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CTE Research Review

August 14th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Although apprenticeships make up just 0.2 percent of the U.S. labor force, they are garnering more attention this summer thanks to recent reports, including from the White House’s Ready to Work initiative and a set of policy recommendations from The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.

American University economics professor Robert I. Lerman posited that investing, expanding and re-branding U.S. apprenticeships has “the potential to reduce youth unemployment, improve the transition from school to career, upgrade skills, raise wages of young adults, strengthen a young worker’s identity, increase U.S. productivity, achieve positive returns for employers and workers and use limited federal resources more effectively.”

Despite such findings, the size of the U.S. apprenticeship system stands in stark contrast to other major developed countries such as Canada (2.2 percent), Britain (2.7 percent) and Australia and Germany (both 3.7 percent). In Britain, apprenticeships are coming back into favor after years of decline, much like the United States’ system. Recent surveys show that students and the wider public have a “growing appetite” for apprenticeships.

Federal investments would be one part of the approach to expanding the U.S. apprenticeship program. According to Lerman, the United States spends less than $30 million annually, whereas Britain spends about £1 billion (or $1.7 billion). If British spending on apprenticeships were adjusted to match the U.S. population, Lerman estimates that figure would be $8.5 billion.

Calling the expansion of apprenticeships a “potential game-changer”, Lerman offers recommendations for federal and state governments as well as examples of successful youth apprenticeship programs in Georgia and Wisconsin

Be sure to check out additional apprenticeship-related recommendations from the Center for American Progress, through their series of issue papers as well.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 6)

August 8th, 2014

Catching Up SeriesEditor’s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this year’s major state legislative activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be found here as well as the previous installments. 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.

Within K-12, state legislatures were very active this year, making several changes to programs and high school graduation requirements, to name a few.

Programmatic Changes

Georgia lawmakers amended the state’s Youth Apprenticeship Program through the “Work Based Learning Act,” to increase the number of students and employers participating in such programs in order to produce a “successful twenty-first century workforce,” according to the bill’s text.

Florida also expanded its collegiate high school system by requiring each Florida College System institution to work with the district school board in its designated service area to establish one or more of these programs beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. Additionally, the programs must include an option for students in grades 11 or 12 to earn a CAPE industry certification and to successfully complete 30 credit hours through dual enrollment toward their first year of college.

In Mississippi, lawmakers approved a new pilot program for middle school dropout prevention and recovery. School districts that receive a “D” or “F” rating are eligible to participate if selected by the state Board of Education. The pilot’s purpose is to reengage students and increase the state’s graduation rates through an educational program that provides vocational technology and other instructional models that are self-paced and mastery-based, provide flexible scheduling and a blended learning environment with individualized graduation plans.

Graduation Requirements

Washington lawmakers directed the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop curriculum frameworks for a selected list of Career Technical Education courses with content in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that is considered equivalent to high school graduation requirements in science or math. The law also requires that course content must be aligned with industry standards and the state’s academic standards in math and science. Increasing CTE course equivalencies has been a priority of Washington Governor Jay Inslee. The frameworks are to be submitted to the state Board of Education for approval and implementation for the 2015-16 academic year.

Much like Florida’s change to its graduation requirements in math, Arizona school districts are now allowed to approve a rigorous computer science course to fulfill a mathematics credit for graduation.

As part of its “Alaska Education Opportunity Act” and Governor Sean Parnell’s priorities for this year’s legislative session, lawmakers repealed the state’s high school exit exam and replaced it with a college or career ready assessment such as the ACT, SAT or WorkKeys.

As districts look to implement these new requirements, a new report from ACT may bear some useful insight. In 2005, Illinois lawmakers changed the states’ graduation requirements to a minimum of three years of math and two years of science. ACT found that these new requirements had no significant impact on college-readiness test scores in math and science, though there was a slight improvement in college enrollment. ACT says that these findings suggest that advanced coursework alone isn’t enough to improve student learning.

Next time in the “Catching Up With…” series

This will be the last post for legislatures that wrapped their sessions by May 9. In the weeks to come, we’ll take a closer look at major CTE-related bills from the remaining 25 state legislatures. Stay tuned to learn more!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

CTE Research Review

August 7th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Research has shown time and again that finishing what you start in higher education is key to higher lifetime potential earnings, gainful employment and much more. Most researchers use the term, “some college” for students who enrolled in college but left without receiving a degree or certificate, but what does this enigmatic term really mean?

Though this category includes 31 million students over the past 20 years, little is known about the students themselves. The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) takes a closer look at who makes up this group with its new report, “Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion”.

