Election 2016: From Governor’s Mansions to the Senate, the Democratic Ticket Boasts Years of CTE Experience

August 24th, 2016

This is the second part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Democratic ticket. A previous post covering the Republican ticket is accessible here.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in AnnandaleAn Advocate for Children and Families, Clinton Sees Opportunity in Free College

With decades in the public eye, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity to define and hone her position on education, which she says “should be the great door-opener.” Her campaign aims to knock down barriers to the middle class through apprenticeships, career technical education (CTE) and debt-free college.

Clinton’s work in public education dates back to 1983 when, in her role as First Lady of Arkansas, she led an initiative to develop more rigorous standards for public schools in the state. Years later, as New York’s junior Senator, she went on to serve on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. There, she worked on two foundational pieces of education legislation: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Clinton’s education policy platform for the 2016 election aims to expand access to the middle class by removing barriers to higher education. She has proposed a plan to make community colleges free and to cover the cost of tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities for families making less than $125,000. These proposals are loosely based on similar efforts in Tennessee and other states that have seen increased enrollment and higher retention rates at community and technical colleges.

As crucial as college is, Clinton asserted in her Democratic National Convention speech in July that, “a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.” She went on to say “we’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.” To do this, her campaign has proposed a tax credit of up to $1,500 for businesses hosting apprentices and is considering “options to incentivize CTE programs and help provide grants to train workers for the 21st century economy.”

Tim Kaine’s Support for CTE Dates Back to His Work as a Teacher in Honduras

Perhaps the the lengthiest CTE résumé this cycle goes to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine. His education record — which includes broad initiatives as Virginia Governor and tireless support for CTE in the Senate — dates all the way back to his childhood.

The son of a welder, Kaine briefly helped manage a technical school in Honduras before returning to complete his law degree at Harvard University. Kaine’s interest in CTE followed him to the Virginia Governor’s mansion where, in 2008, he announced an initiative to create six Career and Technical Academies across the state. The initiative, which was launched with a grant from the National Governor’s Association, aimed to align K-12 instruction in STEM fields with workforce and postsecondary expectations, while equipping more students with marketable skills that lead to high-demand, high-wage careers.

In Virginia, Kaine also launched the Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Awards Program, which recognizes CTE programs that align with industry standards, effectively engage local partners, provide relevant and integrated academic and technical instruction, and more.

In the Senate, Kaine co-founded the bipartisan CTE Caucus along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in 2014, stating that “career and technical programs … can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation.” His work with this caucus has led to the introduction of a number of CTE-related legislation, including the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would establish a formal definition for CTE programs of study within the Perkins Act.

His persistent advocacy for high-quality CTE in the Senate led to a number of legislative victories, most recently in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). With Kaine’s support, ESSA now includes provisions to fund career counseling programs, help teachers integrate academic and technical instruction, add CTE to the definition of a “well-rounded education,” encourage states to use career readiness indicators in their accountability systems, and fund professional development for CTE teachers.

CTE has long benefited from bipartisan support, and the 2016 election is no exception. With mere months until the election, we look forward to the candidates continuing to elevate high-quality CTE as an effective educational strategy in their platforms, in their speeches and in the debates later this fall.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

Illinois Tackles Career Readiness with New Education Bill; Meanwhile North Carolina Creates Credential Incentive Program

August 23rd, 2016

With Half of Illinois Community College Students Required to Take Remedial Courses, New Law Aims to Improve College and Career Readiness in the State

IL Graduation RatesLast month Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act into law, cementing a cross-sector effort to transform the educational system in Illinois and better prepare students for college and careers. According to Advance Illinois, an education nonprofit, half of high school students enrolling in community colleges in Illinois are required to take remedial education during their first year. The law aims to reduce the remedial education rates in the state and prepare students for future careers through four major strategies:

