Posts Tagged ‘future’

ACTE Leadership Forum Focuses on Preparing the Future Workforce

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Yesterday ACTE hosted a National Leadership Forum to discuss policy and practice around preparing today’s students for the workforce.  Topics included skills attainment, CTE’s role in economic development, certifications and assessments, and federal policy.

Glenn Cummings, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education, outlined the Administration’s goals for preparing students:

Kelly Hastings from Senator Michael Enzi’s (WY) office talked about the urgent need for WIA reauthorization this year. Despite the scant attention paid to WIA, Senator Enzi is passionate about it and is optimistic that it could be reauthorized this year. Among his priorities are: a dual customer approach, better coordination across the four titles of WIA, innovation, and flexibility. She stated that there would not be “wholesale change” of WIA in the next reauthorization, but that Congress will tweak the existing law to meet the needs to today’s workforce.

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and hinojosaphoto_highresCompetitiveness, joined us during lunch to offer his perspective. He spoke about being elected to Congress from a district with a 23% unemployment rate 16 years ago and a current unemployment rate of 6%.  He credits the investment in human capital and education for the dramatic decline in unemployment.

If there was one point that I heard over and over from several speakers it was that during a time of 9% unemployment there are jobs going unfilled because of the lack of skilled workers.  CTE is a means to develop pathways of education and training to get people appropriately matched to these jobs.  At a time when 15 million people in this country are unemployed, no job should remain unfilled.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Business and Industry Managers Dub Four Cs as Essential for Employability

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Traditionally, students were told that they needed to master the “three Rs” – reading, writing and arithmetic — to prepare for a successful future. Today, some education and business stakeholders say the nation needs to add what they are coining as the “four Cs,” which encompass more dynamic skills related to critical thinking, according to a recent survey.

The findings in the American Management Association (AMA) 2010 Critical Skills Survey address some of the same issues such as employability in a global economy – a significant area in which CTE programs aim to tackle. The survey, which was conducted in partnership with 21st Century Partnership Skills, includes responses of 2,115 managers and other executives in AMA member and customer companies about the importance of the four Cs to their organization. The business and industry input may provide more insight to the notion of career readiness – a high-profile topic in which education stakeholders across the nation are not quite aligned.

The AMA survey defined the four Cs as:

Critical thinking and problem solving – including the ability to make decisions, solve problems and take action as appropriate;

Effective communications – the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas both in written and oral formants

Collaboration and team building – the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups with opposing points of view

Creativity and innovation – the ability to see what’s not there and make something happen

By Erin in Research
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NASDCTEc Spring Meeting: Reaction to the Vision Paper

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The unveiling of NASDCTEc’s new vision paper at the Spring Meeting last week spurred comments from partners/education stakeholders who said the vision can set CTE on a course that breaks through silos constructed by bureaucracy, legislation and traditional approaches to education. They advised the CTE community to move forward in that direction.

Representatives from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, National Education Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Governors Association provided insight on their views of Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education – NASDCTEC’s new document intended to guide the transformation of CTE as the nation responds to the global economy. While all panelists held different perspectives, they shared interest in the vision paper’s concept of developing CTE into a comprehensive program that prepares students of all ages for the workforce through college and career readiness.

Business and Industry

Indeed, business and industry are seeking more students who fit that readiness criteria, said Karen Elzey, ICW Executive Director. In fact, industry is searching for more students who earn certifications or industry credentials from two-year institutions. That means CTE would best work with industry if it can show demonstration of or interest in creating programs – from secondary to postsecondary — that set students on course to earn such credentials, Elzey said. The challenge will be collecting and providing return on investment data that proves programs can or have the potential to educate and train students. This effort would require partnerships with secondary and postsecondary institutions, and business and industry.

Further, to gain support from industry, the CTE community will have to do a better job at providing clearer, simpler explanations of what programs of study are and how advocates can become involved in their success, Elzey said. The lack of clarity makes it difficult for the two sectors to communicate and find common ground. Somehow, education and industry need to find a common language so they can work together.

