NOCTI: The Right Credentials

April 18th, 2016

As a longstanding member of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, NOCTI has seen the pendulum swing many NOCTI--Navy--Med--Web-Usetimes regarding technical training. Sometimes the pendulum swings in favor of the CTE community while other times it does not. At least from a current media perspective, it certainly appears the pendulum is in CTE’s favor and CTE is enjoying some time in the “spotlight.” From most perspectives, being in the spotlight provides a positive opportunity to broaden public support. Because the spotlight moves from issue to issue quickly, it generally forces those who are under it to focus their message quickly. Sometimes that message can become generalized and lose its specificity. We fear this generalization may be happening within the area of credentialing.

Most readers of this blog know that NOCTI spent its early days as part of the “vocational” teacher certification process. They may also be aware that through its current foci on leadership in the areas of technical data-driven instructional improvement, credentialing, and digital badging, NOCTI continues to be proud to be a contributing member of the CTE community. As a non-profit entity lead by a board elected by the 56 state directors of CTE across the country and in US territories , NOCTI is determined to stay ahead of the needs of the field it serves. Since NOCTI’s primary focus links to credentialing and the assessment associated with it, we’d like to share a few of our observations. Aside from obvious issues of cost and delivery, the focus will be on five areas NOCTI believes every CTE program should consider during the credential selection process.

1. Proprietary vs. Non-Proprietary Credentials: Simply put, assess the motive of the credential provider. Is the ultimate goal of the credentialing assessment to focus on a particular product line or service? Is it to establish a lifelong pattern of acquiring certificates by the learner as a revenue generator for the providing organization? Can an administrator access the technical manual (this provides statistical data on test construction and performance) on which the assessment is based?

2. Quality: Does the credentialing assessment meet accepted national and international standards? There are thousands of credentials that claim to meet legally defensible standards but do they? Nationally accepted standards are the American Psychological Association (APA), American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) and international standards for credentialing bodies are found in ISO 17024.

3. Program of Study Alignment: Does the credential assessment provide an outline of what is measured in the assessment? More importantly, do the credential and your program of study align? Are you setting your students up for failure by assessing information they have never been taught?

4. Instructional Improvement Value: A credential that provides a simple pass/fail score provides no ability to improve a teacher’s instruction for succeeding cohorts of students. It is like shooting at a target wearing a blindfold. Does the credential provider offer meaningful data to continuously improve your instruction?

5. Relevant Information for Employers: Credentials and certifications can be seen as a “shorthand” for the skills and knowledge a learner has acquired, but a certificate alone may not provide enough detail for the employer during the hiring process. Does the credential identify specific skills obtained that can be compared against an individual employer’s needs? Detail is key!

This blog was written by NOCTI, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting. For more information about NOCTI, reach out to nocti@nocti.org or be sure to meet them at the Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.! 

This Week in CTE

April 15th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Though employers are having trouble filling vacant jobs, (there are 600,000 jobs open in the manufacturing industry currently) students aren’t being equip with the skills they need to succeed in many of the careers across industry sectors. While there are many Career Technical Education (CTE) programs breaking the mold of what some think of as traditional vocational education, there’s still much work to be done to raise the standards of CTE programs everywhere, such as regularly training educators in industry advancements, developing real apprenticeship opportunities for students, and demanding that policy leaders make a long-term investment in CTE.
Read more

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

The White House hosted its annual science fair this week, and a few future CTE students stole the show.
Watch the video

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

International Baccalaureate Prepares Students for the Real World

April 13th, 2016

When Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, decided to add the International Baccalaureate’s new Career-related Programme (CP) to its offerings in 2012, it already had five career academies in place. They offered courses in engineering (affiliated with Project Lead the Way), finance (affiliated with NAF), early child development (affiliated with the Maryland Department of Education and Montgomery College), hospitality management (completion and graduation certified by the National Restaurant Association) and medical careers (after successfully completing the first year of the program, students are eligible for certification as a nursing assistant by the Maryland Board of Nursing). Since then, students and academies have benefited in many ways, says CP coordinator Lisa Ingram.IB_logo_FC (1)

The Career-related Programme has enriched everything about the CP students’ experience and learning, Ingram says. “The CP prepares students to be amazing learners for whatever future they anticipate. They’ve had strategic lessons. That’s huge when they transition to the real world.” Meanwhile, the academies have grown and retained students, and Watkins Mill even added a computer science pathway. The medical academy actually doubled in size.

