Issue 249 OCTAE Connection - June 30, 2016

OCTAE Newsletter

June 30, 2016

Now Available: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Final Rules

The U.S. departments of Labor and Education have collectively issued five rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (Pub. L. 113-128).  President Barack Obama signed WIOA into law on July 22, 2014.  WIOA is landmark legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youths and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers. 

Today, the U.S. departments of Labor and Education announce the advanced posting of the following: 

  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; Joint Rule for Unified and Combined State Plans, Performance Accountability, and the One-Stop System Joint Provisions; Final Rule
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; Department of Labor-only Final Rule
  • Programs and Activities Authorized by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act); Final Rule
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program; State Supported Employment Services Program; Limitations on use of subminimum wage; Final Rule
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Miscellaneous program changes; Final Rule 

These rules will formally publish in the Federal Register in the coming weeks and will be available on the Federal Register’s public inspection website at  For a preview of these documents, please visit,, and

For more information and the most recent updates, please visit the Department of Labor’s WIOA landing page at and the Innovation and Opportunity Network on WorkforceGPS (ION), which features technical assistance on strategies fundamental to WIOA implementation, such as customer-centered design, strategic boards, career pathways and sector strategies. It will also host technical assistance specific to the regulations as it is available. Use ION to find peer learning groups and calls, fact sheets, and details on training events. 

Visit the ION community of practice at 

Disclaimer: This regulation has been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for publication, and is currently pending placement on public inspection at the OFR and publication in the Federal Register.  This version of the regulations may vary slightly from the published document if minor technical or formatting changes are made during the OFR review process.  Only the version published in the Federal Register is the official regulation.

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Department of Education Releases Guidance on Gender Equity in Career and Technical Education

Ensuring that all students have access to high-quality secondary and postsecondary CTE programs is central to achieving the education equity required by law. As such, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Adult, Career, and Technical Education (OCTAE) released a Dear Colleague Letter. The letter, a part of the White House’s United State of Women Summit on gender equality issues, including educational opportunities and economic empowerment for women and girls, makes clear that “all students, regardless of their sex, must have equal access to the full range of career and technical (CTE) programs offered.” It clarifies the legal obligations under the civil rights laws that OCR enforces to ensure equitable access to CTE programs, and provides examples of issues that may raise concerns about compliance with these obligations. And while the letter focuses on discrimination based on sex in CTE programs, it also stands as a reminder that “other considerations, such as race, ethnicity, English language status, and disability are [also] important characteristics in examining CTE access, participation, completion and outcomes." 

Building on this guidance, OCTAE is developing the Advancing Equity in CTE Tool Kit. The tool kit will highlight resources and strategies to support state and local education agencies, academic staff, school administrators and counselors, and parents and equity coordinators to develop and implement equitable high-quality CTE programs, services, and learning practices.

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College Prep for All—The San Diego Experiment

That all students should be prepared in high school for both college and careers has been a persistent theme of President Obama’s administration.  Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia require all students to complete a college- and career-ready course of study. California, the most populous state, with more than 38 million people (2013 U.S. census data), is not one of these states. It does, however, have rigorous requirements—known as the a-g requirements (30 semesters of college-prep coursework). These must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher in order for students to be eligible to apply for admission to either of the state’s public university systems—the University of California (UC) system and the California State University (CSU) system.  

For not requiring that all high school graduates are college- and career-ready, the state has come under sharp criticism.  Partly in response to this criticism, several larger California school districts—including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland—have adopted high school graduation requirements mandating that all students complete the a-g course of study (as locally modified).  

A recent report, College Prep for All:  Will San Diego Students Meet Challenging New Graduation Requirements?, published by the Public Policy Institute of California, provides data from the San Diego school district, where students in the classes of 2016 and later will be required to complete the a-g coursework with grades of “D” or higher in order to graduate.  This data was compared to the Los Angeles and San Francisco school districts’ pre-2016 graduation cohorts that were not required to meet the more stringent requirements and the post-2016 graduation cohorts.  Selected findings from these comparisons follow. 

  • The San Diego classes of 2016 through 2018 have increased their college-prep course taking as compared with earlier graduating classes.  Students from in the classes of 2016 through 2018 also are completing more courses.  
  • Students with the “lowest likelihood of completing the requirement” have made the greatest improvement in doing so. Early evidence suggests that students in the class of 2016, who complete the required curriculum with a grade of “C” or higher, may rise by 10 percentage points, a meaningful gain that makes these students eligible to attend either of the two California university systems.
  • On the other side of the ledger, the report estimates that up to 28 percent of the class of 2016 will have trouble completing their required courses on time, with a larger percentage of English learners and special education students falling short of meeting the requirements. 

In summary, the study finds that under the new requirements about 10 percent more San Diego students may become eligible to apply to the CSU and UC systems, but 16 percent more may fail to graduate from high school—thus producing “many students who will win, and many who will lose.” This new initiative is an ongoing experiment.  San Diego (along with the other districts) is continuing to deal with unresolved questions, including how the “college prep for all” policy could be adjusted to become a “win-win” for both higher- and lower-achieving students. 

The report offers three suggestions about possible modifications to the experiment.  Reading the entire study, therefore, will provide valuable information for any state or district considering implementing similar initiatives.

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Department of Education Releases New Foster Care Transition Tool Kit

The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Labor, recently released the Foster Care Transition Toolkit to support current and former foster youths who want to pursue college and career opportunities. The tool kit incorporates input from practitioners and current and former foster youths, and includes tips and resources to aid foster youths as they transition into adulthood. It also serves as a resource for caseworkers, care givers, teachers, and mentors who serve foster youths. 

There are currently over 400,000 children and youths in America’s foster care system, and every year more than 23,000 of them age out of the system without ever having a permanent home. Many of these youths lack the structures and supports to access and navigate the many emotional, educational and skills barriers ahead of them.

The Department of Education has long recognized that a high-quality education can help foster youths achieve life success despite past experiences with abuse, neglect, separation, and other barriers. This tool kit aims to help both youths in foster care and those who have aged out of the system successfully move into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education, and set out on a fulfilling career.

The tool kit includes information on

  • financial aid and money management;
  • mentoring opportunities;
  • job and career support;
  • health care resources;
  • transportation options; and
  • housing and food benefits.

The toolkit will be distributed through social media, foster care groups, advocates, teachers, school counselors and other stakeholders.

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