Once considered an add-on program, career and technical education (CTE) continues to raise its profile in mainstream education. And now, CTE is being recognized as a method for building core skills.
A Hill briefing last Wednesday focused on the crucial, yet rarely recognized, connection between literacy and CTE. Held by the Advocates for Literacy (of which NASSP is a leading member) and the Senate CTE Caucus, this event marks an important step in the CTE movement—underscoring that CTE success requires student literacy skills, which can be advanced in the context of high-quality CTE programs.
No one can address this topic with greater authority than 2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year Dr. Sheila Harrity, who presented her school’s success in programming that combines traditional high school academics with CTE curriculum.
Principal at Worcester Technical High School (MA), Dr. Harrity explained that the school’s engaging career and technical curriculum builds students’ interest in school, especially those considered at-risk. With her school’s successful CTE programs, Dr. Harrity noted that students with low levels of literacy and academic achievement have seen significant gains when confronted with schoolwork that piques their interests and has visible, real-world application.
Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offered remarks at the briefing. Senator Kaine, clearly passionate about the topic, noted that the Senate CTE Caucus’ goal is to de-stigmatize CTE and even make it “really hot, sexy, and cool.” Kaine, who earlier in the day introduced legislation to pilot CTE programs in middle school, added, “Technical education is coming back strong and it’s something we can celebrate.”
In an important step to improve college and career readiness among middle level students, today Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)—co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus—introduced the Middle School Technical Education Program (Middle STEP) Act. Cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Mark Warner (D-VA), the bill has received several endorsements from national education organizations—including strong support from NASSP.
This legislation would greatly benefit middle level students by presenting them with CTE programs to foster their college and career development—giving them a leg up on their future. Middle schools would partner with postsecondary institutions and local businesses to create opportunities such as apprenticeships and project-based learning, which are usually reserved for high school or postsecondary programs.
“The Middle STEP Act will expose students to a wide range of career choices through hands-on learning so they will be more informed about future paths and what they can do in high school to pursue them,” said Kaine. “Middle school is an important time for students to explore their own strengths, likes, and dislikes, and CTE exploration programs are great tools to educate them about the type of coursework or training that goes into a career field that matches their interests.”
The Middle STEP program would also provide students with academic counseling to develop a plan for how their high school endeavors will prepare them for a future in high-demand 21st century jobs.
NASSP knows that the middle school years are a crucial time to engage students in a rigorous curriculum that will help them transition into high school and be successful in postsecondary education or careers. In fact, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education, students participating in CTE programs have graduation rates of more than 90%, and we should ensure that more students across the country have access to quality CTE programs.
Click here to read Sen. Kaine’s press release and learn more about the Middle STEP Act.
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan affirmed his support for a delay in using new test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a key recommendation proposed by NASSP in May. States and districts were also asked to evaluate the number of tests being given to students and how educators could access assessment data to improve teaching and learning.
“We encouraged states to move a whole lot of changes simultaneously,” wrote Duncan in a blog post on ed.gov. “But in how this change happens, we need to listen carefully to the teachers, principals and other educators who are living it on a daily basis.”
States that request the new flexibility would push back until 2015-2016 the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of the educator evaluation systems.
The policy brief on college and career ready standards (CCRS) adopted by the NASSP Board of Directors in May called for federal policymakers to delay for two years the use of new assessment results for high-stakes accountability purposes. A two-year transition period will allow for sufficient experience will a fully validated and implemented assessment system consisting of pre-assessments, performance-based assessments, and summative assessments all accompanied by meaningful and timely feedback to teachers and schools.
The success of the new college and career ready standards depends on purposeful and well-supported efforts. Those efforts set reasonable expectations for educators and build their capacity to implement the standards. Policymakers at all levels have a role in promoting those efforts.
“Strong school leadership is pivotal to creating a culture of high expectations for each student,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director of NASSP, which continues to support high common standards across states. “But principals across the nation report concerns about the implementation of the new standards in their states and the inadequate training they have received to help them ensure that their teachers are able to change instructional practices.”
Titled Policy Recommendations for College and Career Ready Standards in Secondary Schools, the brief includes specific recommendations for policymakers at federal, state, and district levels. They include the abandonment of punitive provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act, delaying consequences for test results for a reasonable transition period, building a solid infrastructure for online testing, and adopting 5- to 10-year plans for complete implementation.
To fulfill President Obama’s goal under the ConnectED initiative to connect 99% of the nation’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and wireless in four years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an E-Rate modernization order on July 11, 2014, that directs at least $1 billion in support for Wi-Fi for FY 2015 and FY 2016. The order also begins a multi-year transition of all program funding to broadband by gradually phasing down support for non-broadband services. The order also seeks to maximize E-Rate spending by incentivizing consortia and bulk purchasing and streamlining the application process. The new E-Rate rules will be in place in time to support Wi-Fi upgrades beginning in the 2015−2016 school year.
