Measuring Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: Where to Start

March 23rd, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) affords states the chance to strengthen their accountability systems by adopting multiple measures of school success rather than relying on an antiquated test-based system. Buoyed by this flexibility, state agencies across the country are exploring strategies to integrate career readiness indicators into their accountability systems. While some states have made considerable progress in this arena, others are left wondering where do we start?

To help states navigate this new territory, Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers convened a workgroup of accountability experts and tasked them with identifying and recommending robust metrics to measure career readiness. Their recommendations, released earlier this month in a brief titled Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, detail four possible measures of student career readiness:

  • Progress Toward Post-High School Credential
  • Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences
  • Assessment of Readiness
  • Transitions Beyond High School

The brief further outlines strategies for measuring and valuing each of these measures, demonstrating how states can implement and gradually increase the sophistication of their measurement indicators. Lessons are also drawn from states such as Ohio, Kentucky and California that have made headway toward adopting and implementing career-focused accountability indicators in recent years.

Moving forward, JPMorgan Chase & Co. aims to support state efforts to adopt these recommendations and enhance their career-focused accountability through New Skills for Youth, a cross-state initiative to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers.

Expanding Access to Postsecondary Learning

Separately, students who earned dual credit in Oregon schools were more likely than their peers to graduate from high school, enroll in college and persist through their first year. That’s according to new research from the Research Education Lab at Education Northwest examining dual credit participation between 2005 and 2013. While the study reveals a correlation between dual credit attainment and positive outcomes, the authors note equity gaps in participation across student subgroups. Dual credit earners in the study were more often white, female and not on the federal free and reduced lunch program.

Equitable access to higher education is not a new issue, but it can often be exacerbated by performance-based funding formulas. Without careful design, such formulas can encourage two-year and four-year colleges to be more selective with who they admit into their programs. According to the Center for Legal and Social Policy (CLASP), states should adjust their postsecondary formula weights to counteract selectivity and encourage more open access to postsecondary education.

Odds and Ends

  • The Education Commission of the States published an analysis of State Longitudinal Data Systems, highlighting common approaches and challenges to instituting cross-system data sharing systems. The brief profiles successes in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
  • A study out of Mississippi State University exploring perceptions of CTE found that 45 percent of Mississippi residents were unable to name a single CTE program in their area. The authors put forward a series of recommendations including calling on educators to actively promote the many benefits of CTE participation, such as highlighting college-bound students, program flexibility, fast-track to careers and high-skill, high-demand job opportunities.
  • Two years after the California legislature launched the Career Pathways Trust — a $500 million grant program to finance collaborative career pathways — Jobs for the Future has released a summary of common successes and challenges across different grant sites.
  • A new paper from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign provides a quality assurance framework for short-term occupational training programs and makes recommendations for state and federal policymakers to strengthen such programs.
  • Two reports from America’s Promise Alliance, Relationships First and Turning Points, explore the role that relationship building plays in guiding students along their career pathways. The reports — the first two in an ongoing series — highlight Cafe Momentum in Dallas, TX; Per Scholas in the Bronx, NY; Urban Alliance in Washington, D.C.; and Year Up in the Bay Area.
  • A new study from the Online Learning Consortium examines six institutions in the United States that are experimenting with alternative credentialing strategies to provide flexible postsecondary learning opportunities, including digital distance learning and prior learning assessments.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Bills, the Budget, and More from the Hill

March 23rd, 2017

News is coming fast out of the new Administration, from President Trumps ‘skinny budget,’ to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos making the rounds at a series of education-focused conferences.  This week we’ll dig into the President’s 2018 Fiscal Year budget, explore a few bills that have been recently introduced, and get a sense of Secretary Betsy DeVos’ policy priorities.

Secretary Betsy DeVos maintains messages:

Secretary DeVos spoke to two groups of state leaders this week, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). In her March 20 remarks in front of both groups, she emphasized the benefits of expanding school choice and the flexibility provided to state leaders under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Both speeches featured examples of best practices in states, and her NASBE remarks highlighted Career Technical Education (CTE) efforts in California, specifically the state’s CTE courses that satisfy admission requirements for the University of California system and programs that incorporate industry-based learning.

This follows last week’s letter to chief state school officers on ESSA, including new guidance and an updated plan template. Notably, states planning to submit their plans by the first deadline will have until May 3 to allow governors sufficient time to review the updated template. Find more information and resources here.

