ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
« March 2013 |
| May 2013 »
Both the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium held separate events in Washington to update organizations on recent activities. Following are highlights of recent activity:
On April 29, SBAC released its finalized Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) and College Content-Readiness Policy. The ALDs articulate the knowledge, skills, and processes expected of students at different levels of performance on the Smarter Balanced assessments and are similar to the College and Career Ready Determinations (CCRDs) developed by PARCC (For more info on PARCC's CCRDs read here and here).
In addition to the ALDs, SBAC has been pilot testing its assessments and is developing a set of formative assessment tools and resources for teachers which will be included in an online digital library to launch in 2014. State networks of educators will be charged with providing feedback and guidance on the resources. More information about the development of the Digital Library can be found here.
On April 22, Alaska joined SBAC as an Advisory state, an interesting development since Alaska was one of four states which did not adopt the Common Core State Standards. Alaska's participation in SBAC brings the total number of SBAC-participating states to 26.
On April 30 PARCC released assessment blueprints and test specifications for both its English language arts/literacy and mathematics assessments. The materials are intended to support teachers and will include literacy rubrics to guide thinking about classroom rubric use, English Language Arts (ELA)/literacy passage selection guidelines and worksheets to guide text selection for instruction. PARCC says the tools will help teachers better understand the design of the ELA and math assessments and provide more insight into the planned reporting categories.
For more information on the assessment blueprints and test specifications, including narrated overview PowerPoints and an FAQ document, visit http://www.parcconline.org/assessment-blueprints-test-specs.
Achieve, the managing partner of PARCC, has also developed a guide titled "On the Road to Implementation: Achieving the Promise for the Common Core State Standards," for state and district policymakers to use as they implement Common Core. There are specific references to technical subjects throughout the document.
In mid-April, PARCC released its draft accommodations manual for public comment, which helps local educations select, administer and evaluate accommodations for the assessment of students with disabilities. From April 18 through May 13, 2013, the draft PARCC Accommodations Manual and a feedback survey will be posted on the PARCC website for the public to provide feedback, along with a set of Frequently Asked Questions.
Posted by Steve DeWitt on 04/30/2013 at 03:09 PM in Standards and Assessments | Permalink
On April 25th, the U.S. Department of Education released its plan for transforming the teaching profession titled “A Blueprint for Recognizing Education Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT).” The Blueprint for RESPECT is the latest piece of the department’s efforts to start a national conversation on the teaching profession, which began in 2012.
Developed in conversation with over 5,700 educators nationwide and other education stakeholders, the Blueprint proposes a competitive, $5 billion grant program to focus on seven areas critical to transforming the teaching profession.
In addition, the blueprint proposes a special program to support a STEM master teacher corps. The department’s vision for the corps is to improve the retention of STEM educators, recruit high-achieving STEM professionals to be educators, and expand the impact these educators have on their colleagues. To accomplish these goals, the corps would provide a specified funding stream in the RESPECT program to recognize and reward the most accomplished STEM educators with an annual $20,000 stipend in addition to a base salary and opportunities to serve as instructional leaders in their schools and communities.
In conjunction with the release of the Blueprint for RESPECT, the department has also re-launched its website on the RESPECT project. The website provides additional information on the project, how the department devised the blueprint and other resources for educators.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 04/29/2013 at 04:49 PM in Educator Development | Permalink
This week, senators who support CTE have the opportunity to sign on to a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging a strong federal investment in Perkins for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This effort is being led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) who is asking his Senate colleagues to join him in requesting a restoration of federal funding for Perkins.
The Perkins FY 2011 allocation was reduced by $140 million, with additional reductions occurring in FY 2012. As a result of sequestration, Perkins will be further reduced by $56 million in FY 2013. Dozens of states are currently receiving funding allocations at or near the level they received in 1998. The erosion of Perkins has hurt high schools, CTE centers, community and technical colleges, employers and millions of CTE students nationwide. The letter requests that Senate appropriators restore funding for Perkins Basic State Grant to $1.1 billion, equivalent to the FY 2012 level, in their FY 2014 appropriations bill.
We need as many senators as possible to sign on to the letter to ensure that the Appropriations Committee recognizes the importance of restoring Perkins funds. Please take five minutes to help us in this effort. Contact you senators and urge them to sign on to this letter.
Tell Congress that it is time to make investing in CTE a top priority!
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/23/2013 at 05:24 PM in Federal Funding, Perkins | Permalink
Both the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee held hearings last week to address the rising costs of college and student loan debt incurred by students.