The order, approved on a party-line vote by the FCC, was seen as a huge advocacy success for NASSP and our partners in the Education and Libraries Network Coalition (EdLiNC) who were apprehensive about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s draft proposal that was circulated in June. Though the proposal aimed to “close the Wi-Fi gap, make E-Rate dollars go farther, and bring E-Rate into the 21st century,” our coalition expressed concern that the proposal fell short and did not provide a plan for sustained funding and support.
A letter backed by more than a dozen groups, including NASSP, expressed concerns on the ability of the FCC to pay for its $5 billion, five-year plan to invest in internal Wi-Fi without a permanent increase to the program’s $2.4 billion funding cap, which was not included in Wheeler’s draft proposal. Though the FCC had repurposed $2 billion in existing funds to prioritize broadband, our organizations were doubtful that an additional $3 billion would appear in funding. NASSP staff also attended meetings with FCC officials in June to convey these concerns in person.
Following the order, the FCC released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the E-Rate program on July 23 that seeks comments on:
- Ensuring affordable access to high-speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries
- Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-Rate supported purchases
- Making the E-Rate application process and other E-Rate processes fast, simple, and efficient
NASSP believes that technology can increase equity and access to educational opportunities for all students and enhance the impact and reach of great teaching in schools. But we know that teachers and students will only use those tools if they can rely on the connectivity of their broadband network and Wi-Fi capacity. For this reason, we will continue to advocate for a robust E-Rate program and encourage the FCC to permanently raise the funding cap.
NASSP will be submitting joint comments with EdLiNC to the FCC and individual comments on behalf of our members before the deadline on September 15, 2014. Principals are also encouraged to send comments directly to the FCC.
Alliance for Excellent Education
Association for Middle Level Education
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform
INVITE YOU TO
A SPECIAL BRIEFING
Strengthening Non-Cognitive Skills in the Middle Grades to Improve Academic Achievement and Success
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
121 Cannon House Office Building
Moderator, B.J. Paris, Board President
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
Craig Wacker, Lead, Student Agency Strategy
Erik A. Burmeister, Principal, Hillview Middle School, Menlo Park, CA
2013 MetLife/NASSP Middle Level Principal of the Year Finalist
Dr. Vicky Dudek, Principal, Landmark Middle School, Moreno Valley Unified School District 2014 Taking Center Stage Schools To Watch Designee
Mark Shanoff, Ed.D, Principal, Ocoee Middle School, Ocoee, Florida
National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Distinguished Principal, 2014 – Florida
An Apple Distinguished School
RSVP to: Hannah Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, Representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the House companion bill to Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education, also called the CHOICE Act. The bill has yet to be assigned a bill number or posted on www.thomas.gov but the legislation will mirror the Senate version (S. 1909), which was introduced earlier this year. Both versions of the CHOICE Act will funnel over $11 billion of taxpayer money to private schools. NASSP has opposed this bill and has a long standing position statement on private school vouchers. We are especially concerned with the CHOICE Act as it would shift scarce public funds for special education to private institutions which are not bound by federal and state laws and regulations on staffing, programming and personalization for students with disabilities.
Furthermore, under current law, if a school district determines through the evaluation and IEP process that it cannot adequately provide the necessary services for a student with disabilities in its school system, then that child could be placed by the IEP team in a private school, with all the protections of IDEA and at no cost to the student’s family. In contrast, when a student attends a private school using a voucher, the parent must pay all tuition and fees above the costs covered by the voucher—the disparity between the voucher amount and the actual cost of the student’s education is usually significant and cost prohibitive for most parents.
The CHOICE Act would also expand private school vouchers by creating a pilot school choice program for students living on military bases which would reduce or even eliminate funding for Impact Aid. Finally, the bill would greatly increase the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program for students living in the District of Columbia, which has not proven effective through numerous studies.
Rep. Rokita also spoke about the legislation today and the role of the federal government in education at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event. You can view his remarks here.
NASSP also opposes the Scholarship for Kids Act (S. 1968/H.R. 4000), another private school voucher bill which was introduced earlier this year. This legislation would create a scholarship program for eligible low-income children to use at any state-approved public or private school they attend or for supplemental educational services. However, in order to pay for the $24 billion Scholarship for Kids program, the bill would dismantle a vast majority of currently authorized federal education programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that we know our members strongly support, such as literacy education, career and technical education, and school leadership. Additionally, states participating in the program would be relieved of having to comply with all requirements of ESEA except for provisions related to challenging academic standards and related assessments.
JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP’s Executive Director released the following statement in January when the Senate versions of the CHOICE Act and the Scholarship for Kids Act were introduced, “NASSP have long stated its opposition to private school vouchers, which drain money away from public schools, reduce accountability in the education system, and ultimately harm public schools where the vast majority of our nation’s youth receive their education.” She also stated, “We are especially dismayed that the proposals would eliminate federal education programs that we know are important to school leaders, such as literacy education and career and technical education, and would redirect funding for special education programs and services away from public schools.”
All students deserve the opportunity to attend great schools and federal resources should help support schools and students who need it the most. For this reason, NASSP encourages all principals and assistant principals to contact their members of Congress and urge them to oppose the CHOICE Act and the Scholarship for Kids Act. If you haven’t already contacted your members of Congress to share your thoughts on these bills, visit the Principal’s Legislative Action Center (PLAC) to send a letter today!
The Alliance for Excellent Education and
the National Association of Secondary School Principals
Invite You to Attend a Briefing
Making Learning Personal in High Schools:
The Role of Secondary School Leaders
Thursday, May 1, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EDT)
902 Hart Senate Office Building
(Lunch available at 11:30 a.m.; program begins promptly at 11:45 a.m.)
Mark Anderson, PhD, Principal, Marshall Fundamental Secondary School (Pasadena, CA)
Jonathan Brice, EdD, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
Carol Conklin-Spillane, Principal, Sleepy Hollow High School (Sleepy Hollow, NY)
Kevin Grawer, Principal, Maplewood Richmond Heights High School (St. Louis, MO)
Phillip Lovell, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Alliance for Excellent Education
Barbara-Jane Paris, President, NASSP Board of Directors, Round Rock Independent School District (Austin, TX)
Please join the Alliance for Excellent Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) for a discussion about the role of leadership in creating dynamic personalized learning environments that have produced continuous growth in student proficiency over the past three years. The MetLife Foundation–NASSP Breakthrough Schools project identifies, showcases, and recognizes middle and high schools that are achieving at high levels or dramatically improving student achievement while serving a large number of students who are most at risk of dropping out.
The panel discussion will highlight three schools—Marshall Fundamental Secondary School (CA), Sleepy Hollow High School (NY), and Maplewood Richmond Heights High School (MO)—that have been recognized by the Breakthrough Schools project in 2014 for exemplifying the core areas of personalization, collaborative leadership, and access to a rigorous and differentiated curriculum for all students.
RSVP by Monday, April 28, 2014.
Space is limited. Acceptances ONLY, on a “first-come” basis, with subject line
“RSVP: May 1 Briefing” to email@example.com,
or contact Shawnice Hood at (202) 828-0828.
The Alliance for Excellent Education and NASSP offer a special thank you to U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, honorary host of this event.
This event is closed to press.
This briefing is made possible with support from
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. www.all4ed.org
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders in middle level and high schools from across the United States and in 36 countries. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences.
Follow NASSP on Twitter (www.twitter.com/nassp); Facebook (www.facebook.com/principals); and the Principal’s Policy Blog (www.nasspblogs.org/principalspolicy).
In order to ensure that more principals and assistant principals have the skills to lead turnaround efforts in their schools, the US Department of Education is seeking applications for a new program to implement or enhance the “leadership pipeline” in low-performing schools. With $14 million in funds appropriated under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program in FY 2013, the new Turnaround School Leaders Program would provide grants to help select, prepare, support, and retain leaders in SIG-receiving or SIG-eligible schools.
According to the announcement, performance monitoring of the SIG program and interviews with external partners indicate that many school districts “do not have the capacity or resources to recruit or develop school leaders able to undertake successful turnaround efforts.” The announcement also notes that state-approved principal certification and licensure programs “are not preparing school leaders with the specialized skills needed to turn around schools identified as low-performing,” and school districts “struggle to identify the right competencies in leader candidates for turnaround schools.”
Under this announcement, ED expects to award 8-12 awards ranging from $1 to $2 million apiece. Eligible applicants include school districts or consortia of school districts serving more than five SIG-eligible schools. These school districts or consortia could also partner with state educational agencies, institutions of higher education, or nonprofit associations.
Applicants must propose a plan to develop and implement a leadership pipeline for at least one school district that serves five or more SIG-eligible schools. Competitive preference would be awarded to those school districts that have: 1) policies in place to provide school leaders with decisionmaking autonomy with regard to staffing, school schedules, and budgeting; or 2) a record of preparing and supporting turnaround school leaders who have demonstrated success in increased graduation rates and academic growth.
Under the programs, grantees would be required to assist school districts to:
- Recruit and select promising current and prospective school leaders with the competencies necessary to turn around a SIG school or SIG-eligible school;
- Provide high-quality training to selected school leaders to prepare them to successfully lead turnaround efforts in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools;
- Place school leaders in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools and provide them with ongoing professional development and other support that focuses on instructional leadership and school management and is based on individual needs consistent with the school district’s plan for turning around its SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools; and
- Retain effective school leaders, using financial or other incentives, and replace ineffective school leaders.
