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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review

May 8th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013A new Gallup-Purdue University survey takes a look, for the first time, at the relationship between the college experience and graduates’ lives. The study found that the type of institution matters little to a graduates’ workplace engagement and current well-being. More important was the support and experiences that a graduate had while in college. The survey showed that respondents were twice as likely to be engaged at work if they had an internship or extra-curricular in college where they were able to apply their classroom learning. Similar results were found if graduates reported having had a professor who excited them about learning and encouraged them. The report concludes that when colleges look to attract students they should consider “what students are doing in college and how they are experiencing it. Those elements — more than many others measured — have a profound relationship to a graduate’s life and career. Yet too few are experiencing them.”

High School Journal recently published a paper from researchers at the National Research Center for Career & Technical Education (NRCCTE) that attempts to create a more nuanced definition of CTE concentrators. Currently, CTE concentrators are defined generally as students who take 2-3 CTE courses out of a high school career. James R. Stone, director of NRCCTE, and his co-writers argue that although this satisfies accountability requirements, it may not truly illustrate how high school students use CTE courses. [NOTE: To access the entire paper, you will need an authorized log-in through a subscribing institution to use the MUSE website.]

On its blog this week, the Economic Policy Institute aired skepticism over media stories that claim there is a serious shortage of construction workers. EPI said the best proof of such a shortage would be in wages, and for residential construction, the evidence isn’t there. Though construction wages have risen over the past two years, they are still 4.2 percent lower than the 2009 levels. Check out this blog and EPI’s “Great Recession” feature, which is updated monthly as new employment data are released.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Witnessing Excellence in CTE: Metro Tech High School

May 8th, 2014

DSC_5247DDSC_1881eemed one of U.S. News and World Report’s best high schools in America, Metro Tech has made the transition from vocational school to comprehensive high school, maintaining superb CTE programs in diverse Career Clusters while simultaneously reintegrating academic classes to offer students a comprehensive high school in addition to their extensive CTE offerings. The result is high-quality CTE with deep integration between academic and career-oriented instruction.

Featured programs include the Protégé College of Cosmetology program, which runs a working salon open to the public; the Floral Design and Business Operations program, which combine fresh flower design and business office skill development through its student-run flower shop; the Banking and Finance program, which operates a student-led credit union from the school; and the culinary arts program, which serves food prepared by students with ingredients grown (in part) on site.

Spots are filling up quickly for the Achieving Excellence Institute, taking place June 16-18, 2014! Save your spot here!

CLASP Discussion Paper Calls for a Conversation on the Nation’s “Credentialing Ecosystem”

May 5th, 2014

mapEarlier this month, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a discussion paper calling for a national conversation on the nation’s often fragmented “credentialing ecosystem”— an expression the author uses to define the decentralized nature of the country’s credentialing marketplace. Written by Evelyn Ganzglass, the paper urges key stakeholders in the postsecondary education and workforce communities to thoughtfully reevaluate and improve the transparency, utility, trust, and portability of credentials currently available to individuals for use in the labor market.

The paper goes on to call for a “large scale expansion of the use of credentials that recognize an individual’s competencies – regardless of means of acquisition – to improve employer competitiveness, reduce skill shortages, expand career advancement opportunities for workers, reduce time to credential for workers and students, and improve returns of accredited credentialing systems relative to costs.” It highlights the overly complex landscape of the current credentialing marketplace, the widespread lack of transparency within it and goes on to outline the contours of a credible alternative to this current framework by emphasizing the importance of an individual’s competencies rather than the amount of “seat time” needed for attainment.

Ultimately the paper argues that, “using competency as the basis for credentials would create a transparent student-centered approach to credentialing.” This overarching recommendation, along with many other important findings, was endorsed by a number of signatories including the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, of which NASDCTEc is a national partner. The full paper and a list of supporters can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Witnessing Excellence in CTE: West-Mec Aviation Program

May 5th, 2014

Come and witness the future engineers and airmen training at the West-Mec Aviation Technology program, the site of one of our Excellence in CTE tours at this year’s Achieving Excellence Institute.

Students in West-Mec’s Aviation program are held to rigorous standards in the course of their hands-on program of study, spending four hours per day immersed in the study of airplane mechanics while receiving a quality comprehensive education besides. After two school years and over 1900 hours of training, students can pursue Federal Aviation Administration airframe, powerplant and/or general aviation certifications.

