National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE in Spotlight During Governors’ State of State Speeches

January 29th, 2015

There are a lot of issues competing for attention in a governor’s State of the State address from pensions to health care to infrastructure to education. So it’s notable of the 31 speeches given this month, Career Technical Education (CTE) has found its way into roughly 40 percent of them, particularly because governors use this speech as a way to outline their priorities for the year and highlight successes.

In some instances, CTE was only mentioned in passing such as in Alaska, where the governor called for increasing educational opportunities for CTE. However, states such as in Indiana, California, and Nevada among others, governors proposed major investments in CTE as a means to prepare a skilled workforce to compete for tomorrow’s jobs and position the state for economic prosperity.

Here is a quick recap of the highlights as of January 26. We’ll continue tracking the remaining speeches and budget proposals, and bring you an update in the coming weeks.


Although CTE didn’t make it into Gov. Jerry Brown’s speech in California, it received a major boost in the governor’s proposed budget, which was released shortly after. Brown proposed the CTE Incentive Fund, which calls for $750 million over three years in one-time funding. The grant program would require a dollar-for-dollar match by the participating K-12 schools and encourages collaboration with other local agencies to form regional partnerships.

The budget also proposes nearly $30 million to grow and expand apprenticeships.


Declaring his budget the “education budget,” Gov. Mike Pence proposed increasing CTE funding by $20 million a year. The money would be directed through the state’s Indiana Works Councils.

“By providing $20 million a year to create more career and vocational opportunities and improving the way we fund those courses, we will dramatically increase the number of students who graduate career-ready, and increase—by fivefold—the number of students who graduate with an industry-recognized credential by 2020,” Pence said.


Gov. Steve Beshear praised the state’s CTE system in his State of the Commonwealth.

“Recognizing that the four-year university path isn’t the best route for everyone, we’ve made our career and technical programs more rigorous and applicable to real-life jobs that demand high-level technical knowledge. These aren’t the so-called ‘shop classes’ of yesterday but modern training with a touch academic foundation,” Beshear said.

Beshear also called on the state to implement the recommendations of the Dual Credit Task Force to improve the quality of these courses and help students cut the time and cost of their postsecondary education.


Gov. Brian Sandoval used his speech as a bully pulpit for increased education spending. Citing Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation high school graduation rate as “our most troubling education statistic,” Sandoval called for $1.1 billion in additional funds for education. Specific to CTE, Sandoval proposed new grant programs to ensure students are college- and career-ready, including an expansion of CTE, Jobs for America’s Graduates and STEM education.

West Virginia

Unlike his fellow governors who focused more on funding and programs, Gov. Ray Tomblin highlighted the state’s need for high-quality teachers. Tomblin said he plans to introduce legislation that expands opportunities for career professionals to enter the teaching field. He called on lawmaker to streamline the teacher certification process to “encourage those who have a passion to teacher so they can share their knowledge with our kids.”

“We must give local school systems better flexibility to train and hire subject-matter experts to fill long-term vacancies in critical subject areas.


For more CTE and workforce coverage, check out proposals and praise from Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Governors call on Congress to Act on Perkins, ESEA

January 7th, 2015

As the 114th Congress officially starts this week, the nation’s governors called on lawmakers to reauthorize long overdue federal education laws, IMG_0771including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Higher Education Act.

The National Governors Association (NGA) held its third annual State of the States address on Tuesday in Washington, DC. NGA Chair and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper used the speech as a platform elevate important state issues regarding education, veterans, workforce development and more.

“Forty-three states are operating under waivers from No Child Left Behind,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who serves as NGA’s vice chair. “… government by waiver is a sign that underlying laws do not work and are in need of reform.”

Education was a focus of remarks from both Herbert and Hickenlooper as they both recognized that the key to a better skilled workforce starts with better education.

Read the full remarks from both governors here.

2015 State Legislative Sessions Get Under Way

Just as Congress gets back to work, so are many state legislatures across the country. By the week’s end, nearly 20 state legislatures will have reconvened to tackle pressing issues affecting education, workforce development, and more.