The Senate HELP hearing was the fourth and last in a series of college affordability hearings that has included topics on college cost transparency, state higher education funding issues and promising practices in financial aid. The final hearing focused on financial aid from the student’s perspective and included testimony from current college students, as well as experts in the field.
The House hearing also included student testimony, but the focus of the house took a decidedly different approach. Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) opened the hearing by questioning whether “the federal government should maintain its traditional focus on improving access to higher education, or should move toward a system that ties federal aid to student outcomes, job placement, or graduation rates.”
In the past, most discussion of federal student aid has focused on such issues as the skyrocketing cost of college, student loan interest rates and repayment of those loans. In a twist during these hearings, there was a larger emphasis on non-traditional students having trouble accessing student aid. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) expressed concern that students seeking industry-recognized credentials in programs lasting less than one year or who are only able to take a limited number of classes at a time are unable to access the financial aid that is available to the “traditional” student.
In addition to Senator Baldwin’s concern, during the House hearing, witness Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, testified that about 15% of the total current student population meets the definition of a “traditional” student, meaning one who attends school full-time and is support by a parental figure. The remaining “non-traditional” students, such as those who are working toward a certification or license, are losing out on access to aid because the system was not originally designed for them.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 04/23/2013 at 04:50 PM in Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee this week to discuss federal funding for education in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. He testified last week in a hearing with the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee in the House, where he outlined the president’s FY 2014 budget request.
As we previously reported, the Administration recommended funding Perkins at $1.1 billion, equal to FY 2012 levels, before sequestration. The budget plan included a $10 million increase for the National Programs line item in Perkins which is designated for a new fund to support and evaluate dual enrollment programs. Additionally, there is funding for several new programs that could benefit CTE, including a high school redesign program, several STEM related initiatives and the Community College to Career Fund.
Like their House counterparts, Senate appropriators expressed reservations about the Administration’s proposal to increase funding for competitive grant programs like those listed above, with little new investment in established formal grants for education, like Perkins. Both Republicans and Democrats on the subcommittee questioned the Administration’s call for a freeze in funding for formula programs that fund special education, K-12 and CTE. Additionally, Senators from rural states reiterated their concern that smaller school districts in their states would not have the resources to pursue competitive grant funding. While overall funding for education is increased in the president’s plan, much of that funding is directed to new and existing competitive grant programs like Race to the Top.
Secretary Duncan indicated that the majority of all federal education funds are still dedicated to formula programs like Title I, IDEA and Perkins. He also argued that because the president’s budget proposes to replace the across-the-board sequester cuts, they are actually increasing funding for those programs. However, there is no indication that the Administration will be able to come to an agreement with Congress that fixes the sequester. Congress must make sure that limited funding resources are directed to proven education programs like Perkins, which provide access to high-quality CTE programs for all students.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/19/2013 at 05:26 PM in Federal Funding, Perkins | Permalink
Recently, ACTE provided comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding a proposed regulation that would establish national nutritional standards for all foods sold to students in schools. The proposed nutritional standards—authorized by section 208 of the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act—specifically address “competitive foods” that are sold in schools outside the school breakfast and lunch programs. Though intended to target foods sold in vending machines, al a carte lines and school stores, the stricter guidelines could impact CTE programs that have incorporate into their courses a school-based business that sells food. ACTE has been actively engaged in this issue since the law was originally proposed in Congress in 2010 as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity.
The proposed regulation that was released by the USDA does not specifically address the potential impact on CTE programs. The proposal does say that the nutritional standards apply to foods sold to students and not adult patrons, which was not included in the original statute but specifically pointed to as a concern by ACTE in previous communications with the department.
Last week, ACTE, along with the National Association of State Directors for Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), sent a letter to the department as part of our ongoing effort to express the concerns of the CTE community on this issue. The letter also requests an exemption for CTE programs and those foods prepared and sold competitively for CTE instructional purposes.
The USDA will consider these comments in writing the final regulation, which will be announced in the coming months. ACTE and our partner organizations will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to raise awareness of the issue and to ensure the best outcome for CTE.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/18/2013 at 05:28 PM in School Nutrition | Permalink
Last Friday, April 12, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) co-hosted the Ohio Jobs and Workforce Development Summit in Columbus, OH where over 300 educators, employers, and other workforce stakeholders gathered to discuss the workforce needs of business and industry and how the workforce system can support those needs through best practices.
The event was the latest part of Senator Portman’s efforts to make federal job training programs more responsive to the needs of today’s businesses and industry. As part of this effort, Senator Portman introduced the Careers through Responsive, Efficient and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act during the previous Congress. The act would give preference, when applying for federal funds, to programs leading to an industry-recognized credential linked to a locally, statewide or regionally in-demand career. The Senator plans to reintroduce the CAREER Act in the coming weeks.
