Posts Tagged ‘technical skills assessments’

Raising the Bar: Technical Assessments for Secondary CTE Programs

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

The enactment of Perkins IV in 2006 elevated CTE standards and launched a new debate to the issue of technical skill assessments – a barometer used to measure new expectations for CTE programs, particularly at the secondary level. In a recent Techniques magazine article, a CTE-focused ACTE publication, NASDCTEc staff highlighted the challenges the CTE community faces when implementing these new assessments and the opportunities to maximize the efforts underway.

While some CTE stakeholders may look at a technical assessment as another component of the Perkins’ checklist, NASDCTEc staff suggests that the requirements present an avenue to elevate the value of CTE programs. Such an enhancement would be achieved by designing the assessments to have a direct and tangible benefit for students. “The assessments should serve as a signaling and credentialing tool for students entering the workplace and postsecondary education,” according to the article, Raising the Bar: Technical Assessments for Secondary CTE Programs.

Creating assessment and certification programs that are valued and recognized by industry and postsecondary education will require investment by and collaboration among all stakeholders – CTE state directors, industry, policymakers and other education stakeholders. Perkins offers education leaders the bully pulpit to enact the change needed to best serve our students with meaningful education and assessment programs that lead to successful careers. It is time to take advantage of this opportunity.

By admin in Public Policy, Publications
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US Department of Education Assessment Public Meetings

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Last month we let members know about a series of meetings the Department of Education had scheduled for November to gather input from practitioners on assessment.  As the time for these meetings draws near I just wanted to raise this critical issue with you again.  We all know how important assessment is as we have been wrestling with the issue in our offices here for some time, just as people in the field have. 

The goals of these meetings according to the Education Department is two-fold: to gather technical input to inform the development of a Race to the Top Assessment Competition and to enable states and the public to participate in and learn from these events.  The public meetings will be held over six days in three cities and will focus on the following topics. 


Thursday, November 12 – Friday, November 13

Full-day panel (Thursday, Nov. 12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment

Half-day panel (Friday, Nov. 13, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Technology & innovation

Half-day panel (Friday, Nov. 13, 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.): High school assessment



Tuesday, November 17 – Wednesday, November 18

Full-day panel (Tuesday, Nov. 17, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment

Half-day panel (Wednesday, Nov. 18, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Assessment of students with disabilities



Tuesday, December 1 – Wednesday, December 2

Full-day panel (Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment

Half-day panel (Wednesday, Dec. 2, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.):  Assessment of English language learners

The meetings are open to the public.  The official notice, along with information on how to RSVP for the meetings, can be found at  The Department encourages the submission of written input (see details of submission process on the web site), and plans to post transcripts of every meeting session and all written input submitted to the agency at

If you are planning on attending any of these meetings I hope that you will let us know and share your thoughts and reactions with us here at NASDCTEc.

By admin in Meetings and Events
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ACT scores increase, but college and career readiness needs improvement

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Students’ performance in the ACT’s 2009 college-ready assessment made a slight increase from previous years across all subject areas. However, education stakeholders say the modest upticks have yet to meet the growing need of the nation to prepare students for postsecondary education and their careers.

“The recent increase in college preparedness on the ACT is good news. But our students need to do dramatically better to guarantee their future economic success,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an ACT-published statement.

The percentage of graduates ready to earn at least a “C” or higher in first-year college courses in all four ACT subject areas —English, math, reading and science—increased from 22 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2009. Student’s potential to earn that “C” is ACT’s measure of college readiness. The recent test outcomes were higher than in 2005 and 2006 and are the same as in 2007, when the pool of test-takers was likely less diverse in terms of academic preparation, according to ACT.

Further, ACT considers those same students career ready. By measure of ACT, students who are ready to earn at least a “C” or higher in first-year college are also prepared for success in their first year of most workforce training programs of fields in which they may earn a wage sufficient to support a family and have potential for career advancement.

ACT has issued the following recommendations on steps that states and school districts can take to better prepare students for college and career:
• Adopt fewer—but essential—college and career readiness standards as their new high school graduation standards.
• Adopt a rigorous core curriculum for all high school graduates, whether they are bound for college or work.
• Define “how good is good enough” for college and career readiness.
• Strengthen the rigor of their courses.
• Begin monitoring academic achievement early to make sure younger students are on target to be ready for
college and career.
• Establish longitudinal P-16 (preschool through college) data systems.

By admin in Research
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GAO report: States challenged with collecting technical skill attainment, postsecondary placement data

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

States implementing new accountability measures under Perkins IV are facing the greatest challenges in collecting data on students’ technical skill attainment and postsecondary placement, according to a recently released Government Accountability Office report.

The report, Career and Technical Education: States Have Broad Flexibility in Implementing Perkins IV, aimed to assess states’ success and progress in implementing 11 new accountability measures at secondary and postsecondary institutions that may implement the measures in various ways. States attribute high cost of assessments and limited access to cross-agency data to their most challenging compliance issues.

Citing the states’ difficulties is of significance as CTE faces new, broader standards to collect data on students’ academic and skill attainment. As states phase in the measures, the Education Department said it plans to evaluate areas in which federal support may be directed. Further, under the new White House administration, all education programs vying for funding must live up to a new set of targets that require intensive data.

In order to identify states’ status in implementing the Perkins IV performance measures, GAO surveyed CTE state directors representing each state and the District of Colombia between January and April 2009.

Technical skill attainment
According to the report, secondary and postsecondary institutions both cited problems in implementing the technical skill attainment measure – one of three provisions in which the two education sectors share under Perkins IV.
Of the state directors surveyed, 38 reported that they face “great or very great challenges” in collecting data on student skill attainment. Similarly, 39 reported such challenges at the postsecondary level.

Among the greatest factors states face is cost. “Specifically, states reported that the cost of state-developed assessments and third-party technical assessments – such as those for industry certifications – are high and often too expensive for many districts, institutions or students,” the GAO report said. For instance, networking giant Cisco offers computer-based certification exams that range from $80 to $325, according to GAO. Generally, certifications may run as high as $1,400, GAO added.

Also, data-sharing agreements, or lack of, between assessment providers and government agencies make it difficult for education entities to retrieve data on students’ performance on assessments. Thus, states must rely on students to report their performance, which raises data-quality concerns.

Student placement
Another shared accountability performance measure among the secondary and postsecondary sectors is student placement. Among secondary schools, states have reported difficulties gathering data on CTE students after they leave the school system. Most challenging is tracking students that leave and find employment out of state. States largely rely on student survey data or state wage record data to report student placement, according to the GAO.

Both education sectors reported that linking secondary and postsecondary data systems to track students in the pipeline remains a problem. However, states such as Minnesota, have passed legislation to address the problem.

In regards to states’ efforts to phase in Perkins IV provisions, the GAO reported that states have “considerable flexibility” in how they implement performance measures. While the flexibility may allow states to determine the most efficient and effective means to deploy their strategies, the GAO cautions that the Education Department may face challenges to aggregate and compare data across states.

According to GAO, the Education Department is working with states to overcome difficulties in collecting and reporting student performance measures such as student skill attainment.

By admin in Public Policy, Research
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