Posts Tagged ‘WIOA’

Analysis Suggests Metrics for Measuring Impact of Community Colleges

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

March 9, 2017

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report in partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees examining which metrics best tell the story of the services community colleges provide and the supports they require. They determined that the three important indicators of community college progress are:

The report makes a distinction between measuring college retention and college persistence, as retention only measures how many students return for the following Fall semester at the same institution. Using persistence as a measure for community colleges captures the large number of students who transfer either to other community colleges or to four-year institutions. This requires a more systematic approach to tracking enrollment across different institutions and across state lines. When enrollment was tracked this way using Student Clearinghouse data, they found that almost half of all bachelor’s degree recipients were enrolled in a community college at one point before transferring to a four-year institution, a fact that demonstrates the clear role community colleges play in student success.

Study Finds Girls Turn Away from STEM Subjects Early

A new report published in Science found that girls tend to turn away from STEM subjects as early as first grade. The report attributes this partly to their findings that girls begin to associate boys as being smarter and therefore tend to shy away from subjects intended for more intelligent people. Boys around that age seem to also believe themselves to be inherently smarter. The findings in this study echo previous studies that correlated boys’ and girls’ performance in math and science with their self-reported levels of confidence and anxiety with the subjects.

The authors of the report suggest that schools must begin working to break down gender stereotypes far earlier than many might expect. They also recommend that families work to foster girls’ interest in STEM subjects as early as possible.

Odds and Ends

As you know, last month was CTE Month. To celebrate, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) launched a newly redesigned CTE statistics website, which provides national-level information on CTE at the secondary and postsecondary education levels, as well as information on occupational certification and licensure.

Several pieces related to equity have been released lately. CCSSO and the Aspen Institute released a report on the role SEA chiefs can and should play in defining and promoting equity in schools. Chiefs For Change also released a report on equity, with a focus on using ESSA and financial transparency to improve equity.

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education recently released a technical assistance document to support communities working with in-school youth in accordance with WIOA. Additionally, the National Conference of State Legislatures launched a database that tracks state legislation related to WIOA implementation.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Research
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President Trump’s First Week in Office

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Trump Freezes Pending Regulations, Including those Related to ESSA Accountability

President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office on Friday. During the inauguration ceremony, the President said the U.S. has “an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge,” though he did not provide additional details about his plans for improving the federal education system.

Upon taking office, Trump immediately revoked any regulations not yet submitted to the Federal Register and postponed the effective date of pending regulations by 60 days. This echoes a similar move from the Obama administration in early 2009. Although the most recent round of ESSA regulations, which detail accountability and state plans, were published in November 2016, they were not set to take effect until January 30. As a result, those regulations will now go into effect on March 21, 2017. While this could implicate ESSA plan submissions, state officials and consultants do not anticipate the pause will affect state timelines, according to Education Week.

President Trump has also hinted that he wants to reduce federal regulations by 75 percent, though he has not indicated where these reductions will come from.

Lastly, positions at the White House are starting to be filled. Rob Goad, a former staff with Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) has been selected to fill the position of Education Advisor at the Office of Domestic Policy Council.  The Education Advisor position is not a “required” position, so the fact that the position has been filled early on is a potential signal of the administration’s intent to develop education policy priorities.

DeVos Vote Rescheduled to January 31

Last week we provided an overview of Education Secretary to be Betsy DeVos’s hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. While questions related to Career Technical Education (CTE) or reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006 were limited, the hearing turned out to be quite contentious, with Democrats protesting the limited time to review the nominee’s ethics report prior to a confirmation vote. Responding to concerns from his committee, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) postponed DeVos’s hearing by one week to Tuesday, January 31 to allow Senators additional time to review the Office of Government Ethics’ report. On Friday, Senator Todd Young (R-IN)  recused himself from voting on the DeVos confirmation, citing a conflict of interest because she donated to his campaign.

Senators Kaine and Portman Reintroduce JOBS Act

On the Hill, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, reintroduced the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act of 2017 (JOBS Act). The bill aims to expand the Federal Pell Grant program to include postsecondary CTE job training programs in in-demand industries. Under the bill, such programs must provide no less than 150 clock hours of instructional time over eight weeks and enable students to obtain a license or credential. Advance CTE has endorsed the proposed legislation.

