Dear Colleague Letter on School Counseling

Ensuring that students are college and career-ready is a top priority for the Obama Administration. President Obama has called for the United States to lead the world in college completion by 2020.

That’s why, as we prepare for the upcoming school year, the departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Labor are working together to help local school systems around the country make use of the available resources to help ensure our young people are the best prepared workers in the world. Through this cross-agency collaboration, we are sharing information about how federal resources can help provide relevant and timely information so students can plan for their future careers.

The Departments have sent a jointly signed letter to education, workforce development, social services, and private-sector leaders around the country asking them to join us in our commitment to help high schools utilize the resources available to them through their local American Job Centers. We believe this effort will not only prepare our students for future jobs, but will secure the United States’ place in the global economy.

School guidance counselors play a critical role is preparing our students for college and careers, but the growing number of students compared to counselors may mean not every student can get the attention they need to find their path to their desired career.

That’s where the federal job training services can help. By leveraging the resources available from the nearly 2,500 American Job Centers around the country, schools can ensure their students are getting the most up-to-date information about the job market and what education and training is necessary to land their dream job.

In today’s global economy, opportunity and success have never been more closely linked to the education and skills you have.  That’s why connecting workforce services to education makes common sense.  These connections – which already help job seekers and employers to connect with one another – will help students better understand the skills they need to succeed in today’s job market, while they are in a position to make the decisions at an earlier age.

The American Job Center network can supplement the activities of school counselors by providing career development services and local labor market information, offering career counseling, resume and interview help, share information about Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs like Job Corps and YouthBuild, and create opportunities for summer and year-around youth employment.

Some states have already begun to integrate these services. In Wisconsin, school officials developed the Career 101 initiative that provides career information to students that promotes career awareness and supports learning about career opportunities. Or take Minneapolis Promise, a local initiative that uses private funding to locate College and Career Centers inside all seven Minneapolis public high schools and eight specialty high schools. The centers offer students career and college planning resources, trained career counselors to guide students, and an online career planning tool to help each ninth-grader develop a personalized “My Life Plan.”

These partnerships can help ensure that high school students have the information they need to be ready for college and careers, and alleviate some of the gaps in college and career counseling that is provided in high schools today.

Tuba City High School CTE Students Graduate with College Degrees

Tuba City High School awarded students in their Early Childhood Education (ECE) career and technical education program Child Development Associates (CDA) degrees. Tuba City is the third school in the nation to award CDA National Credentials to high school students. The program was developed in partnership with Coconino Community College and funded as part of a discretionary grant that was awarded to the State of Arizona by OCTAE.

The Tuba City CTE program and its seven CDA graduates were featured in articles in the Arizona Daily Sun and the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

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21st Century Employability Skills Webinar

Join the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) Thursday May 22, 2014 at 2pm (EDT) for a webinar to learn about strategies for integrating employability skills into high quality CTE programs. The webinar will address why employability skills matter from the federal and state policy and employer perspectives and demonstrate the potential uses of OCTAE’s newly updated Employability Skills Framework website. Implementation strategies for workforce systems, student organizations, and community colleges will also be shared.

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Getting to “Yes”

Photo of students standing with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and DATE Division Director Sharon Miller

Students gather for a photo with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and DATE Division Director Sharon Miller

Earlier this week, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and I visited an Advanced Manufacturing Early College High School in Queensbury, New York. A partnership between the Hudson Falls, Queensbury, and Saratoga School Districts, the State University of New York (SUNY) Adirondack, and the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, this high school enables students to earn up to 24 college credits, four nationally-recognized industry certifications, a Regents diploma, and a valuable internship experience.

Students (juniors and seniors) are dually enrolled in high school and SUNY Adirondack as non-matriculated students. They spend half of their day attending classes that are co-led by college faculty and BOCES instructors, and the other half of their day taking Regents-level courses at their home school. Their work is largely project-based, requiring them to solve real-world problems generated by the program’s extensive group of business partners. A current project involves the students developing an MRI cooling system for Queensbury-based Philips Health Care.

As part of the visit, we received a student-led overview of the program, a brief tour of an advanced manufacturing lab, and then conducted two round tables–one with administrators, teachers, faculty, and employers, and a second with teachers, parents, and students. What stood out among the comments, one employer said, “The wonderful thing about this program is that it helps students ‘get to yes!’” By this, the employer stated that many of today’s new and current employees see only challenges and barriers to their work. They lack the problem-solving skills to analyze data, synthesize information, work through failure, and persist to resolution. This program is helping students to gain these and other essential skills to help them prepare for college and careers!