The CP is an excellent choice for students who have already decided on their area of career specialization, seek academic challenge and want hands-on learning and experience in their chosen field. The program provides students with an impressive portfolio of accomplishments for college study and employment. It allows students to create an individualized path that leads to higher education or to employment after graduation.

Here’s how the CP works: It combines courses from the International Baccalaureate’s highly regarded Diploma Programme with an approved career-related study and a unique CP core. The core consists of four components— a personal and professional skills course, service learning, language development and a reflective project–blended together to enhance both critical and ethical thinking and intercultural understanding. Combined, these elements help students develop the communication and personal skills necessary for success in a rapidly changing world.

A key feature of the CP is that it offers flexibility to allow for local differences. Each school creates its own distinctive version of the program to meet the needs and backgrounds of its students. The school selects both the DP courses it offers as part of the CP and the career-related study best suited to local conditions and students’ interests. The career-related study must meet International Baccalaureate criteria.

At Watkins Mill, Ingram talks about one student who chose the Child Care Academy. “She was born to be a teacher,” Ingram says. “She thrives in the child care environment, and since we have an onsite child care center, she’s in the thick of it here.” She has been deeply involved in a CP service learning project that provides child care for Watkins Mill feeder middle schools during evening parent meetings and on Saturdays.

Ingram also remembers the day that educators from Colorado visited her school to learn about how the CP worked there. Watching students answer questions from these adults, she couldn’t help but think about how the kids “would have been blushing purple as sophomores. But they were completely poised this year talking about their research projects and the program. I think there’s a lot of risk taking and stretching your learning in IB classes. It kind of forces those kids out of their comfort zone.”

Not everyone can tour another school to learn about the CP. However, Ingram strongly recommends getting into details and seeing how it really works. “Presuppositions will sell it short,” she says. “The program gives all these worthy tools to the kids and really respects the way they learn.”

To hear what other educators say about the Career-related Programme, visit http://ibvideolibrary.org/category/programmes/cp

Thank you to International Baccalaureate, one of our 2016 Spring Meeting Sponsors! Want more information on how you can become a sponsor? Email Karen at khornberger@careertech.org. 

This Week in CTE

April 8th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

America’s Promise Alliance has launched the $3 million 2016 Youth Opportunity Fund that will award one-year grants up to $250,000 to grantees that empower youth to reach their full potential.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Secondary Health Science Education – A Cross State System
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has released a new online seminar with the National Consortium for Health Science Education on their cross-state health science system for high school students looking to pursue careers in health care. Check out ACTE’s YouTube channel to watch the recorded seminar.

VISUAL OF THE WEEK

Two researchers at UMBC’s School of Public Policy mapped the Twitter activity around the Every Student Succeeds Act’s passage in December, and draws a set of conclusions about how the initial week’s Twitter activity may set the tone for ESSA implementation.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Education, labor and industry leaders as part of the Massachusetts Girl in Trade Advisory Group hosted its first ever Girls in Trades Conference where over 400 students from 18 high schools across the state learned about the apprenticeships, employment and mentoring opportunities in the building trades.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part II)

April 7th, 2016

In Part II, we dive into the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s newest report, “Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?” Provocative title notwithstanding, the report’s short answer is: Yes.

The report opens with a caveat that CTE is not a meaningful prat of students’ high school experience, and unlike most industrialized countries, it has been chronically neglected by leaders and policymakers.

“American students face a double-whammy: Not only do they lack access to high-quality secondary CTE, but then they are subject to a ‘bachelor’s degree or bust’ mentality,” the report states. “And many do bust, dropping out of college with no degree, no work skills, no work experience and a fair amount of debt.”

But according to data examined by University of Connecticut’s Shaun M. Dougherty, students do benefit from CTE coursework, in particular those course sequences aligned to certain industries. Based on the report’s findings, it calls for policymakers and education leaders across the country to invest more heavily – and strategically – in high school CTE, and to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act and increase federal support for high-quality, labor market-aligned programs that are available and appealing to all students.

The report’s findings will be discussed on April 14 in Washington, DC, and will also be streamed. Register here to hear from the report’s author and Arkansas State CTE Director Charisse Childers, among others.  The study uses the wealth of secondary, postsecondary and labor market data from the Arkansas Research Center to better understand the state of CTE, both of those students who take CTE courses and those who take three or more CTE courses within a career field.

Key findings include:

  • Students with greater CTE exposure are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed and earn higher wages.
  • CTE students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. There was little evidence of “tracking.”
  • The more CTE courses students take, the better their education and labor market outcomes. Among other positive outcomes, CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points when compared to otherwise similar students.
  • Though white and female students are more likely to concentrate, CTE provides the greatest boost to students who need it most – males and students from low-income families.