WIOA Infrastructure Guidance

On January 18, 2017, Former Acting Assistant Secretary John Uvin, put out an extensive memo articulating additional information related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) infrastructure guidance. While the memo was directed to State Directors of Adult Education, Perkins is mentioned throughout. Advance CTE is in the process of analyzing the memo and will provide a more in depth analysis to members next week. We should note that it is unclear whether any of the non-regulatory guidance put forth by the Obama Administration will hold, given the Trump Administration’s push to reduce federal oversight and burden on states by reducing regulations.  

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

By Austin Estes in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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New Research out of California Finds Higher Earnings for Students with Credentials in the Health Industry

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

ca credentialsContributing to a growing body of research on the economic benefit of industry credentials, the Public Policy Institute of California last month released a study of employment outcomes for students in health Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the California Community College system. In California, 18 of the top 25 wage-enhancing degrees are in health. As such, helping students obtain a health-related credential could be one strategy for closing achievement gaps and providing underserved students an on-ramp into the industry.

The authors of the study examined data for a total of 120,000 students enrolled in health CTE programs in California community colleges over the past ten years. Their research found that, despite variations in completion and persistence across different programs, students who obtained credentials increased their earnings by 51 percent compared to non-degree holders.

Earning a credential translates to real changes in earning opportunity. According to the study, students who were not previously employed in the health industry saw a median increase of $8,661 in quarterly earnings after completing a degree or credential.

While a health-related credential may create economic opportunity for underserved students, completion gaps between subpopulations persist. According to the study, there is a six point gap in completion rates for Latino students compared to white students, and a 12 point gap for African American students. However, the researchers also found that providing career guidance and support services could help close the completion gap by helping underserved students identify and complete pathways in high-demand career fields.

A Holiday Surprise from the National Skills Coalition: 50-State Skills Equity Policy Scans

Meanwhile, the National Skills Coalition released an early Christmas gift in the form of four 50-state policy scans. The scans are part of the organization’s Skills Equity series, which includes toolkits to help policymakers identify effective strategies for expanding access to middle-skills training.

One of the reports dives into an increasingly popular method of addressing basic skills gaps, known as Integrated Education and Training, or IET. Now a required activity under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), IET integrates basic academic education with workforce training in order to prepare adults with basic skills for the workforce. While these adults, who are often inhibited by limited English proficiency or mathematical skills, generally struggle to find job opportunities, research shows that IET programs can increase earning potential for students who take at least two credits and earn a credential.

Other scans in the series include state policies on Stackable Credentials, Alignment and Job-Driven Financial Aid.

Odds and Ends

A new report from the Center for Public Education provides a summary overview of CTE, including data and key questions to help policymakers make the case for expanding CTE offerings. While introductory, the report is essential reading for anyone new to CTE.

The National Opportunity Index – which examines education, crime rates, job availability and other indicators to determine a snapshot of economic opportunity by county and state – is out with new data for 2016. While overall opportunity has remained stagnant over the past year, the index demonstrates an increase of 8.9 percent since 2011.

In a series of policy papers released last month, the Education Commission of the States explores strategies for state and federal policymakers to form partnerships to support postsecondary education. One paper highlights opportunities to leverage the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) to support community colleges, such as by using sector partnerships to create career pathways or offering programs that qualify for WIOA support.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Research, Resources
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Advance CTE Legislative Update: Summer Round-Up

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

United States CapitalPerkins Reauthorization Wrap-Up

With Congress adjourned for an extended summer recess, it’s important to take stock of what’s been happening on Capitol Hill these past few months, particularly with regards to Career Technical Education (CTE). Before their break, Congress took formal steps to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), continued to oversee ESSA implementation, and has made efforts to advance funding legislation for the coming federal fiscal year (FY).

On June 28th, the House Education and the Workforce Committee released a much anticipated bill to reauthorize Perkins—the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587). Sponsored by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the bipartisan legislation was marked up by the full committee on July 7th and subsequently approved by a margin of 37-0.

“We are encouraged by this important step towards reauthorizing Perkins,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director, at the time the bill was introduced. “We appreciate the bipartisan efforts that went into drafting this bill and look forward to working to ensure the reauthorized bill helps increase access to and success in high-quality CTE programs.”

The bill seeks to align Perkins to other federal legislation such as ESSA and WIOA while streamlining the requirements of the law to more effectively support high-quality CTE. Many elements of Advance CTE’s Perkins priorities can be found in H.R. 5587 and the organization supported the advancement of this legislation through committee. Advance CTE’s letter of support for H.R. 5587 can be found here.

We expect the full House to consider this legislation when Congress reconvenes later this autumn. In the meantime, Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) have developed a comprehensive summary and analysis of H.R. 5587 which can be accessed here.

Many additional resources including the archived webcast of committee markup, members’ written statements, and considered amendments can be found here.

While this bipartisan effort in the House to reauthorize Perkins is encouraging, there is still much that must be done for the legislation to make its way across the finish line before the end of the 114th Congress. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has continued behind-the-scenes discussions on its own Perkins legislation. It is therefore still possible to see additional Perkins-related activity later this year, but with a limited number of legislative days left on the calendar full Perkins reauthorization will still require a concerted effort from lawmakers in both chambers. As these efforts continue to take shape be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Congressional Appropriations Committees Approve FY 2017 Spending Bills

Lawmakers overseeing federal funding bills have also been working on legislation to fund federal programs, including the Perkins Act. In June the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHSED) appropriations bill on a party-line vote. The legislation would level-fund the Perkins basic state grant program at $1.118 billion. However, this result for Perkins is important to keep in context—this year saw the return of budget caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These tight caps resulted in $220 million in cuts to education programs in the LHHSED bill making the maintenance of existing Perkins funding an important achievement for the CTE community. Notably, the bill would also restore year-round Pell grants which is a key Advance CTE postsecondary priority.

Following suit, the House Appropriations committee approved its own LHHSED FY 2017 funding bill. This legislation would also provide level funding for Perkins’ basic state grant program. However, much like with the Senate, the committee’s decision to maintain Perkins funding is best understood in context— other education programs under this bill were cut by even more than in the House proposal. Unlike with the Senate, the House bill does not restore year-round Pell grants although it would increase the maximum Pell award to $5,935 annually (a move that is also mirrored in the Senate proposal).

Despite these efforts, it is unlikely that either of these LHHSED bills will be advanced individually any further prior to the start of 2017 federal fiscal year set to begin on September 30th. It is therefore highly likely that Congress, as it has done for the past several years, will pass a “continuing resolution” (CR) which would temporarily extend current funding levels into the next fiscal year. Be sure to check back as efforts to fund federal programs, including Perkins, continue to firm up.

ESSA Implementation

As we have shared previously, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has been developing rules and regulations to govern the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In the spring, the law’s mandated negotiated rulemaking committee met to determine how to regulate ESSA’s “supplement, not supplant” and assessment provisions. These efforts brought about a great degree of disagreement between USDE, which ultimately made a series of proposals on these issues, and Congressional Republicans, who viewed these proposals as being outside the allowable scope of ESSA.

Disagreements over how to appropriately implement ESSA’s provisions have continued to chew away at the bipartisan consensus that helped move ESSA across the finish line late last year. This has become even more apparent in a series of congressional hearings where Republican lawmakers and U.S. Secretary of Education John King have increasingly been at odds over these issues (more on that here, here, and here).

In June, USDE released additional draft regulations—known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)—on the law’s accountability, public reporting, and state plan provisions. Of particular note are how the draft rules address ESSA’s newly required state accountability indicators of “school quality and student success” which allow states the opportunity to measure and value indicators of student postsecondary and career readiness. Advance CTE and ACTE provided comments to USDE on these aspects of the regulations which can be viewed here.

USDE has continued to update its own resource page with helpful materials to support the law’s ongoing implementation process. Recently the department circulated a Dear Colleague letter highlighting ways in which states and communities can support a “well-rounded education”—a key concept of the new law that now includes CTE. Additionally, the Council of Chief State School Officers has produced an extremely useful guide for engaging stakeholders during ESSA plan development and the Collaborative for Student Success, a new website, collects state-specific information on states’ efforts to implement the new K-12 law.

Odds & Ends

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

By Steve Voytek in News, Public Policy
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Advance CTE Legislative Update: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2017 Perkins Funding Bill as Stakeholders Review Newly Proposed ESSA Regulations

Friday, June 10th, 2016

United States CapitalYesterday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $161.9 billion funding measure for federal programs falling under the jurisdictions of the U.S. Departments of Labor (Labor), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education (ED) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The overall allocation of funding made available for this bill, known as a 302(b) allocation, was $270 million below FY 2016 levels. This meant that programs falling under this part of the budget all faced reductions in order to stay within the new FY 2017 cap even before individual funding decisions were made by the committee this week.