Through national data on enrollments over time and across institutions, NSC was able to dig deeper than most reports, which traditionally survey a representative sample of adults. By using data, NSC excluded those who earned degrees or certificates and analyzed the enrollment pathways of the “some college” population.

In particular, the report focuses largely on two groups of students: those who had enrolled in multiple institutions, and “potential completers” — those with at least two full academic years’ worth of college.

The NSC researchers believe that potential completers should be at the center of the discussion about improving postsecondary completion rates. They say that policies still need to be tailored to fit their needs as older students returning to education after a period of extended absence from the system.

Most potential completers tend to be between 24 and 29 years old. Although women are slightly more represented overall in this group, men somewhat outnumber women within the 24-29 age bracket who have been out of the higher education system for two to six years. More than one in four potential completers enrolled continuously or intermittently for seven years or longer and their enrollment histories are equally split among two- and four-year institutions. These demographics, the researchers say, have unique needs that educators and policymakers need to address to bring these students back into schools and get them to graduation.

To learn more about the “some college group” including important policy recommendations, be sure to check out the full report.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Kentucky CTE Summer Program Highlights Learning that Works

August 7th, 2014

cte-socialmedia-kentuckyLearning that works for Kentucky was on full display as leaders from around the Bluegrass State joined students, educators and stakeholders at their annual 2014 CTE Summer Program, aptly titled “Learning that Works for Kentucky.” The event was developed by KACTE, the Kentucky Department of Education Office of Career Technical Education and statewide partners (see full program for details)

Part professional development, part CTE showcase, the event displayed Learning that works for Kentucky in the true spirit of the campaign, celebrating CTE’s ability to empower students and boost both technical and academic achievement.

At the general session, State CTE Director Dale Winkler presented career ready awards to 33 area technology centers, career technical centers and comprehensive high school CTE programs with exceptionally high percentages of students meeting the state’s career-ready benchmarks. Additional awards went out to educators, administrators and programs that displayed extraordinary commitment to excellence in CTE.

Have your own example of learning that works for your state? Contact us!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

August 1st, 2014

Research Image_6.2013As terms such as “data-driven” dominate discussions of student educational outcomes, a new report shines a light on the challenges of data collection within the Career Technical Education (CTE) system.

Data collection is a key mandate of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 as a means to hold state and local grantees accountable for achieving positive student outcomes, but grantees often face difficulty meeting these requirements due to a variety of external factors.

The report, titled, “Assessing the Education and Employment Outcomes of Career and Technical Education Students,” argues that additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and future legislation from Congress can help grantees generate valid, reliable and comparable state data. NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green authored the paper with Steve Klein, director of the Center for Career & Adult Education and Workforce Development at RTI International, and consultant Jay Pfeiffer.

The authors offer five recommendations for improving outcomes reporting:

  • Integrate CTE into state longitudinal data systems;
  • Promote state use of national data repositories;
  • Identify indicators of transition that promote federal policies;
  • Establish regulations governing placement; and
  • Provide states with reporting alternatives.

To learn more about data collection options, the challenges CTE grantees face in obtaining reliable data and more, be sure to check out the full report.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

College and Career Readiness in Context

August 1st, 2014

The College and Career Readiness and Success Center recently released a report that provides an important overview of every state’s college and career readiness definitions. It found that 37 states, including the District of Columbia, have defined college and career readiness; 15 states including Puerto Rico have none or are juggling multiple definitions.

While these definitions may “yield insight into state priorities and nationwide trends,” the report focuses exclusively on definitions, and does not examine the value and weight being given to college and career readiness within a state. In fact, when taking a closer look at a state’s public report cards and accountability systems, the story still appears to be college or career readiness with the focus of career readiness often being limited to a subset of students.

A recent report from NASDCTEc and Achieve titled, “Making Career Readiness Count,” found that although definitions abound for college and career readiness, only a few states are paving the way with comprehensive frameworks for public reporting and/or accountability formulas that encourages both college and career readiness.

Although 29 states publicly report at least one career-ready indicator, there could be a consequence – unintended or not – of siloing students and fields by developing a narrower approach to college- and career-ready indicators. A one-dimensional approach to college- and career-ready indicators could incentivize schools and districts to help students meet college or career ready benchmarks rather than a more comprehensive set.

When looking to improve existing public reporting and accountability systems, states should consider an expanded framework for college and career readiness indicators, thus ensuring that they are measuring whether all students are ready for both college and career, rather than just a subset of students.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Timm Boettcher Receives CTE Award

August 1st, 2014

Realityworks President Timm Boettcher was recognized this week for his contribution to the CTE enterprise by our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) with their 2015 Business Leader of the Year award.

