Johan Uvin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for OVAE, was a featured panelist at the 2013 U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference in Austin, TX on June 18. The session, which focused on “Transforming Career and Technical Education for the Global Economy,” was moderated by Mimi Lufkin, the CEO for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE).
Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education blog.
“Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge: to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy.”
- President Barack Obama, February 12. 2013When President Obama spoke those words in this year’s State of the Union address, I felt like cheering. As a science teacher, it’s my job to help students fall in love with learning and explore important questions about how the world works. I also know the principles and problem-solving skills they’re mastering will help them succeed in today’s competitive global economy, where science, technology, engineering and math (or “STEM”) careers are on the rise. And, through fellowships with the U.S. Department of Education, I’ve been paying even closer attention to how the Obama Administration’s proposals affect my work.
The President’s High School Redesign plan would invest in programs that re-invigorate the American high school experience for the 21st century. Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and collaborating more closely with postsecondary, business and community partners are two ways that high schools can re-think their current model. I recently had an opportunity to visit a school that’s using both of these strategies when I accompanied Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, on a trip to Cleveland High School in Seattle, Wash.
As teachers and school leaders across the country think about implementing the President’s plan, there’s a lot we can learn from schools that have already started down this path. Cleveland High School was restructured as a STEM-themed school four years ago, and according to the principal, Princess Shareef, “There was no template set for us.” Instead, school leaders and staff had the freedom to innovate, meeting every week and including parents, employers and other partners in designing a new approach. The result? A high school in South Seattle that provides a college-and-career-ready curriculum through project-based learning, and connects students with mentors from the surrounding community.During classroom walk-throughs, we spent time in a computer engineering class and talked with students engaged in a reverse-engineering assignment. In this hands-on design project, students choose an everyday object like a toy car or a mechanical pencil, measure the object using calibration tools, design and draw blueprints, transform the blueprints into multi-view drawings, and create a mock assembly. The students we met clearly understand and excel in their subject. They’re also confident that what they’re learning will empower them in the future.
One student said, “It’s really nice to have experience with the computer-aided design, and this will help with job preparedness. Most [engineering] jobs are looking for experience in graphic design.” Another added, “I’m learning how to solve problems and to communicate with my team every day. This is important for my career in the future.”
These students realize that, in today’s marketplace, they need even more technical skills and experience. The days of working in isolation are over: problem-solving and teamwork skills are essential for success in the 21st century. At Cleveland High School, students learn to be effective collaborators through project-based learning.
As one student explained, “We get graded on work as a team. Communication is important and there are instances when the group doesn’t function and so you have to learn how to communicate in a better way. You also learn how to speak for yourself and develop a voice.” A business leader at the table drew an appreciative laugh from the group by noting, “Yes, just like in the real world.”
Equipped with a full range of academic, technical and employability skills, students at Cleveland High School will be ready for the demands of the world that awaits them after graduation. That’s good news for them and for the employers in their region. It’s also great news for the country.
As Dean of Students Catherine Brown told the assembled students, employers and civic leaders that, by coming together to re-engineer Cleveland High School, “You’re not just thinking of your industry—you’re thinking about the common good of society.” By focusing on relevant, real-world skills; by making STEM-themed learning, wrap-around services and broad-based partnerships a vital part of each school day; and by graduating college-and-career-ready students, this re-engineered high school is preparing the next generation of U.S. leaders in some of tomorrow’s most exciting professions.
Dr. Kareen Borders is a Regional Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education
Participate in the the live webcast on Applying Lessons Learned from Career Technical Education to Adult Career Pathways by tuning in online and submitting questions via social media. The event will be held tomorrow, June 11, 2013 from 8:45 – 9:45 AM CDT. On the panel will be:
Albert Palacios, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education
Blake Flanders, Vice President for Workforce Development, Kansas Board of Regents
Brian Durham, Senior Director for Academic Affairs and Career & Technical Education, Illinois Community College Board
Moderator, Hope Cotner, Vice President, U.S. Projects, Center for Occupational Research and Development
To view the webcast online, click on the following link to register: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07e7jr6i6z4388cb0e&oseq=&c=&ch=
OVAE will be sharing updates and information at the 2013 National Career Clusters Institute in Fort Worth, Texas next week. Hosted by the National Career Technical Foundation of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), the annual event brings together educators, counselors, state leaders, workforce development professionals, business and industry experts, and economic development partners to share insights and strategies for coordinating educational delivery in communities and states.