The legislation, as passed yesterday, would provide level funding for state formula grants under the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins)— approximately $1.117 billion overall for law’s Title I program or the same amount the program has received since FY 2014.

The bipartisan bill, the culmination of negotiations between Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA) is the first time Labor-HHS-ED funding legislation has passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee since 2009.

Overall the bill reduces ED’s budget by $220 million from the previous fiscal year although this figure does not take into account changes that would be made to the department’s largest program—federal Pell grants. A key piece to understanding the committee’s decision-making on this legislation date back to March when, at that time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected a $7.8 billion surplus for Pell grants in the coming fiscal year.

In light of these additional funds, Senate appropriators have proposed to use a portion of this year’s Pell surplus to reinstitute “year-round Pell”— a provision the Obama Administration scrapped in 2011 as a cost savings measure which allows students to use their Pell awards during the summer months and accelerate their postsecondary studies. The bill also increases the maximum Pell award for the 2017-18 academic year to $5,935 although year-round recipients are capped at 150% of that maximum.

The Senate Appropriations Committee however took another chunk out of this surplus by also proposing to use a significant portion of it to fund other non-student-aid items in the budget, including a $2 billion proposed funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many higher education organizations, as well as the Congressional Tri-Caucus, voiced strong opposition to this proposal saying, in part, “Students cannot afford to continue subsidizing other areas of the budget.”

Advance CTE agrees with these concerns and believes that any additional funding freed up as a result of a Pell surplus should be used exclusively for education. However, such a move by lawmakers further underscores the importance of increasing or dissolving current “budget caps” that have been in place for several years as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, legislation that constrains the amount of resources available for important investments in our nation’s education system among other vital national priorities.

In addition to these provisions, the recently passed bill also proposes to cut Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula programs by 3% or $73.8 million while providing a 10% increase for USDOL’s apprenticeship grant program to $100 million overall.

With the Senate’s work on a Labor-HHS-ED bill complete for the time being, attention turns to the House of Representatives where the appropriations committee in that chamber is widely expected to consider their version of the bill before recessing in mid-July. Although the deadline for all FY 2017 funding legislation is September 30th, the limited amount of legislative days left on the Congressional calendar will likely necessitate a temporary stop-gap funding measure—known as a continuing resolution— to put difficult (and final) federal budget decisions for FY 2017 until after the Presidential election this November.

Nevertheless, these appropriations bills will likely be used as a starting point for future negotiations on federal spending later this year. They are important mileposts for what the CTE community should expect with regards to education and workforce development funding for the coming fiscal year, but it is important to keep in mind that this legislation has not been enacted.

Be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis on the federal appropriations process as events continue to unfold.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Proposed ESSA Rules

As part of the ongoing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), legislation that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a draft version of rules outlining proposed requirements for state plans, accountability systems, and reporting responsibilities.

This new batch of proposed regulations— known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)— is open for public input and comment until August 1, 2016. Overall the NPRM hews closely to the newly passed law, providing substantial new flexibility to states and locals with regards to implementation. By comparison, another departmental proposal on so-called “supplement-not-supplant” regulations was met with far more concern earlier this month as we shared previously.

Interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback to the department for how to improve upon this proposal by the above deadline. A summary of the rules can be found here, the full proposal is over this way, and comments can be submitted via this portal.

Odds & Ends

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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Advance CTE Legislative Update: President Obama Unveils Final Budget Request to Congress as Senate Honors CTE Month

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

United States CapitalLast Tuesday, President Obama released his final budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. This document formally kicks off the federal budget and appropriations process for the coming year. As has been the case for much of the President’s time in office, this process is again shaping up to be rather contentious as both parties debate issues of spending and taxation in the context of the looming Presidential and Congressional elections this November.

Overall, the President’s budget outlines an extremely ambitious set of spending priorities for the coming year, totaling $4.1 trillion overall. The budget proposes significant new investments in a number of new and existing education and workforce development programs, but disappointingly does not propose any additional funding for states via the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins) basic state formula grant program.

Instead the President has renewed his proposal for the creation of an “American Technical Training Fund” (ATFF) that, if created, would constitute a new competitive grant program outside the scope of this foundational support for CTE. ATTF can best be understood as a successor program to the Admisntration’s 2013 Youth Career Connect Initiative, but so far Congress has not acted to formalize this proposal which was also included in the President’s budget last year for $100 million at that time.

As Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director and others noted on the day of the release, the President’s request for level-funding for Perkins state grants is concerning at a time when demand for high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs is rising— a fact even the Administration has recently highlighted. While the Obama Administration does request an additional $2 million for CTE national activities under Perkins, this increase would also be used for the purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of the proposed ATTF.

Despite these concerning elements, the President’s budget does put forth a set of somewhat more encouraging spending proposals as part of a wider skills development agenda that could compliment much of the work already underway in the CTE field:

The President’s budget can be viewed in its entirety here. The U.S. Department of Labor and Education’s (USDOL / USDE) budgets can be accessed here and here respectively. Of particular note is USDE’s budget justification for CTE and Adult Education which can be accessed here. This document provides further insight into the administration’s thinking behind their Perkins proposals contained in the budget and outlined above.

It is important to note that this budget request is simply that— it does not constitute formal policy and Congress must still pass a budget and respective spending bills to enact any of these proposals. Given Congressional Republican’s continued concerns on federal spending, deficits, and the national debt, there is little chance that most of what is being proposed by the President will become law. In fact, the Congressional budget committees have gone so far as to “snub” the administration and have not asked the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to testify on this proposal—a key indicator on how far this proposal is likely to get in Congress this year.

As the Congressional budget and appropriations process continues to take shape, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Senate Passes CTE Month Resolution and Hosts Employers to Talk About the Value of CTE

As many are aware, every year February is informally known as “CTE Month”—a time to celebrate and lift up all of the great work underway in the CTE community. Last week, the Senate voted unanimously in support of a resolution—sponsored by Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs Sens. Kaine (D-VA), Portman (R-OH), Baldwin (D-WI), and Isakson (R-GA)— that formally recognizes and honors February as CTE month. The resolution can be viewed in its entirety here.

The resolution was co-sponsored by 17 other Senators from both parties and the Senate’s unanimous recognition and support of this resolution underscores the chamber’s continued commitment to the CTE enterprise. Advance CTE applauds this move by the Senate and looks forward to celebrating the rest of CTE month in the coming days and weeks.

In addition to this effort, the Senate CTE Caucus also played host to a briefing on employer engagement with CTE programs last week. The briefing, co-hosted by the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and Opportunity America, gave employers—ranging in size and location from a small manufacturing firm in Wisconsin to a large engineering firm in Texas— a chance to speak about the importance of CTE to their respective enterprises and industries. Each of the panelists emphasized the importance of employers having a “seat at the table” during program development and implementation and underscored that there are many ways for employers of all shapes and sizes to engage with states’ CTE systems and with local CTE programs.

Three of the four Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs provided remarks during this event, each speaking about their unique interests in CTE and how they view CTE meeting the needs of students and employers alike in the coming years. The full video of the event can be accessed here—we encourage you take a look!

Odds and Ends

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News
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CTE Research Review: The Workforce Edition

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Transforming Workforce Development Policies

A new book from the Kansas City Federal Reserve calls for a comprehensive restructuring of the nation’s workforce development policies and programs to better meet the human capital demands of employers. This compilation of submissions from some of the most prominent thought leaders in workforce development policy today, the Federal Reserve is wading into a relatively new area of research but one where it plans to continue being actively involved.

“Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century,” provides thoughtful perspectives on the system itself as well as how to redesign these strategies and evidence-based policies and practices.

The Role of CTERoleCTE

What and who has the greatest impact on students and their career choices? This is the central question of a new report, “Attracting the Next
Generation Workforce: The Role of Career and Technical Education,” from The Manufacturing Institute, SkillsUSA and Educational Research Center of America. The study, which surveyed more than 20,000 high school students enrolled in CTE programs of study, also aims to provide insight into students’ perceptions of the value of CTE preparation.

Overwhelmingly (64 percent), students cited their own interests and experiences as the greatest influence on their future careers. The second and third greatest influences were a student’s father (22 percent) and mother (19 percent). Perhaps surprisingly, guidance counselors accounted for 3 percent –the least important influence on a student’s career choice.

So how did students perceive the value of CTE preparation for the future careers? While 47 percent of all CTE students surveyed said that CTE has helped make their career choices clearer, that number rises significantly for CTE students who also participate in a CTSO or are members of SkillsUSA. Also, those students engaged in CTSOs are nearly 50 percent more likely to pursue a technical career in the field they are studying, according to the survey.

Check out the report to learn about how students are exposed to future employers as well as educators’ perceptions of CTE.

