OER: Providing Equitable Access to Education for All Learners

Summary from White House Blog Post: The Federal government is supporting the use of open educational resources (OER) to provide equitable access to quality education.

Everyone has the right to education…Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights

Access to quality education is an essential component of addressing many of our biggest global and societal challenges. Last year, the United Nations surveyed youth around the world about their priorities—what opportunities they want to be offered. More than improvements in electricity and infrastructure, healthcare, and better jobs, what young people asked for was a good education. It’s no surprise that young people value education. World Bank economists estimate that for every year of study, individual income increases by 10-15 percent. These increases don’t just affect individuals; they often generate a “ripple effect” of benefits to families and entire communities. Openly licensed learning resources, also known as open educational resources (OER), can increase access to high-quality education opportunities and reduce the cost of education around the world.

Read the full post on the White House blog.

Reach Higher Career App Challenge Launches Today

The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education is excited to launch the App Challenge in collaboration with the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative.

We are eager to see the innovative solutions that developers, educators, and anyone interested in helping students map their futures, submit to the challenge and compete for a share of the $225,000 prize pool.
You can find all the information about the Reach Higher Career App Challenge on Challenge.gov and enter the challenge at ReachHigherChallenge.com.

You can also view the complete Federal Register Notice here.

Manufacturing Day Gains Momentum

Manufacturers across the country are opening their doors on October 2nd, to welcome students, teachers, parents, and neighbors to provide a better understanding of the manufacturing that is thriving in their local communities. Visit the MFG Day website to find events in your area and post your own event.

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White House Launches the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign

This article is cross-posted from ED’s Homeroom Blog, in recognition of all the immigrants and refugees and their teachers in our programs celebrating Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. Read the full post here.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, President Obama launched the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, which invites local communities to commit, collaborate, and act on a set of principles to aid new American integration. These principles focus on building inclusive, welcoming communities that advance efforts in the core areas of civil, economic, and linguistic integration. The campaign recognizes the significance of local efforts given that each community has unique circumstances and opportunities. We ask that communities heed the call to create welcoming environments for new Americans in their own schools, neighborhoods, homes, agencies, and institutions. Encouraging broader participation in civic life, providing hubs where skills and job training can be developed, and supporting English language acquisition are clear steps that communities can take to ensure that new Americans feel accepted and supported in the places they call home. Enabling each other to succeed is the cornerstone of all successful communities.

To support these efforts, we will continue to provide critical resources and information to help schools, communities, state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and educators better serve this population and their families. One such resource, a Department-sponsored webinar series, focuses on key areas of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign.

Learn more about how you can welcome, engage, and enhance the lives of new Americans (pdf).

Read the full blog here.


Educators Rising Elevates Teacher Recruitment

This week has been a big week in the world of Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs).  In addition to SkillsUSA sending a team of competitors to the World Skills Competition in São Paulo, Brazil, we also saw the launch of Educators Rising, a CTSO on a mission to expand and support high quality Education and Training career pathways.  As America seeks to meet the demand for qualified teachers, Career and Technical Education is ready to be part of the solution.

Educators Rising, a member of the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations, is the evolution of the Future Educators Association (FEA).  Educators Rising will continue to provide a national student leadership program, an online library of resources for students and teacher leaders, networking opportunities, and pathways to careers in education. Over the next year, Educators Rising will be preparing for its national conference where students will demonstrate their skills through competitive events.

Educators Rising membership is free for all students with an interest in teaching and teacher leaders who wish to serve as mentors for the next generation of highly skilled educators. For a 3-minute tour of Educators Rising’s new virtual campus, please watch the video below. For more information about what’s new in Educators Rising, click here.

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Robin Utz serves as the chief for the College and Career Transitions branch in the Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE) for Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the US Department of Education.

SkillsUSA Travels to Brazil for World Skills Competition

On August 11, 2015, eighteen SkillsUSA members will attend the opening ceremony of the 43rd biennial World Skills Competition in São Paulo, Brazil. The Ceremony will take place from 6:00-8:30 p.m. EDT and will feature a grand Parade of Nations (composed of more than 50 participating countries and regions), and entertainment which highlights typical Brazilian cultural dances and more.

