OCTAE Connection - Issue 182 - February 6, 2014

OCTAE Connection

                                              OCTAE Connection - Issue 182 -  February 6, 2014

      From Arne Duncan – In Celebration of CTE

In his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama called on the nation to make 2014 a year of action. He laid out a clear vision for promoting equality of opportunity and challenged everyone to go all-in on the innovations that will help this country maintain its edge in the global economy. “Here in America,” said the president, “our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams.  That’s what drew our forebears here.  … Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.” The president also put heavy emphasis on career and technical education and training that prepares young people for work. “We're working to redesign high schools,” he said, “and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.”  

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month—a great opportunity to acknowledge the important contribution CTE is making to individual citizens, our economy, and our nation. Every year, during this month, we recognize the efforts and accomplishments of the many students who are pursuing their ambitions through CTE pathways. We also thank all those working tirelessly so that more students can find their life’s passion and reach their full potential. Each day, thousands of teachers, school and district administrators, state education officials, career and technical student organization leaders, business and labor leaders, parents, and others are helping to equip students with the academic knowledge—as well as the technical and employability skills—they need to find productive careers and lead fulfilling lives.

Today’s CTE students and educators face a more difficult challenge than those of earlier generations, when a high school diploma and the skills it represented were enough to secure a place in the middle class. Those low-skilled, well-paid jobs are gone, and they won’t return. By working together, those at the local, state, and national levels are making significant progress in improving the rigor and relevance of CTE programs all across America.  

In the 21st century, we need to prepare all students to succeed in a competitive global economy, a knowledge-based society, and a hyper-connected digital world. All students must be lifelong learners, able to re-skill frequently over the course of their careers, in order to meet the changing demands of the workplace and the marketplace. They’ll need the flexibility and ingenuity to thrive in jobs that haven't even been invented yet! Teaching and learning must change, in part, because the very nature of work has changed. President Obama's North Star goal in education is for every student to graduate from high school and obtain some form of postsecondary training or degree.  

High-quality CTE is absolutely critical to meeting this challenge. Inspiring CTE teachers and effective curricula are essential to ensuring that students can master the new realities and seize the amazing new opportunities that await them.  

The president and I believe that high-quality CTE programs are a vital strategy for helping our diverse students complete their secondary and postsecondary studies. In fact, by implementing dual enrollment and early college models, a growing number of CTE pathways are helping students to fast-track their college degrees.  

CTE programs provide instruction that is hands-on and engaging, as well as rigorous and relevant. Many of them are helping to connect students with the high-demand science, technology, engineering and math fields – where so many good jobs are waiting.

In visiting CTE programs across the country, I’ve seen many excellent examples of partnerships that are providing great skills and bright futures for students. Our challenge is to replicate these successful programs so they become the norm—especially in communities that serve our most disadvantaged students. This administration’s goal is to prepare students to excel in college, in long-term occupational skills training, in registered apprenticeships, and in employment.  

The president’s 2014 budget proposal includes both continuing and new funding to support this agenda. In addition to refunding the Perkins Act at roughly $1 billion, the Department of Labor will complete providing approximately $2 billion in Trade Adjustment Act funds over four years for CTE partnerships led by the nation’s community colleges. And, in November, the president announced a new $100 million initiative between the departments of Labor and Education to fund Youth CareerConnect grants.  

Youth CareerConnect will encourage school districts, higher education institutions, the workforce investment system, and other partners to scale up evidence-based models that transform the U.S. high school experience. Best of all, with this grant program, we can plan on making awards early this year.  

In celebrating CTE month, we celebrate all the partners—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. At the Department of Education, we’re proud to be your partner.

Together, we can make the year ahead a time of bold, smart, far-reaching action.


                Community College Section

                           Developmental Education: What Do We Know?

OCTAE Connection will be running a series about developmental education over the next few weeks. This week’s article introduces the topic with an example of what one community college is doing in this area.

       The “Dev Ed” Dead End—Lake Washington Institute of Technology Responds

For too many community college students, developmental education is not a pathway—it’s a dead end. Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Wash. wants to change that.

The public technical college is one of over 100 institutions of higher education that have responded to the call to action recently issued by President and Mrs. Obama to leaders in higher education, asking them to commit to new action to promote college opportunity in one of four areas:

  • Connecting more low-income students to the college that is right for them and ensuring that more of them graduate;
  • Increasing the pool of students preparing for college through early interventions;
  • Leveling the playing field in college advising and SAT/ACT test preparation; and
  • Strengthening remediation to help academically underprepared students progress through and complete college.

Lake Washington President Amy Goings joined the president and first lady for a day-long summit at the White House on Jan. 16. The event highlighted the commitments made by Lake Washington and other institutions in response to the call to action. “At Lake Washington Institute of Technology, we serve primarily working adults who need to retool quickly, and in a manner that applies directly to their profession,” commented Lake Washington President Amy Goings. “We want to continually improve the ways we deliver what students need to be able to succeed.”

As reported in the Commitments to Action on College Opportunity released by the White House, Lake Washington has pledged to strengthen remediation in several ways. It plans to shorten the developmental mathematics pathway for students who are not pursuing degrees and certificates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. For them, the sequence is reduced from a maximum of four developmental mathematics courses taken over four quarters to a maximum of two courses taken over two quarters. The institution also will use the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Quantway program to better align students’ mathematics preparation with their fields of study.

Lake Washington also has made a commitment to end its reliance on a single standardized test score for placement in developmental English and mathematics. To gain a more comprehensive picture of students’ knowledge and skills, the school will adopt at least one of three alternative methods for determining student placement: diagnostic writing sample, recent high school transcripts, or diagnostic interviewing techniques.

Additionally, Lake Washington has pledged to expand its Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program, which is intended to provide students in upper-level adult basic education and developmental education with a pathway that allows them to gain 20 transferable college credits within one year of study. The current program pairs a multi-level writing class with one of three academic transfer classes each quarter, but the expansion will increase the number of paired academic classes from three to six. These added classes will allow students to receive academic support into their second year of college study. Lake Washington also plans to seek state approval to add two more I-BEST programs to its current set of offerings.

                   CCR Standards Implementation Institute Coming to Three Cities

OCTAE is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards Implementation Institute. Susan Pimentel and StandardsWork, Inc. are conducting this institute, on behalf of OCTAE, to assist adult education programs with creating sustainable models for advancing CCR standards-based reform. Offered in three locations, the two-day institute will provide program staff with an understanding of the fundamental advances in instruction and curriculum materials specified by the CCR standards, and offer new ways to incorporate these techniques and materials into adult education programs.

Locations and dates are:

  • New Orleans, La. – Tuesday, April 1-Wednesday, April 2
  • Phoenix, Ariz. – Wednesday, April 30-Thursday, May 1
  • Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, June 4-Thursday, June 5

                             Our New Name

Our name has changed to the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). We think that this name better reflects the field of CTE and its importance to our country. The president cast a spotlight on CTE in his State of the Union address, focusing on the importance of education and training for future and present jobs and creating greater opportunity. So, you will be receiving the OCTAE Connection newsletter in the future. Welcome to OCTAE!