Also new from The Manufacturing Institute is a tool that can help educators make the case for work-based learning and employer partnerships. The tool – a return on investment calculator – is designed to help manufacturers calculate the cost of open positions within a company by factoring in costs across several categories including training, recruiting, human resources and operations.

Also Worth the Read:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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State Policy Update: Workforce Development, Job-driven Training and More

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

This week, the National Skills Coalition released its roundup of this year’s major state legislative actions aiming to close the middle-skills gap across the country. Be sure to check out the full paper and related webinar, which includes deep dives on new workforce development efforts in Virginia and Minnesota, to learn more.

Here are some of the workforce-related highlights from this year’s legislative sessions:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Public Policy
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NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Federal Funding Deadline Looms as Congress Looks to Higher Ed after ESEA Push

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

United States CapitalSeptember 30th is quickly approaching and with it an end to the current 2015 federal Fiscal Year (FY). With only 12 legislative days left on the Congressional calendar until this deadline and the Congressional August recess set to begin later this week, lawmakers and the Obama Administration are still grappling with how to fund the federal government beginning on October 1st—the first official day of FY 2016.

Congressional appropriations committees in both the House and the Senate successfully passed the 12 necessary funding bills to fund federal programs—an achievement not seen in over six years and aided by unified Republican control of both Chambers of Congress. Despite this accomplishment, these funding bills all adhere to the Budget Control Act of 2011’s (BCA) statutorily mandated ‘sequester caps’ that dramatically reduce funding for many domestic programs, including education and relatedly the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) which would receive approximately $3.6 million in reduced funding for national activities while providing level funding for the law’s state grant program.

These caps significantly limit the amount of funding available for all federal discretionary programs, severely impacting education and other domestic spending priorities that are dear to Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration. As such, lawmakers and the White House have been in a protracted stand-off over how to fund the federal government later this fall.

As September quickly approaches, the likelihood of another ‘Continuing Appropriations Resolution’ (CR) is rapidly increasing. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) conceded as much at a recent press conference saying, “it’s pretty clear given the number of days we have here in September that we’re going to have to do a CR of some sort.”

In response to the gridlock, nearly all Congressional Democrats, and an increasing amount of Republicans, have begun to call for a broader budget deal outside the scope of the normal appropriations process.  Such a deal could address the underlying problem of the sequester caps, even temporarily, to relieve some of the fiscal pressures created by the BCA. Much like what the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 did for the previous two fiscal years, an agreement later this year would be the best case scenario for making much needed investments in education and workforce development programs possible, particularly for the Perkins Act.

NASDCTEc remains committed to this type of agreement and we encourage the CTE community to urge members of Congress to tackle this challenge head-on, rather than passing stop-gap measures such as a CR at the expense of longer term agreements that allow for greater investments in critically important programs such as the Perkins Act. Be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis as things continue to play out on Capitol Hill.

Congress Pivots to Higher Ed

As we’ve shared previously, both education committees in the House and the Senate have prioritized the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in this Congress. Due for reauthorization since 2013 and extended to this year for further consideration, the law governs nearly all federal financial aid programs for postsecondary education. Issues such institutional accreditation, supporting innovation in postsecondary education, financial aid risk sharing, the role of consumer information and data, and campus sexual assault have all been the subject of hearings and discussions in both Chambers as lawmakers gear up for the law’s renewal.

In the Senate, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced four staff-level working groups earlier this year focused on four key areas that they hope to address in the upcoming reauthorization process: accountability, accreditation, college affordability / financial aid, and campus sexual assault / safety. It is hoped that these groups can work through these issues on a bipartisan basis prior to the committee and later the full chamber considering full reauthorization legislation.

More recently, the Committee held a hearing exploring barriers to innovation in postsecondary education. Members focused on the role that regulations (and at times overregulation) have in stymieing innovation within the higher education system, how to address current funding structures that are tied to the credit hour in order to better support competency-based learning programs, and the need to expand HEA’s experimental sites initiative to allow for more experimentation, among other topics. More on the hearing can be found here.

In the House, members of the Education and Workforce (HEW) Committee introduced a series of four bipartisan higher education bills that they hope to piece together later on to form the basis for their proposal for the law’s renewal. These bills seek to simplify the student aid process, improve consumer access to relevant data and information to make informed decisions on where to go to school, and strengthen loan counseling to improve students’ financial literacy when making decisions about their financial aid. Of particular note is the Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act (H.R. 3180) introduced by Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) which would reinstate “year-round” Pell Grants for qualifying students in accelerated programs—a move NASDCTEc supports in future HEA legislation. More on that bill can be found here and information related to the all of the bills is located here.