The award, which “celebrates the contributions and achievements of an executive from the business community who has demonstrated a solid and sustained commitment to improving CTE” is well deserved by Mr. Boettcher. Throughout his career, Mr. Boettcher has promoted experiential learning, a passion that culminated in the foundation of the Industry Workforce Needs Council (IWNC) in 2011. The IWNC has attracted support from business leaders around the country, promoting the value of CTE and its central role in ensuring that the United States leads in global competitiveness with an educated, highly-skilled workforce.

Read ACTE’s recap of the award here.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Announcing NASDCTEc Fall Meeting Registration

July 31st, 2014

As teachers and administrators gear up for the school year, we’re gearing up for our Fall Meeting! This year’s program will stimulate discussion between State Directors, Associate Members and a number of outside experts as we touch on exciting developments surrounding CTE today and how we can help CTE realize its full potential as learning that works for America. 

Join us in Baltimore from October 20 – 22, 2014 to expand your professional network and to gather examples of high-quality CTE programs nationwide to apply in your state or community.

More information on the Fall Meeting is available on the event homepage, including the agenda and logistical information. Keep your eyes open — our blog and homepage will be updated repeatedly with more details as we approach the Fall Meeting kickoff!

NASDCTEc Member and non-member registration portals opened July 30, 2014 and are currently featuring a $100 early bird discount (expires August 29, 2014). Don’t delay, sign up to contribute your perspective today!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

The Common Career Technical Core, Programs of Study & Industry-Based Standards

July 30th, 2014

Yesterday, NASDCTEc released a new paper – The Common Career Technical Core, Programs of Study & Industry-Based Standards - during a webinar. Leveraging the methodology used to compare over 45 states’ CTE standards to the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) last year for The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of State CTE Standards, this new paper examines how a set of 18 industry-based standards match up to the CCTC, with deep implications for state and local development of standards-based programs of study.

Critically, as we state in the paper, “The intent of this analysis is not to judge any industry-based standards…rather the intent is provide actionable information to state and local CTE leaders as think through how they use industry-based standards within the context of a program of study.”

What Did We Find?

For one, the industry-based standards, on average, were not particularly well aligned with the CCTC. However, this was largely as expected based on scope and design of the CCTC compared to most industry-based standards. The CCTC are benchmark standards that identify what a student should know and be able to do after completing a program of study. As “benchmark standards,” the CCTC are intentionally broad; as “end of program of study standards,” the CCTC cover the full range of knowledge and skills to be imparted over a sequence of courses, from the broadest career exploration to the more occupationally-specific skills. Alternatively, most industry-based standards focus squarely on those occupationally-specific skills, leading to a disconnect between them and the CCTC.

We also found that the majority of industry-based standards did not, on average, address the 12 Career Ready Practices, which are the cross-cutting skills and dispositions necessary for any individual in the workplace. Perhaps the most surprising finding was that less than half of the industry-based standards fully aligned to such Practices as “communicate clearly, effectively and with reason” and “work productively in teams while using cultural/global competence,” which are so highly demanded in today’s economy.

However, the analysis showed that many of the industry-based standards reviewed did align well with the Career Pathway-level standards, which are the most specific standards within the CCTC. Additionally, industry-based standards developed by consortia, such as the National Council for Agriculture Education and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, were much  more likely to address both the Career Cluster and Career Pathway-level standards.

What Are the Implications?

The bottom line is that industry-based standards play an important role in preparing students for careers, but that they cannot alone make up a program of study as they often fail to address the broader career exploration skills, as well as those key cross-cutting or “employability” skills that have utility in any career. As state leaders and other stakeholders develop, review and/or approve programs of study, they must:

  • Ensure the standards not only address the key occupationally-specific skills, but also those addressed at the Career Cluster level, as well as the Career Ready Practices, and
  • Provide guidance to local leaders and educators on how to implement the various sets of state and industry-based standards available and build out a coherent sequence of courses and learning experiences aligned to those different standards.

Read the full report here, watch the webinar recording or download the webinar PPT.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director, NASDCTEc

Legislative Update: WIOA Becomes Law, VP Releases Federal Job Training Review as Competency-Based Education Gains Support

July 30th, 2014

CapitolLast Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), historic legislation which supports workforce development activities throughout the country and funds job training programs for displaced youth and adults. This legislation reauthorizes and modernizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and makes a number of positive improvements to that law. Over the past two months, WIOA was approved in both the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities before making its way to the President’s desk for signature.

