Collaborating to Close Gender Gap

This past summer the White House hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit announcing efforts taken under the Obama administration to ensure that all women and girls have equal rights, treatment, and protections. The goal of the summit was to build a roadmap for future policymakers, stakeholders and advocates to continue to increase opportunities for women and girls.

Left to right: Daniel Parino, Jyoti Jasrasaria, Heather Kulp, Johan Uvin and Carol Aguirre

Left to right: Harvard Students Daniel Parino, Jyoti Jasrasaria, with HNMCP Clinical Instructor, Heather Kulp, Johan Uvin, and Carol Aguirre

One of the many initiatives announced at the summit was the collaboration between the U.S. the Department of Education’s (ED), Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) to develop a salary negotiation toolkit for community college students as part of the Administration’s efforts to advance equal pay policies. This toolkit provides community college students, including young women, with the knowledge and tools that can help them better prepare to negotiate their first salary. As we know, negotiating your salary early in your career can boost your lifetime earnings.

Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and the gap is even wider for women of color. In 2014, the Shriver Report released A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, where they report that black women make only 60 cents, while Latinas make 55 cents, for every dollar that a white man earns.

Three possible explanations for a difference in pay between women and men are unintentional gender-based discrimination, a difference in the way women and men approach salary negotiations, and overt sexism. While many individuals experience difficulties negotiating job terms or an increase in pay, women experience additional challenges when negotiating pay and other job benefits.

Over the last eight years new efforts and initiatives were set in place to better address the gender gap pay, encouraging men and women to demand equality and fairness in the workplace. However, very few salary negotiation resources, if any, exist specifically for community colleges students. This is why OCTAE partnered with HNMCP to create the Salary Negotiation Toolkit. The toolkit was created by Jyoti Jasrasaria and Daniel Parino under consultation with OCTAE and the Women’s Bureau, as part of their second year law program at Harvard Law School. The Toolkit is now available for free on HNMCP’s website.

While much has changed, there remains much to be done. Help bridge the gender gap by practicing and implementing negotiating skills, sharing resources, like the Toolkit, and most importantly, know your worth in the workplace.

Posted by
Management and Program Analyst, Direct Loans Division, Federal Student Aid on detail with OCTAE as a Community Colleges Specialist.

Expanding Computer Science Education with Career and Technical Education

csedweek_forwebGiven the tremendous career opportunities that a foundation in computer science can provide, it makes sense that we do what we can to improve access to high-quality computer science learning experiences for all students. Computer science (CS) is not about understanding how to use a word processor or create a spreadsheet. CS is about gaining computational thinking skills and is a critical skill set that all students should have in the 21st century workforce—and states, districts, schools, educators, and their partners are doing their part to expand opportunities to computer science for all.

Career and Technical Education (CTE), funded by the Carl D. Perkins CTE Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins), is an effective approach for increasing access to rigorous computer science coursework as well as for integrating computer science into existing programs of study. Many states are working creatively and innovatively to utilize CTE pathways and Perkins funds to increase access to and completion of computer science courses. From using funds to increase interest in middle school and supporting educator preparation, to dual-coding of courses and increasing access to equipment, states are working hard to maximize the use of Perkins funds to help prepare more students in their states for career opportunities.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind to help increase access to high-quality CS for All.

  • Dual-coding of Courses – Computer science courses are being offered in both CTE and non-CTE academic programs with course codes that inhibit courses from being used in multiple programs. Some states have found it helpful to dual-code these courses to strengthen their offerings, eliminate duplication of efforts and reduce the funds needed to implement computer science programs in a high school. For example, in Florida , computer science standards were jointly written to make sure that the standards met both academic and CTE expectations.
  • Dual-certification of Teachers – Having a well-prepared, well-supported educator workforce is critical to expanding access to computer science courses. Again, to prevent duplication of effort, states have found it helpful to ensure that computer science educators in high schools are able to teach computer science as part of either a CTE or academic program. These options increase the number of educators available to teach computer science while providing flexibility for how computer science is taught in both CTE and academic pathways.
  • Professional Development for Teachers – Perkins funds can be used to provide professional development for CTE educators to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to teach computer science. Because computer science educator preparation requires high-quality, intensive professional development for existing educators, states are also thinking creatively about how to use Perkins in conjunction with Title II funds to increase the number of educators who are able to teach computer science in both CTE and academic pathways.
  • End-of-Pathway Assessments – States are thinking creatively about end-of-pathway assessments for CTE students and how to ensure the demonstration of technical proficiency. States like Maryland and Idaho are utilizing satisfactory scores on the AP computer science exams as a demonstration of technical proficiency.

Perkins funding can be used to complement and strengthen computer science education in a variety of creative ways, such as collaborating with middle schools to increase CS career exploration courses in 7th and 8th grade, and making CTE CS courses students available to students who are not in a CTE program of study.

OCTAE and the U.S. Department of Education joined several federal agencies in celebrating CS Education Week, December 5-11, 2016, during which a Year of Action was announced. It continues the momentum of CSforAll following its launch in January 2016 that brought together federal, state, and local efforts to increase access to CS education. That same day in January, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, provided more insight into the importance of providing CS for All in her blog.

OSTP Senior Policy Advisor for Tech Inclusion, Ruthe Farmer, also provided a year-in-review recapping 2016 CS education milestones.