SkillsUSA is a national organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health occupations and for further education.  SkillsUSA is a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) whose members are enrolled in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs representing multiple industry sectors. It is also a World Skills member organization, hence its participation in this week’s competition.

SkillsUSA World Team

SkillsUSA World Team

The competition will last five days, and features 62 different WorldSkills Member countries and regions from around the globe, 1,150 Competitors competing in 50 different skills, and opportunities for all participants to learn and experiment with new skills while they are in Brazil.

This is the first WorldSkills Competition ever held in Latin America, and 200,000 spectators are expected to attend the event.

The Closing Ceremony, one of the most exciting moments of the event, will be held on Sunday, August 16, 2015 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. EDT, and will present to the public the winners of the Competition.

For more information and livestream links at which you may watch the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, please visit the links below.



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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.
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Robin Utz serves as the chief for the College and Career Transitions branch in the Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE) for Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the US Department of Education.

Intern Perspectives: Richard Miller

I am glad that I chose to intern at OCTAE this summer. It was a rewarding experience. OCTAE welcomed me into their office  with open arms, and I was privileged to work with great people fighting for an important cause. I believe in the work that OCTAE does to assist and  promote career, technical, and adult education programs, and I am inspired by all of the dedicated public servants at OCTAE who work to expand access to education in our nation.   I wish I never had to leave!

I also learned a lot in my work at OCTAE. I improved my knowledge of education policy, worked on interesting projects, and gained important employability skills. Coincidentally, my primary project at OCTAE focused on employability skills. The project was to conduct  an environmental scan of educational technology tools whose curricula focused on the employability skills defined in the Employability Skills Framework. I was particularly interested in tools targeted toward disconnected youth. I am glad that OCTAE worked with me to create this meaningful project, and I am happy that I was able to contribute to OCTAE’s efforts during my short time in DC.

My experience with OCTAE helped me to grow professionally and inspired me to make a difference. I would strongly recommend this internship to anybody who is both passionate about education and driven to fight for change. You would be in good company at OCTAE.

Richard Miller is an undergraduate student at Davidson College in North Carolina. This summer, he interned with Strategic Partnerships in OCTAE. Prospective interns apply during the semester preceding their internship term and are encouraged to select three offices within the Department in which they would prefer to work. The Department of Education accepts applications from all students 16 and older enrolled in classes at least half-time at an accredited educational institution. For more information about internships at the Department of Education, please click here.

Nominations Open for CTE U.S. Presidential Scholars

On June 22, 2015, President Obama signed an expansion of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to include students with outstanding scholarship and achievement in career and technical education (CTE).

Dr. Marina McCarthy, Chair of the Commission of Presidential Scholars and Ms. Simone Olson, Executive Director of the Presidential Scholar Program issued a letter to Chief State School Officers announcing the nomination process for the 2016 U. S. Presidential Scholars that will include five (5) students from each jurisdiction who demonstrate excellence in CTE.

Eligible high school seniors are those who are participants in a CTE program, are graduating between January and June of 2016, are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and who attend public, parochial, or independent schools, or are home-schooled.  The CTE selection process will evolve after this initial year, but for this inaugural class of scholars, candidates who are nominated and submit complete applications will automatically become semifinalists.  All 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be selected by the Commission on Presidential Scholars and will receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a ceremony in their honor in Washington, DC.

The guiding principles for nominating students in the CTE category include academic rigor, technical competence, employability skills, and ingenuity and creativity.  It is hoped that the application pool reflects the diversity of our nation’s CTE students and the economic sectors of U.S. economy.

For the 2016 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE, Chief State School Officers must submit their nominations by October 15, 2015. The nominees will be announced and invited to apply to the program in mid-January 2016 by the U.S. Presidential Scholars program office.  Completed applications will be due in February 2016, and Scholars will be announced at the beginning of May 2016.

