Posts Tagged ‘Post Secondary Access and Affordability’

State of the Union Focuses on Education, CTE Student Sits with First Lady

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In his second State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama set a broad agenda for improving the economy and maintaining the United States’ status as a global super power. Calling this our “Sputnik moment,” the President urged Congress, private businesses and the American people to work together to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.

Recognizing that the world has changed and that a high degree is no longer sufficient to earn a family sustaining wage, Obama focused on the ways that education can help turn around the economy. First, he cautioned against “pour[ing] money into a system that’s not working” and highlighted the ways that his Race to the Top grants have reformed education through the adoption of new standards. He also stated that Race to the Top should be the foundation for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind this year. Among the other education priorities that he addressed were: raising the status of the teaching profession, increasing the number of STEM teachers, making postsecondary more accessible and affordable, and training individuals for new careers and new jobs.

He also stressed the importance of community colleges in meeting the demands of out fast-changing economy and singled out Kathy Proctor, a student at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina who is earning her degree in biotechnology at the age of 55 because the furniture factories in her town have disappeared.

However, despite the President’s call for greater investment in things like innovation, education and infrastructure, last night he proposed a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending beginning this year. This comes after House Republicans have pledged to return appropriations levels to FY08 or FY06 levels. So while we don’t know what spending levels will look like after the CR expires in March, it seems certain that there not be any funding increases this year.

On a brighter note, Brandon Ford, a junior at the Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering at West Philadelphia High School was invited to be a guest in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box last night. Brandon was recognized for his participation in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition, in which teams from across the globe compete to create production-ready, highly fuel efficient vehicles. Brandon and his team went up against corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations from around the world, advancing all the way to the elimination round.  Congratulations, Brandon!

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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ED Stakeholder Forum: 2011 Priorities and New Data “Dashboard”

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

At yesterday’s Education Stakeholders Forum, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined the Administration’s education priorities for 2011. Chief among these goals is the reauthorization of ESEA. Duncan told the group that he met Rep. John Kline (MN), Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, last week to discuss putting together a bipartisan bill. Duncan stated that there are many areas where the two agreed, including a smaller federal role in education, flexibility at the local level (but a high national bar), growth models, research and development, and broadening the curriculum beyond reading and math. Duncan conceded that “there are a whole host of reasons” why reauthorization may not happen this year, but he is optimistic that it will.

Second, the President intends to place a big emphasis on the importance of education in his State of the Union speech tonight. Third, despite the importance of education, the Department understands that states and local districts are in a position of having to make very tough cuts, and the Department would like to help states and locals make the best decisions they can.

Fourth, the Department has made postsecondary access and affordability a priority in 2010 and intends to continue that in 2011. They have already simplified the FAFSA forms and have announced applications of the Community College and Career Training Grants. The Department is also pushing for higher Pell grant maximum awards.

And finally, Duncan and other Department officials unveiled the “United States Education Dashboard,” a website that compiles a number of indicators that they believe give a holistic, big picture view of education in the United States and that are related to the President’s goals for education reform. The Department hopes that these indicators will help them find the gaps in the data and allow them to invest more in these areas. The Dashboard will also serve to inform policies and can be used to determine the most impactful interventions.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Final Program Integrity Rules Issued

Friday, October 29th, 2010

This summer the U.S. Department of Education released draft changes to the Higher Education Act that seek to ensure program integrity in federal financial aid programs, as well as draft changes to the gainful employment definition. The final rules for program integrity were released yesterday, and will go into effect on July 1, 2011. These rules are aimed at strengthening federal student aid programs at for-profit, nonprofit and public institutions by “protecting students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, providing consumers with better information about the effectiveness of career college and training programs, and ensuring that only eligible students or programs receive aid.”

“These new rules will help ensure that students are getting from schools what they pay for: solid preparation for a good job,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Final rules on a gainful employment definition will be released in early 2011 and will go into effect on July 1, 2012. The Department plans to hold several stakeholder meetings during the next several weeks, as well as public hearings on November 4th and November 5th. These meetings will allow individuals to clarify the comments they submitted and respond to questions from Department officials.

By Nancy in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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Legislative Update: Congress in Recess, Continuing Resolution, For-Profit Hearing

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Congress Recesses Until November

Despite returning to Washington just two weeks ago, members of Congress returned home yesterday to campaign in their states ahead of the mid-term elections. Congress is expected to return the week of November 15, then recess again for the week of Thanksgiving and be back the week of November 29, until done. Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin (IL), said this week that the lame duck session will focus on three items an omnibus spending package, a middle-income tax extension and a strategic arms control treaty with Russia.

Continuing Resolution to Keep Government Running

Because Congress did not pass any appropriations bills this session, they have passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government open and federal programs running at FY2010 levels until December 3, 2010. Their goal is to pass an omnibus appropriations bill before the session ends in December.

Senate Hearing on For-Profit Schools

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held the latest in a series of hearings on for-profit schools this week. Yesterday’s hearing, “The Federal Investment in For-Profit Education: Are Students Succeeding?,” focused on the success rates of students at these schools and the impact that attending these schools can have on personal debt. In his opening statement, Chairman Tom Harkin (IA) revealed the following statistics that his staff has compiled in a new report:

“We will be having yet another hearing in early December, and then be looking at sometime next year coming up with some kind of legislative changes,” Harkin said during the hearing.