Elzey urged members to address some main issues to strengthen business and industry partnerships:

Teachers and Administrators

Policies play a significant role in how CTE can be implemented. A broad approach to delivering comprehensive CTE programs to all students should open discussions about legislative opportunities beyond the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, said Donna Harris-Aikens, NEA Policy Advisor. She suggested NASDCTEc explore alignment opportunities in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and policy-driven projects such as the Common Core. Also, NASDCTEc should conduct outreach to all congressional members, not just those who belong to the CTE caucuses. Take hold of any opportunity to cross-pollinate the message about CTE, she advised.

The message of CTE is traveling through the circles of school principals, said Mel Riddle, NASSP Associate Director of High School Services. He said many but not all principals recognize that CTE provides students with multiple pathways to success. Riddle said more needs to be done to increase the presence of CTE in secondary schools. Currently, principles are bounded by shortage of CTE classes and increased core graduation requirements, which make it difficult to usher students into good CTE programs.


Perhaps access to CTE programs would increase if the value of CTE was clearly and effectively articulated, David Wakelyn, NGA Center for Best Practices Education Division Program Director. He suggested a marketing effort that would underscore the value of CTE and programs of study as a way for “people to commit their kids to something that shows the future for them.” He also noted policymakers’ outdated recollection of CTE, which still brings visions of limited, skill-focused vocational education courses to mind.

Also, Wakelyn embraced the vision paper’s notion of ridding of the “false dichotomy of college and career readiness.” He added that college included two- and four-year institutions, saying that other nations in Europe have increased their college success and competitive advantage by stepping up student achievement at two-year institutions.

As conversations move forward regarding common academic standards, Wakelyn told NASDCTEc to be equipped to demonstrate where technical standards align with the Common Core. CTE is expected to be part of that conversation.

By Erin in Public Policy
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CTE State Directors Take Helms of Opportunity, Unveil New Vision for CTE

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

June SanfordThe world is changing at a rapid rate and as a result the nation’s education system has a new range of issues to face. A confluence of occurrences — national fiscal challenges, a flattening globe, and the winds of technology – has given rise to new economic challenges that have been impacting all sectors of our society, including education.

But with those challenges also comes opportunity, particularly for career technical education (CTE) – a system that addresses the nation’s needs to educate and train the economy to success. Recognizing the responsibility we have as leaders in the CTE community to combat these challenges, State Directors across the nation have taken the helms of rethinking how CTE serves individuals, the economy and society.

Recently, we have undertaken a major revamp of the guiding principles that have mapped our course for CTE in recent years. Acknowledging global influences, the evolution of the economy and the interconnectedness of all education stakeholders – from secondary to postsecondary, and educators to industry leaders – State Directors have a created a formal, unified plan for the way we will lead CTE into this new era.

New Vision Cover IconThat new plan is laid out in Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education, which is a vision paper that is designed to serve as a guiding document to lead a new, progressive course for CTE. While spearheaded by State Directors, the vision paper is a product of teamwork that involved educators and administrators of all education levels, a mix of education associations, student groups and industry leaders. The principles reflect the effort to include and align the priorities of our valued stakeholders, who are all needed to successfully take CTE to the next level.

This vision paper highlights the major areas in which we recognize CTE must transform in order to best serve individuals. However, this is more than just a call to action. Our vision paper includes specific tasks that we have imposed on ourselves and ask of our peer stakeholders to implement. The tasks and vision are framed around the themes of five principles:

Already, CTE has played a leading role in equipping individuals for the jobs of today. While State Directors are looking to maintain our responsibility, we also accept the new, challenging task of preparing individuals for the jobs of tomorrow. A door has opened for CTE to showcase the value it holds for individuals and the nation as a whole. We have chosen not to squander this opportunity and the plan in our vision paper demonstrates just that.

June Sanford, President

By Erin in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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What Lies Ahead for Higher Education in 2010

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

This month the American Association of State Colleges and Universities released Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2010, a brief that outlines what that group believes will be the state higher education policy issues at the forefront of discussion and legislative activity in 2010. While all of the topics are likely to affect postsecondary CTE, such as state budget shortfalls, tuition, and data, some are specifically related to CTE, such as community colleges.

