National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Congress Aims to Move Past No Child Left Behind as Funding Deadline Edges Closer Once More

November 24th, 2015

United States CapitalCongressional negotiators have announced an agreement on the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)— the law formerly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Due for reauthorization since 2007, lawmakers have struggled to find consensus for how to address NCLB’s most readily apparent flaws while honoring its long legislative legacy rooted in the civil rights movement.

As we shared earlier this summer, both the House  and the Senate passed respective bills to reauthorize ESEA. Since that time both Chambers have been working on a bipartisan and bicameral basis to develop a framework agreement that would serve as the basis for a compromise between the two proposals. Last week that framework was announced along with the creation of a formal conference committee— a move that has been exceptionally rare over the past decade.

ESEA conferees were announced last week and met twice before approving this framework (along with a few amendments) last Thursday by a margin of 39-1. A summary of this framework agreement— now known as the “Every Child Succeeds Act” or ESSA— can be found here.

It is important to note that this agreed upon framework must now be turned into a final bill and Congressional staff are now busy translating the aspects of this agreement into formal legislative text. That text must then be approved by both Chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President. The conference report and final text of ESSA is expected to be available on November 30th. The House is expected to consider the legislation shortly after this followed by the Senate. Lawmakers are aiming for final passage before the end of this December.

While the official legislative text has not been finalized, ESSA seeks to significantly roll-back the federal role in K-12 education by providing states broad authority (and flexibility) for how to implement the law. A broad overview of the agreement’s main contours can be found here.

NASDCTEc will provide a detailed analysis of ESSA’s CTE-related provisions of interest once it has been finalized and will continue to keep the CTE community abreast of this ongoing reauthorization effort.

Congress Passes Budget Agreement Providing Temporary Relief from Sequester Caps

As we shared previously, Congress passed and the President signed into law the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA) which provides $80 billion in sequester relief over the next two fiscal years by temporarily raising current limits on federal spending (known as sequester caps) through FY 2017 for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs.

The deal also suspends, but does not raise the nation’s “debt ceiling” through March 15, 2017 putting the twin issues of federal spending and the nation’s debt limit off until after the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Currently the federal government is operating on a “continuing appropriations resolution” (CR) which temporarily extended FY 2015 funding levels into the current 2016 federal fiscal year which began on October 1st of this year. This CR expires on December 11th, 2015 and Congress must act before that time to pass funding legislation to avert another government shutdown.

Although the BBA agreement provides an overall increase for how much funding is available to Congressional appropriators for federal Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, those same lawmakers must still pass separate legislation designating specific dollar amounts for individual agencies and departments which administer federal programs such as the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

That process is currently underway and ahead of it NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees urging them to restore Perkins funding to at least pre-sequestration levels or $1.123 billion for the law’s basic state grant program.

As a reminder Perkins derives its funding from the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill whose subcommittee has been given an overall allocation of $161.69 billion—a $5 billion increase over the FY 2015 level. That extra $5 billion in the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED 302(b) allocation must now be divided up among many programs, including Perkins, that are all competing for a portion of these newly available funds.

In an effort to ensure that Perkins funding is restored through this process, please be sure to contact your member of Congress to remind them about the importance of investing in CTE.  As the federal appropriations process continues and the December 11th deadline draws closer, be sure to check back here for more updates on Perkins funding.

Postsecondary CTE Bills Introduced in the House

Earlier this month two separate proposals to boost federal financial aid support for postsecondary CTE programs were introduced in the House.

The first of these, known as the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, was introduced by Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI). The JOBS Act is a companion bill to an earlier Senate proposal sponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The legislation aims to change current program edibility requirements for the federal Pell grant program to serve more students who are enrolled in qualifying shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs.

The CTE Opportunity Act, another companion bill to an earlier Senate proposal, was recently introduced by Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Ryan Costello (R-PA). House CTE Caucus co-Chairs Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) also cosponsored this bill which would increase access to federal financial aid available under Title IV of the Higher Education Act for qualifying shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. Read more about the legislation here.

NASDCTEc supported both of these proposals and looks forward to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act where this policy recommendation and many more can be fully realized.

Odds & Ends

  • The Obama Administration recently announced a new experimental site program (made available under HEA) that will expand eligibility for the federal Pell grant program to students who are concurrently or dually enrolled in postsecondary coursework. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) is currently inviting applications from qualifying programs for the 2016-17 academic year and hopes to support up to 10,000 students. More here.
  • USDE’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) recently announced a new initiative titled “Potential Role of Secondary Career and Technical Education Programs in Preparing Students for Apprenticeship Programs”. The National Career Technical Education Foundation (NCTEF) has been selected to provide support to this project and more on this announcement can be found here.
  • USDE has also recently unveiled a new transparency agenda aimed at improving the postsecondary accreditation system. Read more about the effort here.
  • The Obama Administration announced more than $375 million in public and private funding to support “Next-Generation” high schools—an effort to fundamentally redesign the high school experience by focusing on many of the elements contained in a high-quality CTE program of study. More on the announcement here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE: ESEA Edition

November 19th, 2015



House, Senate Conferees Endorse Deal to Replace No Child Left Behind
Lawmakers from the House and Senate met Thursday and by a vote of 39 to 1 endorsed legislation to replace No Child Left Behind. Next up is a vote by the House on December 2 before it heads to the Senate. The new legislation is all about the states, shifting accountability systems away from the Federal level, creating a grant program to help serve low-income children, and allowing states to cap standardized testing.
Read More

The New ESEA, in a Single Table
Though the full text won’t be released until November 30, Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute charts what provisions may have been eliminated or survived the new ESEA bill.
Take a Look


Want to know where NASDCTEc stands on ESEA? Check out our ESEA recommendations and follow our Legislative Updates on the Learning that Works Blog.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Three Weeks Left to Apply to the Excellence in Action Award

November 18th, 2015

Three Weeks Left to Apply to the 2016 Excellence in Action Award!2016ExcellenceinActionapp

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium is searching the country for superior programs of study across the 16 Career Clusters that have a meaningful impact on student success.

Why Should I Apply?

Receiving the Excellence in Action award means your program of study will be showcased on a national level through conferences, webinars, in a monthly newsletter to members of Congress, in the media, on our website and in our blog. It’s a chance to show the rest of the country how your program of study prepares students for successful and meaningful careers through high-quality CTE. If you want to see examples of some stellar programs of study, take a look at the 2014 and 2015 winners, some of which were featured at the White House.

How to Apply

Complete the Award Application and follow steps for submission of your application by the application deadline, Wednesday, December 9, 2015.5:00 p.m. ET.

For questions or more information email

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE: #YesSheCan

November 13th, 2015


The White House hosted an all-day forum on Friday, “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color,” taking on topics such as education, health, economic conditions and portrayal in the media.


Earlier this week, the White House hosted the Summit on Next Generation High Schools and announced more than $375 million to support secondary education that re-imagines the high school experience with things such as including personalized learning, providing access to work-based learning and expanding STEM. Learn more about the endeavor here.


Eleventh graders at Washington, D.C.’s Cardozo High School learn how to fly a F-35 Fighter Jet in the school’s new aviation lab, one of only 18 in the country. Watch

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

State Policy Update: Valuing Career Readiness and Strengthening Sector Partnerships

November 10th, 2015

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the National Skills Coalition (NSC), two co-conveners of the Future of CTE Summit, recently released two new reports of interest to the CTE community.

nasbeThe first, “Toward a Better Balance: Bolstering the Second ‘C’ in College and Career Readiness” from NASBE is the result of the organization’s yearlong study group comprised of state education board members. The group examined the policies and programs that prepare students for both college and career. Nebraska State CTE Director Rich Katt and NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green were among the experts who presented to the group.

The study group recognized that career readiness has been largely forgotten within the college and career readiness (CCR) agenda, and called for state boards of education to leverage their unique and important role to reexamine their states’ CCR infrastructure that supports and values college and career readiness equally.

The group’s recommendations include:

  • Building knowledge and understanding of postsecondary, business and workforce initiatives: Understand how your education and workforce systems are governed, funded and operate, and further, how and whether they are connected or operate in silos.
  • Engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to define career readiness: The confusion around what it means to be career ready has muddled the state policies and programs that are intended to advance the full CCR agenda. Defining these terms clearly, and with a broad array of stakeholders, is the first step to ensuring rigor, equity and alignment.
  • Ensure state board policies value career readiness: State boards should reexamine its host of policies and programs that are the “bread and butter” of state boards’ work, and determine whether they truly value career readiness including standards, assessments, accountability, and teacher preparation and professional development.

Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit

NSC has released a toolkit for state policymakers to use when considering how to support local sector partnerships through funding, technical assistance and/or program initiatives. Earlier this year, NSC released a 50-state scan of sector partnership policies and found that 21 states have such policies through at least one of those three key areas. Only 10 states have policies with all three components.

The toolkit is designed to help states establish, strengthen, or scale-up their existing policies. The toolkit includes:

  • Guidance on key elements of a robust state sector partnership policy;
  • Case studies of Massachusetts, Colorado and Maryland with policies and examples of the local partnerships they support; and
  • A legislative template, which can also be used for an executive order.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: It’s All About Apprenticeships

November 6th, 2015



How Apprenticeship Will Save the American Economy
Tomorrow marks the end of National Apprenticeship Week where employers, educators and policy makers across the country have promoted the value of apprenticeships in filling the skills gap in certain fields, while also helping people of all ages get the training they need for a successful career at a low cost. “During National Apprenticeship Week, we recognize the ways apprenticeships foster innovation and prosperity, and we recommit to encouraging and supporting those who offer and partake in them,” said President Obama.


The U.S. Department of Labor is the place to go for all resources Apprenticeship Week related. Find fact sheets, funding opportunities, videos and stories about how apprenticeships are making a meaningful impact across the country.


NASDCTEc is working with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) on an effort to identify model CTE programs of study that align with or articulate to apprenticeship programs. The Potential Role of Secondary Career and Technical Education Programs in Preparing Students for Apprenticeship Programs includes partners, RTI International, Jobs for the Future, Vivayic and Quality Information Partners along with NASDCTEc who will develop a variety of resources for state and local leaders looking to replicate model apprenticeship programs.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Upcoming Webinar: Innovative Teaching and Transportation Industry Partnerships

November 5th, 2015

NESTWFC_LARGECross-posted from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education blog

On Thursday, November 12 from 3:15-4:30 p.m. ET, a webinar entitled “Innovative Teaching and Transportation Industry Partnerships” will feature teachers, administrators and industry partners and their insights and examples of innovative programs and teaching models to deliver transportation-related curricula for high school students. The webinar is hosted and co-sponsored by the Northeast Center of the National Network for the Transportation Workforce and the National Association of State Directors for Career Technical Education Consortium.

You can register for the webinar here.

The Federal Highway Administration established a National Network for the Transportation Workforce that consists of five Regional Surface Transportation Workforce Centers. The Centers engage and facilitate partnerships with state Departments of Transportation and Education, industry, and other public and private stakeholders to support more efficient approaches to transportation workforce development. The centers address the range of workforce development activities from middle and high-schools to technical schools and community colleges. The centers are also useful resources for universities, postgraduate programs, and transportation workers.

In addition, the U.S. Departments of Education, Transportation and Labor have been working closely to project future employment, skills, skills gaps, and training needs within the transportation industry and its subsectors. The report, called “Strengthening Skills Training & Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry,” is available on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

CTE Research Review: How Did England Triple Its Apprenticeships?

November 4th, 2015

Apprenticeship_Header_2It’s National Apprenticeship Week! The Obama Administration has been raising the profile of (and funding for) apprenticeships through several initiatives. The most recent effort comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, which unveiled its ApprenticeshipUSA Toolkit last week.

The toolkit includes resources to learn about apprenticeships and their benefits, tools to build strong partnerships and apprenticeship strategies, and ways to help implement a fully integrated program into a state or local workforce system. It also features case studies and videos from Iowa, Michigan and Vermont. You can also check out last week’s webinar for a helpful overview of toolkit.

How Did England Generate Two Million Apprenticeships?

The Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, hosted the first Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange Forum to learn more about how England tripled its apprenticeship offerings. The Exchange featured nearly 20 U.S., British and Australian experts and apprenticeship leaders that explored methods for scaling successful and innovative programs including how to recruit employers and support apprentices.

Be sure to check out the full slate of presentations and a video of the event to learn more about the British and Australian approaches to expanding apprenticeships. For the U.S. perspective, here’s a refresher on a 2014 thought piece from the leading U.S. expert on apprenticeships, Robert Lerman.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

October 30th, 2015



National Apprenticeships week begins Monday! The U.S. Department of Labor has a variety of resources available including fact sheets, a list of events in your community and webinars.
Learn more


The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council and Grduation Alliance have joined forces to address the skills gap in the manufacturing sector by focusing on creating pathways to graduation for former high school dropouts along with providing students with professional training and industry certification.
Learn More


We’re closing out the month with a lot of activity around the Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization. Learn more about the recent hearing in the House, Senate reauthorization priorities, and what is slated to happen next. Make sure to sign up for our Learning that Works blog and follow the Legislative Update series for more information.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Senate Begins Consideration of Perkins Reauthorization as House Elects a new Speaker and Congress Inches Closer to Budget Deal

October 30th, 2015

United States CapitalLast week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee formally began to consider the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). As has been the case since the 113th Congress, Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) have been designated by the committee to lead efforts to renew this important law.

These two Senators, along with HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), have all recently agreed to a set of eight bipartisan principles that will be used to guide their efforts to reauthorize the Perkins Act:

  1. Make it easier for States and locals to run their CTE programs to serve all students who desire to gain access to CTE coursework, including students with disabilities;
  2. Increase access to, and support of, career counseling for all CTE students;
  3. Maintain Perkins as a formula program;
  4. Align with ESEA and WIOA (where applicable) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the education and workforce development programs;
  5. Support the expansion of public/private collaborations with secondary and post-secondary programs, including alignment with State or locally-determined in-demand industries and occupations;
  6. Support efforts to integrate into and strengthen career pathways at the state and local levels;
  7. Address unfunded programs; and
  8. Improve evaluation and research to support innovation and best practices.


This week groups were asked to submit specific recommendations to the committee for the law’s renewal. NASDCTEc, in conjunction with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), submitted substantial legislative recommendations to the committee earlier this week based on our board-approved Perkins recommendations. A crosswalk of this submission with the above principles is available here, information related to Title I & II recommendations can be found here and here, and a document highlighting points of intersection between this proposal and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act can be accessed here.

So far no firm timeline has been set for a formal bill to renew Perkins. As with the Perkins-related hearing in the House this past Tuesday, these are just the first steps in what will likely be a much longer reauthorization process.

As things continue to evolve, be sure to check back here for more Perkins updates and analysis.

House Resolves Leadership Impasse and Passes a Bipartisan Budget Deal

As we’ve been sharing, the House of Representatives has been struggling to find a replacement for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) following his surprise resignation announcement in September.

Last week the House GOP began to coalesce around House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as their preferred replacement for Speaker Boehner. Yesterday morning, the full chamber moved to elect Rep. Paul “D.” Ryan, elevating him to the Speaker of the House.

Competing for attention during the month-long melodrama of the House leadership race has been continued partisan disagreements on how to fund the federal government past December 11th and avert a catastrophic national debt default. Both of these issues, and many more, seem set to be resolved with the announcement earlier this week that Republican Congressional leaders and President Obama had reached a wide ranging agreement on federal spending and the nation’s borrowing limit.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) would provide approximately $80 billion in sequester relief over the next two fiscal years by temporarily raising current limits on federal spending (known as sequester caps) through FY 2017. These increases would be split between defense and non-defense discretionary programs, potentially providing additional funding for programs—such as the Perkins Act basic state grant— over the next two years. The deal also suspends, but does not raise the nation’s “debt ceiling” through March 15, 2017. Both aspects of the BBA would push ongoing partisan disagreements over federal spending and the nation’s debt limit until well after the upcoming Presidential election.

This Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to pass the BBA on a margin of 266-167—a move made possible by Speaker Boehner’s imminent departure (a substantial portion of the House Republican Caucus did not support the measure which is at odds with an informal Republican Caucus rule that no legislation be considered unless a majority of the majority supports a bill).

The BBA now moves to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed a cloture motion that will allow the full chamber to vote on the legislation sometime this Sunday or late on Monday.

While the BBA is an extremely positive step in the right direction, the legislation simply creates a broad framework for federal spending. Once passed, Congressional appropriators will need to establish new 302(b) allocations— the amount of money made available for each portion of the federal budget— for each of the necessary individual spending bills. This includes the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill where the Perkins Act draws its funding.

Put another way, the BBA will make more money available for federal discretionary programs like Perkins, but Congress must pass separate appropriations legislation to make that a reality. The new availability of funds should make it easier for appropriators to restore the massive cuts to education that were proposed by both the House and the Senate earlier in the year. However, the discussions over specific funding levels for programs like Perkins will only get started once Congress passes the BBA, so full restoration is by no means assured. These pieces of legislation, or a larger package including all or some of them, would replace the current “continuing resolution” that is funding federal programs through December 11th.

As the Congressional appropriations process continues, be sure to check back here for the likely impact on Perkins funding and much more.

Odds & Ends

  • Last week, the Senate CTE Caucus hosted a briefing with CNA Education who presented findings from a comparative case study on CTE programs in Tennessee and Florida. An executive summary of the report can be accessed here.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative recently announced a campaign to encourage more 14-19 year olds to pursue some form of education beyond high school. More can be found at
  • The Obama Administration is facilitating a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students. Additional information can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager