Weekly OVAE Connection Recap

This week’s issue of OVAE Connection was devoted entirely to the release by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, (PIAAC) results. PIAAC, also called Survey of Adult Skills, was conducted with nationally representative samples from 23 countries from adults ages 16 through 65. It assessed the cognitive and workplace skills needed for success in the 21st-century global economy. The results are designed to help public, private, educational, and philanthropic sectors work with a shared language and set of benchmarks to enhance cooperation around the development and implementation of economic, education, and social policies that strengthen adult skills. The results in literacy showed the U.S. to be somewhat below the international average. In numeracy, the U.S. scored well below the international level. To view the full article click here.

Sign up for OVAE Connection and other U.S. Department of Education newsletters here and access archived versions of OVAE Connection here.

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Celebrating Connected Educator Month 2013

Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education blog.


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

In support of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology is proud to announce that October is Connected Educator Month. Throughout the month, educators will have opportunities to participate in online events, build personal learning networks, and earn digital badges by demonstrating technology skills.

Online communities help educators share effective strategies, reduce isolation, and provide “just in time” access to knowledge and expertise. However, many educators are not yet taking advantage of all the benefits of connected learning. Schools, districts, and states can dramatically enhance their professional development by integrating digital learning opportunities into their formal professional development and teacher quality efforts.

“One of the most important things we can do to support teachers and students is to put modern tools in their hands, and give them access to the limitless knowledge and connections that the Internet makes possible,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “That’s why President Obama has made a priority of getting our schools connected to high-speed broadband, and it’s also why I’m so enthusiastic about Connected Educator Month.”

Nearly 200 educational organizations are participating in Connected Educator Month. These organizations will provide a variety of interactive activities, such as webinars, live chats, open houses, contests, projects, and badges for connected educators to earn.

Activities and events will range from a design challenge, in which educators will develop strategies for helping kids develop creative confidence, to a webinar in which five U.S. organizations will team up with UNESCO to share insights about mobile learning around the globe. State and locally focused activities will also engage communities of educators across the nation.

“Connected Educator Month provides an opportunity for all educators across the country to join a vibrant community of teachers and leaders using technology to reimagine learning,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology.

Connected Educator Month events can be found at www.ConnectedEducators.org/events. The site will be updated continually to reflect new activities, as they are added throughout the month. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using the #CE13 hashtag.

For more information about Connected Educator Month, visit http://www.ConnectedEducators.org.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

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Our Teams are Back

Hello! I just wanted to let you know that our teams are back at work in OVAE and stand ready to continue working with the field to provide high-quality services to youth and adults in our CTE, community college, adult education, and correctional education programs. Please reach out to us when you need us–we’re here to assist you.

Brenda Dann-Messier is the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education

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Webinar Tomorrow on Career Pathways

Tomorrow the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education (NCICTE) will host its second series of training on transforming high schools. The first of the five part series is a live webinar tomorrow, Friday, September 20th, from 12-1:30 PM EDT on Making Career Pathways Work: Curricular Design and Instructional Practice. Presenters will offer approaches to help strengthen educators’ capacity to design and deliver standards-based, integrated curriculum and improve instructional practice in career pathways. Register for the webinar here. If you are unable to attend the live webinar, an archived version will be available in the NCICTE Training Center.

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Advancing CTE in Transportation Pathways

The U.S. Department of Education announces Phase II of the Advancing Career and Technical Education (CTE) in State and Local Career Pathways Systems project.

The first phase enabled Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon to receive targeted assistance to align their education, workforce, and economic development systems to better meet the need of employers and workers in their respective states.

Under Phase II, three new states will be selected through a competitive application process to participate in this two-year project. States are invited to create a cross-agency state team that would to drive its project. The technical assistance provided under the project is designed to assist states in the development of comprehensive Career Pathways in highway design and construction and transportation-related careers, by aligning a state’s On-the-Job Training Supportive Services (OJT/SS) activities, funded by the Federal Highway Administration, with CTE Programs of Study and Career Pathways System development efforts.

You can find more information about the competition that focuses on transportation-related careers including highway design and construction on the PCRN.

States should submit their proposals by November 5, 2013 to Jobs for the Future which is under contract to manage the national initiative for OVAE.

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Back-to-School Bus Tour – Day 4

Photo of Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier and Division Director Sharon Lee Miller in front of the tour bus.

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and DATE Division Director Sharon Lee Miller in front of the tour bus.