  • Defining Postsecondary and Career Expectations: The law calls on a joint committee (including the State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community College Board and the Student Assistance Commission) to define specific, grade-level expectations for career and postsecondary exploration. These expectations, which cover grades 8 through 12, are to be published by July 2017.
  • Piloting a Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Program: A new pilot program established under the law will permit selected school districts to replace current graduation requirements with competency-based learning systems. One challenge with competency-based education is evaluating student learning in a way that is recognized by colleges or employers. As such, the law requires participating school districts to create a plan to assess student mastery and to partner with two-year and four-year higher education institutions to ensure that a competency-based system can still provide colleges the information they need to admit incoming students.
  • Establishing a College and Career Pathway Endorsement Program: The endorsement program is designed to recognize student learning and incentivize entry into high-need career pathways. To be eligible for an endorsement, students must develop and maintain an individualized college and career plan, complete at least two years of coursework on a career pathway that leads to a degree or certificate with labor-market value, complete career exploration activities, and demonstrate readiness for non-remedial coursework.
  • Providing Transitional Instruction in Math and Reading: Finally, the law calls on community colleges and K-12 school districts to reduce remedial education in college by creating transitional math and reading opportunities in 12th grade. These classes will help prepare students for credit-bearing college courses and, as such, will be recognized by colleges across the state. In developing competencies for instructional coursework, the law also requires the state to draw on expertise from private sector employers.

The law will be implemented over the course of several years. The competency-based education pilot program will be launched during the 2018-19 school year;  the pathways endorsement program will be launched in the 2019-20 school year; and transitional mathematics courses will also be available statewide by 2019-20. 

North Carolina to Offer Teacher Bonuses for Industry-Recognized Credentials in New Pilot Program

When North Carolina passed its budget for fiscal year 2016-17 last month, it launched a new pilot program to encourage student learning in high-demand industries. The program — which will start immediately, using data from the 2015-16 school year — will reward Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers with up to $50 for each student who goes on to obtain an industry-recognized credential.

The size of the reward will depend on the academic rigor and employment value of the earned credential. Academic rigor will be evaluated based on the instructional hours, work experience and postsecondary credit that are associated with the credential. The second value criteria, employment value, will consider the entry wage, growth rate and job opportunities for the occupational category.

Before the pilot program sunsets in June 2018, the State Board will report back to the legislature on the amount of awards provided, the number of industry credentials earned, and the effects of the program on teacher performance and retention.


Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Federal Audit Adds Clarity to Competency-Based Education Policies for Colleges and Universities

August 18th, 2016

CBE photoIn the postsecondary world there is growing interest in Competency-Based Education (CBE), a strategy that organizes learning around mastery rather than seat time. CBE is already considered a promising strategy in secondary Career Technical Education (CTE) because it allows students to learn at their own pace in a flexible environment and helps them develop the skills necessary to be successful in their future careers. However, a newly published audit from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General shows that, in order for CBE programs to thrive, the higher education community will need to ensure that students receive regular, substantive interaction with their instructors.

The target of the audit is the Senior College and University Commission (part of an accrediting agency called the Western Association of Schools and Colleges), which reviews and accredits postsecondary programs in California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Among the Commission’s responsibilities is evaluating course content to ensure that the purposes, methods of delivery and measurement of learning are aligned with federal policy. These evaluations carry a lot of weight — programs are eligible to receive federal grant funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act depending on the results of the evaluation — which is why the Inspector General audited the Commission’s review process.

While CBE has enjoyed bipartisan support, the Federal Government’s priority is to ensure that CBE programs are held to high standards of quality. That is why the Higher Education Act restricts federal funding depending on the way that educational content is delivered. Traditionally, academic content has been delivered in a classroom environment, which is considered “campus-based education.” Non-traditional methods of delivery can still qualify for federal funding, but the amount of funding is contingent on the quality of instruction.

CBE courses that are delivered off-campus and are supported by “regular and substantive interaction between the instructor and student” are classified as distance education. In contrast, courses in which education is self-paced and interaction between the student and instructor is limited are considered correspondence education. Correspondence education has implications for funding because students enrolled in such courses are only eligible for a half-time Federal Pell Grant Award.

At issue in the Inspector General’s audit is the way that the Commission classifies courses as distance or correspondence education. The audit found that the Commission did not sufficiently evaluate whether courses would be considered correspondence education, meaning that some courses could have been classified incorrectly. While the Commission does not have the authority to approve correspondence courses — this authority is outside of the Commission’s scope — it is still responsible for identifying them. After receiving the Inspector General’s audit, the Commission revised its policies and procedures to ensure that students in CBE programs receive regular and substantive interaction with their instructors.