Following its enactment into law, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have now set to work developing the necessary policies and regulatory guidance for states and local areas to implement the provisions of WIOA.  NASDCTEc will continue to engage in this process and keep the CTE community up-to-date as the law is implemented. Additional information from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education can be found here and here. Important dates and key deadlines for WIOA’s implementation can be found on this timeline.

Vice President Releases Review of Federal Job Training Programs

On the same day that President Obama signed WIOA into law, Vice President Joe Biden released a long anticipated review of federal job training programs. Following his 2014 State of the Union address President Obama directed the Vice President to lead an across-the-board review of these programs, working closely with members of the President’s Cabinet. This review is the result of that months-long process. In Vice President Biden’s remarks, he called the passage of WIOA an opportunity to outline in greater detail “how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world.”

The  report titled “Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity” presents a number of findings on the effectiveness of existing job training programs and makes a series of recommendations for how to improve on those efforts. Among the many actions steps proposed in the report is a seven-component “Job-Driven Checklist,” which will guide the Administration’s efforts to strengthen existing workforce programs and supplement the positive steps taken in WIOA:

  • Employer engagement/involvement for determining local or regional labor market needs;
  • Establish opportunities for work-based learning as a clear pathway to employment;
  • Leverage data more effectively to drive program accountability;
  • Measure and evaluate employment and earnings outcomes for program participants;
  • Promote pathway systems which provide opportunities for additional training or credentials;
  • Increase access for high-need populations through the promotion of additional support services;
  • Promote regional partnerships between workforce and education systems and other stakeholder groups.

Beginning on October 1, all eligible applicants for 25 different federal competitive grant programs across federal agencies will be required to incorporate each of these elements into their application. In total, these programs represent approximately $1.4 billion in annual funding for workforce development activities throughout the country. Additionally, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education will begin to encourage states to incorporate this checklist into their unified state plans— a new requirement introduced under WIOA.

The report goes on to highlight a number of other Administration-led initiatives which have already been announced, such as the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), the Performance Pilot Partnerships for Disconnected Youth (P3), and the American Apprenticeship Grant among a handful of others. As part of the report’s release, the Department of Education also announced that it will launch the Career Pathways Exchange, “an online information dissemination service that will give all states and interested stakeholders access to resources and guidance to develop, expand, and strengthen their career pathways systems.” Read the full report here.

Support for Competency-Based Education Grows

In conjunction with the Vice President’s report, the Department of Education (ED) also announced a new round of its “experimental sites” (ex-sites) initiative, which aims to test and showcase innovative strategies and approaches to delivering postsecondary education. These experimental sites hope to demonstrate that it is possible to transition away from “seat time” in favor of demonstrated student competency— an approached widely known as competency-based education.

Since the early 1990s, ED has had the ability to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA). These restrictions determine if postsecondary institutions can receive funds from federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of HEA. Through the ex-sites initiative, ED will waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA) requirements which affect Title IV federal student aid funding to provide institutions greater flexibility when implementing competency-based programs. Learn more about this announcement from ED here and Department’s official notice with detailed application instructions can be found here.

Activity around competency-based programs is also happening in Congress. Following a voice vote from the House Education and Workforce Committee, H.R. 3136 – also known as the Advancing Competency-based Education Demonstration Act – went before the full House and passed unanimously. This bill is part of the House committee’s larger strategy of reauthorizing HEA through a series of smaller bills aimed at renewing the law. The legislation has similar objectives to ED’s ex-sites initiative by allowing up to 20 institutions to offer competency-based education programs without meeting existing federal aid requirements under Title IV HEA. Eleven amendments were proposed and adopted during the bill’s vote. Among them was one offered by Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), encouraging the greater dissemination and collection of enrollment and employment information of students participating in programs supported by the legislation.

Congressional Appropriations Lose Steam

Both the House and the Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 appropriations processes have stalled after months of negotiations. Congress looks set to pass a Continuing Resolution, a move that would temporarily extend current FY 2014 funding levels past the October 1 deadline when current federal funding is set to expire. Encouragingly, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its intended FY 2015 Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education appropriations bill which included a $5.4 million increase for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program.

Although the appropriations process has since stalled and this funding increase is unlikely to be realized in the upcoming fiscal year, the release of the subcommittee’s text is an encouraging demonstration of Congress’ commitment to the Career Technical Education (CTE) enterprise. It is also important to note that Senate appropriators rejected the Obama Administration’s proposal for a new competitive CTE “innovation fund”- a sign that Congress largely remains opposed to a shift from the current formula-funded structure in the Perkins Act to a competitive model.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

 

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