Click here to learn more about the Achieving Excellence Institute and to register today!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: Secretary Duncan Defends Administration’s FY 15 Budget Priorities before Congress, STEM Equity Bill Introduced in the House

May 2nd, 2014

CapitolOn Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the full House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) to discuss the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Education (ED). As we have previously shared, the President’s budget request calls for $1.117 billion for the Carl D. Perkins (Perkins) basic state grant program— the same amount the program is set to receive for FY 2014. It also reiterates the Administration’s request for a $100 million competitive Career Technical Education (CTE) innovation fund to be paid for out of funds already designated for this purpose.

House appropriators on the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee voiced strong concerns about these proposals several weeks ago, and the HEW Committee reinforced many of those concerns this past Tuesday. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), who was recently honored with NASDCTEc’s Star of Education Award, echoed these sentiments.

“[ED] does not propose any additional funding for the Perkins Act,” he said. “The solutions to address [the needs of the economy] are in CTE programs throughout the country funded through the [Perkins Act].” Rep. Thompson also pressed Secretary Duncan on the Administration’s proposal to fund “untested and often duplicative education initiatives when we have a tried and true solution in Perkins.”

Secretary Duncan argued that the Department’s competitive funding proposals were aimed to more effectively use limited resources and to scale-up successful CTE models.  Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) echoed many of Rep. Thompson’s concerns and also questioned aspects of ED’s 2012 CTE Blueprint, particularly its proposal to require mandatory consortia of LEAs, postsecondary institutions, and other partners in order to receive Perkins funding. After acknowledging the importance of collaboration between the secondary and postsecondary CTE learner levels, Rep. Guthrie pointed out that many “rural or smaller schools may not be able to form a consortium.”

On this point Secretary Duncan conceded that, “The consortia idea is one that we want to continue to think through. Anything we can do in that Blueprint — it’s two years out of date now —something we can do better [sic], we’d be happy to update.” While ED has not officially announced plans to update its CTE Blueprint, NASDCTEc is encouraged that a top Administration official has expressed a willingness to rethink aspects of the proposal.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) also raised concerns regarding the impact of competitive grant programs to ensure equitable access for students. “How do you plan to ensure equal opportunity and funding for all students and not just the ones from school districts with the ability to write grants?”

She also highlighted her efforts to expand Pell eligibility for high school students enrolled in early college programs. A similar proposal contained in the Department’s FY 2015 budget request would expand Pell eligibility for students as part of a career pathway and she encouraged the Administration to continue with these efforts. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), the newest member of HEW, also promoted a similar idea of using early college and dual enrollment as a model for CTE. Secretary Duncan said he was open to this idea and that the Department would look for promising strategies to encourage postsecondary credit and industry certification attainment at the secondary level.

Other members on the committee such as Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) voiced strong opposition to the Department’s new gainful employment and program integrity regulations among other similar topics.

An archived webcast of the hearing, including testimony, can be found here.

STEM Equity Bill Introduced in the House

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced the Getting into Researching, Learning & Studying of STEM (GIRLS-STEM) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4515). The bill would establish a program at the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that more female students participate in STEM education and have access to career and academic counseling. The program would provide grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to support efforts and initiatives to encourage young women to study STEM subjects, educate parents about the opportunities for their children in STEM fields, provide mentorship opportunities for students, and prepare secondary students for transitions into postsecondary STEM programs.

“I know from personal experience that STEM careers can be personally and professionally rewarding, and we owe it to our young women to make sure they have access to the necessary education,” said Rep. McNerney, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics and worked for many years as an engineer. NASDCTEc applauds the Congressman’s efforts to promote young women in STEM programs and looks forward to working with him to more fully realize this admirable goal. A full press release on the legislation can be found here.

Performance Pilot Partnerships (P3) Update

As we shared last week, the Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services and a number of other federal agencies, announced a new pilot program to better address the needs of disconnected youth in communities, states and tribal areas. The Departments released a consultation paper on this initiative which seeks to give a clearer picture as to the program’s design and purpose.

A webinar on P3 was also held this week, where it was explained that local Perkins grant recipients would be eligible to participate in these programs if an agreement is first reached with the state’s Perkins eligible agency. While funding stream “braiding” seems to be an objective of the pilots, it is still unclear at this time how reporting requirements for Perkins would be reconciled with other programs in a given project. As details on P3 become clearer, NASDCTEc will update the CTE community on the potential for collaboration.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Research Review (Part 2)

May 2nd, 2014

ResearchNote: This is the second part of our regular CTE Research Review series. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for new research finding about education and the labor market.