Budget Update:

The President’s FY18 budget lays out cuts to the U.S. Department of Education totaling $9 billion. However, just $4.9 billion in cuts are outlined at this time (see this table for additional details), meaning that there is a strong likelihood that another $4.1 billion in cuts will be outlined at a later date. We do not yet know the proposed level of funding that Perkins will receive (though we do appreciate that Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) sent this letter to President Trump encouraging him to invest in Perkins). While we are unsure of the exact timeline for Perkins  reauthorization (though we continue to urge Congress to reauthorize soon), discussions are underway and it is likely that a bill will first move through the House, likely building off the version passed in the fall (H.R. 5587). While the administration has its sights set on the FY18 budget, the ongoing Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed late last year is scheduled to expire on April 28. At that time, Congress will need to pass an omnibus budget bill or another CR to continue funding for the remainder of FY17.

In case you missed it:

  • Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Todd Young (R-IN) – co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus – reintroduced the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act on March 14. This bill would amend Perkins, with a focus on raising the quality of CTE programs (see this factsheet for additional details).
  • Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) reintroduced the Community College to Career Fund Act, which would create a competitive grant program through the Department of Labor to “create and expand partnerships between two-year community and technical colleges and employers to train millions of Americans for jobs in high-demand industries” according to this one-pager released by the bill’s sponsors.
  • While budget cuts may be ahead, it seems there is at least general support for CTE from this new administration. In her March 15 remarks to the National Lieutenant Governors Association, Secretary DeVos said, “We should break the stigma that career education options are not valid paths to learning and success.” Just two days later in a discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German business leaders about workforce development issues President Trump said, “Germany has been a model for highly successful apprenticeship — that’s a name I like, “apprentice” — apprenticeship programs.” Major employers who have been supportive of CTE also contributed to the discussion, including IBM and Siemens.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Highlights from ACTE’s National Policy Seminar

March 20th, 2017

I’m Kathryn Zekus and I’m the new Senior Associate for Federal Policy. I’ll be leading Advance CTE’s government relations efforts, including advancing our federal legislative priorities, engaging Advance CTE’s members in advocacy efforts, and maintaining and growing meaningful partnerships with relevant stakeholders.

Given the renewed energy around reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), I’m especially excited to jump into this work and had great opportunities to do so this past week at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) National Policy Seminar (NPS) in Washington, D.C. Some major highlights from NPS were Josh Kraushaar’s keynote address, which pushed the audience to think about political capital, the state of the party politics in the U.S., and what may be in store in 2018, noting that Democrats only need 24 additional House seats to be in the majority and that this is a more likely outcome than big gains in the Senate, from his perspective as Political Editor at the National Journal.

Additionally, Kim R.  Ford, Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, encouraged the audience to maintain its commitment to Career Technical Education (CTE), noting that now is the time to lift up the positive outcomes associated with CTE. She also called on the audience to transform the language used to describe the opportunities CTE provides by emphasizing how it positions students for success in life.

Lastly, Sarah Raikes, 2017 ACTE Teacher of the Year, shared what advocacy for CTE means to her and urged her colleagues to jump into advocacy efforts wholeheartedly. Her succinct message and inspiring personal story was an excellent example of effective advocacy and a great conclusion to the day.

The next day, NPS organized opportunities for ACTE’s membership to meet with their members of Congress to advocate for CTE. The day ended with a reception sponsored by the Senate CTE Caucus, Project Lead the Way and ACTE where attendees heard from Senators Todd Young (R-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) about their bipartisan commitment to CTE. In addition to hearing from these CTE champions, students from all over the country showcased their innovative CTE projects, inventions and ideas. The student presentations were incredibly impressive and many focused on solving real-world problems. For example, one student designed a device for the inside of an athlete’s helmet to cool him/her down during physical activity! Hearing from students’ about their educational experiences brought CTE to life for all who attended the reception.

The last day of NPS focused on the teacher education pipeline, and included panel discussions that touched on the nuances of the issue, the variety of state and local contexts that impact it and tangible solutions that the audience could implement to support the recruitment and retention of CTE educators. In addition, our very own Kate Kreamer discussed the findings from our recently released report, The State of Career Technical Education: Increasing Access to Industry Experts in High Schools. All in all, NPS was a great start to my first week at Advance CTE and a valuable learning experience – I’m already looking forward to my next CTE meeting, the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting!

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Hear from over 25 CTE leaders at the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting

March 15th, 2017

Join us May 2 – 4, 2017 in Washington, D.C. four our annual Spring Meeting bringing together Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders from across the country for two and a half days of panels, breakout sessions and networking opportunities. This year’s meeting will feature over 25 leaders in CTE tackling issues from Perkins reauthorization to expanding access to CTE in rural communities.

As the new administration takes shape, it’s critical to stay up-to-date on how these changes may affect your state. This year’s meeting includes panels discussing timely topics such as:

  • Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Drive Career Readiness for All;
  • Reauthorizating the Higher Education Act; and
  • CTE and School Choice

Register Today! 

Not an Advance CTE Member? Become one today and save $175 on registration!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Encouraging Students to Dream Big, Plan Accordingly Spurs Economic Development

March 13th, 2017

This post is written by Kuder Inc.’s President and CEO Phil Harrington as part of our Friends of CTE series

As Baby Boomers retire and Millennials become the majority of the workforce, employers are grappling with major skills shortages. These multigenerational workforce issues and other shifts in the employment landscape are causing industries to experience unprecedented challenges in attracting the number of workers they need with the skill sets required to be successful. It’s no exaggeration to say that our nation’s economic development is in jeopardy, and I believe investing in Career Technical Education (CTE) is the answer.

An Integrated Approach

Advance CTE defines CTE as a form of education that provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners. I applaud CTE’s integrated approach that includes hands-on learning in the classroom as well as work-based learning, because these experiential learning opportunities can fast-track students to middle- and high-skill, high-demand careers.

CTE acknowledges and embraces the fact that in today’s world, most high school students will need to pursue some form of postsecondary education or training in order to compete in the workforce. But we’ve seen that a “one-size-fits-all” approach simply doesn’t work because, after all, traditional, four-year college isn’t for every student or every career path. CTE celebrates the many education and training options that are available to students following high school, including two-year programs, industry credentialing programs and, of course, the traditional four-year degree.

Student-Centered CTE = Success for All

I’ve observed an uptick in the number of CTE programs that are centered on individualized student career and education plans, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Leading experts tell us that self-knowledge is at the top of the list of competencies that are appropriate for high school students as they begin the career development process. So it behooves CTE programs to help students identify their career interests and values at the outset.

Research-based career assessments that are aligned to the National Career Clusters® Framework — such as Kuder’s — enable students to explore occupations, pathways and related education and training options based on their personal results. CTE takes this discovery process to the next level by finding that sweet spot where students’ interests and values intersect with industry needs and trends. Students’ dreams take flight when exploration turns to interaction, and when applying what they learn initiates the process of making decisions and setting goals for the future. It’s a formula that capitalizes on students’ interests and aspirations, and spurs economic development at the very same time, forming the ultimate talent pipeline. And it’s a formula that’s becoming a model for success, as encouraging students to dream big and plan accordingly can deliver major returns on investment for economic development.

CTE in Action

No matter where I travel throughout the United States, I see great examples of CTE programs that are connecting abstract concepts from students’ academic coursework to the “real” world of work, incorporating STEM, and fostering employability (or “soft”) skills critical to 21st-century jobs. These programs encourage and even incentivize students to be engaged, stay in school and complete their education with a rock-solid plan in hand for their next steps in life. Best of all, these CTE programs expose students to possibilities they may never have even imagined for themselves. It’s a real gift, as secondary students who avail themselves of CTE can leverage its low-risk, high-yield returns when they try a career on for size.

Kuder has been a longtime participant in a local School-to-Work (STW) program at Waukee High School – Newsweek Magazine’s 2015-16 Top High School in Iowa – both as an employer partner and online career planning system provider. Waukee runs an outstanding program; year in and year out, our experience never fails to reinforce our belief in and commitment to CTE. Following an intensive career development course focusing on resume prep, workplace etiquette and interviewing skills, Waukee STW students apply for and are placed in college-level internships at a variety of local business partner sites based on their Kuder assessment results. In a recent survey of current Waukee STW students and graduates from the past five years, 97 percent said they would recommend a work-based learning program to their peers. One student said the program, “puts you way ahead of everyone entering college. When people look at my resume they say, ‘whoa, how did you get that job in high school?’”

Our current STW intern, a senior who plans to major in international business this fall, recently penned an article for our company blog in which she reported that within her first six weeks at Kuder, her self-confidence had increased. She also shared that many of her peers appreciated the exploratory aspect of the STW program as it afforded them the opportunity to identify — as well as eliminate — potential career paths. As a parent, I can get behind the idea of encouraging students to rule a career in or out before investing in postsecondary education, especially when the prospect of accumulating student debt is a legitimate concern for so many. Certainly it can be argued that students who are career-ready are in a better position to avoid debilitating student loan debt than students who are plagued with indecision related to their future.

 
The CTE Ecosystem

To me, being a CTE advocate means that I’m committed to helping students realize their dreams, but I’m also committed to helping employers satisfy their need to fill jobs with talented employees. I don’t see the point of preparing students for future careers without proactively engaging a major stakeholder in their future success. Like any healthy ecosystem, it’s about fostering interactions and interconnectedness. When employers’ needs coincide with candidates’ skill sets and goals, there is synergy. I would also argue that we are doing a disservice to students when we send them off to college or the workforce without fully preparing them for the realities they will face after high school. Students need to gain self-knowledge to harness their passions and dreams, and then build viable skills that will put those passions and dreams to work in the new economy.

Understandably, most employers aren’t in a position to administer on-the-job training for medium- and high-skill jobs, so they depend on a steady flow of candidates with the know-how to hit the ground running. We’ve seen what happens when there is a disconnect between student skills and employer needs, and while the root causes are complex, CTE offers a clear path to a sustainable solution. CTE programs teach students job skills in an applied learning context where they can make tangible connections between school and career. I’m proud that CTE programs throughout the country integrate Kuder into the curriculum, because when students unlock the power of their own potential and gain relevant, portable workforce skills, they’re well on their way toward a better future — and the economy flourishes.

This Week in CTE

March 10th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK 

A brief by Education Commission of the States found that workforce development and CTE is a priority of at least 24 governors.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officer’s report, Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, provides recommendations on the ways states can use college and career readiness measures to drive their accountability systems.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

A video competition by Heads Up America, housed within the College Promise Campaign, is hosting a video competition around the theme, “breaking up with student debt.” The winning Instagram video submission will receive $2,000.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Analysis Suggests Metrics for Measuring Impact of Community Colleges

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:

  • College Persistence
  • Transfer and Mobility
  • Certificate and Degree Completion

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

Getting to Know… Missouri

March 7th, 2017

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: Missouri

State CTE Director: Dr. Blaine Henningsen, Assistant Commissioner, Office of College and Career Readiness, Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

About Missouri: The issue keeping state leaders in Missouri’s Office of College and Career Readiness up at night is figuring out how to ensure quality in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across the state. Missouri is home to 57 area career centers, 450 comprehensive high schools, 12 community college districts and one state technical college that provide CTE courses to more than 244,000 students combined. As in other states, quality varies from district to district. That’s why, in 2013, Missouri worked to identify the menu of indicators that best reflect high-quality CTE programs. Eventually, the Office of College and Career Readiness settled on six criteria to guide and promote quality, called the “Common Criteria and Quality Indicators,” which were launched publicly in 2015. The indicators describe necessary components related to curriculum, instruction, assessment and more.

At the moment, the Quality Indicators carry no weight in the state’s accountability or funding structure, though Missouri is redesigning its CTE funding formula to better integrate and promote the six criteria. The plan is to roll out an updated formula in the 2018-19 school year to ensure state funds go to support quality programs. In the meantime, the Quality Indicators framework is available as a self-evaluation tool for local programs.

Programs of Study: Missouri’s programs of study follow the national Career Clusters framework and are further organized into six content areas:

  • Agricultural Education;
  • Business, Marketing and Informational Technology Education;
  • Family Consumer Sciences and Human Services Education;
  • Health Sciences;
  • Skilled Technical Sciences; and
  • Technology and Engineering Education.

Agricultural education and business are two of the most popular programs in the state, though manufacturing has enjoyed increased popularity as the sector has grown in the decade since the economic crisis.

Students enrolled in CTE programs are also encouraged to participate in work-based learning opportunities and take industry credentialing examinations. Schools earn additional points toward their “college and career readiness” score for these students. Additionally, the state has an Apprenticeship USA grant to support Registered Apprenticeships. To encourage vertical alignment between secondary and postsecondary CTE programs, Missouri offers dual enrollment opportunities for students to begin earning credit toward a postsecondary degree while they are still enrolled in high school. There is also a representative from the postsecondary system on the state’s CTE Advisory Council (more on that below).

Noteworthy in Missouri: The state legislature recently made two significant changes to the Missouri CTE system. First, it established a CTE Advisory Council, which includes four members from the general assembly and 11 other individuals appointed by the Commissioner of Education. The Council meets four times annually and provides guidance and recommendations on strengthening Missouri’s CTE programs. The Council was convened for the first time in January, 2017.

Another new and notable policy in Missouri is the adoption of a Career Education Certificate that students can earn in addition to their high school diploma. The policy was adopted by the state legislature in 2016, and the Office of College and Career Readiness, with support from the CTE Advisory Council, is in the process of defining the certificate requirements. Under the current proposal, the certificate will be available to CTE concentrators who pass a technical skill assessment or earn an industry-recognized credential, complete work-based learning experiences, and meet certain GPA and attendance requirements. The Office aims to implement the certificate beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Early Achievements and Innovations from Phase One of the New Skills for Youth Initiative

March 1st, 2017

Last spring, 24 states and Washington, D.C. began a national, six-month effort to examine and transform their career readiness systems and expand opportunities available to students in their states. Under the initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative, states were required to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and use the results to construct a three-year action plan. States were provided grant funds to conduct the needs assessment and begin early implementation of their action plans.

Today, Advance CTE, Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group released a series of snapshots documenting state efforts under Phase One of the New Skills for Youth initiative. The snapshots profile some of the significant achievements and lessons learned through this early work, drawing out strategies that other states can emulate. A holistic summary of the cross-state Phase One work is available here, along with individual state snapshots.

These resources were developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

While all states had CTE and career readiness policies in place prior to the start of the initiative, each began the work at different starting points. Nonetheless, states made considerable progress during the grant period. Cross-sector ownership was one area of focus, as many states worked to distribute the work across various stakeholders — particularly within business and industry — and secure commitment from cross-sector leaders. These efforts paid dividends, ensuring that employers were not only aware of the work, but were empowered to lead key initiatives. Additionally, states that engaged stakeholders early and often found it easier to distribute the work and clarify roles during the planning process. Rhode Island, for example, gathered input from business, secondary education, postsecondary education, the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office, which enabled the state to assign activities in its action plan to individual staff members within each partnering organization.

The snapshots also detail trends related to:

  • The role of equity in early implementation and strategic planning;
  • How states worked regionally to develop and execute action plans;
  • Efforts to link data and build career-focused accountability systems;
  • Enhancing career guidance strategies.

The Phase One planning and early implementation grant period concluded in October, but ten states were selected to receive additional funds and still more have elected to work as a cohort to implement their three-year career readiness action plans. Stay tuned for periodic updates from states’ ongoing New Skills for Youth work.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Perkins Reauthorization Top of Mind for House Reps After Hearing on CTE

February 28th, 2017

Earlier this morning, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing on secondary CTE, kicking off renewed efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). A recording of the hearing is available here.

Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) in his opening remarks shared examples of CTE’s impact in his home district and charged his fellow committee members to complete its work to reauthorize the Perkins Act, which hasn’t been updated in more than ten years. He recognized the committee’s success in the previous session, during which the committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that later sailed through the House with a 405-5 vote. That bill was stalled in the Senate, and the Committee is expected to introduce a similar piece of legislation in the coming weeks.

In his opening statement, Ranking Member, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) stated “ Reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act presents this Committee with an opportunity to ensure that CTE programs are of high quality, emphasize equity, align with academic and labor market demands, and provide opportunities for all students – especially those historically underserved – to receive credentials that lead to high-skill, high-wage, in-demand career opportunities.”

Witnesses representing both workforce and education organizations praised the important role Career Technical Education (CTE) has played in increasing access to opportunity and closing the skills gap and urged the committee to renew support for CTE programs nationwide.

Mr. Glenn Johnson, representing multi-national manufacturing company BASF shared about the educational programs and supports his organization provides in various communities across the states, but expressed alarm about the growing skills gap and challenges recruiting individuals into the manufacturing sector. According to Mr. Johnson, 11,000 baby boomers turn 70 every day, contributing to the growing need to prepare the future workforce to fill critical jobs.

The conversation in the hearing then turned to two core issues: ensuring all students have access to high-quality CTE and addressing the public stigma that a four-year degree is superior to technical training.

To the former point, Mimi Lufkin of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity urged the committee to focus on underserved students in its reauthorization efforts, specifically to encourage students to pursue nontraditional fields. She shared examples from Douglas County, Oregon and Morgan County, Ohio where efforts to reach nontraditional students led more girls to enroll in a welding program and increased participation of boys in a health science course. Janet Goble, Board member of ACTE and CTE Director in Canyon County, UT, shared a story from her own school district, where a program aimed at introducing middle school girls to non-traditional occupations increased the participation rate of non-traditional high school students from 26 percent to 53 percent.

Finally, Mike Rowe, television personality of “Dirty Jobs” fame and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, argued that participation in CTE would stagnate without a concerted effort to address the stigma around vocational education. He argued that promotion of four-year postsecondary education programs comes at the expense of two-year, technical and apprenticeship opportunities that may better equip students with relevant skills and connect them to a high-wage job.

In the question period, which was well attended by committee members from both the subcommittee and full committee, many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle spoke to the need to change the image of CTE and applauded the witnesses’ inclusion of data in their testimony.

Today’s event comes at a critical point in time, when the Trump administration has signaled potentially dramatic cuts to domestic programs including education. If there is any takeaway from this morning’s hearing however, it is that CTE enjoys broad support, not only from members of Congress in both parties  but also the education and employer community as well.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

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