With much turnover at all levels following the November elections and many states still funding K-12 and higher education below pre-recession levels, NASDCTEc will be tracking CTE-related legislation across the country and keep you informed as it develops.

Later this month, NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education will publish our second annual “State CTE Policy Review”, covering major state CTE activity from 2014. Be sure to check out our Feb. 5 webinar – register now! In case you missed our 2013 brief, you can get caught up here.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Upcoming Webinars

January 6th, 2015

Strategies for Financing CTE
January 15, 2015, 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Authors of the new report, “State Strategies for Financing CTE,” will unpack the study’s important findings. Co-hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, this webinar will explore the ways in which states are financing CTE at the secondary and post-secondary levels using state and federal funds, including a closer look at performance-based funding approaches. For an overview of the report, check out our Learning that Works blog.


  • Steve Klein — Director, Center for Career & Adult Education and Workforce Development, RTI International/Principal Investigator for the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education
  • Laura Rasmussen Foster — Program Director, RTI International/National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education
  • Suzanne Hultin — Policy Specialist, Education Program, National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Andrea Zimmermann — State Policy Associate, NASDCTEc

Register Today

2014 State CTE Policy Review
February 5, 2015, 3 – 4 p.m. ET
States are increasingly looking to CTE as a means to help close the skills gap and boost the number of people with a postsecondary credential. Join us as we step through the major state policy trends affecting CTE from 2014 including new laws, executive actions and regulatory activity. This webinar will coincide with the release of the second annual “2014 State CTE Policy Review,” a joint publication from ACTE and NASDCTEc.


  • Catherine Imperatore, Research Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education
  • Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

Register Today

Employer Engagement: State Perspectives
February 10, 2015, 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Join us on February 10th from 2 – 3 PM ET to take an in-depth look at how specific states and employers inform, align and enhance their CTE systems at the secondary and postsecondary levels.


  • Dr. Phil Cleveland, Alabama State Director of CTE and Workforce Development
  • Dr. Blake Flanders, Vice President of Workforce Development, Kansas Board of Regents
  • Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate, NASDCTEc
  • Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager, NASDCTEc

Register Today 

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

December 17th, 2014

GAO Study on State Funding of Public Collegeschart

In a report for the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new study examining how state funding and policies have affected college affordability.

Between 2003 and 2012, the report found that state funding across all public colleges decreased by 12 percent, citing the recession’s impact on state budgets as a likely reason. At the same time, median tuition rose 55 percent, and as of fiscal year 2012, became a greater source of revenue for public colleges than state funding.

The GAO provided recommendations in particular about how the federal government could incentivize state action from Federal Student Aid changes, new federal grant programs, and providing consumer information on college affordability.

iNACOL State Policy Framework for Competency-based Education

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), which advocates and supports quality blended, online and competency-based learning opportunities, has released a five-point state policy framework to support competency-based education.

According to the report, 36 states have adopted policies to enable competency based education such as allowing for proficiency-based diplomas, waiving seat time requirements or creating credit flexibility. As the impetus behind its policy framework, iNACOL predicts that the move toward mastery and competency will only increase moving forward.

To reach sustainable systemic change, iNACOL recommends the following:

  • Create competency-based education systems
  • Improve student access and equity
  • Measure and assure quality from inputs to outcomes
  • Support innovative educators
  • Support new learning models through connectivity, data systems and security

Nanodegrees and Stackable Credentials

On Tuesday, the Center for American Progress convened a discussion about reimagining the path to the workforce through nanodegrees and stackable credentials. The panel featured Eugene Giovannini of Maricopa Corporate College, Clarissa Shen of Udacity, and Anne Wintroub of AT&T. The event also focused on the think tank’s 2013 report, “A Path Forward.”

You can watch the discussion here.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

December 11th, 2014

The Manufacturing Institute’s “State Responses to the Skills Gap”: The Manufacturing Institute has collected promising state-level Research Image_6.2013best practices that encourage and promote a skilled manufacturing workforce in its newest report.

These areas, including state examples, are:

  • Industry Credentials
  • Industry Partnerships
  • Credit Articulation
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Comprehensive State Strategies

ACT Policy Platforms: Testing giant ACT recently rolled out a series of policy recommendations for K-12, postsecondary and workforce development.