Indeed, our nation needs many more high schools and CTE programs like this across the nation. In so doing, we’d be helping many more students “get to yes!”

Sharon Miller is the Director of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Missouri and Texas CTE Students Win National Ag Day Essay Contest

Clara Knipp from Tipton, Missouri, and Brackston McKnight from Jacksonville, Texas were selected as the 2014 National Ag Day Essay Winners.

Clara’s essay entitled “Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths To Feed” compares the seemingly daunting challenge of feeding the world to the moon landing and encourages farmers, researchers, and educators to take “one small step” to meet that challenge. Clara is an Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) student and member of the Tipton, Missouri FFA chapter.

Brackston used still frame animation to win the top prize in the Video Essay category. Brackston is President of his FFA chapter and is planning to continue his education at Sam Houston State or Texas A & M University in his pursuit of a career in agribusiness.

Clara is scheduled to be recognized by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 25 at the Celebration of Agriculture Dinner where Brackston’s video will also be shown.

The OMB “Super Circular” is now the Omni Circular

As part of an effort to reform and strengthen Federal grant making, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published new guidance for the Federal award programs, OMB Uniform Guidance: Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, commonly referred to as the Omni Circular. The new guidance is a key component of a larger Federal effort to more effectively focus Federal grant resources on improving performance and outcomes while ensuring the financial integrity of taxpayer dollars. By streamlining eight Federal regulations into a single, comprehensive policy guide, the government can better administer grants and other types of financial assistance by decreasing the administrative burden for recipients and reducing the risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

The new guidance, published on December 26, 2013, will be implemented on December 26, 2014. In the interim, OMB and the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) will continue to engage stakeholders to facilitate a smooth implementation process. To assist in the implementation of the new guidance, the Department of Education (ED) has plans to train ED staff and grantees on the new requirements. You can find an announcement from the Department and more information on ED grant policies on the Grant Policy Memos page.

You can email questions related to the Omni Circular to: UniformGrantGuidanceImplementation@ed.gov.

Finding Funds for Technology

The following appeared in the Teachers Edition on February 13 and could be helpful for High School CTE programs.

As the administration works to connect students to high-speed Internet through the E-Rate program, ED wants states and districts to remember they can use federal professional development dollars to support technology use. While ESEA and IDEA might not spell it out, states and districts can use some of the money to support “innovative technology-based strategies to personalize learning,” the Department says in a new Dear Colleague letter. For example, Title II funds can be used to help teachers improve their teaching through effective blended-learning practices.

Celebrate CTE Month!

Each year the Department of Education highlights the important role CTE plays in the lives of students and our country. February is Career and Technical Education month and CTE partners across the U.S. are joining the celebration.

The current edition of the OCTAE newsletter includes a message from Secretary Arne Duncan to the “students, parents, business, union and community leaders, educators all through the pipeline, and many more—who are helping to transform CTE and achieve our shared vision of educational excellence and opportunity for all students.”

Keep your eyes open for more activities celebrating CTE month and look for #CTEMonth on Twitter.

Which sectors will be adding the most jobs?

Did you know that the health-care sector and social assistance sector (which includes child and youth services and community services) are projected to account for almost one-third of the total increase in employment over the next 10 years? Or that, of the 30 occupations projected to have the largest percentage increase in employment between 2012 and 2022, 14 are related to health care and five are related to construction? Kristina Bartsch, chief of the Division of Occupational Employment Projections at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, discussed industries and occupations projected to gain and lose jobs between 2012 and 2022, and the education needed for those jobs, on C-SPAN’s “America by the Numbers” on January 31.

This story appeared in the February 6 edition of the U.S. Department of Labor Newsletter and was posted in the Youth and Adult Pathways microgroup in LINCS.

You can watch the interview recorded January 31, 2014 on C-SPAN.org.

Youth CareerConnect Grant Opportunity Announced for Local Partnerships

Last week, the White House announced a new grant opportunity to build America’s next generation workforce. The grants require a local education agency and institution of higher education to partner with their local workforce investment system and an employer to improve and expand programs that enable high school students to gain an industry-relevant education while earning college credit. In addition, students will be able to participate in work based learning as well as receive individualized career and academic counseling.

The U.S. Department of Labor will make up to $100 million available from H-1B revenues for approximately 25 to 40 grants. The deadline for applications is January 27, 2014! You can find information about the Youth CareerConnect grant program and how to apply at http://www.doleta.gov/ycc.