August 25, 2016 - OCTAE Connection - Issue 251

OCTAE Newsletter

August 25, 2016

SAVE THE DATE: OCT. 31, 2016!

Advancing Equity in Adult, Community College, and Career and Technical Education Symposium

In support of President Obama’s call to action on expanding college opportunity, and under Secretary King’s leadership, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has made significant improvements in making sure that all students—regardless of income, home language, zip code, gender, sexual preference, race or disability—have the chance to learn and achieve. In support of these efforts, on Oct. 31, 2016, OCTAE will host the Advancing Equity in Adult, Community College, and Career Technical and Education Symposium. OCTAE will engage with thought leaders in secondary, postsecondary, and adult education to enhance its understanding of issues of equity and access, as well as the challenges and opportunities students experience today. Additionally, the symposium will inform policies and programs in career, technical, and adult education.   

This will be ED’s first convening of external stakeholders on equity in adult, community college, and career and technical education. This and subsequent symposia will focus on the following six equity pillars: leadership and policy, performance accountability, research and evaluation, innovation and improvement, social/cultural competency, and advocacy and awareness. Details about participation are forthcoming.   Back to Top

American Public Education Reviewed: The Learning Landscape

Career and technical education (CTE) in the United States occurs within a comprehensive environment that significantly shapes student outcomes.  A recent report from Bellwether Education Partners, The Learning Landscape:  A Broad View of the U.S. Public School System, focuses on that environment. The report aggregates and distills data and high-quality research from a number of sources to provide a valuable perspective on the policy issues and trends affecting contemporary public education and its future.  The analysis is divided into six chapters:  “Student Achievement;” “Accountability, Standards, and Assessment;” “School Finance;” “Teachers Effectiveness;” “Charter Schools;” and “Philanthropy in K–12 Education.”  

In “Student Achievement,” we learn that while progress is being made in that area, it is slow and uneven, and varies among groups of students, schools, districts, and states. For instance, in the key subjects of reading and mathematics many students perform below grade level in both elementary and secondary school. National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment results show that improvement has slowed in recent years.  The most recent NAEP reports (2015) find that scores in both reading and mathematics for 12th graders slipped compared to 2013 scores, as did mathematics scores among fourth graders.  Fourth grade reading scores were unchanged.   

Also noted, is that comparative achievement among racial, ethnic, and other subgroups shows wide gaps.  Despite efforts to close these gaps over recent decades, some persist and are substantial.  U.S. students perform the same as or below the levels of their peers in other developed nations on some international benchmarks.  According to the report, “[t]hese statistics attest to long-term and persistent problems in public education ….” 

On the importance of teacher effectiveness, according to the report,  “Other than students themselves, teachers are the most significant input in the education public education system.” Research “shows that having a highly effective teacher in the classroom is the most important within-school factor affecting student achievement.”  Being taught by a great teacher “can help address or even overcome the negative impact of variables beyond the control of the school such as economic disadvantage and family factors.” 

In an investigation of school finance controversies, the report finds that they are rooted in questions of “whether spending is too high or too low; whether funding is fairly allocated among districts, schools, and students; and whether institutions make good use of the funds they receive.”  Linking expectations for student achievement with funding levels raises issues of “accountability, efficiency, and equity.”  The report finds that the United States spends more per student on K–12 and higher education combined than any other nation except Switzerland.  Moreover, the total funding for public education in the United States has grown rapidly over the last 20 years, “outpacing growth in both population and inflation.”  Looking at aggregate spending, however, “obscures tremendous variation in per student spending among states, within states, and within school districts,” with within-state disparities often dwarfing the differences between states.  By far, the greatest expenditures are on personnel, with 80 percent of the total, national, public education funds in 2010–11 going toward salaries and benefits. 

View the full report for a much-needed perspective on the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the cost-effectiveness, of American public education.    Back to Top

Jobs for the Future Releases New Work-Based Learning Publications and Tool Kit

Jobs for the Future (JFF) recently released several new publications and a tool kit on work-based learning relevant to CTE and workforce development systems. Those responsible for designing and/or delivering CTE or adult education may also find these new releases useful or applicable to their work. 

One of these new publications, Making Work-Based Learning Work, presents the design and implementation of effective models of work-based learning that expand access to these programs. It highlights seven principles that support low-skilled youths and adults seeking to enter and advance in their careers. 

JFF’s Work-Based Learning in Action is a series of case studies highlighting effective models of work-based learning using the seven principles.  

Finally, JFF’s tool kit, Work-Based Courses: Bringing College to the Production Line, provides guidance to community college administrators and faculty who are interested in bringing a work-based course model to their colleges. It includes video content and teaching tips that introduce six steps of implementation, and downloadable related tools and resources for in-depth program design support and implementation. 

To learn more about these publications, the tool kit, and other resources, please visit Jobs for the Future’s website. 

Also, see two related articles on OCTAE’s blog that reflect on a recent international summit hosted by OCTAE and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Hearing the Student Voice – Why Work-Based Learning Matters; and Work-based Learning: We Need an Ecosystem.     Back to Top         

Department of Education Releases New Report on Nondegree Credentials in Correctional Education

The U.S. Department of Education recently released a new report, Nondegree Credentials in Correctional Education, based on a literature review and telephone interviews with state correctional education administrators in eight states— Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Vermont. The study, conducted by the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education, documents the critical need to provide incarcerated adults with the education and job training to obtain living-wage employment upon their release. Providers of correctional education and others may find this information useful to the development of and/or application to their own programs.

According to the report, nearly 2.3 million adults are incarcerated in our nation’s prisons and jails. These individuals often lack job skills and a steady employment history. These factors, combined with the stigma of their convictions, create significant barriers to reentering the labor market upon their release. Providing incarcerated adults with education and training programs, as stated in the report, can improve their chances of obtaining a job and lower their recidivism rates.  

Successful programs include CTE programs or vocational training. CTE programs hold particular promise because they help students further their education and earn nondegree credentials, and serve as a vital signal to employers that these individuals have both the technical skills and motivation to perform well in a job.  

This report also examines the issues of enrollment, costs, program delivery, quality, and other obstacles facing practitioners in implementing nondegree credential programs in prisons. It provides current information on programs that prepare individuals for nondegree credentials in adult corrections facilities, as well as a research agenda for future studies to more fully understand the status, benefits, and challenges of these programs.  

To learn more, read the full report.

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Work With Businesses in Your Community to Support Manufacturing Day

Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, is Manufacturing Day, and OCTAE encourages educators to help recruit companies in their communities to participate! This nationwide celebration of modern manufacturing is meant to inspire and welcome the next generation of manufacturers. Host companies at more than 3,000 sites across the nation will open their doors to show their communities that manufacturing is an innovative, technology-driven sector that provides stable, good-paying jobs. We want companies in your community to be part of this amazing grassroots movement. Whether through a plant tour for community partners or an open meeting with your organization’s leadership and elected officials, Manufacturing Day is a great way for you to increase public awareness of the manufacturing industry.

Visit to register your organization’s Manufacturing Day event and find tools and tips to help you make it happen . Be sure to check out the Manufacturing Day Host Toolkit to see all the best practices and sample ideas that will help you plan a great event and the Community Planning Guide, designed for any organization interested in facilitating the creation of or attendance at events in a region.     Back to Top