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

Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

New State CTE Director: Curtis Clough, Alaska

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Curtis Clough
State Administrator—Career and Technical Education
Department of Education and Early Development

How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?

I am new to the state of Alaska as of October 2014 coming from the state of Ohio as superintendent of Strasburg Franklin Local Schools. Over the last eight years I have experienced Career Technical Education (CTE) through both secondary and postsecondary settings, as a superintendent and in my role as Academic Chair for Mohave Community College-Neal Campus in Kingman, Arizona where I oversaw both academic and CTE programs. With over 25 years of experience in education, I have progressed to the state level to assist in advancing educational opportunities for all students and engaging our partners in a process that prepares individuals at all levels for career readiness so people can be active members of the workforce and society.

What are your major goals for CTE in your state?

The state of Alaska has several goals for the upcoming years for CTE. First, the state is engaging in a dialogue on the “level of expectations” for all students in exemplar programs and courses that align to industry needs and standards. A cross-pathway approach is being discussed that establishes some minimal level of performance in reading, writing and math as well as in technical and employability skills, such as technology and problem solving, that prepares students beyond high school graduation and can be addressed through curriculum and work-based learning.
In addition, the state is exploring ways to deliver programming to our rural districts so all students have access to quality CTE programs that are aligned to industry standards and credentials. This is being done by looking at professional development models for our teachers and administrators as well as content delivery models including online instruction so students have access to a blended model of coursework and real-work experiences.

Finally, aligning pathways across secondary and postsecondary systems is another major goal of ours, with the inclusion of apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning opportunities. We want to create a multi-entry system across all levels of education so that future employees are meeting the workforce development needs of Alaska and our priority industries and occupations.

What do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?

Incorporating CTE into the school day is quite a struggle for our districts because of the costs and associated graduation requirements that hinder flexibility in schedules for students. This made more challenging because of our current budget crunch that is occurring because of the decline in oil prices. Districts have limited resources for CTE programming in this tight financial climate and are being asked to do more with less funding.

Also, creating standardized expectations for academic and technical skills across pathways is going to be a challenge because of the geography of Alaska. With unique local needs as well as the needs of the state, expectations can be very different. For example, welding is a growing need in our state, but many regions choose to focus their programs on local industries like maritime, construction or oil and gas processes. Setting that minimum level of expectation for students is difficult due to the distinct regional and local needs.

Finally, teacher recruitment and sustaining a professional development model for our teachers and administrators are other potential issues as the staff turnover and attrition in our rural districts is high. If an educator or administrator has received the proper training and opportunity for advancement in CTE, he or she may move on to bigger opportunities in our urban areas or move to another district that offers more options career-wise. This is a continuous issue for the state and developing strategies to address this problem are being considered at this time.

What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?

The opportunity for CTE in our state is bright. The “We3” partners – the Department of Education and Early Development, Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the University of Alaska – have been working collaboratively on addressing the points of the State CTE Plan and many of the issues stated above. Currently, these partners have been working together to establish “levels of expectations” for students for workforce readiness, as we implement the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As part of this process, the partners engage in bi-weekly meetings to review various aspects of the WIOA requirements and how to best align WIOA and the State CTE Plan, which is currently in progress, so CTE can continue to expand and grow the Alaska workforce at all levels.

Also, due to the aging workforce and there is a catalyst for industry and postsecondary partners to work together to meet the needs of our future workforce. Active discussions are taking place outside the normal channels in cross-sector strategy meetings, with representation from the “We3” partners so all avenues and opportunities are explored and strategies developed with partner input that can be sustained for the years to come in Alaska.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

By Katie Fitzgerald in NASDCTEc Resources, News

Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 6)

Friday, 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


By Andrea Zimmermann in Legislation
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Catching Up With … State Legislatures (Part 2)

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

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

With more than 80 percent of high schools now enrolling students in dual enrollment coursework, it’s not a huge surprise that dual enrollment continued to expand its reach during the 2014 legislative sessions across the country.

In Alabama, the governor signed a bill that seeks to incentivize a CTE dual enrollment scholarship program. The scholarship program was first proposed by Gov. Robert Bentley’s College and Career Ready Task Force in January and further championed in the governor’s State of the State address.

The scholarship program is intended to be funded by private donations from businesses and individuals, who in turn would receive a 50 percent tax credit on their donations. The law sets aside $5 million dollars for tax credits each year, providing $10 million in scholarships for 9,500 students each year. Additionally, businesses that donate to the program can direct up to 80 percent of their donation to train students for a particular field.

