• September 2, 2013

    Oregon closes out its legislative session with a number of Career Technical Education (CTE) related bills and Ohio make a decision on a measure of students’ early college and career readiness.

    Oregon’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee & CTSO Grant Program
    Oregon passed HB 2912 requiring representatives from the Department of Education, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, and the Bureau of Labor and Industries to meet at least four times each year to promote collaboration between the agencies on issues related to career technical education. The Advisory Committee is tasked with making sure CTE programs are available in public schools; developing regional centers that create partnerships between K-12, community colleges, public universities, and business/unions; encouraging the establishment of local advisory committees; and addressing barriers to CTE students transitioning to postsecondary education and the workforce.  This bill also establishes the Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) Grant Program within the Department of Education, allotted at $500,000 over two years, to encourage student participation in CTSOs.

    Oregon’s Accelerated College Credit Programs
    Oregon also established an Accelerated Learning Committee, comprised of the Chief Education Officer and appointees selected by the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House, and charged with examining methods to encourage and enable students to earn more college credit while enrolled in high school. The focus will be on the alignment of funding, assessments and policies between high schools and institutions of higher education. SB 222 also requires every community college district to implement and make available at least one two-plus-two, dual credit and/or another accelerated college credit program to every K-12 district within their community college district by 2015.

    Oregon’s STEM Investment Council and Grant Program|
    Lastly, Oregon created a STEM Investment Council via HB 2600 to help develop and oversee a long-term, statewide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) strategy. The council will consist of nine members from the private sector to be appointed by the Chief Education Officer to aid and advise the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Commissioner for Community College System and the Chancellor of the Oregon University System on policies and programs, including the STEM Investment Grant Program. This new grant program will provide funds to districts, community college districts, public universities, relevant state agencies and any combination of these eligible recipients to support STEM education inside and outside of the classroom. The legislation notes that a STEM Investment Grant Account will be established in the State Treasury, separate and distinct from the General Fund, but no amount is noted or appropriated in this bill.

    Specifically, the Council and grant program are focused on helping the state meet these two goals by 2024-25:

    • Doubling the percentage of 4th and 8th grade students who are proficient or advanced in mathematics and science (e.g., via NAEP) and
    • Double the number of students who earn a postsecondary degree requiring proficiency in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.

    Ohio Requires the PSAT for All Students
    The Ohio Department of Education, in partnership with the Ohio Board of Regents, has officially selected the PSAT as the statewide “college-career readiness assessment.” Beginning in October 2014, all sophomores will be required to take the PSAT. The goal of this policy is to provide information to students earlier about their readiness for postsecondary-level coursework so they can adjust accordingly while still in high school.

    New Research/Resources
    Jobs for the Future released What It Takes to Complete High School: A Shifting Terrain of Course and Diploma Requirements, a policy brief describing trends in states’ graduation policies (which NASDCTEc has begun tracking herehere, and here).

    The New York State Association for Career and Technical Education issued a position paper in July entitled Recommendations for Developing College and Career Ready Students that offered the following six recommendations:

    1. Adopt a unified definition of College and Career Ready (that fully includes academic, employability and technical skills);
    2. Affirm the Common Core State Standards, Career Development and Occupational Studies and Next Generation Assessments to converge career and academic content and instructional practices;
    3.  Avoid imposing additional math and science course requirements;
    4. Link learner levels by restructuring existing middle-level and early high school CTE;
    5. Set goals for increasing the number of students who have Technical Endorsements to their diplomas; and
    6. Enact policies that assist all students to develop knowledge of career pathways leading to specific occupations and to have a personal career plan with flexible career goals.

    Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

  • September 2, 2013

    President’s College Affordability Tour

    In recent years, the costs of higher education in the United States have risen more quickly than any other sector of our economy. According to the Department of Labor, college tuition and fees have increased by a staggering 538% since 1985. In an effort to combat these alarming trends, President Obama recently embarked on a two-day college affordability bus tour which concluded last week.

    The President’s proposal would tie federal financial aid to school performance through a new college ratings system. Institutions would be ranked based on factors such as average tuition, loan debt, and graduation rates. Student outcomes after graduation have also been a point of emphasis for the proposed ratings system, although it is unclear how these indicators would be measured. As the President summed up, “Colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up.”

    President Obama’s new proposal for higher education urges states to fund public universities and colleges based on similar measures. His new plan would also increase accountability for both students and colleges by linking continued federal financial aid to progress made towards a degree.

    Changes to how higher education is paid for and the measures used for accountability have implications for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs particularly at the postsecondary level. The Administration’s emphasis on more affordable, high quality education and stronger outcomes will likely highlight the important role CTE programs have in preparing students to close the skills gap and fulfill the pressing needs of the American economy.

    The President’s full speech can be found here and a summary of his plan can be found here. The new rankings system will not be fully available until 2015, but the Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center has released a College Scorecard similar to President Obama’s proposal.

    Boehner to Introduce Short-Term Continuing Resolution

    When regular appropriations acts are not enacted by the start of a new fiscal year, Congress must pass what is known as a continuing resolution (CR) to fund Federal agencies and programs. Current legislation funds the federal government only through September 30th with a new fiscal year beginning on the first of October. If Congress fails to pass a CR to fund the government in the short to near-term, the Federal government will cease all non-essential functions until an appropriations bill is signed into law. Failure to pass a CR before October 1st would result in what is known as a government shutdown.

    Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed plans to “move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution [CR] that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels.” The length of this CR has not yet been announced. However, a clearer outline should emerge when Congress comes back in session on September 9th.

    Additionally, Congress is still grappling with the impending need to raise the debt ceiling. This past Monday, the Treasury Department announced that it expects the federal government to reach its statutory debt limit by mid-October. This is a legislative restriction on the amount of money the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow to pay for existing legal obligations such as Medicare, Social Security, military salaries, interest on the national debt, and other such payments. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would force the federal government to default on these legal obligations— an unprecedented move that would have “catastrophic economic consequences,” according the Treasury Department.

    It is also important to note that the new fiscal year will coincide with the scheduled opening of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) mandated insurance exchanges. Certain elements in Congress are seeking to defund these exchanges, along with the rest of the ACA, by linking their support for raising the debt ceiling and a short-term CR to ACA’s funding. Congressional willingness to fund these exchanges, along with the rest of the healthcare law, may adversely impact the passage of a short-term CR and the need to raise the debt ceiling in October.

    These two issues will likely consume the majority of Congressional time and energy during September and well into October. Compromise will be crucial to finding a solution to these fiscal and budgetary disagreements. In the coming weeks, negotiations between both parties will have significant implications for the functionality and day-to-day operations of the federal government.

     

    Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate

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  • September 2, 2013

    This is a reminder to sign up for our next webinar providing a Legislative Update – Back to School Edition: Policy and Funding

    Join Kara Herbertson, NASDCTEc’s Research and Policy Manager, and Steve Voytek, NASDCTEc’s Government Relations Associate, as they walk you through the latest policy happenings in Washington.

    After years of anticipation, Congress has taken steps toward reauthorizing several pieces of legislation that impact CTE including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Higher Education Act. In addition to updates on these key pieces of legislation, we will discuss sequestration and debates over the FY14 budget.

    Are there specific questions you would like us to address? Email Kara at [email protected] and we will be sure to address your question during this webinar.