The report offers recommendations similar to what has taken place in Arkansas:

  • Examine state labor market projections to identify high-growth industries
  • Offer CTE courses aligned to skills and industry-recognized credentials in these fields and encourage (or require) high school students to take them)
  • Encourage (or require) students take a concentration of CTE courses
  • Support and encourage dual enrollment and make credits “stackable” from high school into college, so that high school CTE courses count toward specific postsecondary credentials

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part I)

April 7th, 2016

This week, two leading education organizations – the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Trust – have published new research that illustrates how K-12 CTE can and should be used to create meaningful education experiences that prepares students for future success in college and careers. First up, an analysis of high school transcripts to pull back the curtain on college and career readiness.

Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates

In “Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates,” Ed Trust finds that while students may graduate high school, too many are leaving with no clear path forward.

For nearly a decade, college and career-readiness for all students has been the foundational rhetoric of U.S. education, but high school transcripts show that this rhetoric didn’t bear out in reality for most graduates in 2013. In fact, fewer than one in 10 recent graduates had taken a foundational set of courses necessary to be both college- and career-ready. Additionally, the data shows that 47 percent of graduates completed neither a college- nor career-ready course of study. The study defined college- and career-courses of study as the standard 15-course sequence required for entry at many public colleges, as well as three or more credits in a career-focused area such as health science or business.

Of those who had completed a course of study, only eight percent in those graduates completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Further, less than one-third of graduates completed a college-ready course of study and just 13 percent finished a career-ready course sequence. Because seat-time is not a sufficient indicator of readiness, the report also looks at who in the college- and career-ready cohort, particularly students of color or disadvantaged backgrounds, had also demonstrated mastery of the curriculum. When looking at mastery, an additional 14 percent of graduates fail to meet this benchmark.

Rather than aligning high school coursework with students’ future goals, the report found that high schools are continuing to prioritize credit accrual, which reinforces the idea that high school graduate is the end goal in a student’s educational journey. The report identifies state-, district-, and school-level levers including transcript analysis, master schedule, credit policies and graduation requirements.

To truly prepare students, school structures, culture and instruction must shift to prepare students for postsecondary studies aligned to their career interests, and this can be done without risk of recreating a system of tracking students into prescribed pathways.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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Inside International CTE: Work Based Learning in Toronto

April 7th, 2016

In an interview with Beth Butcher, Executive Superintendent, Teaching and Learning, and Bernadette Shaw, Central Coordinating Principal, Teaching and Learning of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), we explore the Canadian Technological Education system. This post part of our ongoing partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning Blog on Education Week. This post was written by Heather Singmaster, Asia Society. 

What does technological education look like in Toronto/Ontario?
Technological education in grades 9-12 is guided by Ontario’s Ministry of Education curriculum documents, Technological west_t_weld017 copyEducation, 2009.  Programs are offered in communications technology, computer technology, construction technology, green industries, hairstyling and aesthetics, health care, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing technology, technological design, and transportation technology. Course work focuses on broad-based technologies (grades 9 & 10) and areas of emphasis (grades 11 & 12). When technological education programs are packaged with cooperative education, students have the opportunity to transfer learning from the classroom to the workplace by further developing and refining skills. This enables students to gain hands-on experience in the subject area and explore careers in a specific industry sector. Technological education programs lead to all exit destinations including the workplace, college, university, and apprenticeship. Students in cooperative education, who are working in skilled trades, may register as apprentices through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a joint partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

What percentage of the student population participates in technological education?
Technological education is offered in eighty-six secondary schools in the TDSB. We are the largest provider of this form of experiential learning in the country. Any student transitioning from grade 8 to grade 9 may select the broad-based introductory course, Exploring Technologies (TIJ). At the secondary level, there are over two thousand sections/classes running during the regular school year and approximately twenty-seven thousand students participate in any of the broad-based programs and/or areas of emphasis courses.

Which sectors/fields of study are most popular with students?
The Ontario curriculum is aligned with current economic industry sectors. While there is substantial interest in all technological education programs, participation rates are frequently dependent on specialized school facilities. Transportation technology, hospitality and tourism, and hairstyling and aesthetics are popular among students, as demonstrated in the TDSB course enrolment data. More and more, the integration of technological education with other areas of study is emerging as a trend. Whether it’s communications technology supporting transportation diagnostics or the application of mathematics in construction classes, technological education is most effective when supported through a cross-curricular, contextualized framework. The academic versus vocational demarcation is beginning to blur and this is paramount for students who aspire to take on a career in skilled trades and technologies.

