CTE State Directors Convene in Washington, D.C.

Photo of Haigh and Uvin at April 17 CTE State Directors Meeting

John Haigh moderates a session while Deputy Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin engages the audience in discussion.

On April 17th, we had the opportunity to host the 2013 Meeting of the State Directors of Career and Technical Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Presentation materials and other resources shared during the meeting can be found on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network. We encourage you to explore the site to learn more about national and state initiatives to promote career pathways and education programs of study development.

In case you were not able to attend the meeting, here is a brief recap:

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President’s FY14 Budget Request Released This Week

On Wednesday the President sent his FY14 budget request to Congress. To learn more about the President’s budget proposal for education, visit: www.ed.gov/budget14. For specific budget information related to OVAE’s programs, visit here. We’ll post further analysis of the OVAE proposed budget in the coming days.

Reminder: Community College Webinar Series Continues Tomorrow

The second event in OVAE’s 2013 Community College Webinar Series will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, April 10 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. EDT, and will focus on emerging community college correctional and reentry education models. Click here to register for the webinar.

Bridging the Opportunity Gap: Helping Vulnerable Students Succeed

Worldwide, there are nearly 75 million young people, ages 15 to 24, who are not in school and unemployed. This situation is being described as a global crisis which requires immediate, targeted and renewed action to tackle youth education and employment issues. The U.S. is no exception. Amidst high youth unemployment rates and a growing skills gap in our nation as the baby boom generation retires, our nation is also faced with a widening opportunity gap for vulnerable young people.  In the U.S. today there are nearly 6.7 million “disconnected” young people ages 14 to 24 that are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, or are neither in school or employed. According to the White House Council for Community Solutions, this roughly equates to 1 in 6 young people in this age range.

Focusing on the education and employment needs of “disconnected” youth populations is critical to meeting the President’s goal of the United States, once again, producing the world’s highest proportion of college graduates, and the world’s most competitive workforce, by the year 2020. 

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We Need to Stop Meeting and Have a (CTE) Movement!

When the Harvard Graduate School of Education released its February 2011 report, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, lead authors Dr. Ronald Ferguson and Dr. William (Bill) Symonds had no idea about the chord they would strike among our nation’s education, workforce development, and economic development leaders; business and industry leaders; researchers; national associations; philanthropic organizations; and even parents and students. The message of their report was straightforward: to address our nation’s high school graduation and “skills” gap, we must build multiple career pathways for youth and adults. We must move beyond the one-size-fits-all, or “four-year college immediately following high school for all,” approach to education. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan aptly states, “we must move beyond the false dichotomy of preparing students for college or careers, and begin preparing every student for college and careers.”

Beneath the seemingly simple message and solution in the Pathways report, however, is an incredibly complex endeavor. Preparing all students for college and careers requires radical changes in the way we presently design, deliver, and assess teaching and learning. It requires commitment to providing every student with a rigorous core of academic, technical, and employability skills. It requires meaningful and sustained collaboration between academic and technical teachers, secondary teachers and postsecondary faculty, and educators and business leaders. It requires fundamental restructuring of the school day, changes in the delivery of career guidance and counseling, and an overhaul in how we prepare our nation’s teachers and faculty. It requires new methods for assessing and credentialing student learning, and evaluating the effectiveness of programs. It requires sweeping changes–at Federal, state, and local levels–in the policy and funding environment for education, workforce development, and economic development.

Despite many well-intentioned reform efforts that have come before, and incredible accomplishments in states and local communities across the country, radical change has generally eluded us. Part of the problem claims Dr. Ferguson, “is that we have to stop meeting and have a MOVEMENT!”

And, so, the Harvard folks convened, well, a meeting. But, this was no ordinary meeting. The two-day session held March 18-19, in Cambridge, MA, brought together the nation’s leading practitioners, researchers, business leaders, and students, for a “Direction-setting Conference.” The tone and context for the meeting was set by business leaders, including CEOs from Snap-On, Caterpillar, and Microsoft. The discussions centered not on the “problems” we face, but on the “solutions” we need. The highlight, as always, was the student panel that recounted the many exceptional programs they had experienced and that need to be brought to scale across our nation. To me, and likely for many others in attendance, it felt like the beginning of a movement, except that we already had a great running start!

The meeting caused me to reflect on work already underway in the Department, including our newly-launched Advancing CTE in State and Local Career Pathways initiative and our partnership with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, and how well the Administration’s principles for alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation, were so echoed and reinforced.

Finally, as a parent of a soon-to-be six-year-old whose favorite movie is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, one word kept coming to my mind—”unless.” “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” In the coming weeks, the Harvard folks will issue the recommendations from the meeting.