In Alaska, this year’s legislative session was dubbed “the education session” by Gov. Sean Parnell in his State of the State address in January. Whether that focus was achieved still appears unclear, but one large omnibus education bill did pass both chambers and was signed by the Governor last month. Expanded CTE dual credit options were among the bill’s final contents. Institutions that receive funding through the state’s Technical and Vocational Education Program (TVEP) must establish and maintain partnerships with Alaska schools for dual credit in high school and toward certification.

Florida and Oregon also expanded eligibility for dual enrollment. Now, Florida students can begin enrolling in dual-credit courses starting in the sixth grade, and in Oregon, students in the 9th and 10th grades are now eligible.

Finally, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced recently that educators who teach dual enrollment classes will earn coupons to pay for their own college credits. Gov. Bullock said the program is designed to increase the number of dual credit courses available by providing an incentive to instructors themselves. Under this new credit-for-credit program, which will be funded by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, an educator with a master’s degree teaching a dual-credit course will receive a coupon that can be used toward classes in the Montana University System as well as tribal and community colleges. These credits are also transferrable, meaning teachers can give these credit coupons to friends, family or even their students. The pilot program will start this fall and end in spring 2016.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate


By Andrea Zimmermann in Legislation, Public Policy
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CTE Month Special: What Do the State of the States Mean for CTE?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Over the last month, governors around the country have gone before their state legislatures and constituents to deliver a state of the state address. A great number of this year’s state of the state addresses included proposals to expand CTE, career-readiness and expanded choices in postsecondary education. Below is the first installment of our special CTE Month roundup of state of the states as they impact CTE.

In Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced his support for the plans laid by the Governor’s Career Ready Task Force, emphasizing the need for business and industry leaders to contribute to the conversation about what constitutes career-readiness. He advocated expanding Alabama’s dual enrollment programs and providing for more career coaches.

Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska also endorsed CTE, including proposals to expand dual enrollment programs and more CTE pathways. He commended CTE as a strategy to raise graduation rates, noting that in the Northwest Arctic Borough, introducing CTE programs led to an 11 percent increase in graduation rates.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell proposed an expansive strategy to expand CTE, beginning with a two-year comprehensive manufacturing CTE program for juniors and seniors that focuses on engineering and would lead to nationally recognized manufacturing certificates. Linked to that program, he also announced his desire to promote public-private partnerships to offer students real-world experience as part of a career-ready curriculum, and partnerships between schools and private industry to identify the programs that will best serve graduates as they enter the workforce. He touted Delaware’s JobLink program, a database designed to help employers search for jobseekers by their skills. Like Governors Bentley and Parnell, Markell also pushed for expanded dual-enrollment programs for secondary students, enabling them to earn post-secondary credit over the course of their studies.

Neil Abercrombie, Governor of Hawaii, touted his state’s investment in STEM initiatives, singling out the Thirty Meter Telescope, which features a STEM training partnership with the Institute for Astronomy’s Akamai Workforce Initiative to train postsecondary students in STEM and robotics.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear lauded the state’s progress in CTE. He cited “…a new model of secondary career and technical education to make it more accessible to students at an earlier age, more rigorous academically and better aligned with both postsecondary requirements and employer needs…We are fitting the pieces together to create a seamless, cradle-to-career education system that is better preparing our students for this complex world.”

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory outlined the importance of ensuring that secondary and postsecondary pathways for success include all types of postsecondary credential—certificates, associates degrees and professional certification—as well as four-year degrees. Governor McRory also conveyed his support for helping private sector professionals transition into teaching, opening the door for experts in technical fields to begin careers as CTE teachers.

In his State of the State Address, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia expressed his belief that CTE can be a critical tool for students who wish to pursue STEM at the postsecondary level. He cited West Virginia’s work to bring math and language arts teachers into career and technical schools, thereby minimizing the need to bus students to and from CTE and comprehensive schools. Governor Tomblin also highlighted the Advanced Careers Program (ACP), pointing out five CTE sites that have instituted career courses as a result of the ACP program, and stated that the program would help 32 sites to implement high quality CTE programs by 2016.

These governors proposed action to unlock CTE’s potential to help students, improve workforce quality and boost economic development. Be sure to visit the links above for the full text of each governor’s address. Don’t see your state? Keep an eye on the CTE Blog for part two of our state of the states roundup!

- Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

By Evan Williamson in CTE: Learning that works for America, Legislation, News
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