates 15 existing programs, many of which are currently authorized, but have been unfunded for a number of years. In total, 14 workforce programs and one higher education program would be consolidated under the proposed legislation.

Board Size, Composition and Direct Contracting

State and local workforce development boards would also be reduced in overall size in an effort to increase their efficiency. Business majorities have been maintained on each and the local iterations encouragingly require representation from adult education and literacy provides, institutions of higher education and can also include representatives from local education agencies. CTE representation is also encouraged, but not a requirement for either board.

Another promising aspect of WIOA is the new found ability of local workforce development boards to directly contract with community colleges. Such contracted training supports faster development and implementation of training programs, and would help to better address current and emerging labor market trends while also quickly increasing capacity during times of high demand. Additionally, WIOA would designate area career and technical education schools as eligible Job Corps operators. This designation allows area CTE centers, along with a host of other institutions such as those in the higher education space, to receive funding under the legislation to operate as a Job Corps center.

Accountability, Career Pathways and State Leadership

WIOA completely revises the accountability section of the existing law, introducing common performance metrics for all the programs authorized under the act. Primary metrics center mainly on employment after program exit, postsecondary education after program completion (for youth programs), median earnings, credential attainment, skills gains and employer engagement. The proposed legislation would also prioritize industry recognized certifications and credentials, another encouraging aspect of the proposal.

There is also a renewed focus on career pathways within WIOA and it introduces a statutory definition seeking to align education, training and other programs into a coherent path towards employment or further postsecondary education. Many of the elements contained in this definition integrate well into a CTE program of study (POS) framework and could compliment stronger aspects of a program of study structure in a newly reauthorized Perkins Act.

Congressional negotiators also sent a strong message regarding the importance of state leadership in education and workforce training programs. WIOA would re-instate the 15 percent set-aside for Governors to carry out statewide initiatives tailored to the individual needs of their particular state.

Outlook and Prospects for WIOA

This overview is by no means exhaustive and there are still many details and aspects of the bill that could change WIOA as it makes its way through both the Senate and the House over the coming weeks and months. Nevertheless, this is the furthest Congress has come in reauthorizing this critical piece of federal workforce development legislation. While not perfect in every respect, WIOA is a positive step in the right direction and NASDCTEc applauds the efforts of Congress to move forward on these critically important issues.

WIOA is currently in the Senate, where it has been introduced as a substitute amendment for the House-passed SKILLS Act (H.R. 803). Senate leaders have hotlined the bill — a parliamentary maneuver which they hope will speed up the Chamber’s consideration of the legislation before it moves on to the House. Congressional aides expect legislative action surrounding WIOA to begin in earnest following the Memorial Day recess. As this process unfolds, NASDCTEc will keep the CTE community informed as to its progress.

Information on the bill, including the full text, one-pagers and factsheets, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Mark your Calendar for NASDCTEc Upcoming Webinar – Legislative Update: Summer Edition June 5, 2014

May 23rd, 2014

Legislative Update: Summer Edition Description

As the school year winds down and students gear up for summer vacation join NASDCTEc’s Government Relations Associate, Steve Voytek for a legislative update on federal activity related to Career Technical Education (CTE) and an outlook on the Fiscal Year (FY) 15 funding landscape. Since late last year, Congress has taken steps toward reauthorizing several pieces of legislation that impact CTE including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act.

In addition to updates on these key pieces of legislation, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education have undertaken a number of CTE-related initiatives this year in an effort to boost its support for CTE.

Date: June 5, 2014

Time: 3 p.m.-4 p.m. ET

Access: pre-registration not required. To join the webinar, click here about 10 minutes before the broadcast and enter as a guest.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

REMINDER: Webinar on Making Career Readiness Count next Tuesday!

May 22nd, 2014

On Tuesday, May 27 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST, NASDCTEc in partnership with Achieve will be hosting a webinar to provide guidance to states interested in building more indicators of career preparation into accountability and public reporting systems.  NASDCTEc and Achieve will be simultaneously releasing a new joint publication on the topic.

