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Spring Meeting Recap: CTE & STEM— Making the Connection

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

STEM-CTERepresentatives from the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and business communities discussed the ways in which STEM and Career Technical Education (CTE) are linked on Wednesday, April 2nd at NASDCTEc’s annual spring meeting. The panel, moderated by Jay Scott Assistant Director at the Kansas Department of Education, explored the ways in which CTE and STEM are connected and examined issue areas which are of interest to both communities. The panel, spurred in part by NASDCTEc’s Associate Executive Director’s recent publication, CTE is your STEM Strategy, tackled this fundamental linkage and looked for ways to build upon this interconnectedness.

Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation (CTEq), started the session off by outlining what a STEM occupation is and the positive impact STEM skills and knowledge have on one’s ability to find gainful employment. Noting that STEM occupations constitute 11 percent of the U.S. workforce, she pointed out that job postings for those with a strong STEM background generally fared much better than those without similar knowledge and skills. She went on to argue that CTE is an effective method of delivery for STEM education and one way to improve upon existing programs that link the two is through greater alignment of CTE programs with the labor market. “Above all, corporate America expects results,” she said. Among other proposals, Dr. Rosen suggested that employers should be engaged (and vice versa) in more meaningful ways and that accountability provisions within current law should be more closely linked with labor market needs.

June Streckfus, Executive Director of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT), focused her remarks on the work her organization is currently doing in the state of Maryland. She outlined the main points of emphasis for her organization and Maryland’s STEM strategy— accelerating student & teacher growth along with cultivating public support for these initiatives. This last point guided the rest of her presentation where she convincingly demonstrated that employer engagement— something the state of Maryland is ideally situated to leverage given its close proximity to many large national employers— was a key tool for improving employment outcomes for students. To support her argument, she highlighted an article that found a strong positive correlation between the number of employer or professional mentor interactions with students and employment outcomes after program completion.

Ted Wells, Chief Strategy Officer for STEM Connector®, rounded out the discussion with an overview of how his organization seeks to support public-private investment in STEM programs. Throughout his presentation he highlighted the importance of CTE and STEM as strategies to effectively address the nation’s skills gap. He went on to argue that this skills gap is clearly evident and that it has persisted for far too long. Wells recommended that CTE be incorporated more heavily into the standards movement, specifically within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common  Core State Standards (CCSS). He also emphasized the importance of involving STEM leaders within the CTE enterprise and stressed the importance of educating policymakers on the importance of these twin issues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in News, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: ED Introduces New Gainful Employment Regulations, The FIRST Act Moves to Full Committee

Friday, March 14th, 2014

CapitolAs we have shared previously, last December the Department of Education (ED) concluded a three-part series of negotiated rulemaking sessions regarding the Department’s proposed regulations on “gainful employment.” These proposed rules aim to introduce stricter accountability requirements for vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges across the country in an effort to ensure they are helping their student’s find gainful employment upon graduation. ED assembled a negotiated rulemaking committee, composed of representatives from for-profits institutions, community colleges, and other relevant stakeholders, to establish a consensus on these proposals.

Unfortunately, the committee failed to come to such a consensus on ED’s draft regulations during the last of the negotiated rulemaking sessions this past December. Per the Department’s policies, a lack of consensus among the rulemaking committee allows ED to introduce new regulations on its own. Today, ED released these new regulations and will soon open them up for public comment over the next two months.

The regulations—over eight hundred pages in length— introduce stricter standards for the amount of debt students can accrue while attending institutions offering career-training programs. There are three main criteria a program must pass in order to maintain eligibility to receive federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The first two are related to loan payments. Programs which have student loan payments higher than 30 percent of discretionary income or 12 percent of total income would fail under the new rules if those ratios persisted for any two out of three consecutive years. The third criterion is tied to a program’s cohort default rate (pCDR) for both completers and non-completers. If a program’s pCDR exceeds 30 percent for three consecutive years, the program is deemed failing.

Another important feature of these new regulations affords programs the ability to appeal for those that have less than half of their completers take on debt. This is an important change from ED’s last draft proposal in December and will benefit programs at Community Colleges and elsewhere which typically offer two-year programs at a relatively lower cost to students.

Barring any major revisions between now and October 30th of this year, these regulations are set to go into full-effect in 2016. As with previous iterations of ED’s gainful employment regulations, these new rules will likely be challenged in court. As this process unfolds, please check our blog for updates on how these regulations will likely impact those in the Career Technical Education community.