This is the fourth in a series of daily updates from Dr. Sharon Lee Miller who is on the Back-to-School Bus Tour currently in progress in the Southwest U.S.

Thursday evening – Local Phoenix Time –

It’s a wrap!

After 10 events in four cities over three days, we have successfully completed our leg of the Secretary’s Back-to-School Bus Tour! We saw many extraordinary CTE, adult education, and postsecondary programs; met hundreds of dedicated administrators, teachers, faculty and business and industry partners; and, most importantly, met the most incredible students! From aspiring high school students to adults seeking a better life for them and their families, our leg of the tour showed us how programs in the Southwest are truly preparing students for a “Strong Start, Bright Future!”

6:22PM Thursday Local Phoenix, AZ Time –

Photo of Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier shaking the hand of a GED student in a classroom.

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier greets newly enrolled GED students


We arrived at the last stop on our leg of the Secretary’s Back-to-School Bus Tour at the Rio Salado College, in Phoenix. Rio Salado is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa Community College System. While Rio Salado began predominately as an online community college, it began a “brick and mortar” adult education program. Among the offerings at Rio Salado is the nationally-recognized I-BEST program. Several I-BEST graduates are taking part in the roundtable and sharing their personal stories in gaining their GED, transitioning to college, earning industry-recognized credentials and degrees, and obtain employment.

2:36PM Thursday Local Glendale, AZ Time –

Photo of student at a conference table speaking to Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann- Messier and 8 other participants at the table.

Participants applaud as a student shares her progress and success in the nursing program.

We just began our series of roundtables on college affordability and accessibility with educators and community stakeholders in Glendale, Arizona, hosted jointly by Glendale Community College (GCC) and Northern Arizona University (NAU). GCC has partnered with NAU, which has created an innovative transfer program called 2NAU that works with community colleges like GCC to help students make a seamless transition to a four-year institution and thus dramatically lowering the overall cost of a bachelor’s degree. Among the federal grants administered by NAU is the GEAR UP program, which is funded under the Higher Education Act (HEA). As a college readiness program, GEAR UP works with low-income, first-generation high school students to help prepare them for college. One of the issues being raised at the roundtable is faculty shortages, especially in the health professions, where individuals can earn significantly more in the field than they can in teaching at the college or university. This issue becomes more pressing as the country raises its expectations for college-going by all students.

2:10PM Thursday Local Paradise Valley, AZ Time –

Photo of Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier with CTE Biotechnology teacher, Marni Landry in a biotech classroom.

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier talks with CTE Biotechnology teacher, Marni Landry, Arizona’s Teacher of the Year about Paradise Valley High School’s Center for Research in Engineering, Science, and Technology (CREST) program


We just completed a fabulous visit to Paradise Valley High School’s Center for Research in Engineering, Science, and Technology (CREST) program. We began with a tour by an amazing group of students to CREST’s three program strands: biotechnology, sustainability, and engineering. Each of these programs exemplify the Department of Education’s vision for high-quality career and technical education (CTE) as provided in the Department’s blueprint for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, which is a major source of funding for CTE across the nation. Among the key features of CREST’s programs are integration of academic and technical education; collaboration among secondary, postsecondary, and business/industry; and work-based learning. During the visit, we had the honor of meeting Arizona’s teacher of the year—a biotechnology (CTE) teacher, Marni Landry

From Wednesday –

Lee Lambert, Chancellor of Pima Community College, reflected on Wednesday’s visit by Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier to Tucson, AZ. Dann-Messier visited students at a family literacy and an adult education program.

“When all the gears are meshing, we are capable of great things….it is crucial that all the gears do in fact synchronize. The need for seamlessness between K-12, community colleges and four-year institutions is critical. Students must be able to map out clear roads leading to whatever their education goal might be. That point was emphasized by Dr. Dann-Messier, who recognizes as I do that it is essential for Adult Education and community colleges to partner to provide clear articulation paths, and for Adult Education courses to prepare students for college or careers without the need for remediation.”

Read his entire post “Opening Doors.”

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Weekly OVAE Connection Recap

Did you catch this week’s edition of OVAE Connection, OVAE’s electronic newsletter?  This week’s edition discusses President Obama’s plan to address the rising cost of higher education in the U.S. and improve the value of a college education for students and families. Also featured this week is the Urban Institute‘s recently released report, Innovations and Future Directions for Workforce Development in the Post-Recession Era, which highlights workforce innovations and practices with both the most promise and the most challenges for ensuring a more effective U.S. workforce system. Read more of these articles in this week’s OVAE Connection here.