On this webinar, we will share how states are currently approaching this challenge and what state policy leaders need to consider as they look to reform their own reporting and accountability systems to ensure that the “career” in college- and career-ready accountability and public reporting is a powerful lever to focus priorities, drive progress, and ultimately see more students and their communities succeed.

To share two state perspectives, we’ll be joined by Dennis Cooper, Assistant Commissioner, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Dennis Harden, Career Education Coordinator, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and Deborah Jonas, Special Advisor for Research and Planning, Virginia Department of Education.

Please share this information with your colleagues at the state level who may be interested in this discussion.  Details on how to join the webinar can be found below.

To join the webinar, please dial:  1 (800) 697-5978 and enter: 6460 369#

To access the webinar slides, please CLICK HERE

CTE Research Review

May 21st, 2014

CTE programs of study (POS) took center stage in a recent study from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE), which released its final 200-page report gauging the effectiveness of POS as a strategy for improving student outcomes.

The NRCCTE researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 6,638 students from the class of 2012 participating in POS in three urban districts from different states. The resulting findings offer myriad ways to examine the impact of POS on student success as well as suggestions for future research, in particular on the postsecondary side of POS.

Commonalities existed across all three districts. No matter the location, the findings indicated that taking more CTE credits “may boost GPA, the probability of graduation, and some achievement measures,” and came at little to no cost to overall academic achievement. The study, however, did find low participation in programs associated with accruing college credits while in high school such as dual enrollment.

The study was conducted ahead of the coming reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which funds CTE nationwide. The last reauthorization included a new requirement for POS, using the POS framework to increase program accountability in the areas of academic and technical skills achievement as well as alignment with postsecondary technical education.

The NRCCTE researchers found that “although high-quality CTE programs in the form of POS are not easy, cheap, or capable of solving all educational problems, they can be implemented well and yield positive results.”

The researchers conclude with a series of recommendations including calling for districts to find ways to increase the number of CTE credits a high school student can earn, taking another look at dual enrollment programs to maximize student participation, and recruiting more teachers from industry and business.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Coalition Pushes Perkins Reauthorization with Letter to Legislators

May 21st, 2014

With a rapidly evolving labor market and increasing economic pressure from overseas, interest in the ability of Career Technical Education (CTE) to modernize the American workforce and maintain our country’s economic primacy is steadily mounting. The pending reauthorization of the Perkins Act – the landmark piece of legislation that represents the vast majority of federal investment in CTE – offers an unparalleled opportunity to build upon the tremendous innovation in CTE taking place right now in states across the country.

The CTE Vision Paper encapsulates the goal of CTE today: to prepare students of all ages to succeed in education and careers—and enable the United States to flourish in a dynamic and increasingly competitive global economy. Principally, the Vision Paper outlines five principles critical to setting priorities and blazing a new trail for CTE.

Among those five principles is to actively partner with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs. Today’s letter reconfirmed broad support for CTE that acknowledges and seeks input from all stakeholders, including employers. The letter cites three points of emphasis for reauthorization:

  • Align CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor market;
  • Support effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers;
  • Increase student participation in experiential learning opportunities such as industry internships, apprenticeships and mentorships; and promote the use of industry-recognized credentials.

“What stands out is not only the sheer number of signatories in agreement with the priorities outlined in this letter, it’s the diversity of stakeholders represented,” said NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green. “CTE is critical to American competitiveness and our economic health – it’s very encouraging to have that acknowledged by such a broad and diverse group. Hopefully Congress agrees that we can’t afford to wait for a full, thoughtful reauthorization of this critical legislation.”

Full text of the letter can be found online here. For more on Perkins and CTE, visit www.careertech.org.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Excellence in Action: A Chat with Keynote Speaker Mark Milliron

May 21st, 2014

The Achieving Excellence Institute is less than one month away and the excitement is mounting! We have lined up an amazing set of speakers, tours and session leaders this year (more on the program here), some of which we’ve highlighted on this blog!

As a prelude to this can’t-miss event, NCTEF spoke with the Achieving Excellence Institute keynote speaker, Civitas Learning Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer Mark Milliron. Dr. Milliron combines decades of experience in CTE with his work on the cutting edge of digital learning with Civitas. The result is a fascinating perspective on the future of CTE and how data can inform instruction, advising and programs of study.