ED’s full gainful employment regulations can be found here and additional information on the process can be found here.

House Subcommittee Passes the FIRST Act

Yesterday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology passed the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186). The bill would reauthorize the America Competes Act of 2010 and has now moved on to the full committee for consideration.

While some Democrats on the Subcommittee voiced concerns over reduced levels of funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Republicans highlighted the bill’s focus on better coordination of existing federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives. Among other provisions, the FIRST Act would create a STEM Education Coordinating Office to better manage STEM education activities and programs at the federal level and would be overseen by NSF.

Notably, the legislation would broaden the definition of STEM to include not only the core components laid out in its acronym, but also “other academic subjects that build on these disciplines such as computer science and other academic subjects that a State identifies as important to the workforce of the State.”

NASDCTEc will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves to the full Committee. The full bill can be found here and a statement from the Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) can be found here.

JOBS Tax Credit Act Introduced in the House

This past Tuesday, Representative Maffei introduced the Job and Opportunity Bonus (JOB) Tax Credit Act which seeks to address the nation’s persistent skills gap by creating a temporary tax credit for employers to help pay for the cost of training their employees.

According to the Congressman, “So many of our local businesses want to invest in training for current and new employees, but don’t have the resources to do it. My bill helps address this issue by providing a tax credit for worker training programs.”

Among the provisions contained in the bill, the JOBS Tax Credit Act would pay for 50 percent of the cost to train employees in an approved program which would include apprenticeship programs, training offered by vocation or technical schools or community colleges, and a variety of industry or labor union-sponsored training programs. The tax credit would only be able to be utilized by employers with 500 employees or less and would last between 2015 to 2017.

NASDCTEc applauds Rep. Maffei’s work to better address the nation’s skills gap and urges Congress to take up this important piece of legislation.  His office’s full press release on the JOB Tax Credit Act can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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CTE Research Review

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013

Welcome to the final CTE Research Review of 2013! Below are some new and notable reports on issues impacting Career Technical Education.

The Education Commission of States (ECS) launched a 50-state database of dual/concurrent enrollment policies, including state reports, comparable data and links to specific legislation and regulations. The database includes information on access, finance, quality assurance and transferability. With about a third of all dual/concurrent credits earned by high school students in CTE disciplines, this is a key issue for CTE leaders and students.

The Afterschool Alliance released a new brief, Computing and Engineering in Afterschool, which explores why and how afterschool programs can help equip students with the skills they need to pursue engineering and computer science education and careers – and help fill gaps in traditional K-12 education. For more on STEM and the Afterschool Alliance, check out their STEM Impact Awards.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has released two briefs in the last two months focusing on reforms in the higher education space: Meeting Students Where They Are: Profiles of Students in Competency-Based Degree Programs” and “A Path Forward: Game-Changing Reforms in Higher Education and the Implications for Business and Financing Models.“ The first report explores various competency-based education models at the postsecondary level. In addition to laying out these models – from direct assessment to hybrid degrees – the brief also captures students’ perspectives and experiences earning degrees at their own pace and leveraging knowledge already gained in school and the workplace. It’s a compelling read and was discussed at a recent CAP event, which can be watched here.

The latter report focuses on some identified “game changers” for postsecondary education, notably stackable credentials, competency-based education and the Guided Pathways to Success model, laying out the benefits and the barriers that need to be removed to ensure more Americans have access to high-quality postsecondary learning, aligned with the demands of industry.

Finally, this week the National Center for Education Statistics released the annual Trial Urban District Assessment results, which was designed to explore how feasible it is to use the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at the district level. For the 2013 administration, 21 districts participated. While a number of districts posted gains over previous years’ assessments, the results are by and large still very low across these urban districts, particularly for minority students. For a good (and honest) analysis of these results, check out Education Next.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren in Research, Uncategorized
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New NASDCTEc Paper & Webinar: CTE Is Your STEM Strategy

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Today the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released a new policy paper entitled CTE Is Your STEM Strategy, exploring the inherent relationship between CTE and STEM goals, elements and expectations.