The Shared Vision for the Future of CTE calls on states and institutions to “embrace postsecondary competency-based education models … to expand access for more learners, and provide more flexibility so all individuals can get the skills they need when they need them.” While the Federal Government has already created avenues to promote CBE in higher education, accrediting agencies should consider how they evaluate the methods of delivery for CBE programs in order to realize this vision.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

SkillsUSA Supports Putting Learner Success First

August 17th, 2016

This post is written by by Tim Lawrence, Executive Director, SkillsUSA, a supporter of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. 

The past year was one of growth and change for Career Technical Education (CTE). With interest in the media and on Capitol Hill, CTE was 2c SkillsUSA® 72dpiin the spotlight as a strategy for addressing our education and workforce challenges. Helping more learners navigate pathways to careers and continued education is a national priority that’s shared by educators, employers and Congress.

I was proud to watch history unfold when Advance CTE and six national organizations released a collective vision that proposed a transformation of CTE. Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE is a clear call to action. It asks leaders, policymakers and practitioners to commit to a high-quality CTE system where learners prepare for success.

In Orlando last October, I attended the Future of CTE Summit. The event brought together leaders in K-12 and postsecondary education with those in workforce development. I was extremely honored to be a part of this important summit and provide input to the process. Together, we reviewed the CTE landscape and thought strategically about how CTE could expand its contributions to education. The vision that resulted from this gathering offers key guiding principles and action steps including high standards, empowering learners, flexible learning options led by knowledgeable experts, and systems that put students first.

One thing CTE leaders do well is collaborate and build off each success. Advance CTE is leading the charge, and SkillsUSA is proud to support these efforts. This vision is truly a shared vision across many organizations including SkillsUSA.

As it has for nearly 100 years, Advance CTE represents state leaders of CTE who support visionary state leadership and best practices, and who promote academic and technical excellence that ensures a career-ready workforce. This in turn helps position the United States to flourish in a global economy.

Like other Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), SkillsUSA considers itself is a vital solution to the growing skills gap. Our partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. We serve more than 300,000 member students and instructors annually in middle schools, high schools and colleges. Our diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into CTE through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.

We are proud to work with Advance CTE. Their work supports our mission and continues to seek better ways to advance learning and engage students. CTE is getting attention and gaining ground for one reason: because it works. CTE is a proven workforce and education strategy. CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in postsecondary education, be employed and earn higher wages.

Employers are hungry for more prepared students and future employees, so what is holding us back? CTE still faces a stereotype across our country as being a place for low-achievers or non-college-bound students. The systems in place keep CTE separate from other education, and not just in a silo — but often in a separate building. We have to keep pushing to educate the public about CTE to ensure that students know about it before they select high-school classes, and to review how programs are planned and delivered to ensure students can follow a career path and be college- and career-ready.

We are all accountable for our success and failure within CTE. We must swiftly eliminate programs that are no longer relevant in today’s economy and invest in what works. To support all learners on their career journeys requires nothing short of major transformation. The hard work has begun by Advance CTE and its leadership. They are changing the face of CTE one student at a time. We look forward to embracing and promoting the vision of Putting Learner Success First. Working together with Advance CTE, we will enhance our education and workforce systems and enable more of our learners to live successful and productive lives and grow in careers that support our schools, communities and our nation’s economic prosperity.

Putting Learner Success First: New Resources, New Supporters & More!

August 16th, 2016

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In May, Advance CTE and six partner organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, establishing a bold vision for all of education, which includes, but is not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE). Since the release, tens of thousands of copies have been distributed across the country and state and local leaders have begun to signal their commitment to its implementation.

To support leaders at all levels turn this shared vision into a reality – and truly support ALL learners on their paths to career success – Advance CTE has created a number of resources and materials. We will continue to build and share new tools and resources in coming months.

New Resources

Want to help spread the word about the shared vision? Check out our tips for sharing Putting Learner Success First or dive right in and use our PowerPoint and talking points.

Looking to make the case to state CTE leaders? Use this two-pager to get started.

Or, want to understand what work is already underway to support the vision’s principles and actions nationally? Review this chart of aligned national efforts to track progress and see where new investment are most needed.

New Vision Supporters

We are so excited to announce that SkillsUSA and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) have both officially signed on as supporters to Putting Learner Success First, joining the original seven supportive organizations! As two of the leading Career Technical Student Organizations in the country, they support the leadership, technical and academic skills of learners in all 50 states – serving over 450,000 learners and instructors. You can read their sign on letters here and be on the look out for their guest blogs soon.

