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CTE Month Special: Celebrating CTE Superheroes

February 28th, 2014

In our final CTE Month special feature: Celebrating CTE Superheroes, we are proud to feature National Technical Honor Society’s (NTHS) profile of Sharon May, a one-time high school dropout who sought out CTE at Heart of Georgia Technical College as a way to get meaningful experience and improve her chances of getting a good job.

Initially unsure if she had made the right decision, Sharon reports that her hands-on education and membership in NTHS motivated her to engage inside and outside of the classroom, and “pulled her out of her shell.”

Through CTE and her NTHS experience, Sharon recounts career advancement, volunteerism, community engagement and increased quality of life. Read the whole story (including a brief excerpt from our very own Kim Green!) here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

NCES Publishes Projections of Education Statistics to 2022

February 27th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Earlier today the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published its annual Projections of Education Statistics report . The forty first edition of the survey provides statistics on educational enrollments, graduates, teachers, secondary education expenditures, and similar information at the postsecondary level. The report is based on data obtained by NCES over the past fourteen years and provides forecasts to the year 2022. Findings from the report which may be of interest to the CTE community:

  • Enrollments in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 7 percent between 1997 and 2011 and are projected to increase an additional 7 percent between 2011 and 2022.
  • The total number of public high school graduates increased by 28 percent between 1997–98 and 2009–10 and is projected to grow by an additional 1 percent by the 2022–23 school year.
  • Expenditures for public elementary and secondary education, in constant 2011-12 dollars, increased by 37 percent between 1997-98 and 2009-10 school years. This figure is expected to grow by an additional 27 percent by the 2022-23 school year to a total of $699 billion.
  • Total enrollments in postsecondary degree-granting institutions increased 45 percent from 1997 to 2011 and are projected to increase by 14 percent by 2022.
  • The total number of associate’s degrees awarded increased by 69 percent between the 1997-98 and 2010-2011 school years— that number is expected to increase by an additional 49 percent by the 2022-23 school year.

The full report, including methodology and supplemental information, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

New Poll: Employers Value Skills & Knowledge Over Institutional Prestige

February 25th, 2014

mapToday Gallup and the Lumina Foundation presented the findings of two polls gauging employer and the public’s perceptions of America’s higher education system. The results, presented this morning at Gallup’s D.C. headquarters, found that a vast majority of employers value occupationally relevant skills, technical competencies, and knowledge gained through a postsecondary education much more than where a student went to school or what their major was. In fact, only 9 percent of employers reported that a job candidate’s alma mater was “very important” for their hiring purposes and a mere 28 percent reported that a candidate’s major was a “very important” factor in their hiring decision. Tellingly, 84 percent of employers said that the amount of knowledge the candidate has in a particular field was “very important” and 79 percent responded to the poll saying that applied skills were of the same value.

Overall the two polls, conducted in late 2013, provide five main insights:

  • Employers value relevant skills and knowledge much more than where a degree, certification, or credential was conferred.
  • A large perception gap persists between employers and academic institution leaders— 96 percent of chief academic officers said they were “extremely or somewhat confident” that their institution prepares students for the workplace, while only 11 percent of business leaders shared this view.
  • The value Americans place on postsecondary education continues to grow. 43 percent of Americans without a postsecondary education have reported researching their options for further education, yet 77 percent of Americans say that higher education remains unaffordable to everyone who needs it.
  • Confidence in the value of online degrees and educational programs continues to grow among both the American public and employers. 59 percent of business leaders say they would be more to likely hire a candidate with an online degree over a candidate with the same degree from a traditional postsecondary institution.
  • There is a need for greater transparency when assessing the quality and value of a postsecondary education. Faculty quality, job placement after graduation, program costs, and graduation percentages are among the most important criteria to the American public when selecting a program or assessing its quality. However, Americans report that finding this information is often difficult.

These results have come as a surprise to many. A panel discussion followed the release of these findings which provided a forum for how best to redesign America’s higher education system to respond to these findings. Among the many proposals offered, greater employer engagement and an increased role for community colleges emerged as two important pieces to solving what Gallup has now termed the “work preparation paradox.” Panelists argued that community colleges are an underutilized bridge between colleges, high schools and the world of work and should be used more to promote access to other forms of postsecondary education outside of a traditional four-year degree.  Other recommendations for better employer engagement included providing more experiential learning opportunities to students and also increasing the role employers have in faculty professional development.

The full survey with further analysis from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Research Review, Community College Edition

February 24th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) released “Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges,” quantifying the value of community colleges in terms of economic impact (i.e., to the national economy) and return on investment (i.e., to individuals and society).

Specifically, AACC found that, in 2012 alone, former American community college students generated $806.4 billion in added income, based on increased productivity and wages. Foreign community college graduates added another $1.5 billion in new income. AACC also found a 4.8 benefit-cost ratio for students based on the return to their investment into the community colleges (or $4.8 dollars in higher future wages for every dollar invested in their education). In total, AACC estimates $371.8 billion as the net present value of community colleges in terms of increased wages for individuals, after accounting for the money invested in the education.

At the societal level, AACC finds a benefit-cost ratio of 25.9 and a net present value at nearly $1.2 trillion, based on added income and social savings (i.e., lower health care costs, reduced crime rates, etc.) which are associated with more education and employment.

In addition to the report, AACC has created four fact sheets breaking down the data.

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) released a two-page policy brief on “Performance Funding: Impacts, Obstacles, and Other Intended Outcomes.” To date, 32 states have implemented some form of performance funding, with mixed results. The brief delineates performance funding 1.0 (where institutions receive a bonus over and above regular state funding) and performance funding 2.0 (where performance is built into the state allocations for institutions), and provides an overview of research-based lessons learned about performance 1.0. The CCRC is currently exploring the 2.0 model, as discussed in this working paper, “The Political Origins of Performance Funding 2.0 in Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee: Theoretical Perspectives and Comparisons with Performance Funding 1.0,” also released this month.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

ED Begins Negotiations on Postsecondary Regulations, DOL Announces New Grant Program

February 21st, 2014

CapitolA negotiated rulemaking panel, composed of fifteen members appointed by the Department of Education (ED), convened on Wednesday to develop a set of proposed rules impacting postsecondary student aid. Negotiators have been tasked with developing new regulations regarding state authorization of distance learning programs, Parent PLUS loans, campus debit cards and clock to credit hour conversion. The fifteen member panel is set to meet again in March and later in April to come to a consensus on these proposed regulations, some of which were part of ED’s earlier “program integrity” rules. As with similar rounds of negotiated rulemaking, the panel is required to come to a consensus on each item on the agenda. Per the Department’s organizational protocols, without a consensus ED has the authority to unilaterally draft these regulations on their own.

Of particular interest to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community are proposed rules impacting clock to credit hour conversions. Currently, students qualify for federal financial aid based on the amount of credit hours attempted. However, many postsecondary CTE programs measure student progress in actual hours rather than by credit hour. Programs that do this must retroactively convert “clock time” to credit hour units for the purposes of student financial aid. At present ED, for the purposes of financial aid eligibility, defines a credit hour as at least one hour per week in lecture and two hours of additional work outside the classroom. This interpretation has put students enrolled in CTE programs– for instance those that award licenses or certifications based on real-time hours– at a disadvantage when applying for federal financial aid. Opponents of this regulation argue that the conversion places less significance on real-time hours and more on credit hour units. Over the next several months the panel will be considering a number of changes to the rules governing this conversion.

NASDCTEc will continue to monitor these negotiations as the panel grapples with these issues. More information can be found here.

Dept. of Labor Announces “Ready to Work Partnership” Grants

Earlier this week, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a solicitation for grant applications (SGA) for “Ready to Work Partnership” grants to help the long-term unemployed. The $150 million grant program was announced shortly after President Obama’s State of the Union Address and is designed to bring to scale sector partnerships between community colleges, employers, workforce boards, and other relevant stakeholders that provide skills training and other workforce development services. The Department expects to award 20 to 30 individual grants ranging from $3 to $10 million for programs which focus on employer engagement, job placement assistance, and provide work-based training opportunities.

In order to qualify, a program must actively partner with three employers or an industry association with at least three business community members. Applications for the grant program will be accepted until June 19th, 2014. More information on DOL’s “Ready to Work Partnership” grants can be found here.

House GOP Make CTE a 2014 Priority

Last month House Republicans met in Cambridge, Maryland to plan an ambitious economic and domestic agenda for the coming year. Their plan, titled “An America That Works: Rebuilding the American Dream,” contrasts greatly with the Obama Administration’s current economic proposals and seeks to provide a number of alternative policies of its own. Among the many issues touted by the House Republican Conference was a renewed focus on Career Technical Education (CTE). House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) emphasized that his party’s plan will, “focus on work-force-training and vocational-education programs” that empower Americans to obtain “a secure job with a decent salary that enables them to support their families, pursue their dreams, and leave their children a little more than they have.”

In an effort to demonstrate that commitment, the Majority Leader visited Germanna Community College today to highlight the importance of the workforce and CTE programs offered at an institution in his home district. NASDCTEc and its partners are encouraged by these remarks and the recent interest in CTE. As both parties continue to articulate their 2014 policy agendas, it is critical that CTE continues to be a central component to these proposals to ensure students of all ages are prepared to succeed in the 21st century economy.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate

CTE Month Special: Celebrating CTE Superheroes

February 21st, 2014

Continuing with our CTE Month series on CTE Superheroes with our partners at the National Technical Honor Society, this week we have the privilege to highlight CTE students getting out into the field to get hands on experience and improve their community.

A group of NTHS students from Maryland’s Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center put their CTE experience to the test, coming together across a number of areas of expertise to construct an oyster habitat on the St. Mary’s River. Their hard work paid off; by the time the students left, they had constructed a column in the oyster sanctuary and helped to place 3,000 oysters.

Efforts to protect and grow the oyster population were carried out in partnership with Marylanders Grow Oysters, a local conservation group. NTHS’s full profile of the students’ efforts and their implications for oysters in the St. Mary’s can be found here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Webinar Recording is now available for Sustaining Career Pathways: Funding, Policy, & Professional Development

February 21st, 2014

This webinar is the fourth in the Youth and Adult Pathways (YAP) series, Sustaining Career Pathways: Funding, Policy, & Professional Development, focused on sustaining your career pathways programs through funding, policy and professional development.  Subject matter expert lead was Debbie Mills. Event themes included:
·         Overview of Funding-public, private, and profit
·         Career Pathway Funding Team
·         Constructing a Plan for Career Pathway Success and Sustainability
·         Policy Implications
·         Professional Development in a Career Pathways System

The webinar recording is now available at http://youtu.be/sRP-0Vd7BqA

All materials will be available for download at:  https://community.lincs.ed.gov/group/career-pathways

More about the YAP Event Series

The YAP Event Series is designed to bring together professionals with a shared interest in connecting youth and adult learners with career pathways.  Presenters are experts in their fields, and events are designed to enhance your knowledge and give you usable information in each area.  While the live webinar is the central event, each topic is presented as a month-long “microgroup” within the Career Pathways community on the LINCS site and will include ongoing engagement and discussion before and after the live events.  

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

CTE Month Special: OCTAE Hosts National CTSO Leaders

February 20th, 2014

Reflect, transform, lead. Those words and the ethic that they represent permeate every level of the CTE community, and sum up concisely what drove many students, educators and administrators to participate in CTE to begin with.

On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, the Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) held its briefing “Reflect, Transform, Lead: Preparing Students for College, Careers and Citizenship.”

Led off by Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier, the program centered on the importance of Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) and their work to promote student engagement across the country. The briefing took place just a day after a group of student CTSO leaders sat down with Secretary Duncan to discuss how their organizations and the Department of Education could collaborate to achieve specific department goals, expand CTE access and opportunities, and enhance student achievement nationwide.

Four CTSO student leaders—National President of Future Business Leaders of America Cole Simmons, National President of Family Career and Community Leaders of America Brian Will, National Treasurer of SkillsUSA Daria Ferdine and DECA National President Carter Christensen—delivered presentations during the program and took questions on CTE, CTSOs and student leadership. In their speeches, each described their organization’s positive impact, highlighting their ability to take education beyond the classroom and allow students to develop hands-on experience and career-ready skills.

Facilitated by OCTAE Branch Chief Robin Utz, the program also included presentations from OCTAE Policy Analyst Alicia Bolton, the Office of Early Learning’s Group Leader Tammy Proctor, Senior STEM Education Advisor Camsie McAdams and Promise Neighborhoods and Full Service Community Schools Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Elson Nash. Event video and accompanying powerpoint are available at EDStream and are highly recommended as we continue to commemorate CTE Month!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: College Ratings Proposal Continues to Take Shape, Senators Show Support for CTE

February 14th, 2014

CapitolAs we shared last year, President Obama has made college affordability a priority of his Administration’s education agenda. To better combat the increasingly high costs of higher education, the President has proposed a college ratings system which would link federal financial aid to institutional performance on a variety of measures. Metrics such as average tuition, loan debt, graduation rates, and graduate earnings have all been suggested as possible ways to measure how effectively postsecondary institutions are utilizing federal financial aid.

The Administration’s proposed ratings system, known officially as the Postsecondary Institutional Ratings System (PIRS), has been open to formal comment by the public since last December. Since then many institutions and associations have taken the opportunity to provide valuable feedback and insight for how such a system should be developed, what metrics it should or should not incorporate, and ultimately if such a ratings system is an appropriate responsibility for the Department of Education (ED) to take on. These wide-ranging responses can be found here. Many respondents voiced strong concerns regarding the potential negative consequences such a ratings system could have while others highlighted the transformative possibilities increased transparency could have on the postsecondary education marketplace.

The Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), of which the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is a national partner, also issued a set of recommendations for PIRS. These recommendations focused mainly on the importance of disaggregating institutional and program-level data, as well as how best to utilize employment and wage record data to gauge graduate outcomes.

The proposed ratings system is complimentary in nature to the Department of Education’s ongoing efforts to develop stricter regulations regarding “gainful employment” in vocational education programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. More information on those efforts can be found here. As these dual initiatives continue to take shape, NASDCTEc will continue to track and monitor the progress of these efforts and their potential impact on CTE throughout the country.

Senator Rubio Highlights CTE’s Role in Higher Ed

Earlier this week Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered a speech at Miam-Dade College highlighting his proposals for reforming America’s higher education system. He called for universal income-based repayment for federal student loans and a reshaping of the current postsecondary accreditation system to better utilize competency based education programs and online course offerings. Speaking about a “growing opportunity gap” between those who have access to quality education and those who do not, Senator Rubio argued that “the source of an employee’s education is far less important than many previously thought.” He went on to argue that “those who have the skills and the aptitude to be successful in a job deserve the opportunity to be considered for employment, even if they learned the trade from a non-traditional source.”

Career Technical Education (CTE) was a central component in the Senator’s remarks and he used a CTE program in Miami as a successful example for his proposed reforms. “We should make career and vocational education more widespread and more accessible” he said. “For instance, here in Miami, the local school district has partnered with a car dealership to create an innovative approach to career education. . . When they finish high school, they graduate not just with a high school diploma but with a job-ready industry certification from an automobile manufacturer.” Senator Rubio went on to highlight the importance of apprenticeship programs and business and industry partnerships as strategies for expanding the development and access to high-quality CTE programs. NASDCTEc applauds these encouraging remarks from Senator Rubio and looks forward to working constructively on ways CTE can further promote the shared economic opportunity he has called for in this speech.

A full transcript of the speech can be found here and a video can be found here.

JOBS Act Introduced in the Senate

Yesterday, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 2033). The proposed legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) to expand eligibility for the act’s Pell Grant program. Under current law the Pell Grant program— like other federal financial aid— is not available to students taking “noncredit courses.” Postsecondary CTE programs, which typically offer certifications or other postsecondary credentials, often fall under this category. Current program eligibility requirements have a minimum seat-time of 300 instruction hours over the course of at least 16 weeks. This frequently leaves out short-term postsecondary CTE programs which are essential to equipping students with the relevant skills needed for the 21st century economy.

Senator Landrieu’s bill would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in CTE programs by reducing current time-related eligibility requirements by half (150 hours of instruction over a minimum of 8 weeks). As Senator Landrieu pointed out, “The JOBS Act makes a smart update to expand the eligible uses of Pell Grant funding for short-term job training so we can build a strong and skilled workforce to fill the thousands of jobs that are being created in Louisiana and are currently empty.” NASDCTEc strongly supports this legislation and is encouraged to see a renewed focus on expanding access to postsecondary CTE programs for those who need it most.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Month Special: Celebrating CTE Superheroes

February 14th, 2014

In our second series in conjunction with National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), the spotlight shines on CTE Superhero Adam Jenkins, an IT specialist whose story embodies the possibilities open to a student with dedication and a hands-on education.

A former student of Computer Communications Networking and Technology at The Technology Center in Fremont, Ohio, Adam was recognized by NTHS for his outstanding work as a secondary school CTE student.

Speaking to Wendy Hamil of NTHS during a piece for their American Careers Journal, he described the importance of his CTE experience and NTHS recognition in his ensuing success, including finding a good job just two semesters into his time at the University of Cincinnati.

You can read Adam’s full story as it appears in NTHS’s American Careers Journal here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

 

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