ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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| December 2015 »
The House and Senate Conference Committee to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) voted to approve a bipartisan framework that merges the Every Child Achieves Act and Student Success Act by a margin of 38-1 on Thursday. The compromise deal, referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act, attempts to bridge the gap between the two versions of ESEA reauthorization legislation in a way that will appeal to lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as President Obama and his Administration.
The deal was developed with significant leadership from the chairs of both chambers’ relevant committees, including Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), as well as House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA). While only limited information on the deal is available at this time, both Democrats and Republicans have expressed their support for the measure to move forward from current law and encouraged their colleagues to join them.
Reports indicate that the deal provides states with broad authority to develop their own accountability system, but maintains existing testing requirements for mathematics, reading/language arts and science. In addition, the deal repeals the deeply unpopular adequate yearly progress provision and replaces it with a state- designed and administered system that requires intervention only in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, in so-called “dropout factories” where only few students graduate, and in schools where subsets of student populations (such as minority students or English language learners) are consistently underperforming. However, the U.S. Department of Education will be barred from prescribing any specific intervention measures or from mandating the Common Core State Standards. Furthermore, the deal combines a wide variety of federal administered programs into a single block grant, a major priority for congressional Republicans.
ACTE and other education stakeholders are awaiting public release of the legislative language, which Rep. Kline said will be available on November 30. We will continue to monitor this issue as it progresses and advocate to ensure that the CTE community’s priorities are included in the final bill.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 11/20/2015 at 12:58 PM in ESEA, In the News | Permalink
Two recent reports address student interest in and access to STEM. CTE is, for many students, a pathway to STEM education and careers, engaging students in hands-on learning that integrates technical and academic knowledge and skills.
The underrepresentation of women and people of color in STEM jobs is the focus of a new report from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity. The publication addresses academic achievement gaps in STEM fields of study among students of different races/ethnicities, as well as the lack of interest in STEM courses shown by certain sub-populations. It explores how to “rebalance the education equation” to equitably connect students to STEM literacy and competency, with recommendations including enhanced professional development in providing an equitable environment. The report highlights the role of CTE pathways and CTE-related credentials in closing STEM gaps.
In addition, ACT’s Condition of STEM 2015 shares that about half of high school graduates express an interest in STEM, with a small increase in computer science and math interest and a small decrease in interest in medical and health studies. In addition, students who both state their interest in STEM and show evidence of their interest through coursework perform better on the ACT test for math and science.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 11/19/2015 at 12:51 PM in Data and Research, STEM | Permalink
Recently, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), along with House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced that they had reached an agreement to move forward with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Both the House and Senate passed their own versions of ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) respectively, earlier this year. The next step is to host a conference committee wherein leaders from both chambers will merge the two bills into a final version that can make its way to the president’s desk.
Alexander, Murray, Kline and Scott met in July to discuss moving forward with the conference process, and Friday’s announcement marks a major step forward in the long-awaited reauthorization. In a joint statement, the four Members of Congress said, “Because of the framework we’ve developed, we are optimistic that the members of the conference committee can reach agreement on a final bill that Congress will approve and the president will sign.” The House appointed its conferees on Tuesday, November 17, and they are listed below, and the Senate is expected to follow suit on Wednesday. The conference committee is expected to hold its first meeting this week. We will continue to provide updates on the conference’s progress on the CTE Policy Watch Blog.
House and Senate conferees:
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 11/16/2015 at 05:36 PM in ESEA | Permalink
As we recently reported, Congress recently approved a budget agreement, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which increases overall discretionary funding caps for domestic programs. Congress must now begin the task of setting funding levels for individual programs for FY 2016, including Perkins, before the current short-term funding bill expires on December 11. It will be up to the appropriations committees in the House and Senate to determine which individual programs will receive a funding increase, and these decisions are expected to happen in the next few days.
On Friday, ACTE and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging them to restore funding for Perkins to the pre-sequestration level of $1.123 billion as part of the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations bill.
We will continue to work closely with congressional appropriators to promote the full restoration of Perkins funding. Please help us in our efforts by taking a few minutes to contact your Members of Congress and let them know that it is time to make investing in CTE a top priority!
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 11/16/2015 at 10:06 AM in Action Alerts, Federal Funding | Permalink
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced a series of actions it will take on the nation’s accreditation system for postsecondary institutions. The role of accrediting bodies in assessing program quality at institutions, including community colleges, area CTE centers and other postsecondary CTE institutions, affect access to federal student aid programs. The Administration’s executive actions are being promoted as part of an effort to improve the quality of the accreditation process through greater transparency and an increased focus on student outcomes.
The department will update and simplify its own online accreditation resources, which will include the accreditation status of postsecondary institutions, an overview of the accreditation system and its requirements, and information on each accreditor's standards for evaluating student outcomes. Additionally, the department has made available a compilation of performance data for institutions, including student loan default rates, completion rates and post-school earnings, organized by accrediting agency. This will provide easier access to performance information on all the institutions under the authority of each accreditor. Though these actions are relatively limited in scope, the Administration also called on Congress to grant it the authority to set and enforce student achievement standards that accreditors would use in evaluating institutions. Congress specifically prohibited the department from taking such action in the 2008 Higher Education Act reauthorization. Read our recent comments on accreditation in HEA reauthorization here.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 11/12/2015 at 01:39 PM in HEA, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
Yesterday, the White House hosted its first-ever summit dedicated to raising awareness for next generation high schools, a day-long event to examine the strategies at work to redesign high schools to prepare students for both college and careers, particularly with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Obama Administration has been a longtime supporter of next generation high school strategies, including a reference in the president’s State of the Union address and a $125 million competitive grant program under his FY16 budget request to award districts partnering with postsecondary institutions to implement high school redesign strategies. The program, however, has yet to be included in either chamber of Congress’ FY16 spending bills, leaving the administration to seek alternative vehicles for its efforts.
During the event, as reported here by Education Week, more than $375 million was raised to implement high school redesign strategies aligned to the principles of the Administration’s next generation high school efforts. Highlights include $200 million from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to build support for competency-based education in New England; an additional $20 million for the administration’s i3 grant program to support high school redesign for low-income serving institutions, and a commitment from 13 companies affiliated with Change the Equation to serve more than 100,000 volunteer hours to promote STEM education.
The White House released a fact sheet with additional details on its efforts and the event, which can be accessed here. Tell us about innovative strategies that you’ve found successful in delivering STEM curriculum in the comments!
Posted by Sean Lynch on 11/11/2015 at 05:13 PM in Career Readiness, Executive Branch, In the News, STEM | Permalink
A new report from Georgetown University describes the prevalence of working learners, and the challenges they face. For the past 25 years, a majority of postsecondary students—more than 70 percent—have worked while enrolled. Many students work 30 hours per week or more: About 40 percent of undergraduates and 76 percent of graduate students.
What are their outcomes? On the positive side, students who work and learn instead of going into the workforce directly after high school are more likely to move up into managerial positions. However, disadvantaged students don’t necessarily gain from working while learning, possibly due to the number of hours they work.
The report notes that working and learning concurrently is best when students are working in the same field that they are studying. The report recommends enhancing connections between education and industry, as well as investing in competency-based education and exploring performance funding.
Relatedly, the National Center for Education Statistics has released new data on nontraditional students. About three-quarters of all undergraduates in 2011-12 had at least one characteristic of a nontraditional student. This includes students who work part- or full-time while enrolled, as well as 49 percent of students who are financially independent and 43 percent who attend college part-time.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 11/11/2015 at 12:37 PM in Data and Research, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
On Monday, November 9, Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced the CTE Opportunity Act, a bipartisan bill to increase access to federal financial aid under the Higher Education Act for students pursuing short-term postsecondary CTE programs that lead to industry-recognized credentials. The legislation has also gained the support of the House CTE Caucus, and is cosponsored by caucus Co-chairs Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA). Such programs are among the fastest growing CTE opportunities in the nation, and can connect students with the skills and certifications they need to access in-demand, high-wage careers.
ACTE Executive Director LeAnn Wilson endorsed the bill in a formal letter to the sponsoring representatives. In her statement, she said:
“As you know, postsecondary education that leads to industry-recognized credentials is increasingly becoming a valued pathway to career success for America’s students. Unfortunately, these postsecondary CTE students enrolled in short-term programs do not currently have access to critical federal financial aid programs that will empower them to pursue their goals... the CTE Opportunity Act ensures that this vital federal support will be available to students enrolled in short-term CTE programs through financial aid.”
ACTE encourages members and CTE advocates to voice their support for this common-sense legislation on social media. Rep. Duckworth’s staff have developed the below graphics for use in posts about the bill, and suggest supporters use the hashtag #CTEopportunity.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 11/11/2015 at 11:31 AM in CTE Caucus, HEA, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
On Thursday, November 5, Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, a companion bill to the version previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tim Kaine and cosponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The legislation would expand eligibility to Pell Grants, a form of need-based financial aid that assists low-income and disadvantaged individuals, to students pursuing short-term job training programs at postsecondary institutions including community colleges and area CTE centers.
The legislation would support students pursuing programs that are at least 150 clock hours of instruction over at least eight weeks, and which culminate in a recognized postsecondary credential. ACTE endorsed both the House and Senate versions of the legislation, and released a statement from Executive Director LeAnn Wilson saying:
"The JOBS Act takes an important step toward building a workforce that will drive American economic success in the 21st century... I am proud to voice ACTE's support for this legislation, and I want to extend my thanks to Reps. Richmond and Lawrence for their efforts. By connecting low-income students with the federal aid that they need to pursue CTE through short-term job training programs, we can give them a jump start on their careers while helping our employers find qualified professionals."
ACTE will continue to advocate for this legislation and other bills that further our members' priorities.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 11/10/2015 at 05:09 PM in HEA, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) has announced a new initiative to connect more students with promising CTE opportunities including apprenticeships. The program, titled “Potential Role of Secondary Career and Technical Education Programs in Preparing Students for Apprenticeship Programs,” will provide support to state and local leaders in bringing pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship programs to scale in their communities and promote these fantastic programs to additional students. The program will help OCTAE in working toward President Obama’s goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships nationwide in five years.
The program, which is in its initial steps, will make tools and resources available on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network website, including webinars, instructional videos and a strategic guide.
The announcement is particularly relevant during National Apprenticeship Week, a celebration hosted from November 1-7, on the critical role that apprenticeships have in preparing students for career success by combining advanced technical training with hands-on academic learning and contextualized preparation for the workforce.
ACTE is proud to participate in this national effort to recognize the potential of CTE, including apprenticeship programs, in ensuring every student has access to a high-quality education that will allow then to achieve their goals. To learn more about examples of CTE and apprenticeships from across the country, check out ACTE’s latest Taking Business to School publication, featuring Pratt & Whitney’s excellent aerospace apprenticeship program.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 11/06/2015 at 12:29 PM in Executive Branch, In the News | Permalink
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