Sign on Campaign

Finally, we recently created a sign on campaign, where leaders and supporters at all levels can show their support for the shared vision. We encourage you to join your peers from across the country and sign on today!

 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Welcome Eric Feldborg, New Hampshire’s new State CTE Director

August 15th, 2016

Eric Feldborg has had a less traditional route to the State CTE Director position in New Hampshire. Beginning his career as a process and product engineer, he then transitioned into building custom furniture, all the while serving as a skiing instructor on the winter weekends. Eventually, Feldborg recognized his love of teaching and decided to make a career of it by becoming a science teacher. Feldborg ended up spending 15 years teaching, eight of which were at a competency-based school. In the process of getting recertified, Feldborg began taking graduate courses and became more deeply interested in education leadership and the social sciences, eventually earning a doctorate of education from Plymouth State University.

While working on his dissertation, Feldborg reached out to the commissioner of education in the state who steered Feldborg towards an innovative project at one of the state’s Career Technical Education (CTE) centers. His research focused on how unplanned strategies emerge in complex systems undergoing transformational change. After earning his doctorate, he continued serving as the Outreach Administrator at Great Bay eLearning Charter School, then moved to the New Hampshire Department of Education. Before assuming his current role, he served as the state’s STEM Director for six months.

As State CTE Director, Feldborg hopes to serve as a facilitator and help create a more cohesive system among state leaders across the education and workforce sectors. Additionally, he wants to refine the monitoring process at the local level to ensure it is seamless and productive. Over the next year, Feldborg plans to learn the ins and outs of the requirements and determine how schools can focus on improving CTE at its core.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Election 2016: Pence’s CTE Record in Indiana Hints at Republican Ticket’s Education Agenda

August 12th, 2016

This is the first part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Republican ticket.

Trump PenceLacking an Education Record, Trump Makes Nods to Parental Choice

Coming from the private sector, Republican Nominee Donald Trump has a limited record on education. Yet he has provided some hints as to what an education agenda would look like under his administration, including a smaller role for the federal government, more choice for parents, and more employable college degrees.

Trump’s campaign website advocates more power for parents, arguing that “education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.” The real estate tycoon voiced similar sentiments in his Republican National Convention speech, promising to empower “parents [to] send [their kids] to a safe school of their choice.”

While Trump, to our knowledge, has not explicitly endorsed Career Technical Education  (CTE) as an educational strategy, there is some evidence that CTE would be included in a plan to expand parental choice. The Republican party’s 2016 platform calls for “options in learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools.” If this is any indication of what a Trump administration would look like, then CTE would likely be a priority.

In regards to higher education, the Trump campaign’s national co-chairman, Sam Clovis, hinted in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that the campaign wants reforms that would incentivize getting degrees that lead to jobs over liberal arts degrees. He argues that schools should put some “skin in the game” and share some of the risk when students pursue degrees that do not lead to high-wage jobs. This would likely lead colleges to make decisions based on students’ prospective majors and post-graduation employment prospects.

In Indiana, Pence Spearheaded Regional Collaboration and Invested in Expanding CTE

Governor Mike Pence, in contrast, has had 12  years in the U.S. House of Representatives and nearly four years as governor of Indiana with which to demonstrate his CTE chops. His education record in the House is short: he voted against the No Child Left Behind Act on the grounds that it put too much power in the hands of the federal government, and voted for the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006. Since his election as Governor of Indiana in 2012, however, Pence has made a concerted effort to prioritize CTE in schools all across the state, emphasizing the viability of both college and career pathways, which he calls “two Plan A’s.”

Most would say that Pence’s résumé in Indiana is CTE friendly. The crown jewels in his CTE record are the regional Indiana Works Councils and the state-level Career Council, both of which he worked with the state General Assembly to create during his first year in office.

The Indiana Works Councils include 11 regional boards, each composed of education and business leaders who work locally to align CTE programs with regional workforce needs. Together the councils have provided more than $4.3 million to support innovative CTE curricula across the state, which in turn reached more than 2,600 students in the first year.

At the state level, the Indiana Career Council has brought together leaders in education and industry to develop and drive CTE strategies across the state. With a three-pillar strategic plan and ongoing reviews of education and workforce needs, the Council has been the torchbearer for linking K-12, postsecondary and adult CTE to Indiana’s high wage, high demand economic sectors.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce invited Pence to speak at a hearing in 2015 about expanding opportunity in America’s schools and workplaces. In his testimony, Pence once again reinforced the need for two “Plan A’s” and urged the committee to ensure that non college-bound students “can thrive in their future careers, and one way to do this is to again make career and technical education a priority.”