Sharon Miller is the Director of the Division of Academic and Technical Education at OVAE

Assistant Secretary Visits Kentucky Community College

“Partnerships between community colleges, labor, employers, career and technical education and adult education systems are critical to making it easier for students to transition seamlessly along a career pathway,” said OVAE’s Assistant Secretary, Brenda Dann-Messier, after traveling to Kentucky last week to meet with officials and students from the Kentucky Community Technical College System (KCTCS).

Along with Kentucky Adult Education and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, KCTCS received an Accelerating Opportunity Grant to provide students with basic skills and career and technical education training at the same time.  Kentucky has been a leader in transforming its adult education system to ease students’ transitions to postsecondary education and training long before it received an Accelerating Opportunity grant.  For instance, Kentucky was one of the first states to bring the Common Core State Standards into its adult education programs to ensure more adult learners in the state are able to enroll in college prepared to succeed.

This effort to align education systems to promote college access and success are also occurring between Kentucky’s high schools and community and technical colleges.  “I was also struck by how Kentucky is working to create these partnerships so that students as early as high school can benefit from aligned systems”, said Dann-Messier after visiting Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC).

Working together with local Toyota Motor Manufacturing company, Bluegrass’ Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program actively recruits high school students who enroll at the college upon graduation and participate in a “work, learn, and earn” model. Students gain work experience at the Toyota plant three days a week and spend the other two days taking courses at AMC.

Dann-Messier noted, “We need to see more programs like this replicated across the country, where colleges, high schools, and businesses are working together to create rigorous programs that lead to college degrees and provide incentives for students to continue their education and for them to succeed in work.”

Check out additional press coverage from the visit here.

How OVAE Celebrated 2013 CTE Month

Just like CTE students, teachers, and administrators, OVAE celebrates CTE every day of every month.  However, during the month of February the pride is elevated with celebration and recognition for all that is CTE during “CTE Month”.

We used CTE Month 2013 as an opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues across the U.S. Department of Education (ED) as well as our dedicated professional associations.  We shared the message that it was CTE month and CTE Works! (this year’s theme as designated by the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE)).  It seemed that no workspace or office in OVAE was spared a CTE Month poster to hang with pride.  We made sure to say “Happy CTE Month!” in our phone calls, office meetings, and every chance we had.

Secretary Arne Duncan, Deputy Secretary Tony Miller, Undersecretary Martha Kanter, and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier all contributed to the OVAE Connection newsletter; supporting articles were also sent through the Teaching Matters newsletter and Homeroom, ED’s official blog.

We were excited and proud to see two CTE students were sitting in the First Lady’s box at President Obama’s State of the Union address.

The week of February 11th saw an increased volume of social media buzz about how CTE professionals and CTSO students were celebrating CTE Month.  On my own hand held device, I read tweets and updates at #CTEMonth and #CareerTech.

ED staff also attended a student recognition event at McKinley Technology High School, which houses a STEM-focused CTE program where students have the opportunity to select one of four pathways in a STEM-related strand. The strands provide students with relevant, real-world project-based learning opportunities that prepare them for postsecondary education and 21st century careers.

On February 21st, ED hosted a policy briefing to all agency staff on how CTE is addressing the nation’s skills gap.  The session included a pair of conversations – one with educators and business leaders, and a second with Career and Technical Students Organizations (CTSO) participants. Check out the blog post recapping the briefing.

Finally, the Secretary visited the Harbor School in New York City, a CTE school that prepare students for success in college and careers through restoration of the local marine environment.

As you can see, OVAE enjoyed celebrating CTE Month and looks forward to celebrating 2014 CTE Month with you next year!

Robin Utz is the Director of the College and Career Transitions Branch in the Division of Academic and Technical Education at OVAE

OVAE Hosts First Event in 2013 Community College Webinar Series

OVAE hosted the first event in its 2013 Community College Webinar Series on Thursday, March 7, in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).  This first event focused on transforming adult education to better prepare adult learners to successfully transition to postsecondary education and training.  Over 380 stakeholders from community and technical colleges, community based organizations, state and local government, four-year colleges and universities, and workforce development organizations took part in the webinar.  For those of you who could not participate in the live event, or would like to view the webinar or presentation again, the recorded webinar and presentation will be archived in the coming days on OVAE’s website at www.ed.gov/ovae.

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier noted, “This was a fantastic start to OVAE’s Community College Webinar Series. The number of participants and the thoughtful questions asked illustrated the importance of the topic and the level of interest from the field!  We are looking forward to this ongoing engagement in our future events.”

OVAE’s 2013 Community College Webinar Series will continue next month with an event on April 10 that examines the role community colleges can play in correctional and re-entry education.  More information on this event, along with the registration link, will be shared in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!