ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on April 29 to discuss the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for education. He previously testified on the budget plan at a hearing of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee in early April.
The budget request proposes to level fund the Perkins CTE State Grant program at $1.118 billion—$5 million below the pre-sequestration level. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, pressed Duncan on the level funding of CTE state grants, as well as the proposed set aside of $100 million in funds for a new competitive innovation grant. “I have concerns with the department’s proposal,” said Thompson. “Why does the department continue to prioritize spending of untested and often duplicative education initiatives when we have a tried and true solution in Perkins?” Duncan argued that the proposal was designed to more effectively utilize resources and to scale up high quality programs. He did not address how the lack of new investments in CTE would help to further these goals. Rep. Thompson also noted the funding request letter sent to the appropriations committee urging an increase in Perkins funding for FY 2015. Thompson and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) spearheaded this bipartisan effort in the House.
Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) asked about department’s blueprint for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act and how the consortia requirement and in-state competition for Perkins funding included in the proposal might put CTE programs in rural school districts at a disadvantage. While Duncan continued to endorse the change from the current in-state formula to competitive funding, he acknowledged the potential difficulties of mandating secondary and postsecondary consortia. “The consortia idea is one that we want to continue to think through,” said Duncan. He noted that the blueprint is over two years old and might be in need of updating. This is the first time a department official has mentioned updating the blueprint, and ACTE will be following any developments closely.
Additionally, there was discussion of postsecondary CTE as it relates to dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities in high school. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) highlighted her efforts to expand Pell grant eligibility for high school students in early college and dual enrollment programs, citing a similar proposal in the department’s budget request that would expand Pell grants for students co-enrolled in adult and postsecondary education as part of a career pathway. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) promoted the idea of using early college models for CTE. Duncan indicated that he would like to find ways to encourage attainment of postsecondary credit or industry certification among high school students.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/30/2014 at 04:01 PM in Federal Funding | Permalink
The U.S. high school graduation rate has risen to 80 percent, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
NCES has published the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) and, for the first time, the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) for school years 2010-11 and 2011-12. Both rates measure four-year, on-time graduation with a regular high school diploma, but the method of calculation used for the ACGR is thought to be more accurate. However, NCES will continue to use the AFGR as well, in order to compare rates over time.
The ACGR and AFGR for 2010-11 was 79 percent and 80 percent, respectively, and 80 percent and 81 percent for 2011-12. The dropout rate held steady at 3.3 percent for both years.
In addition, female students graduated at a higher rate than male students--7 percentage points higher, both years. White and Asian/Pacific Islander students had graduation rates above the average, while African-American, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native students, as well as economically disadvantaged students, students with limited English proficiency and students with disabilities, graduated at lower rates.
While this report did not look at CTE concentrators specifically, we know that their graduation rate is extremely high--in 2007-08, CTE concentrators graduated at a rate of 90 percent, compared to a 75 percent AFGR.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 04/30/2014 at 11:14 AM in Data and Research | Permalink
On April 23, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services issued a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting feedback on aligning federal grants and services in order to develop high-quality career pathways systems. This request follows on prior efforts of the three departments to better coordinate work across federal agencies on career pathways, which they broadly define as "a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enable individuals to secure industry- recognized credentials, obtain employment within an occupational area, and advance to higher levels of future education and employment in that area."
This specific RFI is designed to yield information on (1) benefits of and challenges to aligning diverse funding streams, programs, and stakeholders around career pathway systems; and (2) the current and potential future use of career pathways systems to help at risk populations gain skills and access the middle class.
The departments hope to collect information from the education, workforce development, human services, economic development and business communities, including from practitioners, policymakers, funders, business and industry associations, and researchers at all levels of program implementation. A total of 13 key questions are included in the RFI, covering such topics as key program components, resources and outcomes.
The information collected will be used to inform and coordinate policy development, strategic investments, and technical assistance activities; and to improve coordination of Federal policy development with investments at the State, tribal and local levels.
Responses must be received by June 9, 2014, and should be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or by mail. More details on the submission process can be found in the Federal Register notice.
A webinar will be held to discuss the RFI on May 1 from 2 to 3:15 p.m. EDT. You can access information about the webinar by visiting this website—https://www.workforce3one.org/view/5001411230480370094/info. You must create an account to register.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 04/29/2014 at 09:40 AM in Executive Branch | Permalink
This is part two in our series for the CTE Policy Watch blog where we examine some of the common questions and concerns of the CTE community on the implementation of new nutritional guidelines for the sale of competitive foods in schools. In part one; we looked in detail at the components of these new guidelines and how that might impact CTE programs that operate school-based enterprises (SBE), including student-run cafés, bakeries and catering businesses. While some CTE programs will find it relatively easy to adapt to the new standards and sell healthier options to students, others may find it difficult or unmanageable to meet these new standards, particularly in culinary-arts focused programs with a wide variety of instructional standards to meet. To help address these concerns, the focus of this story will be on the exemptions and special waivers that may provide some regulatory relief for CTE students and educators.
Are there any exemptions to the regulations?
The one exemption that is specifically referenced in the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA)—the law that authorized the national nutritional standards for competitive foods sold in schools—involves in-school fundraisers. The law says, “special exemptions for school-sponsored fundraisers (other than fundraising through vending machines, school stores, snack bars, a la carte sales, and any other exclusions determined by the Secretary), if the fundraisers are approved by the school and are infrequent within the school.” However, to meet the “infrequent” standard set by the HHFKA, the USDA mandates that there must be a limit on the number of exempt fundraisers that may be held during the school year, and that each state will establish the limit. If a state does not specify the exemption frequency, no fundraiser exemptions may be granted.
It is important to note that the standards would not apply to items sold during non-school hours, weekends, or off-campus fundraising events. Additionally, there is no limitation on foods that do meet the regulatory standards sold at fundraisers on the school campus during school hours. You can find more information about the nutritional guidelines through the USDA website. If in-school fundraisers are an important activity for you CTE program and/or CTSO chapter, this exemption may come in handy. Contact your state education agency for more information about the fundraiser exemption.
Are waivers currently available for CTE?
Original draft version of the regulations did not specifically address the potential impact on CTE programs. However, in July 2013, the USDA published the interim final rule, which acknowledged, “students are preparing to enter the workforce where the nutritional standards and requirements may vary widely from those required under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). Applying the nutrition standards for competitive food to these programs may limit the skill development necessary for careers in the food industry.” It goes on to say, “therefore, in recognition of the potential conflict of legislative intent, the department is willing to consider each situation on a case by case basis, and provide a waiver where appropriate.” This section suggested the option for a special waiver that would apply to CTE programs to be granted at the discretion of the USDA.
However a memo issued on April 22, 2014 by the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Division of the USDA states, “Section 12(I)(4)(J) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA), 42 USC 1760(I)(4)(J), prohibits the Secretary from granting a waiver that relates to the requirements of the NSLA, the Child Nutrition Act (CAN), or any regulation issued under either statute with regard to the sale of foods sold outside of the school meal programs. Therefore, the nutrition standards included in the interim final rule apply to all foods sold to students on the school campus during the school day, including food prepared and/or sold by culinary education programs.” This new information is in contrast to the interim final rule, and ACTE will continue to work with the USDA and Congress to clarify the inconsistencies in the federal guidance.
If you believe that your program may be affected by these regulations, contact your state education agency for more information. You can also contact your local FNS Regional Office.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/25/2014 at 03:49 PM in School Nutrition | Permalink
The U.S. Department of Education has announced the opening of the application process for the final two grant categories of the 2014 Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) grant competition, validation andscale-up. The department previously announced the opening of the i3 development grant category application process in March.
Authorized in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the i3 competition is designed to expand and develop innovative practices that improve student achievement and that prepare students for college and careers. For this year’s competition, the department has stated that, in addition to the competition’s traditional goals, it will give priority consideration to those applications that:
In total, the 2014 i3 competition will make available approximately $134 million in funds for the three categories of grants. The “validation” grants will fund applications with “moderate evidence of effectiveness” and provide up to $12 million for each grantee, and the “scale-up” grants will seek to expand projects with “strong evidence of effectiveness” across the country by providing winning applicants up to $20 million. Eligible applicants include local education agencies in partnership with non-profit organizations.
More information on the grant opportunities and the priority considerations can be found on the announcement on the federal register. Applications for each grant category can be found online at Grants.gov or by following these links for “validation” and “scale-up” grants. Applications are due by June 24.
Posted by Brendan Desetti on 04/25/2014 at 02:25 PM in Executive Branch, Federal Funding | Permalink
Gaining more knowledge about non-degree credentials is important to understanding education and workforce outcomes. In that spirit, the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year released a first-time report about non-degree credentials using data collected from a nationally representative panel. They found that in fall 2012, about 25 percent of U.S. adults, or more than 50 million people, held a professional certification, license or educational certificate, and that many benefited from this attainment.
Alternative credentials are prevalent in many CTE occupations, including various technical fields, health care, and education and social assistance. Therefore, it is critical that we learn more about these non-degree credentials and the value they provide. ACTE is participating in this work through such initiatives as the Certification Data Exchange Project and the Workforce Data Quality Campaign.
When sharing this information with policymakers, businesses and the public, include data on CTE students' subsequent or simultaneous attainment of associate and bachelor's degrees and showcase students who have leveraged alternative credentials for workforce success or as a stackable credential on the way to a degree.
Remember, CTE data and research is always available with ACTE Fact Sheets.
[i] Ewert and Kominski, Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials: 2012, U.S. Census Bureau, January 2014.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 04/24/2014 at 11:14 AM in Data and Research | Permalink
More than 39 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds held an associate or bachelor's degree in 2012, 0.7 percent higher than the year prior, according to the Lumina Foundation. This is the largest year-to-year increase in attainment since Lumina began tracking.
Young adults aged 25 to 34 had a promising attainment rate of 40.9 percent, which is 0.8 percent above 2011 and 3 percent above 2008. However, lower attainment rates for African-American and Hispanic students continue to be a concern.
In addition, Lumina notes the millions of Americans who hold a postsecondary certificate: 19 million, according to recent Census research. When those certificates are added to the total, the U.S. gets much closer to meeting Lumina's goal of higher education attainment for 60 percent of the adult population by 2025.
To continue and accelerate attainment, the report recommends:
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 04/23/2014 at 11:17 AM in Data and Research | Permalink
Businesses are engaging with school districts, according to 95 percent of superintendents in a recent survey from Harvard Business School and The Boston Consulting Group. But only 12 percent perceived that engagement occurring on a deep level. Business engagement through donations and by supporting individual students is much more prevalent than participation in curriculum design, teacher development or district-wide management assistance.
Most superintendents would like to see more employer engagement and viewed these relationships positively. However, only 10 percent reported a formal evaluation of business-education partnerships.
In addition, as other recent polls have demonstrated, academic leaders and business leaders differ on their opinions about the quality of America's PK-12 education system. Sixty-five percent of superintendents described our education system as better than that of other advanced economies; only 19 percent of business leaders agreed.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 04/23/2014 at 11:16 AM in Data and Research | Permalink
New rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—authorized under the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010—will require all foods sold in schools to meet strict nutritional standards beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Though intended by Congress to target snack foods sold in vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores, these regulations will impact many students in CTE programs that operate school-based enterprises (SBE), including student-run cafés, bakeries and catering businesses. Since this is the first time that national nutritional standards will be mandated for these types of foods sold in schools, we want to help address the questions and concerns that CTE educators have about the implementation of these federal regulations. In this two-part series on the CTE Policy Watch blog, we will discuss some of the essential things you need to know to be prepared for these new rules.
How are the standards applied?
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act says that “the nutrition standards shall apply to all foods sold— outside the school meal programs; on the school campus; and at any time during the school day.”According to the USDA, the school campus includes all areas of the property under the jurisdiction of the school that are accessible to students during the school day. The school day is the period from the midnight before, to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day. These regulations apply specifically to “competitive foods,” which are any foods sold to students in schools other than the federally reimbursed school lunch and breakfast. Postsecondary intuitions are not affected by these regulations—only secondary. The new rules will officially go into effect on July 1, 2014, so most programs will need to be in compliance with the regulations beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
How will CTE programs be affected?
If your program operates an SBE that sells food only to faculty, staff or other non-students, and/or the SBE operates outside the school day and campus parameters, then your program will be unaffected. If your SBE sells food items to students on the school campus during the school day, then your program will have to comply with the regulations and meet the nutritional standards established by the USDA. Failing to implement the nutritional standards could jeopardize federal reimbursements for free-or reduced-cost meals for low-income students at your school. Even if your school does not receive federal reimbursements, failing to comply could endanger funds for other schools in your district. It is important that you contact your district administration if there is any uncertainty.
What are the nutritional standards?
According to the USDA, these are science-based nutrition guidelines that draw on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and existing voluntary standards that have already been implemented by a number of states and school districts. The nutritional standards include requirements for whole grain, vegetable, fruit and protein content as well as restrictions on fat, sugar and sodium. The USDA has produced an summary chart to outline the new standards.
While some CTE programs will find it relatively easy to adapt to the new standards and sell healthier options to students, others may find it difficult or unmanageable to meet these new standards, particularly in culinary-arts focused programs with a wide variety of instructional standards to meet. There are a limited number of exemptions and special waivers that may provide some regulatory relief for CTE programs. We will examine these options in more detail in our next post on the CTE Policy Watch blog.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 04/18/2014 at 03:45 PM in School Nutrition | Permalink
Are your students passionate for learning? Interested in gaining new job-related skills? Looking for a little extra earning power? They might be part of a growing number of "skill builders," individuals interested in enrolling in post-secondary CTE programs at community colleges nationwide to gain marketable skills that they can apply in the workplace without pursuing an associates or bachelor's degree.
According to a recent article in Community College Week, these lifelong learners are building their earning potential, increasing their employability and staying ahead in their fields by obtaining education for the specific skills that they need - for example, a student might seek courses in information technology with no intention of completing a degree and graduating. Postsecondary institutions which are addressing this need are often penalized due to the perception that these students are dropping out of school. Rather, the practice holds great potential for students. The article references a recent study that indicates "skill builders in California community colleges overall saw their median salaries go up from $49,800 in 2008-09 to $54,600 in 2011-12."
Because these programs do not meet the qualifications to offer federal financial aid under the Higher Education Act, such as clock hour requirements and length of study, they are underserved by the law in its current form. ACTE supports a reauthorized Higher Education Act that better serves all programs and students equally, and has worked to raise awareness of this issue among policymakers in the past. To access ACTE's clearinghouse for information on this topic, click here.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 04/18/2014 at 09:00 AM in Career Readiness, In the News, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
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