While the Republican ticket has yet to articulate a proposal to expand and invest in CTE at the national level, we are hopeful that, given the Republican party’s platform and Pence’s record in Indiana, CTE would be a priority in a Trump-Pence administration.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: Experts on NPR’s ‘On Point’ Weigh in on CTE

August 12th, 2016

 

CONVERSATION OF THE WEEK

Earlier this week, experts weighed in on the shift from vocational education to today’s Career Technical Education (CTE) on NPR’s On Point. Listen to the hour-long discussion featuring Shaun Dougherty, author of the recent study, Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes? The conversation spilled over into the comments section where listeners voiced their own experiences with CTE.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Students can earn up to $2,500 if they plan to continue their studies in CTE, thanks to the Horatio Alger Association. Applications are accepted on a rolling deadline here.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Register now for our upcoming webinar, “Kentucky Gets Students on TRACK with Youth Apprenticeship“! At 2 p.m. ET, on August 31, Kentucky leaders will discuss the state’s youth pre-apprenticeship program, Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky. Join us to hear how the program started, how success is being measured and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

This webinar is part of a yearlong series on work-based learning co-hosted by Advance CTE and the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center. In case you missed our earlier webinars, be sure to check out the initiatives in Tennessee and West Virginia.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Tackle Important CTE Issues at the 2016 Fall Meeting!

August 11th, 2016

Join us October 17-19, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! 2016 has been an Advance CTEexciting year for Career Technical Education and Advance CTE. This is your chance to get behind-the-scenes information about the ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, learn about how other states are implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act and Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, and take a deep dive into how you can help advance Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE.

In addition, we’ll dig into some exciting topic areas through informative panels and breakout sessions, as well as collaborative small-group discussions including:

  • Work-based learning including apprenticeships
  • Career-readiness measures
  • CTE and industry experts in the classroom

Don’t miss out on this unique professional development experience! Early bird registration closes August 31,  so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Report Explores State Requirements for Dual Credit Teachers

August 9th, 2016

In Missouri and Other States, Experience Counts

ECS dual creditMany states allow students to earn credits in high school that can be applied towards a postsecondary degree or credential — a strategy known as dual, or concurrent, enrollment. While dual enrollment makes it easier and more affordable to obtain a postsecondary credential, states must pass policies to ensure students are receiving this advanced instruction from qualified teachers.

To further explore this challenge, the Education Commission of the States last month released a 50-state report exploring the requirements that states are using to approve dual enrollment faculty. The report finds that most states (35 in total) require dual enrollment instructors to meet the same qualifications as faculty at postsecondary institutions. Other states only require a combination of graduate credits or work experience related to their subject of instruction.

Interestingly, some states, such as Missouri, permit Career Technical Education (CTE) instructors to teach dual credit courses without meeting postsecondary faculty qualifications as long as they demonstrate experience through “working in the field, industry certification and years of experience.” In addition to detailing faculty qualification policies, the report highlights strategies that states are using to train their existing teacher workforce to teach dual enrollment courses. Such strategies are critical for providing students with seamless pathways to postsecondary credentials and future jobs.

From the States: Investments in CTE, Workforce Training Programs

In other policy news, three states are taking steps to invest in CTE and workforce training programs. In Massachusetts the legislature passed a comprehensive economic development bill that includes $45.9 million to establish, upgrade and expand CTE and training programs that are aligned to workforce development priorities.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is now accepting applications for the $100 million Work Ready Skills Initiative, a bond-funded grant program to galvanize regional cross-sector partnerships and bring CTE facilities up to industry standards. The initiative was authorized in a recent budget bill and requires a 10 percent match from local partners.

Virginia residents can now earn a high-demand credential at a third of the cost under the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program. The grant, which was passed in March, is designed to increase access to noncredit workforce training programs in high-demand fields. Under the program, the state Board of Workforce Development is required to publish a list of noncredit workforce training programs related to high-demand fields each year, which it has already done here for 2016.

As the new school year approaches, so do new opportunities to expand high-quality CTE across the states. Keep an eye on this feed for more updates.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

 

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