Rutgers University. Yale University. Northeastern University. Stevens University. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. These are among the colleges that seniors from Union County Vocational-Technical Schools in Scotch Plains, New Jersey are headed this fall.
As one parent of a Yale-bound senior put it, “This is what high school should be for every student.” The Administration agrees, having issued both its blueprint for Perkins reauthorization in April 2012 and proposed a $300 million High School Redesign in the FY 2014 budget. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier states, “Our students shouldn’t have to make a decision between college or a career; every student needs to be prepared for both.” Union County Vocational-Technical Schools has turned this vision into a reality and, at the same time, become a school of first choice for students in Union County. Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier had the opportunity to experience the vision first-hand during her recent visit on May 23.
It used to be that enrollment in career and technical education, much less a full-time area career center, would not be the best option for students preparing for college, particularly at one of the leading universities in the nation. Union County Vocational-Technical Schools has fundamentally changed this situation and now makes enrollment in career and technical education the “sought-after option” for high school students.
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools offers five academy schools on its campus, including The Academy for Allied Health Sciences, The Academy for Information Technology, and a Magnet High School which focuses on STEM-related programs. Students participate in rigorous academic courses that are integrated with their career and technical education courses, complete work-based learning, earn college credit for courses taken during high school, and earn industry-recognized certificates.
School administration officials attribute their schools’ success to ongoing partnerships with business/industry and postsecondary education to develop and implement their programs. Students credit the teaching staff and career guidance counselors who help them acquire work-based learning opportunities, complete FASFA forms, and submit college applications. Parents recognize the entire school team for helping students gain the academic, career-related, and employability skills that help them prepare for their future.
Last week OVAE hosted several visitors from the 12 for Life program to learn more about their innovative education, training and employment program aimed at vulnerable youth in Carrollton, GA and Florence, AL. The program, which was developed by Southwire in 2007 to address the interrelated dropout and skills crises among youth in Georgia, targets many of the most vulnerable youth who are at the greatest risk of not completing high school.
Now more than ever, maintaining America’s competitive edge requires that workers obtain relevant post-secondary credentials and that employers have access to a well-trained and highly-skilled workforce. For decades, the national Registered Apprenticeship system and the nation’s extensive network of two- and four-year post-secondary institutions have been at the forefront of providing industry-driven education and training that supports business competitiveness and career advancement for workers.
Update: Registration is now open for the webinar. Click here to register.
The third event in OVAE’s 2013 community college webinar series will be held on Tuesday, May 14 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. Building on the National Dialogue on Career Pathways held last October, this event will bring together foundation, state, and local community college representatives to discuss the central role of community colleges in career pathways systems. Whitney Smith from the Joyce Foundation will discuss the importance of career pathways systems and the Joyce Foundation’s work to expand the development of these efforts in the Great Lakes region. Dr. Jay Box, Chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, will present on the numerous statewide initiatives underway in Kentucky to ease postsecondary access and transitions for youth and adults. The webinar will also highlight two promising local career pathways programs. Deborah Davidson, Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin will discuss the work of her institution to provide on-ramps for low-skill adults to access postsecondary education and training. Lupe Chavez, Director of High School Programs at South Texas College in McAllen, Texas will also present on South Texas’ efforts to expand partnerships with local high schools to increase dual enrollment and promote postsecondary transitions for young adults.
The President’s 2014 Budget Proposal includes several Pay for Success pilots. The Office of Management and Budget at the White House says the following about this new way of financing: “Pay for Success is an innovative way of partnering with philanthropic and private sector investors to create incentives for service providers to deliver better outcomes at lower cost—producing the highest return on taxpayer investments. The concept is simple: pay providers after they have demonstrated success, not based on the promise of success, as is done now.”
On April 19th, the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, announced the availability of $474.5 million to create and expand innovative partnerships between community colleges and businesses to educate and train workers with the skills employers need. This is the third of four rounds of funding under the $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.