Listen to the beginning of the conversation below, and keep an eye on the CTE Blog for more of our conversation with Dr. Milliron.

Still haven’t registered? Sign up today!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Achieving Excellence in CTE: Team Based Learning

May 20th, 2014

Oklahoma State University Institute of TechnologyBelow is an extended session description from presenter Tim Dwyer, Automotive Educator at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s Pro-Tech Program on his upcoming session at Achieving Excellence in CTE, the National Career Clusters Institute. Sign up for this session and more today!

I have said that my next new idea will be my first one! And after my first three years of teaching we needed some new ideas because what we were doing was not working. I was prepared for class and tried to be as entertaining as possible, attempting to keep the interest level up during the “lecture” process I remembered having to endure as a student myself. Then I found my PLN to be a lifesaver as I followed a suggestion to look at a teaching strategy called “Team-Based Learning” by Larry Michaelsen.

Team-Based Learning (TBL) is a strategy to transform a group of students into high-performance learning teams. Let’s face it; career technology students want more hands-on time in their learning. Many students don’t like lecture, reading, or delayed feedback. How do we encourage them to come to class with ‘first contact with content’ and not waste valuable class time so they can get to the hands-on part they really learn from? TBL answers this question and more.

You will leave this class with ideas you can use in your classroom immediately. Ideas that I have been using for 8 years now and can show you how and why they work! Discussions include individual testing that allows for splitting answers, followed by the same test taken again in a team environment using scratch off answer sheets. Immediate feedback is addressed by this process.

Peer reviews will be discussed; as well as application exercises that encourage student engagement. TBL also allows the class to decide grade weights and write their own exams, possibly considered controversial, but proven to be effective. The idea is to allow the student to be accountable for their own education and the instructor to become more of a classroom facilitator.

TBL makes learning fun for both student and instructor, and fun means student engagement. TBL challenges traditional lecture based education with a shift of educational accountability from the instructor to the student. I don’t believe we are responsible to just tell students all they need to know, we are simply to provide an environment that allows learning. Then it is up to the student to take responsibility for their own education.

Having said all this, I have continued to attend training with the goal of synthesizing and building on the works of others and to encourage others to build on our works. That’s how it works!

The common denominator seems to be … putting in the work.

Tim Dwyer, Automotive Educator at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s Pro-Tech Program

Witnessing Excellence in Action: Gateway Community College

May 16th, 2014

Nursing-003Phys Therepy-007Featuring state of the art academic and technical programs, GateWay Community College’s student staffed community clinic will be on full display during the Achieving Excellence Institute.

Gateway Community College combines service to the community with work-based learning opportunities for its students. At Healthcare United GateWay, locals receive free physical therapy and ultrasounds while students learn sonography and therapy best practices under the supervision of experienced staff. Learn more about GateWay’s innovative Health Science program, its extensive transition assistance and deep ties to the community at the GateWay Excellence in Action tour during this year’s Achieving Excellence Institute!

Don’t forget, the Achieving Excellence Institute is only a month away (6/16 in Phoenix, AZ)! Register now to ensure your spot at this fantastic professional development opportunity, and to ensure you get signed up for your top priority tour! Keep an eye on the CTE blog for more information on this event, and if you haven’t, be sure to REGISTER TODAY!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: House Moves Several Education Bills Forward, Appropriations Committee Sets FY 15 Spending Level

May 16th, 2014

CapitolLast week, the House approved through voice vote the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA). The bipartisan vote and legislation reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), which supports educational research programs such as the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams and state longitudinal data systems.

“The Strengthening Education through Research Act will improve education research and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective educational practices,” said Rep. Rokita (R-IN) upon passage of the legislation.

Of particular interest to the CTE community is SETRA’s authorization for state longitudinal data system (SLDS) grants which encourage the alignment of data across K-12, postsecondary and workforce programs. These grants support the capacity of states and programs to report on post-program employment outcomes for CTE graduates. Additionally, the bill strongly emphasizes the importance of using data effectively for continuous program improvement. As Rep. Rokita pointed out during debate on the House floor, “what good does the data do us if it can’t be used?”