Sign up for OVAE Connection and other U.S. Department of Education newsletters here and access archived versions of OVAE Connection here.

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Day 3: Bus Tour Reaches Tucson, Ariz.

This is the third in a series of daily updates from Dr. Sharon Lee Miller who is on the Back-to-School Bus Tour currently in progress in the Southwest U.S.

Photo including from left to right: Dr. Jonathon Reinhardt, Dr. Beatrice Dupay, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier , Dr. Linda Waugh, and Dr. Kathy Short, at the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL).

Photo of Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier at the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL) – From the left – Dr. Jonathon Reinhardt, Dr. Beatrice Dupay, Brenda, Dr. Linda Waugh, and Dr. Kathy Short

Our day began with a roundtable on the Tucson campus of the University of Arizona with key staff and graduate students of the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL – pronounced “circle”). Partially funded through the National Resource Center grant program, a federal grant offered through ED’s Office of International and Foreign Language Education, this center is one of 15 across the U.S. that is dedicated to developing resources and providing professional development for K-8 foreign language instruction. Roundtable participants are now sharing information about their “Worlds of Words” language and culture book kits that encourage the development of intercultural understandings for K-8 teachers and children.  The kits are available at www.wowlit.org!  To learn more about the National Resource Center grant program and other federally funded programs, which focus on language learning please visit ED’s website here.

10:50AM Local Tucson Time -

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier with faculty and Students of the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center in Tuscon, AZ.

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier with faculty and Students of the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center in Tuscon, AZ.

We just arrived at a family literacy program at the Ocotillo Early Learning Center in Tuscon, AZ. The adult students are introducing themselves to Brenda and sharing the reasons why they have enrolled in the program. Their reasons range from being better parents to helping their children read to getting a job and providing for their families.

Photo of Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert seated at a table with students. teachers, and administrators

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and newly-appointed chancellor of Pima Community College Lee Lambert lead a roundtable of students, teachers, and administrators at El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center in Tuscon, AZ.

12:00PM Local Tucson Time -

We just bade farewell to a wonderful group of students, teachers, and administrators at the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center! We have just headed over to El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center, which is housed within Pima Community College, and have begun a roundtable discussion with students and staff. The students–who are all parents–are sharing their stories about why they enrolled in the program and their expectations for the future. One student just described her feelings of isolation and despair as a mother who was unable to speak English and fulfill her responsibilities as a parent and community member. Another student just recounted how she enrolled in the GED program when her son dropped out of high school and indicated that he would go back and finish when she did. Both students have indicated that they are well on their way toward achieving their educational goals and are enrolled in Pima Community College!

Wednesday Evening Tempe, AZ -

We wrapped up our activities for Wednesday at Secretary Duncan’s Town Hall Meeting on Higher Education. Flanked by the presidents of Arizona State University and the University of Maryland, the Secretary focused on college affordability, particularly for Hispanic students who are among the youngest and fastest growing segments of the population. In his remarks, Secretary Duncan reiterated his concerns about the growing costs of college and the debt that many students carry once they graduate, and shared the President’s proposals to address these issues.

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Bus Tour Update Day 2: El Paso

Just received a note from Sharon Miller on the Bus Tour

Yesterday, we started the morning at Transmountain Early College High School in El Paso, TX where Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier joined Secretary Duncan for an incredible town hall meeting. Transmountain is one of eight high schools that have partnered with El Paso Community College to allow students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate Degree in four years. Transmountain focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and nearly all of their students earn an associate’s degree in four years. Among the highlights of the visit was meeting Jarisma Rodriquez. One of the first Transmountain graduates in 2011, Jarisma earned her associate’s degree in 3 years, during which time she designed a project that was sent into space on the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavor. Following high school, Jarisma enrolled in Texas Tech University and graduated by the age of 18. She aspires to continue her studies and pursue a medical degree. Jarisma is one of many students at Transmountain who are showing how far students can succeed when standards and expectations are set high!

Onward to Arizona!

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Update from the Bus Tour

Secretary Duncan made the first stop on the 2013 Back-to-School Bus Tour at Transmountain Early College High School (ECHS) for a Town Hall this morning. Yesterday afternoon, staff from ECHS met with OVAE’s Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier to highlight their successful collaboration with El Paso Community College in implementing the early college high school. Their partnership enables high school students to graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate degree at no cost to the student! Later today Brenda will be hosting a roundtable on CTE with the El Paso Region 19 Education Service Center. Stay tuned for more updates!

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