OCTAE Connection - July 2, 2015 - Issue 233

OCTAE Newsletter

July 2, 2015

Expanded Presidential Scholars Program to Honor CTE Students

Up to 20 career and technical education students will be recognized each year, beginning in 2016, through the expansion of the Presidential Scholars Program as directed in an executive order signed by President Obama on June 22, 2015. These students will be recognized based on their “outstanding scholarship and demonstrated ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.”  

The Presidential Scholars Program is one of the nation’s most distinguished honors for high school students.  President Lyndon B. Johnson established the program in 1964 to recognize the outstanding scholarship of students who have recently graduated or are about to graduate from secondary schools. The program selects one boy and one girl from each of the 50 states, and up to 15 students at-large to be Presidential Scholars. An additional 20 students are selected based on their accomplishments in the arts. 

The Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by the president and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, oversees the program. The commission selects students annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as on evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. 

To date, the program has recognized almost 7,000 of the nation’s top-performing students.  Presidential Scholars are honored yearly at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., where they meet with national leaders in a variety of fields. 


This executive order complements a June 30 convening at the White House, Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education, at which first lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address.  The first lady recognized outstanding students, teachers, and administrators who have showed exceptional leadership in career and technical education. She also highlighted the importance of postsecondary education and spoke about how CTE programs can help students acquire the needed skills for high-demand jobs. 

View Michelle Obama’s remarks here

Third Webinar in the Creating the Next Generation of Manufacturers Series

Join OCTAE for the third webinar in the series “Skills on Purpose—Creating the Next Generation of Manufacturers.” This webinar, “Career Pathways in Manufacturing – Rethinking the Pipeline with the End in Mind,” will discuss the process of constructing effective career pathway programs in the manufacturing sector.  Career pathways are based on the coordination of efforts between colleges, schools, and employers to address the skill needs of the workforce.  By avoiding haphazard approaches, pathway programs put in place a coherent, articulated sequence of rigorous—secondary to postsecondary—academic and career-technical courses that support career development for individuals, and fuel the growth of industry.  

“Skills on Purpose—Creating the Next Generation of Manufacturers” is a series of panel discussions between government, business, and education stakeholders and institution representatives. In these six interactive webinars, panel members explore strategies for building partnerships toward a workforce-driven transformation of the manufacturing sector. 

When: July 10, 2015, from 2–3 p.m. EDT. 

To register for this event, click here.

 All webinars are archived on the PCRN website.

WIOA Provisions Go Into Effect to Transform the Public Workforce System

On July 1, 2015, many of the provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) went into effect. OCTAE’s Acting Assistant Secretary Johan E. Uvin, along with our partners in ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, released a joint statement. It discusses the combined efforts at the federal, state, and local levels to implement the new law, and how the federal partners will continue to support the transformation of the public workforce system.

New OCTAE Report on Correctional Education Highlights Importance of Facility and Community Partnerships

The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education recently released a new report, Reentry Education Model Implementation Study: Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities. The study examines the implementation of OCTAE’s correctional education reentry model at three demonstration sites—Barton Community College in Kansas, Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 in Pennsylvania, and Western Technical College in Wisconsin.  It also identifies lessons for linking facility-and community-based reentry education programs. Adult education providers may wish to review this report for lessons learned, and for application to their own programs serving transitional adult learners who are preparing for the workforce. 

The demonstration sites were selected through a competitive process and received grant funds in March 2013 to implement the reentry education model. The model involves “establishing a strong program infrastructure, strengthening and aligning correctional and reentry education services, and integrating education into the correctional system.”  It also emphasizes the use of evidence-based curricula and instruction. The study offers observations from the first full year of the model’s use at the sites to describe their implementation experiences as well as the model’s strengths and limitations. 

The study found that strong partnerships between education providers and correctional facilities are essential to offering quality correctional education and maintaining educational continuity as formerly incarcerated people reenter the community. Some practices that are crucial to sustaining partnerships are highlighted. These include facilitating good communication among partners, particularly through in-person meetings; recognizing and respecting the different priorities and organizational cultures of all of the partners; and engaging both frontline staff and senior leadership. 

In addition to these partnerships, the study showed that focusing on transitions into and out of correctional facilities and providing programs leading to career pathways can significantly enable incarcerated individuals to continue their education and prepare for good jobs. “Moments of transition”—entry into or release from a correctional facility—are key points for recruiting and retaining students in educational programs. Thus, effective recruitment and class assignment strategies can improve students’ program of study retention and completion rates. Once students have transitioned from corrections facilities, the study found, wrap-around reentry support services, such as college and career counseling, are important in recruiting and retaining students in community-based reentry education programs. 

Education that is focused on high-demand career pathways can use stackable credentials—and jobs that would be accessible to individuals with criminal histories— to offer more opportunities for the previously incarcerated to earn a living wage and avoid recidivism. Career assessment and exploration can enable students to see not only how their interests connect to potential careers, but also what credentials are needed for various jobs within a career pathway.

For more information, interested parties are encouraged to read the full implementation study and the original reentry education model report.