“With more than 50 years of data to draw upon, ACT research suggests that for far too many individuals—often those from low-income, first-generation, or minority backgrounds—success along the K-career continuum is out of reach,” according to ACT.

In short the three platforms are:

  • K-12 policy platform: Focus on readiness for all students, support the implementation of a high school core curriculum and rigorous coursework and promote the use of high-quality student assessment systems.
  • Postsecondary: Support postsecondary readiness, advance efforts that reduce information barriers and adopt holistic approaches increasing postsecondary completion.
  • Workforce development: Improve foundational workplace skills, ensure that training is valuable to employers and employees and help individuals attain credentials.

Linked Learning 5th Year Evaluation: SRI International released its fifth annual report on California’s Linked Learning Initiative, which blends rigorous academics with career preparation including work-based learning.

This year’s report focused on the students themselves – Who participates? What are their experiences? How does their participation in a Linked Learning pathway affect their high school outcomes?

As such the report found:

  • Student Equity and Access: There is a pattern of disproportionately low female enrollment in engineering pathways and disproportionately high enrollment in health sciences. Also nearly 80 percent of all students who started out in a pathway in the lower grades remained in the same pathway in 11th
  • Student Outcomes: Students outperformed their non-Linked Learning peers in credit accumulation and to remain in the school district; there was no evidence of higher scores on standardized achievement tests, but minority student subgroup perform at least as well if not better on credit accumulation and test score outcomes than their peers at traditional high schools.

For another California-centric study, be sure to check out the new report from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, “Recognizing College and Career Readiness in the California School Accountability System.”

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

New Report: The State of Employer Engagement in CTE

December 3rd, 2014

Today, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released a new report exploring how employers are partnering Untitledwith the CTE enterprise to help prepare students for success in careers.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

Overwhelmingly, the State Directors reported that employer engagement has increased over the past decade and they expect this growth to continue in the next five years. As the second installment in the “State of Career Technical Education” series, the report also examined the wide range of levers that states are using through state and federal policy.

At the state level, the most common tools used to foster employer engagement include interagency collaboration and pilot initiatives as well as standards development and credentials selection. Via the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, states also have the flexibility to levy additional requirements beyond what is detailed in the law for locals seeking Perkins funds. More than 40 states said they require local advisory committees, and another 10 states said they also require locals to incorporate work-based learning, employer-related professional development and/or monetary or in-kind contributions.

In addition to the report, NASDCTEc has created an extensive list of state examples that can be used as a resource. A recording and slides from today’s webinar will be posted in the coming days.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate


Leaders, Laggards and the State of the Common Core

September 12th, 2014

2014 Leaders & Laggards

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released the newest version of its Leaders & Laggards, a state-by-state analysis of K-12 education. Seven years after its inaugural edition, the report found that every state had improved in K-12 education but results still vary greatly in student outcomes across the country.

The 2014 report graded states on an A-F system using 11 metrics including student achievement, return on investment, international competitiveness and postsecondary and workforce readiness. The American Enterprise Institute conducted the research in the report. This year’s report also showed how student scores changed over time since the initial report.

Tennessee was highlighted as a state that made tremendous progress since the 2007 rankings, receiving an A for progress but was still awarded D’s and F’s in categories such as academic achievement, Technology and international competitiveness.

The report drew from national data such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Advanced Placement exam passage rates, and high school graduation rates.

Citing the country’s high unemployment rate and persistently high number of unfilled jobs as evidence of a skills gap, the researchers attempted to look closer at how the K-12 system was preparing students for college and careers. However, they said insufficient data and the lack of a single accountability metric prevented them from being able to truly measure career readiness or post-high school outcomes.

Also, despite having a category that examined career readiness, CTE was visibly absent from both the report and the conversation at the public event in Washington, D.C. When asked about why CTE wasn’t included, AEI’s Frederick M. Hess called out the lack of quality, consistent national data on CTE as the reason for its absence from the report.

You can spend time with the report’s sophisticated web tool, which allows you to compare states by metric, see full state report cards and look closer at the data used.

Where does the Common Core stand now?