Simply put, STEM must not be viewed as a separate enterprise from CTE. While a state’s CTE programs may not encompass everything within a state’s STEM strategy, high-quality CTE programs can provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM competencies and skills for a broader range of students. Too often, STEM strategies are created separately from and without a clear understanding of how CTE can support and strengthen such efforts. This paper aims to bring this disconnect to the forefront and demonstrate the natural connection for the many stakeholders working to advance CTE and STEM in their communities.

Looking ahead, state and local leaders should work collaboratively to identify where CTE is delivering high-quality STEM skills and competencies successfully, where efforts need to be shored up, and how to best scale those programs with the greatest value to students, employers and our nation.

The paper was released during a webinar featuring Tina Marcus, Project Manager, STEM Education and Leadership, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools in North Carolina; Dr. Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation; and Kate Blosveren, NASDCTEc’s Associate Executive Director.

Click here to download CTE Is Your STEM Strategy and access the recording and slides from the webinar here.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren in NASDCTEc Resources, Publications, Webinars
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Reminder to Register Now for NASDCTE Webinar: CTE is Your STEM Strategy

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Registration is open and continuing to accept attendees for the NASDCTEc webinar CTE is Your STEM Strategy, which broadcasts December 17, 2014.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is attracting interest across the nation. In many states, top policy leaders, including governors, K-12 chief state school officers and economic development commissioners,  have made STEM central to their reform platforms. A significant number of states have STEM coalitions in place to coordinate  STEM activities across agencies and industries.  Business leaders routinely call for more STEM-ready graduates broadly and within specific industry and specialty areas at the national, state and local levels.

While states, districts and schools strive to operationalize a concept like STEM, many already are offering high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that impart critical academic, technical and employability skills. To connect the dots between CTE and STEM for policymakers and advocates, NASDCTEc will be releasing a new report entitled “CTE is Your STEM Strategy.” This report will be released to coordinate with the webinar on December 17, 2013. The paper makes the case that STEM must not be viewed as a separate enterprise from CTE, as high-quality CTE programs can help provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM skills and competencies for a broad range of students.

Join the following speakers for a webinar that will discuss this paper, how CTE and STEM can advance one another, and provide examples from states successfully integrating their CTE and STEM strategies.

Date: December 17, 2013

Time: 3 p.m. Eastern

Link to Register: https://cisco.webex.com/cisco/onstage/g.php?d=205708527&t=a

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Webinars
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Register Now for NASDCTE Webinar: CTE is Your STEM Strategy

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is attracting interest across the nation. In many states, top policy leaders, including governors, K-12 chief state school officers and economic development commissioners,  have made STEM central to their reform platforms. A significant number of states have STEM coalitions in place to coordinate  STEM activities across agencies and industries.  Business leaders routinely call for more STEM-ready graduates broadly and within specific industry and specialty areas at the national, state and local levels.
 
While states, districts and schools strive to operationalize a concept like STEM, many already are offering high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that impart critical academic, technical and employability skills. To connect the dots between CTE and STEM for policymakers and advocates, NASDCTEc will be releasing a new report entitled “CTE is Your STEM Strategy.” This report will be released to coordinate with the webinar on December 17, 2013. The paper makes the case that STEM must not be viewed as a separate enterprise from CTE, as high-quality CTE programs can help provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM skills and competencies for a broad range of students.
 
Join NASDCTEc staff and field experts for a webinar that will discuss this paper, how CTE and STEM can advance one another, and provide examples from states successfully integrating their CTE and STEM strategies.

Date: December 17, 2013

Time: 3 p.m. Eastern

Link to Register: https://cisco.webex.com/cisco/onstage/g.php?d=205708527&t=a

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Webinars
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July CTE Monthly: Driving the STEM, IT and Manufacturing Workforce

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

CTE Monthly, a collaborative publication from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, features the latest news on Career Technical Education (CTE) from across the nation for CTE stakeholders and Members of Congress.

In the July edition, read more about:

View archived CTE Monthly newsletters and other advocacy resources on our Advocacy Tools webpage.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in NASDCTEc Resources, News, Public Policy, Research
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New Blog Series: CTE Research Review

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

NASDCTEc is excited to launch a new blog series – CTE Research Review! This blog will feature the latest research and reports about CTE and other related education and workforce issues. 