The Obama Administration has also repositioned itself ahead of possible HEA consideration. Speaking at UMBC earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a speech on HEA which encouraged the higher education community to not just focus on the rising specters of college debt and cost, but also on student outcomes and educational quality. More on his remarks can be found here.

Lawmakers Seek to Give FERPA a Facelift

The Student Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 3157) was recently introduced by Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) of the HEW Committee. The bill seeks to update the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by barring schools and private companies from selling student information, creating minimum data security protocols, and allowing parents greater access and control over their child’s information. The legislation is one of several proposals from both Chambers of Congress that seek to modernize the law to reflect changes in the digital education landscape. At present, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) enforces provisions under FERPA governing how companies handle student data. However, competing proposals in the Senate would hand that responsibility over to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce these rules more vigorously.

Odds & Ends

USDE and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) are requesting public comment on proposed templates and data definitions for performance information required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The comment period is open for 60 days and must be submitted by September 21 at: www.regulations.gov (Docket ID is ETA-2015-0007). Last week marked WIOA’s first birthday.

The final text of the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) was released this week. The bill is the Chamber’s proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and now bicameral negotiations are about to begin to reconcile it with the House’s ESEA proposal the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). More information on the debate can be found here and a great breakdown of where key issues stand in the wider discussion can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

By Steve Voytek in News, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Reauthorization Efforts Push Ahead for ESEA, WIOA NPRM Comment Period Ends as Funding Battles in and HEA Reauthorization Continue in Congress

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

CapitolAfter a flurry of legislative activity in the Senate early last month, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee successfully reported out the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) from the committee—legislation aimed at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Read our earlier coverage of the legislation here and the text of the bill, as reported out of committee, here. ECAA is the product of bipartisan negotiations between HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and marks the closest either Congressional chamber has come towards reauthorizing ESEA in several years.

Since clearing the HELP committee last month, lawmakers on and off the committee have been gearing up for the Chamber’s full consideration of the legislation, finalizing a series of amendments that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle hope will improve the largest annual federal investment in K-12 education. As currently written and amended, ECAA has a number of notable Career Technical Education-related provisions:

NASDCTEc expects ECAA to most likely be brought up for full Senate consideration shortly after the July 4th Congressional recess, but the possibility of the bill being brought to the floor sooner still remains a goal of many in the Chamber. However, with defense-related legislation currently up for debate, the window for consideration is quickly closing. Lawmakers will have to decide between ECAA and additional trade legislation later today which will ultimately determine the timeline for ECAA’s consideration. Nevertheless, NASDCTEc is continuing to work and support a number of promising CTE-related amendments in the upcoming debate, whenever that may be.

Shifting over to the House, H.R. 5 or the Student Success Act still remains on hold after the Chamber pulled the bill from floor consideration earlier this year. In May, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) released a memo outlining his caucus’ June agenda which included the possibility of further consideration of the bill. However, no formal action has been taken since that time. Nevertheless, there has been new talk about the legislation being brought to the floor under a new rule relatively soon that will allow members of the House to vote on several amendments before final passage. If both Chambers pass their respective ESEA proposals, the next hurdle will be reconciling the two bills—a challenging feat considering the large differences between ECAA and the Student Success Act.

As both of these processes unfold, be sure to check back here for updates on ESEA activity and what that means for the wider CTE community.

NASDCTEc & ACTE Weigh-In on WIOA NPRM

Late last year, Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—legislation that reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, the bill’s passage was only the first step in what will be an extensive implementation process. Since that time, the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Education (USDE), and Health and Human Services (HHS) have been hard at work drafting proposed rules for carrying out WIOA’s new provisions. After missing their statutory deadline earlier this year, the Departments finally released these proposed rules in what is known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The regulations, which can be viewed here, were released in five separate releases, each focused on different aspects of WIOA and were opened up to the public for comment and further discussion.

NASDCTEc, along the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), participated in this comment period and issued a joint response that can be viewed here. It is important to note that the NPRM’s remain simply a proposal until the Departments finalize these rules by January 2016. So long as the Departments adhere to this statutory deadline, the CTE community can expect much more clarity regarding the law’s implementation at that time.

