ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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Congress has officially closed up shop and temporarily suspended its legislative work to focus efforts on the upcoming elections. Both the House and the Senate are now on recess until November when the hectic “lame duck” session will begin in earnest. There were, however, a few important pieces of unfinished business that had to be completed before Members could leave town for good. The most critical being a stopgap spending bill that will keep the government running past October 1.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, the Senate passed a six-month Continuing Resolution (CR) that will take effect next week, the beginning of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, and will last until March 27. The CR was necessary because the House and Senate were unable to complete their FY 2013 appropriations work before the deadline. The House has already approved the short-term measure that will essentially keep funding on autopilot until the spring. We are pleased to report that the CR provides level-funding for Perkins! Additionally, because actual spending in FY 2012 was lower than expected, giving appropriators more room under the agreed-upon budget caps than anticipated, the CR also proposes a 0.6 percent across-the-board increase for all government programs on top of level funding. But because this is only a short-term measure and Perkins allocations will not go out to schools until July (four months after this CR expires), you will likely not see any increase in funding at the local level.
While this key federal investment in CTE remains intact for now, there are still many potential threats to Perkins funding looming on the horizon. The most perilous being the 8.2 percent across-the-board cuts through sequestration that will go into effect January 2, unless Congress finds a balanced approach to fixing it. Other funding threats could materialize if budget caps are lowered for FY 2013, either through a sequester deal or through other political actions focused on cutting spending. Continue to voice your concerns over Perkins funding with your Members of Congress and let them know how critical Perkins is to CTE!
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 09/24/2012 at 12:47 PM in Federal Funding, Perkins | Permalink
The cover story for Newsweek this week, “Is College a Lousy Investment?”, dives into the question of whether or not the return on investment for a four-year college degree still merits making the investment. The article details some of the causes of the rapid rise in college costs and with it, the increase in student loans taken out by students at public, private and for-profit colleges. The story has already garnered a lot of online responses and reflects a policy debate which is picking up steam in state legislatures and in Washington linked to college and career readiness.
Both the Obama and Romney campaigns have included college affordability plans as part of their respective campaigns. Several bills were introduced in the 112th Congress focused on college affordability, and the Department of Education has posted an online College Affordability and Transparency Center which provides a calculator for selected institutions. All signs indicate that there is growing interest in the topic as evidenced when Newsweek made this its cover story.
While many experts tend to agree that for the average student, college is still worth it, they also agree the rapid increase in price is quickly reducing the potential return on investment, particularly in some career areas. The Newsweek article includes the following statement which questions the value of a four-year college degree.
“Promotional literature for colleges and student loans often speaks of debt as an “investment in yourself.” But an investment is supposed to generate income to pay off the loans. More than half of all recent graduates are unemployed or in jobs that do not require a degree, and the amount of student-loan debt carried by households has more than quintupled since 1999.”
The article notes in closing the suggestion of one economist, James Heckman, on how America might reconsider investing in higher education by engaging students in the educational effort through utilizing apprenticeship-style programs. In this learning environment, students learn in the workplace, not just specific skills for the profession, but the “soft skills” necessary for career success. “It’s about having mentors and having workplace-based education,” Heckman states in the article. “Time and again I’ve seen examples of this kind of program working.”
The fact that the Newsweek article and others like it are referencing the value of credentials, work-based learning and “soft,” or employability, skills is a good sign that career-readiness issues are garnering more attention. It reflects the career ready education proposed by ACTE in our “What is Career Ready?” definition ACTE produced in 2009.
The debate about college affordability is an opportunity to discuss the value of CTE and how it can positively impact all students.
Posted by Steve DeWitt on 09/12/2012 at 12:53 PM in Career Readiness, In the News | Permalink
Yesterday, House appropriators released a measure that will provide funding for federal programs, including Perkins, for the first six months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), the bill will essentially keep funding on autopilot until March 27, preventing a government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends on October 1.