Ranking Member Michael Enzi (WY) was quick to point out that many of these problems are not limited to proprietary schools, but exist across the higher education spectrum, including public and private 4-year colleges and universities and community colleges, and that for-profits should not be singled out.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Financial Education for College Access and Success Program Grants Available

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

On Monday the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education announced a funding opportunity to support “State-led efforts to develop, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of personal finance instructional materials and corresponding teacher training, with the express purpose of providing high school students with knowledge and skills to make sound financial aid and other personal finance decisions, particularly in relation to obtaining access to, persisting in, and completing postsecondary education.” Eligible applicants are State educational agencies that have included personal finance in their State education standards.

This is a great opportunity for the CTE community to help the nation meet the President’s challenge of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. One of the barriers to achieving this goal is the lack of financial literacy among youth, and studies have shown that Americans do not have the skills they need to make sound financial decisions, including decisions about postsecondary education. The Administration recognizes the role that CTE can play in equipping students with the financial literacy skills they need — the notice specifically mentions CTE as an area where teachers can integrate financial literacy instruction, and requires that the State project team include the agencies in the state representing CTE and 2-year postsecondary institutions.

Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: August 5, 2010.

Deadline to Apply: September 9, 2010.

For more information, please see the Federal Register notice.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Web Portal Breaking College Access Barriers

Monday, July 26th, 2010

As more students are deciding to continue their education at postsecondary institutions, the need for financial aid continues to increase. There are numerous ways for students to obtain financial aid ranging from federal, state, and local loans and grants, as well as private scholarship funds.

Understanding the need for more resources, the state of Alabama, through the use of the federal College Access Challenge Grant (CACG), has created a website that gives parents and students access to Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) resources. The website,, provides information for students to plan for the future, for parents to help their child plan for success and for educators to help guide stALCAREERINFO Websiteudent achievement.

Other information that can be found at this website includes:

This information is pertinent to CTE students who wish to further their education as there are numerous financial aid and scholarship opportunities specifically for those enrolled in CTE programs. To learn more about this website and the opportunities it provides please visit the website at

By Nancy in Advance CTE Resources
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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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New York Times: CTE Can Provide Clearer Pathway to Jobs

Friday, May 21st, 2010

“College and career ready” has been the buzz phrase floating in education and policy circles, but only recently has the term been linked to what many outside of the CTE community refer to as “alternative” colleges – community colleges and technical schools. A recent New York Times article reveals the shift in perspective as education and economic stakeholders recognize the growing value of two-year and industry-focused programs and institutions.

In “Plan B: Skip College”, Jacques Steinberg describes the current economic crisis as the catalyst for the nation to rethink the best way to prepare people to succeed in the workforce. Through a CTE lens, Steinberg’s article does fault by equating education and economic experts call for industry-focused credentials or two-year degrees with a “no college at all” pathway. However, the article does suggest a strong case for postsecondary education outside of four-year institutions.

Steinberg notes that no more than half of students who began a four-year bachelor’s degree program in the fall of 2006 will graduate within six years. The potential loss of time and money is evident. Further, not only is four-year postsecondary education prohibitively expensive for many people, it is also not a requirement for some of the fastest growing jobs in our economy:

“Among the top 10 growing job categories, two require college degrees: accounting (a bachelor’s) and postsecondary teachers (a doctorate). But this growth is expected to be dwarfed by the need for registered nurses, home health aides, customer service representatives and store clerks. None of those jobs require a bachelor’s degree.”

This article highlights the opportunities now available for CTE to capture the nation’s attention. More people are looking for postsecondary alternatives, recognizing that four-year colleges cannot be the only answer for our nation’s students. Students must be college and career ready, and we, the CTE community, must find ways to show the effectiveness of our programs at contributing to economic return by keeping more students in school and on track and by providing them with the skills necessary to enter the workplace.

See the complete article here.

By Emma in News
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Success at Every Step: How 23 Programs Support Youth on the Path to College and Beyond

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

This new American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) compendium publication describes programs that have been proven to help young people successfully complete high school and be prepared for success in postsecondary education and careers. These programs represent a wide range of interventions, including school-wide reform initiatives, community-based afterschool services, work-based learning opportunities, and college access programs. From an analysis of the included programs, the report identifies common programmatic and structural elements that may contribute to their effectiveness and summarizes key outcomes, such as the following:

 The publication also includes a logic model that illustrates the complexity of the process of preparing youth to succeed in careers, lifelong learning, and civic engagement, as well as the various systems and service providers that support youth at each step of the developmental pipeline.

Executive Summary

By Ramona in Publications, Research
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House Holds Dual Enrollment Hearing in Michigan

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

The House Education and Labor Committee recently held a field hearing in Flint, MI to look at the benefits of dual enrollment programs.  Witnesses included administrators from local high schools, universities, and community colleges, as well as a student participating in dual enrolment.  Rep. Dale Kildee (MI-05) reflected on the challenges that communities like Flint face during this economic downturn, and how access to higher education may help.  Dual enrollment is one strategy to make higher education more affordable and accessible for students; for example, students who participate in dual enrollment “typically graduate with between 30 and 60 college credits – tuition free. This translates to as much as 1 – 2 years of college education.”

Rep. Kildee also offered a very interesting statistic: gifted students make up 20 percent of high school drop outs.  The reason for this is that they are not challenged in their current high school programs.  Dual enrollment offers these students the challenge of taking college level courses.  This stat immediately made me think of CTE, which is another way to keep students challenged and for them see the relevancy of their high school work to the their futures.  As you can see in NASDCTEc’s latest leave behind, many dual enrollment programs are in CTE areas.

Rep. Kildee, along with Sen. Herb Kohl (WI), has introduced the Fast Track To College Act which would provide funding to expand existing successful dual enrollment and early college programs and provide resources to establish new programs nationwide.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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