This week, Northeastern University released a new survey called, “Innovation Imperative: Enhancing the Talent Pipeline,” which is its third in a series of public opinion polls on higher education and the global economy. Among the survey’s key findings, 96 percent of business leaders believe innovation is crucial to remain globally competitive while more than half of business leaders believe the U.S. higher education system is lagging behind most developed and emerging countries in preparing students for the workforce. Three-quarters of business leaders surveyed believe there is a skills gap among today’s workforce and 87 percent believe graduates lack the most important skills to succeed.

A new report from CareerBuilder, “The shocking truth about the skills gap,” asked employers, academics and job seekers (employed, unemployed and underemployed) about their perceptions of the “skills gap.” Although the U.S. economy continues to climb out of the Great Recession and positive signs of growth and recovery abound, 81 percent of employers say they are having a difficult time filling open jobs. This fact alone would support the idea that there is a gap between the skills needed for vacant jobs and the skills job seekers possess. This CareerBuilder report, however, uncovered a few surprising pieces of this complex puzzle.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review (Part 1)

May 1st, 2014

ResearchNote: Today’s post will focus on new research findings about education and the labor market. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, which will bring you some new public opinion surveys from the field.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute released Thursday shows that while the Great Recession may have ended officially in June 2009, the labor market’s slow recovery has been particularly devastating for young college and high school graduates and will likely have lasting consequences. The study found that unemployment rates for young graduates are improving, but remain substantially higher than before the recession began, and the overall rates for young graduates mask substantial disparities in unemployment by race and ethnicity, which are substantially higher than their white non-Hispanic peers. Also, graduating in a bad economy will have lasting consequences for this cohort. The study projected that for the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2014 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that the high school graduation rate has reached 80 percent for the first time in U.S. history. The numbers – released by ED’s statistics arm, the National Center for Education Statistics – also project that graduation rates could hit 90 percent by 2020, if states continue at this pace. This week, the America’s Promise Alliance also released a report that offered a detailed state-by-state look based on 2012 data.

Also, this week, Education Commission of the States takes a look at legislative activity in 2013 as it related to CTE and workforce development. The report, titled “Career and Technical Education: States Aligning Programs to Meet Workforce Needs,” cites activity in areas such as blending high school and postsecondary learning opportunities, incentivizing industry credentials, expanding internships, and formalizing governing structures. In case you missed it – NASDCTEc and ACTE released their own “2013 Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE,” in March.

Earlier this month, the Lumina Foundation launched a new issue paper series that focused on college costs and prices for students as well as institutions and states. In particular, the report takes a state-by-state look at the connection between the Great Recession, college tuition and affordability.

Understanding the federal appropriations process is already a steep challenge. An important facet of this process is when the money will be obligated as well as the difference between forward funding, advance appropriations and advance funding. Many programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education are advance or forward funded. Knowing how and when federal programs obligate funds is crucial in order for recipients – whether on the state, district or institution level – to plan accordingly. This brief from the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, takes a closer look at these varying types of appropriations.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Witnessing Excellence in CTE: SUMCO

April 30th, 2014

SUMCO 1One of the all-new tours on offer at Achieving Excellence in CTE: The Career Clusters Institute will take attendees to SUMCO Corporation’s Phoenix plant.

A multinational employing thousands of workers worldwide, SUMCO’s advanced manufacturing puts its workers–many former students of Career Technical Education themselves–at the cutting edge of both the STEM and Manufacturing Career Clusters.

Dependent upon a skilled workforce of dynamic employees, the company knows the benefit of the highly skilled lifelong learners that walk out of CTE classes every day. The SUMCO tour will put participants face-to-face with the type of workplace CTE graduates may eventually spend their career, giving you a CTE experience to remember, and to recount to parents, students, faculty and other CTE stakeholders in months and years ahead!

Don’t miss this and the countless other incredible professional development opportunities at this year’s Achieving Excellence Institute. Build your school, district or state’s CTE team and register today!

Evan Williamson, Communications AssociateSUMCO 2

NASDCTEc in Taipei

April 29th, 2014

Delegates

Last week, I had the honor as serving as a delegate at a conference held by the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) Alliance for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Taipei, Taiwan. Along with education and government leaders from Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. This event was co-hosted by Taiwan’s Ministries of Labor and Education and Taipei Tech University.