First, President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative (AGI), if passed into law, will invest billions of dollars into community colleges including the Community College Challenge Fund, would give $9 billion in challenge grant funding to community colleges for innovative programs such as workforce partnerships and $500 million to develop online courses.

Second, enrollment capacity at community colleges is a major concern as more and more people return to school due to unemployment or to upgrade their skills.  According to the American Association of Community Colleges enrollment in credit-bearing classes increased 16.9 percent over the last two years.  As state education budgets dwindle, there is a real concern that these open institutions will have to increase tuition or turn students away.

Third, improved data systems could help community colleges track student achievement and attainment in a more efficient and robust way.  In one such proposal, the National Governors Association (NGA) identified four achievement milestones that all states should track: completion of remedial and core courses, advancement from remedial to credit-bearing courses, transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution, and credential attainment.

Finally, college and career readiness standards will be a key focus for CTE in the year ahead.  In 2009, NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers developed national college and career readiness standards to be vetted and adopted by the states in the coming years.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Weak Education Pipeline Could Stunt Community College Potential and Students’ Economic Mobility

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Community colleges can boost earnings for students, particularly those who pursue high-return fields such as computer science or engineering; however the greatest impediments to such success are failings among high schools to prepare students for postsecondary education, according to a recent study.

Findings in Strengthening Community Colleges’ Influence on Economic Mobility, a The Pew Charitable Trusts report, underscore the need to fortify connections between secondary and postsecondary institutions. Given the new national focus on community colleges, the projected growth in technical fields and the rising demand for college and career readiness, CTE appears poised to play an integral role in addressing the pipeline issue.

Positive outcomes such as student achievement in community colleges and the obtainment of higher wages after community college are more likely among students who earn higher GPAs in high school, said the report, which focused on Florida community colleges.

“The largest factor limiting the ability of community colleges to raise the earnings of their students through the transfer function is students’ poor academic preparation in high school and the difficulty of quickly boosting their performance through developmental programs,” the report said.

Lack of postsecondary readiness could have an ultimate impact on a students’ overall economic mobility. According to the report, students with higher high school GPAs complete more postsecondary courses that have higher financial returns. For instance, earnings significantly increase among students who concentrate in high-return fields such as health care, agriculture, business and computer science, which are largely CTE-focused areas.

Seven years after leaving college, Florida students’ average annual earning in high-return fields averaged about $54,000. That compares to the $42,000 average annual earnings among students in low-return fields such as communications, humanities and consumer services, the report said.

Students, particularly the notable amount of low-income individuals who earn degrees in community colleges, may by shortchanged of opportunities because of stubborn institutional silos and inadequacies of certain high school programs. This report underscores the strengths of community colleges as well as what needs to be done at all educational levels to maximize the potential for all students and the nation’s economy.

By Erin in Research
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Meet the Press Discussion on Education Reform

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The discussion about education reform took center stage on Meet the Press on Sunday November 15.  There was a freewheeling, 25 minute  discussion between moderator David Gregory and guests Arne Duncan, Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton.  Duncan, Gingrich, and Sharpton have been touring schools across the country to find out what works, what needs to change and what students expect in the classroom.  This bi-partisan group has embarked on this journey together to show that politics should not get in the way of the important need to reform education. 

Although there was no specific mention of CTE during the discussion this conversation touched on a number of topics that are important to all sectors of education.  This includes the role of charter schools, the importance of accountability, the goals of the Race to the Top fund, the challenge and impact of drop outs, teacher recruitment, and the importance of setting expectations for students, parents, teachers, and all who are involved in the education system.  The panelists also talked specifically about what they learned from visits they made to schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Tucson. 

If you would like to watch this interview you can see it on the Meet the Press website at

By admin in Legislation, Public Policy
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The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Being Bold

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

future directions 

The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Being Bold
3rd in the series

What are the core principles that should guide the future direction of CTE for the next 10 years?