To facilitate involvement in the process of nominating outstanding CTE students, Sharon Lee Miller, the Director of the Division of Academic and Technical Education, OCTAE, encourages CTE State Directors to reach out to their Chief State School Officer for more information.

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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

Food Insecurity: Everyone’s Issue

More than 2,100 FFA members throughout the country converged for a week during the summer months of June and July in Washington, DC to analyze their personal skills and interests, develop leadership skills, and create a meaningful community-service plan that promises to make a difference in their home communities. Career and Technical Education (CTE) students who are members of FFA, through a hands-on service partnership with Meals of Hope, packed over 420,000 highly palatable meals this summer. Learning about civic engagement, FFA student members packaged meals that were delivered to various areas in and around Washington, D.C. that are food insecure.

FFA student members package meals to send to the food insecure.

FFA student members package meals to send to the food insecure.

FFA members attending the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) analyze the needs of their local communities, develop a wide-ranging and high-impact community-service initiative, and implement their plan with the help of their FFA chapter upon returning home.

“FFA members attending the WLC develop a personal mission, learn the value of people and the importance of living to serve,” said National FFA Advisor and Board Chair Dr. Steve A. Brown.  “They develop their knowledge and the confidence to help others in their local schools, communities and the nation.”

Agricultural education teachers attend the Washington Leadership Conference as well, learning how to motivate and help develop their students’ personal growth and leadership potential. The teachers also learn how they can maximize their local FFA chapters’ community-service initiatives throughout the year. Upon returning to their local communities, students in recent years have created food and clothing drives, volunteer campaigns, educational outreach initiatives, and more.

The Washington Leadership Conference was created in 1969 and is held annually in Washington, D.C. The 2015 National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored through the National FFA Foundation by title sponsors Monsanto and CSX and by weekly sponsors TransCanada, Crop Production Services, Farm Credit and BNSF.

To learn more about FFA’s Learning-to-Serve program click here.

About the National FFA Organization

The National FFA is a Career and Technical Education Student Organization (CTSO) of 610,240 student members as part of 7,665 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more information, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org, on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.

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Dr. Steve A. Brown is an Educational Program Specialist at ED with a background in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Sciences (AFNRS). Brown serves as the National Adviser of the National FFA Organization and Board Chair of the National FFA Board of Directors.

High School Students Receive CDA Credential

The 2015 graduating cohort from Tuba City High School in Arizona gathers for a photo with their Child Development Associate Certificates.

The 2015 graduating cohort from Tuba City High School in Arizona gathers for a photo with their Child Development Associate Certificates.

This year, eight students at Tuba City High School graduated with their Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credentials as part of a dual enrollment program with Coconino Community College.

Tuba City, Arizona, the Navajo Nation’s largest community, received funding for this program through the U.S. Department of Education’s “Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study” program. Tuba City High School is the third school in the nation to award this credential to high school students.

Arizona is one of six states that participated in the “Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study” initiative, a four-year project that sought to design, implement, and study the effects of rigorous CTE programs that incorporate the 10 key components of OCTAE’s Program of Study Design Framework and compare the results across urban, suburban, and rural settings.

Over the course of the Tuba City program, students are required to complete almost 500 hours of fieldwork, a professional portfolio, an online national assessment, and 24 credit hours of college-level coursework in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field. Finally, students are observed in the classroom for 3.5 hours by a trained CDA development specialist.

Maria Goatcher–Tuba City High School’s CDA program coordinator–says, “CDA Certification prepares ECE students for college or employment after high school graduation. The program provides students with career choices in postsecondary education and the workplace.”

Jazmin Greyeyes, Sydney Tsinigine, Raini Daw, Sydney Holiday, Ambrielle Begay, Michel Yazzie, Cheynaea Curtis, and Audre Humetewa are the second cohort to graduate from Tuba City High School’s Early Childhood Education Program with their CDA. The CDA is a nationally-recognized credential in the Early Childhood Education field and provides these students with college credit, experience with elevated academic rigor, and the first step in pursuing other credentials, such as a four-year degree and/or teaching licensure.

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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.