One thing that struck me was the similarity in our challenges and the goals of our CTE/vocational education and training systems. Nearly every leader spoke of high youth/young adult unemployment, an aging population, the disconnect between what students are learning in school and the skills demanded in the workforce, and the need to upskill our systems. Other countries are also struggling with raising the image of CTE – the representative from Thailand, for example, noted that they refer to this challenge as “3D” in that the jobs are considered “dangerous, difficult and dirty.” While the language and solutions might vary across countries, the role of CTE as a driver of economic development and vitality was something we all had in common.

CVTCOn the second day of my trip, I had the opportunity to visit two models of technical institutions, the Chinese Culture and Social Welfare Foundation Vocational Training Center (CVTC) and Chung Gang University of Science and Technology (CGUST). CVTC is a privately-run, publicly-subsidized institution that provides training (ranging from 300-900 hours) to unemployed individuals in areas such as culinary arts, gardening/landscaping, webpage design and computer maintenance.  CVTC is one of 13 public training centers in Taiwan – and was the first training center established over 50 years ago. Like most other training centers in Taiwan and the other Asian countries represented at this conference, CVTC provides on-site certifications. (See a map of their campus to the right)

Chang Gung 2CGUST, on the other hand, is a private four-year institution that provides training for health care professionals through its College of Nursing and College of Human Ecology. This campus features state-of-the-art simulation equipment, an on-site kindergarten class run by students and staffed by nurses (who also happen to be instructors), and one of the highest placement rates for its graduates.  All students participate in professional internships during summer breaks and about 87% pass their professional certification, which is twice Taiwan’s national average.

All in all, the trip was an eye-opening experience that brought our own CTE system – and its strengths and ongoing challenges – into focus.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

NASDCTEc Welcomes Andrea Zimmermann and Evan Williamson

April 29th, 2014

NASDCTEc is glad to welcome its two newest staff members, State Policy Associate Andrea Zimmermann and Communications Associate Evan Williamson!

AndreaAndrea Zimmermann

Andrea’s path to Washington, DC, started in Illinois, wound through Eastern Europe and eventually ended here in the nation’s capital.

Hailing from southern Illinois, she pursued both her undergraduate and master’s degree in the Land of Lincoln and finished her graduate program at the University of Illinois-Springfield in 2008 with a specialty in political journalism that primarily focused on state government.  After graduation, she worked as a journalist in Illinois covering local, state and national news.

Drawn to fulfill a lifelong dream to serve internationally, Andrea joined the Peace Corps shortly thereafter. For nearly three years, Andrea lived and worked in Ukraine, where she taught English, conducted teacher training and worked on local issues such as youth leadership and HIV/AIDS.

She discovered her passion for education while in Ukraine. Upon returning to the United States, she moved to Washington, DC, and worked for the U.S. Department of Education prior to joining NASDCTEc. Her own family’s close ties to Career Technical Education makes this position a perfect fit. Andrea will focus on state-level policies and trends in CTE.

Andrea says she loves living in Washington, though never misses a chance to return home to Illinois to see family and friends.

 

Evan Williamson

Evan2 (214x300)Evan joins NASDCTEc after two years working in communications on Capitol Hill. Evan’s prior experience includes stints working in environmental policy and communications, political and campaign volunteerism during the last four election cycles and work in the offices of U.S. Representatives Luis Gutierrez (IL-04) and Peter Visclosky (IN-01).

Evan is a native of Champaign, Illinois. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.A. in Political Science, minoring in Sustainability Studies. In the course of his undergraduate study, he uncovered his passion for political communications as an exchange student in Manchester, England, while studying the United Kingdom’s 2010 general election. Returning to the states, Evan outlined a path into the world of issue-oriented communications and advocacy that has culminated in his arrival at NASDCTEc.

With deep personal and professional connections to education, Evan is committed to raising the profile of CTE as a means to improve student outcomes, reduce youth and adult unemployment and promote American economic competitiveness. As communications associate, Evan will conduct media outreach on behalf of NASDCTEc, spearhead communications initiatives, publicize Association and Foundation events and manage the organization’s online presence.

Evan is soccer devotee, his playing career beginning as a kindergarten all-star in 1993 and continuing to the present. Expanding his profile, he has also coached for three consecutive seasons with the Arlington Aces soccer club. An avid sports fan as well as participant, he boasts having attended at least one Illinois basketball game every year since 1996 and, to less satisfying results, attending at least one game in each of the last 15 seasons of his beloved Chicago Cubs. He also attempts (with limited success) cooking, bass guitar, the New York Times Sunday Crossword and long-distance running in his spare time.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

 

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