Applicants must provide a notice of intent to apply by April 25, and final applications are due on May 23. For more information about the Turnaround School Leaders Program, go to: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/turnaroundschlldr/index.html.
A comprehensive study done by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released Friday shows that students of color and English language learners are much more likely to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience when compared to white students.
The study, released Friday, used information from the nation’s public schools during the 2011-12 academic year. Black students are more than four times more likely as white students to attend schools where at least 20 percent of teachers haven’t met all state certification and licensing requirements.
The report also showed that there was a teacher salary gap of at least $5,000 a year between high schools with the highest concentration of black and Latino students and ones with the lowest concentration in nearly a quarter of all school districts that have at least two high schools.
This data indicates that some of the underrepresented groups of students who perhaps need strong teachers the most are often the ones in schools with first-year teachers and high turnaround rates.
While the data is eye-opening, it fails to even mention a vital component in teacher retention: strong school leadership.
We know that teachers are often attracted to schools because of principal quality, so this data leads us to believe that schools with higher of first-year teachers are also schools with a high principal turnover rate and/or a lack of strong leadership, whether at the school or district level.
This highlights the need for incentives to help principals recruit and retain teachers in schools to ensure that schools most in need of strong teachers and leaders don’t have to train a whole new group of teachers every year. Combating these high turnaround rates will require an investment in good induction and mentoring programs for new teachers so they feel like a valued member of a school’s staff and are encouraged to stay with their school year after year.
In addition, recruiting minority candidates and investing in grow-your-own teacher programs can help all students seethemselves reflected in the teaching force. Having strong examples of minority teachers in schools with high concentrations of black and Latino students will help these students see that teaching is a career option for them.
Another extremely troubling finding from the Office of Civil Rights’ data is that 20% of high schools in the country do not have a school counselor. Counselors play a vital role in ensuring students graduate college and career-ready and all students deserve a committed staff member who can help them understand what courses they need to take in order to reach their academic goals and assist them in setting post-graduate goals, including helping them with applying for financial aid for post-secondary education. On top of helping with the academic concerns of students, students who attend a school with no counselor miss out on social and emotional support that can be critical for some.
NASSP strongly supports the American School Counselor Association recommendation of 1:250 school counselor to student ratio for maximum effectiveness, in addition to our support of various legislation that would fund additional counselors, social workers, and school psychologists.
As a member of the Coalition for Teaching Quality, NASSP will work to ensure that all students attend schools led by high-quality principals with high-quality teachers in every classroom. Our efforts will include legislative proposals at the federal and state levels to improve the preparation, training, and professional development of teachers and principals.
2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year Sheila Harrity hosted US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at her Massachusetts school March 12 for a town hall meeting on career and technical education (CTE).
Duncan toured Worcester Technical High School to meet with educators, community college officials, and business leaders. With Harrity’s leadership, Worcester Tech, which was named a NASSP Breakthrough School in 2011 and a National Blue Ribbon School in 2013, has become a CTE success story.
The town hall meeting, moderated by Harrity, consisted of a panel that represented key CTE stakeholders and partners: the school’s CTE director , a business partner, a school department head, the president of the local community college, and of course, a student.
The school, which has 24 technical programs, has been able to leverage partnerships with businesses, industries and four-year colleges and universities, which help support a full-service restaurant, day spa and salon, 16-bay auto service center and a veterinary clinic at the school, giving its students the opportunity to graduate from the school with the skills to secure good-paying and rewarding jobs.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a school that’s more open,” Duncan said of Worcester Tech. “Whether it’s higher education partnerships [or] business partnerships, you’re literally inviting the community into your school every single day. This school is an extraordinary community asset, and we need more schools to understand that they shouldn’t be scared of the community.”
Duncan made clear his belief that the school’s success is a direct result of Harrity’s visionary, collaborative leadership.
“Dr. Harrity is an athlete, and she understands teamwork,” Duncan said. “But there are no great teams without great leadership, and you have a great leader here in Dr. Harrity.”
To commemorate the visit, Duncan presented Harrity with an official signed US Department of Education basketball.
Duncan and Harrity first met at the September 2013 Principal of the Year awards gala, and they immediately connected over their love of basketball. Duncan played collegiately at Harvard University and professionally for a time in Australia. Harrity played college ball at Providence College in Rhode Island.
Shortly after being named high school principal of the year last fall, Harrity testified during the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s hearing on the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Her testimony underscored many of NASSP’s recommendations for Perkins reauthorization. NASSP has long been an outspoken supporter of the Perkins Act, which provides the greatest source of federal funding to the nation’s high schools.