As part of the event, Judy Wells, ACTE member and superintendent of the Apollo Career Center in Lima, OH, was invited to speak on a panel with Senator Portman and other education and business leaders about best practices in workforce training used by Apollo and other career centers. The discussion included partnerships with business and industry, industry-recognized credentials and aligning programs with in-demand careers.
ACTE has been in discussions with the Senator’s office on these best practices and how career and technical education plays a role in closing the skills gap and preparing students for in-demand careers.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 04/18/2013 at 04:51 PM in State and Local Issues | Permalink
Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing to discuss the current state of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in America and to re-evaluate the federal government’s role preparing students for today’s high-skill, in-demand careers.
Testifying before the committee were:
Throughout the hearing, the testimony of these witnesses highlighted the need to educate our students to be able to compete and succeed in high-skill, in-demand jobs in the STEM fields and how CTE programs play a role.
During questioning by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), witnesses agreed that STEM academic programs are boosted when integrated with rigorous CTE programs. According to Dr. Schneider, within CTE programs are where a lot of schools are able to build their rigorous STEM curriculum, and these integrated CTE programs offer pathways for all students to move on to two- and four-year postsecondary education and to earn STEM credentials.
Despite the acknowledgment that rigorous CTE programs do prepare students for college and career readiness in STEM fields, there were also comments that seemed to imply the opposite. Following a question by Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) about why DSST Public Schools does not offer a CTE program, Mr. Kurtz commented that, while there is a need for career-ready CTE graduates, his school’s focus is preparing students to be four-year STEM college-ready. Digging in to that position, Mr. Kurtz continued by stating he’s “not anti-CTE,” but “believes many of [his] low-income students never have access to high-quality, four-year college STEM education.”
As the hearing concluded, it was apparent that both Republicans and Democrats agree that rigorous STEM education is important to the success of students after high school and to the economy as a whole. The questions that still need to be answered are how we can better integrate the technical side of STEM with the academics and how can CTE facilitate that integration and increase the rigor of those courses. It is also clear that, as CTE advocates, we must continue to emphasize that CTE prepares students for both postsecondary education and careers, and should not be seen as a barrier to a four-year degree program.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 04/17/2013 at 04:52 PM in STEM | Permalink
On April 9, the final Next Generation Science Standards were released. These standards, modeled after the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, are touted as "voluntary, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education."
The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve managed the effort to develop the standards along with 26 states. The standards are based on a Framework for K-12 Science Educationdeveloped previously, and "identify science and engineering practices and content that all K-12 students should master in order to be fully prepared for college, careers and citizenship."
Active learning and practice are key themes of the standards, as is an emphasis on critical thinking - all key elements of career readiness. Engineering also plays a more prominent role in the standards, with key science and engineering practices defined as:
In a blog story that appeared on U.S. News & World Report's website, National Science Teachers Association Executive Director said, "The way I imagine that it might play out is that there will be more hands-on time for students....There will be deeper investigations into the smaller number of ideas, and perhaps even a better opportunity for students to formulate some of the experiments themselves."
CTE educators have long been focused on hands-on, applied learning and students' active engagement in learning, so will have valuable insight to share as the standards are adopted and implemented around the country.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 04/16/2013 at 11:41 AM in Standards and Assessments | Permalink
Following the release of President Obama's Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget request on Wednesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the Administration's plan for funding education in the coming fiscal year.
In the budget proposal, the Administration suggests funding Perkins at 1.1 billion, equal to FY 2012 levels, before sequestration. Additionally, the budget proposes a $10 million increase for the National Programs line item which is designated for a new dual enrollment program focused on career preparation.
Despite requests for an overall increase in education funding, the Administration's budget does not prioritize additional investments to meet the growing needs in CTE. During the hearing on Thursday, both Republican and Democratic members of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittee expressed apprehensions about the Administration's strong focus on increasing funding for competitive grant programs. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), ranking-member of the subcommittee, talked about her concern for formula-funded education programs, like Perkins, which largely did not receive increases in funding. "The emphasis on competitive funding I find troubling," said DeLauro. "What is need is steady secure funding for all of our schools to move toward improvement." Federal investments in education must be directed to those areas with a proven track record of success that provide all students with equal access and opportunity.
Members of the subcommittee will now begin to draft an appropriations bill that will fund Perkins in FY 2014. Let Congress know that it is time to make investing in Perkins a priority!
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/12/2013 at 05:29 PM in Executive Branch, Federal Funding, Perkins | Permalink
Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner