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, 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.

College and Career Readiness: Using ELS:2002 to Study Important Educational Outcomes

Did you know the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has a NCES blog? Launched in April 2015, the blog is designed to provide a forum for news about the latest developments in NCES surveys, exciting new research opportunities, commonly misunderstood education measures, important new findings, and innovative data tools. 

This article by Elise Christopher and Lauren Musu-Gillette is cross-posted from the NCES blog.

Researchers, educators, and policy makers are interested in knowing what makes students ready for college and careers, and the Department of Education has identified college and career readiness as a priority. In 2011, the Department announced that it would allow for Elementary/Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility for states that developed plans for reforms in certain key areas of education, including college and career readiness.  In order to investigate what factors may be associated with college and career outcomes, several important questions arise. For example:

  • How do students’ high school experiences relate to whether or not they have to enroll in remedial courses in college?
  • How do these same experiences relate to whether or not they successfully complete college?
  • What high school and college experiences are associated with successful career choices?

Questions like these are best answered with longitudinal surveys, which track the paths of students as they transition from school to college and the work force.  The longitudinal surveys conducted by NCES contain a wide variety of survey components that enable researchers to address policy-related topics across disciplines.  Such longitudinal data can be expensive and time consuming to collect, particularly if they are nationally representative with sufficient sample sizes to analyze barriers faced by disadvantaged young adults. Building a sound statistical foundation for these important analyses is one of the key contributions NCES makes when producing datasets such as the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) for the education and research community. 

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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.

Barbershops Cutting Into the Achievement Gap for #ReadWhereYouAre

This article is cross-posted from the Department of Education’s Homeroom Blog.

As we celebrate, engage and Read Where You Are today, you might see tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts already on “newsfeeds” with great photos of reading in barbershops. What you might not know, and I am proud to share, is how this all began – when the Department of Education starting chatting with barbers about how we can use all of our tools, scissors included, to cut the achievement gap. At a meeting earlier this year about the importance of summer literacy, a colleague smartly mentioned a need to engage everyone in the community. Our brainstorming left us with a long list, and a colleague specifically mentioned barbershops knowing the important role they play in communities across our country, and especially in communities of color. I immediately thought of a friend, who also happens to be a barbershop owner from Washington Heights in New York City who has made it his priority to give back to his clients, their families and the larger community. As we often do in meetings, I took my “next steps” and reached out to my friend, excited about what could be in store. My work at ED is rooted in who I am, as a student, mentor, tutor, Posse Scholar and American raised in a working class neighborhood in Brooklyn. Having grown up around beauty salons and barbershops, I know what happens there and what’s been happening since has the potential to make a very big difference. In fact, my mother is a hair stylist and has worked in the field for decades.

On June 29, thanks to some truly remarkable small-business barbershop owners, staff from the Department listened and learned with a group of over twenty barbershop owners from around the country who happened to be in Washington, D.C. for an industry event, a hair battle. Our conversation was about how to understand how barbershops can do more to help the students and kids we all care about, how barbers as individuals could be empowered, and how barbers can make a difference.

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National FFA Awards $2.7 Million to Students

In 1984, sixteen FFA members received the first awards given through the newly established collegiate scholarship program. In the 31 years since then, National FFA has given more than $41 million in scholarships.  These scholarships are provided by businesses and individuals through the National FFA Foundation to reward and encourage excellence and enable students to pursue their educational goals.

This year, National FFA awarded more than $2.7 million in scholarships to 2,158 students. Over 80% of these students are attending four-year universities in the fall, and 63% of the scholarship winners are female. The winners included 313 high school valedictorians.

The infographic below provides an overview of the 2015 scholarship recipients. You can also download a PDF of the graphic here.

FFA Infographic

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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.

White House Celebrates CTE Students and Teachers

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address at “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education,” a White House event on Tuesday, June 30.  Students, teachers, exemplary programs, and career and technical student organizations that have distinguished accomplishments were recognized at this event for awards that they have received within the past year.

Twenty six students and teachers were recognized by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSOs) as National CTE Innovators for their excellence, dedication, leadership, and innovation in career and technical education. Full biographies of these winners are available at

Five CTE programs were recognized in the Excellence in Action category, an honor awarded by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.  Information on these programs is available at

Additionally, sixteen national officers and representatives from the career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) were also recognized for their service. These organizations serve a combined membership of over two million students across the country.

The First Lady noted that the Department of Education will soon be launching a series of prize competitions, joining forces with America’s solvers to help students compete in our global economy. Through these innovation challenges, ED seeks to spur the development of new technology, products and resources that will prepare students for the high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations of tomorrow. For more information about these challenges and to sign up to receive further updates as they are announced, please visit

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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.

Request for Comments on WIOA Performance Information Collection

The Departments of Labor and Education are soliciting comments concerning a collection of data that will be used to demonstrate that specified performance levels under the WIOA have been achieved. The WIOA Performance Management, Information, and Reporting System fulfills requirements in section 116(d) (1) of the act for the development of report templates for 1) the State Performance Report for WIOA’s six core programs; 2) the Local Area Performance Report for the three Title I programs; and 3) the Eligible Training Provider Report for the Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker programs.

A copy of the proposed Information Collection Request with applicable supporting documentation may be accessed at by selecting Docket ID number ETA-2015-0007. The comment period is open for 60 days and closes on September 21, 2015. Any comments not received through the processes outlined in the Federal Register will not be considered by the departments.

Photo of Johan Uvin
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Acting Assistant Secretary, OCTAE

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – One-Year Anniversary

Last Wednesday marked one year since the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law by President Obama. OCTAE sent a special anniversary message to our State Directors. That message included a video from Secretaries Duncan and Perez who jointly commemorated the anniversary of WIOA’s passage. We wanted to share these messages with all of you.

Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators

On Thursday, July 16, 2015, the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL) and RTI International, released Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators. This professional learning module—a collection of customizable, train-the-trainer materials—is designed to support regional comprehensive centers, state educational agency staff, adult education programs, and state regional centers in building their knowledge and capacity to integrate and prioritize employability skills at the state and local levels.

The module includes PowerPoint slides, handouts, a sample agenda, a workbook, tools for individuals or state work groups, and a facilitator’s guide designed to accomplish the following:

  • Introduce participants to the Employability Skills Framework and its importance
  • Connect employability skills with other education initiatives
  • Provide tools and strategies to prioritize employability skills at all levels

For more information about the module and to view the CCRS Center’s guidelines for use, please visit their website here.

To learn more about the Employability Skills Framework itself, please visit its homepage.

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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.