NASDCTEc is very supportive of this legislation and looks forward to SETRA’s future progress in the Senate. The text of the bill, fact sheets, and other useful information can be found here.

In addition to moving forward on SETRA, the House also passed the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), which streamlines two existing charter school programs into a single $300 million annual program to support the development and expansion of high-quality charter schools — a $50 million increase over current funding levels.  The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support on a margin of 360-45. House CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) also successfully passed an amendment to the bill before its final passage, which added comprehensive career counseling to the criteria the Secretary of Education must consider when making grants under this legislation.

“This amendment recognizes that career counseling is a critical tool we must promote in order to assure that students are informed and prepared to meet their next educational or career challenge,” Rep. Thompson said upon the amendment’s adoption.

Rep. Langevin echoed these sentiments saying, “Investments in education are repaid many times over through the creation of a skilled, educated workforce. That investment is made exponentially stronger when we provide young people with career counseling programs that enable them to make smart decisions about their futures.”

NASDCTEc applauds this renewed focus on career counseling in our nation’s schools and looks forward to similar proposals to further strengthen these critical student support systems. More information on this legislation can be found here.

House Appropriations Committee Sets Levels for FY 15

Late last week the House Committee on Appropriations passed a measure confirming the topline spending cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 at $1.014 trillion for the entire federal discretionary budget. This figure conforms to the spending caps put in place by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The committee also set about dividing up this figure into 12 separate allocations — known as 302(b)s — to be used by each of the relevant subcommittees as they craft the necessary spending bills to fund the various departments, agencies and programs that compose the federal government.

Discouragingly, the 302(b) allocation for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education — under which the Carl D. Perkins Act’s basic state grant program falls— was set at $155.7 billion. This figure is roughly $1 billion below what was allocated in FY 2014 and will put additional pressures on appropriators as they decide how to divide that sum among the various programs under the jurisdiction of the Labor-HHS-ED bill. As this process unfolds, NASDCTEc will be working with appropriators in both Chambers to ensure that adequate investments are made in our nation’s CTE system. The Senate is expected to undertake this process in the next several weeks.

Does the budget and appropriations process sound confusing? Check-out NASDCTEc’s on-demand webinar unpacking this complex process.

The CREDIT Act

Yesterday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Credentialing Improvement for Troop Talent (CREDIT) Act of 2014 to help members of the armed services acquire credentials for use in the civilian labor market. The bill would expand the authority of the Tuition Assistance program currently available to servicemembers by allowing the program to cover expenses stemming from obtaining a civilian credential. Under the program’s current rules, the program only provides financial assistance for postsecondary programs and does not cover fees from certification or licensing programs.

“The CREDIT Act will provide servicemembers with the resources they need to obtain civilian credentials while on active duty, easing their entry into the civilian workforce and improving their chances of getting quickly hired by a private sector employer,” said Sen. Kaine upon the introduction of his bill. NASDCTEc strongly supports this legislation and applauds the Senator’s commitment to expanding federal financial aid eligibility for CTE programs that help prepare students in all walks of life for further education and careers.  More information on the bill can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Catching Up With … State Legislatures

May 16th, 2014

Across the country, almost half of state legislatures have rapped the gavel for the last time to close their regular sessions for 2014. Given the strong focus on issues relating to Career Technical Education (CTE) throughout 2013 and in many governors’ state of the state addresses, we’ve decided to take stock of how CTE fared in the first quarter of the year.

Over the next few weeks, we will launch a series of blog posts catching up with highlights from the 2014 session. The first series will focus on the 25 legislatures that had finished as of May 9 and will be divided thematically. Another round will roll out this summer once the remaining sessions end. Legislatures in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin conduct business throughout the year, and activity will be covered as it is passed, along with other relevant policies enacted by State Boards of Education, Governors’ Offices and key state agencies.

This series is not meant to be all-encompassing but rather a high-level overview of the states’ legislative activity. 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.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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