After months of heated debates over the Common Core State Standards, it might be easy to lose track of which states have kept, renamed, modified or overturned the new (or not so new) standards to measure college and career readiness.

Education Commission of the States have taken a state-by-state look at where the Common Core currently stands. While some more high-profile examples have made news headlines, other changes – sometimes in name only – have bypassed national news. In fact, though many states have maintained their commitment to the standards, 25 have quietly renamed the standards such as Iowa Core, Maine’s Learning Results and Wyoming Content and Performance Standards.

Check out the full overview to see where your state stands.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

State Policy Update: New Middle-Skill Job Fact Sheets; NGA Awards Funding to 14 States

August 29th, 2014

Across the country, employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill critical middle-skill jobs. These positions, which require some postsecondary education but not a bachelor’s degree, constitute the majority of the U.S. labor market, but new analysis from the National Skills Coalition (NSC) indicates that there aren’t nearly enough qualified American workers to fill middle-skill openings, hampering states’ economies from growing and employers from hiring.

Earlier this week, NSC released a set of 50-state fact sheets that examines these forgotten middle-skill jobs. Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Community Survey, NSC found that middle-skill jobs account for 54 percent of the U.S. labor market but only 44 percent of workers fit into the middle-skill cohort. Conversely, the analysis showed a large surplus of low-skilled workers competing for low-skilled jobs and a smaller, but similar, surplus for high-skill workers and jobs.

Career Technical Education helps to bridge these gaps in key industries. Students with a CTE-related associate’s degree or credential can earn up to $19,000 more per year than those with a comparable humanities degree.

 NGA Awards Funding to 14 States

The National Governors Association recently awarded grant funding to 14 states in an effort to help align education and training systems to the needs of the state economies.

As a postsecondary degree or certificate rapidly becomes the new minimum for citizens to gain access to the middle class and beyond, states are looking to maximize their role in promoting collaboration among state agencies, technical training and education institutions to ensure business and industry have the skilled workforce they need to succeed and grow.

With the grant money, states are intended to make progress in the following areas:

  • Articulate and implement a strong vision connecting the education and training systems with the needs of the economy;
  • Integrate and use education and workforce data to inform policy, track progress and measure success;
  • Build industry and education partnerships; and
  • Modify the use of resources and incentives to support attainment of the integrated vision.

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


Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 5)

July 25th, 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 andthepreviousinstallments. 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.


Florida lawmakers added a few more provisions to the state’s Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE), adding to the major changes from last year’s session. The law now requires school boards to inform parents of the projected return on investment should their child complete an industry-recognized certification during high school versus completing one after graduation. It also directs the state Department of Education and Workforce Florida, Inc. to begin collecting return-on-investment information for industry-certified CTE programs and career-themed courses as part of its broader collection of student achievement and performance data. The law creates two new features as well – CAPE Acceleration and CAPE Innovation – which will take effect in the 2015-2016 school year, and further incentivizes school districts to offer industry-recognized credentials for articulated college credit.

In a separate bill, the legislature also permitted computer science courses to count for one high school graduation requirement in math or science if the course is deemed of sufficient rigor and a related industry certification is earned. Similarly, a computer technology course in 3D rapid prototype printing with a related industry certification may satisfy up to two math requirements.

In an effort to support and integrate technology in the classroom, the same legislation also provided that grades K-12 will give students the opportunity to earn digital tool certificates and grade-appropriate, technology-related industry certifications.

Military experience for academic credit

Washington and Utah joined a growing number of states that will now offer academic credit for veterans’ military experience as well as in-state tuition. The Connecticut General Assembly directed the state’s licensing authorities to certify, waive, or award certain licenses, examinations or credit to veterans or National Guard members who have military experience similar to the existing requirements.

In Washington, a new law requires the state’s higher education institutions to adopt policies that would award academic credit for military training applicable to the student’s certificate or degree requirements. Meanwhile, Utah lawmakers modified a 2013 law to require that veterans receive college and career counseling before the credit is awarded. According to an analysis by the Education Commission of the States, seven state legislatures also passed similar laws in 2013 related to prior learning assessments for veterans.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate