New Higher Education Experimental Sites Initiatives Announced and College Scorecard Expanded

The big policy news related to Career Technical Education (CTE) in Washington, D.C. this week focused on postsecondary education. The importance of CTE was also recognized with the announcement of the U.S. Presidential CTE Scholars and a Senate CTE Caucus event. Read below to learn more about each of these updates.

Secretary DeVos Announces Higher Education Experimental Sites

This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos shared details about new and updated higher education  Experimental Sites Initiatives. The Experimental Sites Initiatives is authorized under the Higher Education Act to pilot and evaluate proposed changes in policy. Through each initiative, the Education Department waives the statutory or regulatory federal student aid requirements relative to that initiative for a limited number of institutions in order to test the effectiveness of that new program.

First, Secretary DeVos announced a Federal Work-Study Experiment that would give selected colleges new flexibilities for students to participate in private-sector work-based learning opportunities, including:

  • No limits on the amount of Federal Work-Study funding that institutions can provide to private-sector employers;
  • Increased funding for Job Location and Development, which institutions can use to establish apprenticeship intermediaries; and
  • A reduced wage share for certain private-sector employers (e.g., small businesses) involved with institutions that are part of the experiment.

Second, Secretary DeVos announced the expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, which allows incarcerated individuals to access Pell Grants, by providing an opportunity for additional institutions to apply for inclusion. The Second Chance Pell pilot program was created under the Obama administration in 2015, and renewed in February 2019.

Expanded College Scorecard Released by Secretary DeVos

Secretary DeVos announced changes to the College Scorecard, an online interactive tool that allows users to gather information on the cost and certain outcomes (e.g., median earnings, median loan debt, and loan default and repayment rates) of higher education institutions. New information can now be accessed through the College Scorecard, such as:

  • Data on 2,100 non-degree granting institutions;
  • Graduation rates and transfer information for non-first-time and non-full-time students;
  • Up-to-date metrics from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System; and
  • Preliminary student loan debt data by field of study.

2019 U.S. Presidential CTE Scholars Selected 

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes the top high school seniors across the country through the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, including students who excel in CTE. A U.S. Presidential Scholar in CTE must be nominated by their Chief State School Officer. All candidates then complete an application and are evaluated for academic achievement, character, and leadership by a review committee of secondary and postsecondary education leaders. The review committee selects the semifinalists from this group, and the Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of independent individuals appointed by the President from across the country and spanning a range of professional backgrounds, asses the remaining pool to choose the finalists. The Commission selects only 60 CTE semifinalists and up to 20 CTE finalists.

The 2019 final U.S. Presidential CTE Scholars have been selected, and include students from Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

Senate CTE Caucus Event Shines a Light on CTE Data

On May 21, Advance CTE’s Senior Policy Associate, Austin Estes, participated in a Senate CTE Caucus briefing on CTE data. The panel event also featured Catherine Imperatore from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Dr. Bryan Wilson from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (an initiative of the National Skills Coalition), and Dr. Nicassia Belton from the Maryland State Department of Education. The panelists discussed the value of data to promoting equity and quality in CTE, and the challenges states face in improving the accessibility, quality, and use of their data as they prepare to meet new reporting and accountability requirements in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Advance CTE shared findings from this year’s State of CTE report, highlighting the need for cross-sector data sharing and partnership across the states.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate & Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

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