This was the first question posed to Fall Summit attendees. With answers written on literally hundreds of post it notes, the work began. As is always the case with this sort of work, in the beginning the work is messy and unrefined – which is exactly what we wanted. A grouping of 14 categories was identified ranging from “all students need to be CTE students” to “career clusters and programs of study are the framework for all of education” to “increasing rigor and adopting common standards for CTE.” The spectrum of opinions was broad. Consensus seemed elusive.

Principles 2

Are you annoyed? Uncomfortable? Feeling challenged? Good! Often CTE has been in the position of being defensive, fighting for a seat at the table or protecting what we have or what we have accomplished. The Summit was about creating an environment that allowed attendees to think and discuss honestly about what we are doing that is working, what isn’t working, and what we should be doing that we aren’t. Scenarios were designed to instigate, provoke and evoke emotion, debate and require attendees to take contrary positions oftentimes having to be an advocate for the traditional ‘opponent.’ At times there was a palpable, healthy tension. The best way to share the tone and spirit of the discussion is to share some quotes from attendees:


engaged discussion

We had arrived at a certain level of consensus – most attendees agreed that we needed to do something different, to be bolder in our thinking, to be innovative, and to take a risk. But what are the principles that will guide this new bold vision? By the end of day two, Summit attendees had crafted 24 potential principles. States were asked to vote on them. Democracy was at work. The next post in this series will share the outcomes of the vote and next steps.

By Kimberly Green in Meetings and Events, Public Policy
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The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Leadership

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

future directions

The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Leadership
2nd in the Series

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

BrendaWelcoming OVAE leadership: The Fall Summit was kicked off by the new leadership of the Office of Vocational andGlennAdult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Cummings. Both were generous in their time, taking the opportunity to circulate the room and meet Summit attendees. Brenda and Glenn demonstrate genuine commitment to advocate for public policy that helps more students be successful.

Be bold, think broadly and show me the data! Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier, on the job for just one week, thanked the CTE community for its work and encouraged us to “to think broadly and boldly” as we think about the future. She underscored the role of CTE leaders to highlight the programs and data that answer the demands the White House has for student achievement and quality services. We need to prove that our programs are effective.

Looking back to guide the future: Dr. Mike Rush, former State CTE Director in Idaho and author of the “purple paper” challenged the CTE community to think about the importance of unity, working under a common vision, the criticality of education in ensuring our nation’s competitiveness, the necessity of preparation for and completion of postsecondary education, and importance of leadership.

MikeHe shared that “(t)his country has been engaged in an ongoing discussion about education and now, more than at any other time, our leaders are absolutely convinced that education is the make or break element in our nation’s arsenal of tools. But at the same time there appears to be less of a consensus about what constitutes a proper level and extent of education.”

This is a fundamental point of debate – do all students need to go to some form of postsecondary education? Mike contends the answer to this question is yes andthat CTE has an important role in achieving this goal by bothpreparing students with the skills to get to postsecondary education and the talents and skills to earn the income needed to pay for their postsecondary education. Such notions have been long argued. In fact, the debate of CTE’s focus dates back to the beginning of the 20th century by well-known intellectual leaders John Dewey and David Sneeden.  (Dewey, J. (1911). Culture and culture values. In P. Monroe (Ed.), A cyclopaedia of education, volume l (pp. 238–239). New York: Macmillan.  Dewey, J. (1911). Culture and culture values. In P. Monroe (Ed.), A cyclopaedia of education, volume l (pp. 238–239). New York: Macmillan. Snedden, D. (1910). The problem of vocational education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Snedden, D. (1931). American High Schools and Vocational Schools in 1960. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.)

Today, debates continue over what is CTE. Is it occupation specific training or broader talent development? While we may not resolve this century old debate, Mike shared that “(CTE must) maintain your core mission. The workplace provides the context that makes CTE unique and valuable to an educational enterprise.” And he underscored the absolute necessity for CTE leaders to step outside of their box, their silo and be prepared to lead all of education – not just CTE.

Leadership: Both Brenda and Mike spoke about the importance of leadership. Leadership is a term that has almost individualized meaning. Is leadership a talent, a style, a learned behavior, something afforded by position? For some leadership is simply implementing what is effective. For others, leadership it is about challenging the status quo. And for others is it about the act of creating andcrafting something new, like a vision. The Fall Summit hoped that by bringing together leader from around the country together, we would benefit from their diverse styles and interpretations of leadership.

So with the challenge was before Summit attendees – to think boldly, to dream big, to be leaders –the work began. Attendees were asked to answer what on its face is a simple question:

What are the core principles that should guide the future direction of CTE for the next 10 years?

How would you answer this question?


By Kimberly Green in Meetings and Events, Public Policy
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The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Part 1

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

future directions

I was at a meeting earlier this week when someone asked me about a “super-double-top-secret-meeting” NASDCTEc convened last week in Baltimore. I had to laugh. While the event we hosted was in no way secret, it was, by necessity, by invitation only. This question made me realize the criticality of sharing information about the event we convened. So, this is the first in a series of posts where I will share with you information and insights about the Fall Summit we convened October 20 – 22, 2009 entitled “Future Directions for CTE.”

Why a Sguidepostummit?   CTE is at a critical juncture. Many policymakers, national organizations and leaders are looking to CTE to be a partner and a solution in both the educational and workforce arenas. This recent interest has created an opportunity for us to challenge current beliefs and assumptions, break down silos, broaden perspectives, increase rigor and build systemic support for CTE.

Our organization’s vision statement is that we are the leader in shaping the future of CTE. As such, our Board of Directors felt this was the right time to host an event designed to convene the states in crafting a shared vision for the future of CTE.


Summit ≠Conference: The Summit was not a traditional conference. There were no formal speakers. There was no set agenda. There was no head table or stage. We used a fabulous convening group called Innovation Labs to facilitate this interactive, iterative process and event. Their design creates an atmosphere and environment that facilitates open, honest and active engagement of attendees. Here is what it looks like in action:

Summit #2

The Summit was structured to engage attendees to think about what CTE is, as well as give attendees license to dream about what CTE could and should be. With the backdrop of a couple of webinars and some pre-summit briefing materials, attendees were asked to challenge current assumptions and beliefs. Activities were designed to facilitate not just “outside the box” conversations but instead to have conversations that resulted in creating an entirely new box. We hoped that attendees would come to some amount of consensus and affirm what CTE is (and what it is not), as well as think boldly and broadly about what the future of CTE should be. Our Board’s goal was that the Summit would result in a set of guiding principles that states would embrace and would use to guide both their and NASDCTEc’s work as we provide leadership for the CTE enterprise.

Whilepurple paper this may seem like a lofty goal, it is not without precedent. In the 1998, under the leadership of Dr. Mike Rush (who was then the State Director in Idaho) NASDCTEc put out an epochal document – CTE: An Essential Component of the Total Educational System. This paper (informally and affectionately called the ‘purple paper’) paved new ground for us. It defined a new, bold vision for CTE that opened the door for our organization’s work in career clusters. And even more amazing is that all states came to consensus on the 5 principles incorporated into this document. The states agreed to support this as the vision of what CTE is and should be. This consensus and unity among the states provided significant strength and leverage that has resulted in great advances in a very short timeframe.

I believe it is these advances played a significant role in creating the interest, support and opportunities before CTE today. Stakeholders didn’t dismiss CTE as simply relabeled vocational education. Instead stakeholders saw the significant efforts and investments being made by CTE leaders to adopt higher and more rigorous academic and technical standards, to implement systems of accountability, and the shift in attitudes to acknowledge that most students would need some postsecondary education to be prepared for the modern workplace. Further the movement toward career clusters reflected a major shift in the scope of what CTE is, beginning to erode the lines of the tracks for those kids going to college and those going to work.

All told, all but 5 states were represented at last week’s Summit. And among the many states present, attendees included state directors of secondary and postsecondary CTE as well as a small group partners representing the federal government, principals, teachers, governors, CTSOs, colleges and school systems, and business and industry who were dedicated to crafting this new, bold vision for CTE.

So what were the outcomes? Did we achieve consensus? Who was the special guest that kicked off the Summit? You’ll have to read the next installment in this series to get these answers.

By Kimberly Green in Meetings and Events, Public Policy
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