The Good News: We are pleased to report that Perkins will be level-funded for this six-month period! In addition, because actual spending in FY 2012 was lower than expected, giving appropriators more room under the agreed-upon budget caps than anticipated, the CR also proposes a 0.6 percent across-the-board increase for all government programs on top of level funding.
The Not-so-Good News: While this is a positive development, it’s important to remember that this is a short-term measure and a full-year funding bill is far from complete—making this increase essentially “only on paper.” Since the first FY 2013 Perkins allocation will not go out to schools until July (four months after this CR expires) this increase will not be seen on the ground in its current form. It would have to be included in a final, full-year appropriations bill for FY 2013 to be included in next July’s allocation.
Even though both House and Senate appropriators have put forward full-year appropriations bills, this CR was necessary because efforts to move bills through the regular process have stymied in Congress, with all sides unwilling to negotiate a deal before the election. Fiscal conservatives in Congress, who have pushed for reductions in spending, are betting that election outcomes will give them more leverage to demand greater cuts when they revisit the full-year bill in the spring. So, even though both the House and Senate appropriations committees approved level funding for Perkins in their original bills, and a slight increase is included in the CR, our funding is still in danger!
The House is expected to vote on the CR later this week, followed by the Senate. Though the election will have a major impact on how the FY 2013 appropriations process continues from here, it is clear that this funding battle has merely been postponed for now. Perkins funding is secure for the short term but we must continue to keep up the pressure on Congress and let them know how critical Perkins is to CTE!
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 09/12/2012 at 12:52 PM in Federal Funding, Perkins | Permalink
Since a lot of career and technical educators were out of school over the summer, it is worth repeating that ACTE and America’s Promise held a Webinar in June featuring the work of the Missouri Center for Career Education (MCCE). The Webinar and slides from the presentation can be viewed on the ACTE Common Core Web page. New materials were added to the MCCE Website this month. Be sure to view the cross-curricular examples while you are on the site, which were referenced in the Webinar.
Teacher professional development and the need to support educators to ensure their comfort level with the Common Core State Standards and assessments has been a topic of concern often mentioned in the Common Core discussions and meetings in which I have participated. ASCD has released EduCore online teaching tools. While these materials are primarily intended for core subject matter educators, CTE educators may also find the materials valuable. If you have suggestions of how to make the Web information more CTE-applicable, please contact me at email@example.com. Also, let me know what you would like to see on ACTE's Common Core Web page.
There are several Common Core-related sessions planned for CareerTech Vision 2012 including a one-hour briefing from the two assessments consortia developing assessments aligned with the Common Core, and a Common Core Share Fair two-hour session which is intended for attendees to share information regarding effective CTE Common Core practice. Visit the CareerTech Vision 2012 Web page to register!
Posted by Steve DeWitt on 09/09/2012 at 12:56 PM in Standards and Assessments | Permalink
In our final highlight of approved state waivers from provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), I will be looking at two states that currently do not integrate CTE into their accountability system, but that have suggested in their applications that they may in the future.
In their applications to the Department of Education both Connecticut and New York stated that they are hesitant to switch too quickly to a new accountability system, but would be open to adopting new standards when more evidence is gathered.
Currently, Connecticut’s measure of college and career readiness comes down to graduation rates, but they are considering the addition of the following measures:
New York's application admits that they are not looking to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to their accountability standards. For now, the state will exam its existing assessments and graduation rates to align those with the rigor of current college- and career-ready standards. The application does state however, that New York will have opportunities in the future to incorporate AP and IB courses, SAT and ACT scores, CTE course completion, industry certifications and dual enrollment into its accountability system.
Although some states have chosen not to incorporate career-readiness accountability standards into their school performance ratings, I think it’s important to look at states like Connecticut and New York. Though they are hesitant to implement a new system, they are still open to seeing the results of other states and implementing a well rounded system in the future.