Research Image_6.2013The Council on Foreign Relations released a new report, “Progress Report and Scorecard: Remedial Education,” that has been referenced several times this week by figures such as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to illustrate the importance of educating and training a globally-competitive workforce. The authors of this report stress that the United States is slipping in global competitiveness and that the achievement gap between wealthy and non-wealthy students is widening. The authors also write that “Human capital is perhaps the single most important long-term driver of an economy,” and challenge the federal government to put in place programs that will expand high-quality education for all students.

ACT’s “STEM Education Pipeline: Doing the Math on Recruiting Math and Science Teachers,” reviews the proposed federal STEM Teacher Pathway program – aimed at getting 100,000 qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals into the classroom over the next decade – and finds an insufficient number of STEM college graduates who would be qualified or willing to become STEM teachers. To meet the number of teachers needed, the authors suggest recruitment strategies targeted toward “STEM-capable students interest in education and STEM-capable students undecided of their college major.”

A new issue brief from the Education Commission of the States, “Reimagining Business Involvement: A New Frontier for Postsecondary Education,” lays out research-backed models and strategies to improve the quality of credentials and increase alignment with the needs of business and industry. Suggestions include possible methods of engagement to strengthen partnerships between business/industry and education, the role of state policy in building a statewide partnership plan, and economic benefits for states.

A recent study from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education examines South Carolina’s programs of study and career pathways developed through the state’s Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) and finds some positive impacts for the students. The study indicates that EEDA positively impacts career-focused activities at all schools and enhances the role of school guidance counselors.

The National Center for Education Statistics released its annual “Condition of Education” report. Two areas of relevance highlighted by this year’s report are “Trends in Employment Rates by Educational Attainment” and “The Status of Rural Education.” Not surprisingly, the report shows that employment for males and females (ages 25 – 64) was lower in 2012 than in 2008 regardless of education levels due to recovery from the economic recession. Between 1990 and 2012, employment rates for those with a bachelor’s degree remained higher than those with less than a bachelor’s degree.

The report on rural education found that students in rural districts experienced higher graduation rates (80 percent) than students in city (68 percent) or town districts (79 percent) but slightly lower rates than suburban districts (81 percent).

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in News, Research
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State-Driven Group Releases Next Generation Science Standards

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

A consortium of states released this week the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a final set of internationally-benchmarked science standards that identify practices and content that all K-12 students should master in order to be college and career ready.

Teams from 26 states worked for 2 years with a writing team to develop the NGSS. The state-driven process was managed by Achieve and was primarily funded by the Carnegie Corporation.

The NGSS are based on a Framework for K-12 Science Education published by the National Academies’ National Research Council in 2011. Rather than focusing solely on practice, the standards also bring a stronger focus to science content and a greater emphasis to critical thinking. The NGSS are research-based and take into account research on how students learn science most effectively – striving for a more holistic, investigative approach to science.

Susan Codere, a project coordinator for NGSS in Michigan, emphasized the importance of preparing students to be both college ready and career ready. Codere said of the NGSS, “Our conversation about education always includes workforce training. Whenever we adopt a new set of standards we make sure to promote the opportunities the standards afford, not just in terms of college readiness, but in terms of workforce readiness. That’s particularly relevant with the NGSS.”

The NGSS can be viewed here.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in News, Resources
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U.S. Senator Pushes for CTE and STEM Diplomas in New York

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Over the last few years, the mismatch of the skills gained by students versus those needed on the job has become an urgent issue. In New York, industry leaders in areas such as high-tech manufacturing, nanotechnology, and biosciences have struggled to staff their workforces because students simply are not equipped with the right skills. To help close this skills gap, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York has launched an initiative in his state to provide a Career Technical Education (CTE) diploma and a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) diploma.

CTE has increasingly been recognized for delivering relevant knowledge and skills that prepare college- and career-ready students for in-demand careers. Senator Schumer’s initiative shows recognition that CTE, including STEM, is vital to meet changing regional economic demands.

Schumer’s proposed CTE diploma is focused specifically on skills needed for success in New York’s manufacturing industry. The path to a CTE diploma would incorporate career-focused classes and curriculum that could replace an elective or a core class. Each diploma would require rigorous assessments to ensure students’ college and career readiness. Altogether, New York high school students would have three options for a diploma: traditional, STEM, or CTE.

In light of the urgent need for qualified workers in CTE and STEM areas, Senator Schumer is urging the New York State Board of Regents to approve these options and move forward with the process to implement the initiative beginning in September 2013.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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