Nevertheless, throughout the NPRMs, the Departments make many references to “future joint planning guidance” as it relates to WIOA’s combined state planning provisions—a state plan option available under the new law that could allow Perkins programs to be included in a state’s overall plan for its WIOA activities. While a specific release date for that guidance remains uncertain, NASDCTEc remains hopeful that the Departments will expedite its release to support further state planning and a greater degree of cross systems collaboration.

Postsecondary Education Updates

In addition to prioritizing the reauthorization of ESEA, the education committees in both the House and the Senate have also set to work to renew the Higher Education Act (HEA)— legislation that governs the nation’s largest investment in postsecondary education among many other important features. As the reauthorization process for ESEA continues, lawmakers from both Chambers have reiterated their desire to pursue HEA reauthorization later this autumn.

Since that time, HEA activity has primarily centered in the Senate where HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently solicited public input on a series of white papers focused on three broad issues the committee would like to tackle in a newly reauthorized HEA:

NASDCTEc and ACTE provided formal comments on the accreditation and consumer information pieces as a supplement to the comments both organizations endorsed and supported from the Postsecondary Data Collaborative. Following the comment period, the HELP Committee has hosted two hearings on issues related to the topics covered in these papers. A helpful overview of the hearing on consumer information can be found here and more information related to yesterday’s hearing on accreditation can be found here. In between these hearings, both the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the HELP Committee announced staff working groups to address four major issues related to the reauthorization process on accountability, accreditation, financial aid, and campus safety.

One of the most critical issues for NASDCTEc during the HEA reauthorization process has been repealing the ban on the creation of a postsecondary student unit record system (read NASDCTEc’s full HEA priorities here). In May, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Wyden (D-OR), and Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 1195) which would do just that. By amending HEA, the bill would require postsecondary institutions who are Title IV eligible to submit student-level data to USDE. This data would then be matched with tax data from the Social Security Administration to produce aggregated information on median student earnings for programs at two, six, and 15 years after completion. The information would be disaggregated by various student groups with the aim of sharing this information with the broader public who could then make more informed choices about postsecondary education. NASDCTEc was strongly supportive of this legislation and it is important to note that elements of this bill have begun to gain some traction in the wider HEA reauthorization process.

In the postsecondary regulatory arena, USDE’s final “Gainful Employment” regulations have cleared a significant legal obstacle, with a U.S. District Court judge tossing out the Association of Proprietary Colleges’ lawsuit over the new rules. A separate lawsuit, from the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, is still ongoing and barring any further judicial interventions stemming from that case, the new regulations will go into effect starting July 1, 2015.

USDE also recently released important institutional guidance on student eligibility for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of HEA. The letter provides further clarification regarding the recent restoration of HEA’s “ability-to-benefit” (ATB) provision which allows students who do not have a high school diploma to receive financial aid if enrolled in an eligible career pathway program. The letter clarifies what a career pathway program must do to be eligible under this provision and clarifies the dates of eligibility for students enrolling before or after July 1, 2015. NASDCTEc has continued to advocate for ATB provisions in the next iteration of HEA and remains hopeful that this option will be strengthened for students moving forward.

House Marks Up Perkins Funding Bill

Following up on what we shared Tuesday, the House appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) successfully reported out an appropriations bill yesterday after a two hour hearing on the draft bill. USDE, along with the Perkins Act, both derive funding from this legislation. Although it still remains unclear how much funding the drafters of the bill intend to designate to CTE and the Perkins Act, the bill would dramatically reduce funding for USDE’s discretionary budget.

It is important to note that this cut is the result of Congress’ self-imposed sequester caps for this fiscal year and fiscal years into the next decade, as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). One of the main themes throughout the hearing was the need to change the underlying BCA legislation to increase these caps in order to design an appropriations bill that can adequately fund much needed investments in education and workforce development programs— a desire expressed by members of both parties.

Nevertheless, all Democratic amendments that were put forward to increase funding for various portions of the bill were voted down along party lines, ostensibly because such proposals would violate the sequester caps. The bill is now moving on to the full House appropriations committee where it is expected to be marked up sometime next week. A draft report and table for the bill— which will include more specific information related to Perkins funding— will be released 24 hours prior to this markup.

NASDCTEc is also expecting similar appropriations activity in the Senate, beginning as early as next week. Be sure to check back here for further updates and analysis of the Congressional appropriations process and what that means for the CTE community.

Odds and Ends

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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