Currently, thirty three states have been approved for ESEA flexibility waivers since the waivers were announced in November 2011, and remaining states are welcome to apply by September 6. In the meantime, we encourage you to take a look at your state’s waiver, and see where it may impact your school and district.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 09/06/2012 at 12:58 PM in ESEA, State and Local Issues | Permalink
Recently, the Department of Education approved its 33rd state waiver application for release from key provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While a majority of those applications were lacking in specific details on CTE accountability, we did find quite a few that made great progress in including “career readiness” in their college- and career-ready goals. Over the next three days I will discuss these states’ applications and what they mean for CTE.
In the first group of applications are several that brought CTE programs and real career readiness to the college- and career-readiness discussion. Those states include Maryland and North Carolina.
Maryland selected three indicators of college- and career-readiness which include graduation rate, attendance and career attainment. Career attainment in this case represents completion of CTE programs of study that provide students with academic and technical knowledge and skills, include a work-based learning component, and culminate in early college credit and, occasionally, industry certification.
North Carolina has developed four indicators of college- and career-readiness including ACT scores, graduation rates, Work Keys job skills assessments and a new program called future-ready core. Future-ready core is a new set of required courses for graduation, and requires students to take six credits of CTE coursework.
Moving more students toward college and career readiness is a goal all schools should be striving toward, and we are hopefully that the measures taken by these states will accomplish that goal. As they go forward, it will be important to continue measuring their success and where improvement can be made. As long as states include CTE in their accountability systems, like these states have, there should be no problem in implementing these types of programs to attain college- and career-readiness for all students.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 09/05/2012 at 01:00 PM in Career Readiness, ESEA, State and Local Issues | Permalink
Yesterday we discussed a few state applications for ESEA flexibility that introduced CTE measures into their broader school accountability systems. Today I’d like to introduce states that specifically require districts to report student participation and progress on industry certifications.
By openly asking for data on industry certification attainment, these states have suggested that industry certification is a significant part of true college and career readiness. The states taking this leap are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Virginia.
Florida college- and career-readiness indicators are on-time graduation, participation and performance in advanced curricula and postsecondary readiness in reading and mathematics. Advanced curricula is further defined by the state as advanced placement (AP)and international baccalaureate (IB) courses, dual enrollment courses, advanced international certificate of education courses (AICE) and industry certifications.
Georgia will measure, in addition to other college readiness indicators, the percentage of students earning industry credentials, passing the ACT Work Keys assessment and completing career pathway courses.
Kentucky college- and career-readiness standards require that students meet one traditional college-readiness indicator, such as an ACT benchmark, as well as a career-academic-readiness indicator and a career-technical-readiness indicator. Career-academic indicators are the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and the ACT Work Keys assessment. Career-technical indicators are the Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards assessment and industry certificates.
New Jersey added a few traditional college- and career-readiness indicators, including advanced placement course participation and scores and SAT participation and scores. Additionally, on top of the traditional indicators, the state also accounts for the percentage of CTE students who pass an industry exam.
New Mexico measures five indicators on both participation and success to determine college- and career-readiness. Those include the PSAT, ACT, AP courses, dual enrollment and career and technical certification programs.
Oklahoma will measure schools by the number or percentage of students earning industry certifications, graduating, participating and completing AP courses and participating in dual or concurrent enrollment courses.
Virginia has set a goal for 48% of its graduating students to earn an “externally validated” college- or career-ready credential. Those credentials could include an industry recognized credential, state professional license or an advanced studies diploma.
These states have made a significant jump from their previous accountability systems, which mainly focused scores in mathematics and English. Now, states are finally looking at the whole education experience, and they are seeing that CTE can help students succeed.
Tomorrow we’ll be looking at more states that may incorporate CTE measures into their ESEA accountability system in the future.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 09/05/2012 at 12:59 PM in Career Readiness, ESEA, State and Local Issues | Permalink
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