How is technological education funded in Toronto?
Like all Ontario curriculum, schools deliver technological education by way of the Ministry of Education’s funding model. Students participating in Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program are additionally funded through the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU). MTCU also supports students through funding to complete their Level 1 Apprenticeship training, through a Training Delivery Agent in an approved sector of the skilled trades.

Read the full post on Education Week’s Global Learning blog.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto District School Board. 

Advance CTE Spring Meeting: Early Bird Registration Closes Next Week!

April 6th, 2016

The early bird registration deadline is approaching fast and you don’t want to miss United States CapitalAdvance CTE’s annual Spring Meeting featuring speakers from across the country including:

  • Experts from 10 national organizations who will share insights into the future of CTE
  • State leaders who will discuss best practices and what’s most effective in their states, and
  • Congressional staffers and policy experts who will provide updates of federal policies including the Carl D. Perkins Act and Every Student Succeeds Act.

Hear From Your Peers
States across the nation are leading CTE in innovative and exciting ways. Learn from your fellow State CTE Directors and Advance CTE members on what’s working in their states on topics ranging from accountability to workforce development.

Celebrate Excellence
Join us to honor Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action award winners during a ceremony and luncheon on May 24th. Learn about and meet the winners spanning 11 Career Clusters from 9 states!

Early bird deadline: Thursday, April 14

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

April 1st, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE(S) OF THE WEEK

This week, Advance CTE, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and CCSSO announced the 25 recipients of phase one of the New Skills for Youth grants. Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C. will receive $100,000 six month grants to develop career readiness action plans. In addition to a national press release, many states distributed press releases or were covered in articles including: Oklahoma, Delaware, Montana, South Carolina, Illinois, Utah, Massachusetts and Kentucky.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The Institute for Education Sciences released a variety of new grantee areas in education research, including CTE. Research should address policies, programs and practices that increase career readiness in secondary education students.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

State Policy Update: Sharing State Resources

March 30th, 2016

This month’s State Policy Update is focusing less on legislative activity and more on sharing some of the interesting things happening in the states around CTE:

New State Resources

  • The California Career Resource Network, supported by the state Department of Education, has released new “Career & College Readiness Lesson Plans.” There, you can find 45 lessons geared toward 5th-12th grade students, with around five lessons per grade. Though organized by grade level, the lessons could be used for any grade. Additionally, the Network has developed an Educator Guide, a bi-lingual career readiness glossary, and Spanish-language student handouts.
  • A new partnership between ArkansasDepartment of Career Education and the Arkansas Research Center has helped the department save time and money. In a blog post from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, the department partnered with the research center to develop new technical solutions for Perkins reporting. The center, which has two software developers on staff, created software that reduces the burden of Perkins reporting as well as save the department an estimated $500,000 over the next 10 years.
  • In somewhat state-related news, LinkedIn, Burning Glass Technologies and the Markle Foundation have launched a new kind of job website – Skillful.com. The site is specifically designed for middle-skills job seekers with job ads, career exploration tools, and more. The site launched in Colorado in March focusing on information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. The site plans to expand to the Phoenix area in April.

News of Note

  • In a blog post in Education Week, the Council of Chief State School Officers illustrates how states can use their accountability systems to affect student learning. The post leans heavily on contextualized and personalized learning, a hallmark of CTE.
  • Also in Education Week, an article highlighting that while K-12 spending is expected increase for most states this year, the budgets of the state education agency are getting cut in favor of directing money to local school districts. This squeeze is coming at a time when many state departments are gearing up to consider how best to fully leverage the flexibility provided for in the new federal Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA). As a special resource for only for Advance CTE members, be sure to check out our ESSA cheat sheet about the opportunities and intersections for CTE in the new law.

And finally, because we couldn’t resist some legislative, state board and gubernatorial news:

  • Earlier this month, the Michigan Board of Education adopted energy as its 17th Career Cluster®. Michigan industry leaders led this effort in order to develop a skilled energy utility workforce to combat the state’s skills gap, which is expected to grow retirements over the next 10 years. The Energy Career Cluster will use energy industry content standards developed by the Center for Workforce Development, a non-profit consortium of energy utilities.
  • The National Skills Coalition has a round-up of the workforce development initiatives proposed by governors in their budget and State of the State addresses this year.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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