Follow #CSforAll on your favorite social media for ongoing activities.

White House Encourages More Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy added their voice to the national conversation on leveraging virtual and augmented reality to improve education. The blog mentioned the $680,000 EdSim Challenge that prompts virtual and augmented reality developers to create learning tools to support career and technical education that are “… as compelling as the best video game.”

The blog was published in advance of the EdSim Challenge Informational Webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 16 at 3:00pm Eastern Time. You can find more information about the EdSim Challenge on the challenge website and register for the webinar here.

OCTAE Celebrates Historic Educational Achievements

On October 17, 2016, the White House released a fact sheet that summarized the many remarkable achievements in education accomplished by the Obama Administration. OCTAE celebrates our teachers’, leaders’, and students’ contributions to these accomplishments, including

  • America’s high school graduation rate reaching a record new high of 83.2 percent
  • a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority populations
  • a vision of Next Generation High Schools
  • work to develop and support great teachers
  • work to promote college success

See President Obama’s full remarks at a Benjamin Banneker Academic High School Washington, D.C. high school.

Read the full fact sheet.

Tune in to Watch Announcement of CTE Challenge Winners

Photo of White House made of Lego blocksDon’t forget to tune into the White House Champions of Change event tomorrow, Friday, June 17! Join in the excitement by watching the livestream at wh.gov/live from 1:00pm to 3:00pm Eastern Time for the announcement of the winners of the CTE Makeover Challenge!

The Champions of Change for Making event will kickoff the National Week of Making and feature remarks from senior Administration officials, panel conversations with the Champions of Change, and announcements of new actions and commitments in support of making around the country. Joining the conversation will be businesses, organizations, and government agencies who are leading efforts to empower, support, and inspire makers around this country and the world.

Strengthening the Link Between Upskill America and WIOA

Last month, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Upskill America. There was a lot to celebrate. The employers who made commitments last year at the Upskill America Summit created training for approximately 200,000 frontline workers that could lead to higher-skill jobs. Over 10,000 workers have earned degrees and credentials, and nearly 5,000 workers have already been promoted into higher-paying positions. Over the same period, 532,150 frontline workers participated in adult education programs funded by Title II of WIOA to strengthen their math, reading, writing, or English skills.

This is great progress. An analysis of recent data on frontline workers, however, shows we must do more. See a fact sheet created by OCTAE for the 2016 Upskill celebration, based on the updated Survey of Adult Skills data. The good news is that WIOA creates opportunities to further extend upskilling efforts for the benefit of America’s workforce.

Let’s look at the data first. There are between 20 and 24 million workers who lack foundation skills for getting ahead, with literacy proficiency below Level 2 on the Survey of Adult Skills. Who are they and where do they work?

  • 60% hold one or more jobs in the following industries: retail, health, hospitality/food, manufacturing, and construction

    A circle graph depicts the race and ethinicity of low-skilled frontline workers as listed in the text; a bar chart shows the first language of frontline workers is English (58.2%), Spanish (33.6%) and Other (8.2).

    Low-skilled frontline workers have different backgrounds and have different language proficiencies and needs.

  • 57% are men
  • 50% are younger than age 45
  • Nearly 80% are parents
  • 20% are Black
  • Nearly 40% are Hispanic
  • Nearly 70% have at least a high school diploma
  • 60% make less than $20,000 a year, which is much less than the median earnings for all workers with a high school diploma, not just lower-skilled workers.[1]

These workers have different backgrounds and bring diverse views to their work and workplaces, and a significant number of frontline workers are bilingual or multi-lingual.

It is very encouraging that many frontline workers have taken steps to improve their skills.  Fifty percent participated in formal or non-formal education in the year leading up to the Survey and 10 percent participated in distance education. Employers were more likely to have paid for non-formal education and training, in 40 percent of the cases, than formal education, in only 10 percent.

If half of these frontline workers do participate in education and training, then half – or roughly between 10 and 12 million workers – do not. So how do we change that? And specifically, what can the public and private sectors do together to give more frontline workers access to education and training opportunities that will allow them to move up?

WIOA offers specific opportunities to expand access. As States are preparing to compete their WIOA Title II funding, for instance, partnerships between employers and eligible providers can apply for funding to support learning opportunities for frontline workers. Here you can find an example of how Alexandria City Public Schools are working with Dominion Services–Virginia Power to create a powerful upskilling program for work in the electrical and utility industry. But, WIOA can do much more for employers and their employees.  See a guide compiled by the Department of Labor on how businesses can engage in the workforce development system.

Employers, WIOA service providers, and partners can collaborate to create that first job opportunity for many of our vulnerable subpopulations, particularly those individuals with significant barriers to employment including job seekers with disabilities, foster youth, returning citizens, and others. This type of upskill-backfill partnership creates a pipeline for firms and pathways for workers. There are no losers in this. Only winners.

 

[1]Median annual earnings for all workers with a high school diploma for all skill levels are approximately $30,000 based on 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies data.

Get Involved in the National Week of Making

The National Week of Making is quickly approaching! We are less than one month away from the June 17th kick-off! There are plenty of ways you can get involved.

Learn about the National Week of MakingPhoto of White House made of Lego blocks

Webinars are being held to provide information about the National Week of Making. The next webinar is being held on Thursday, May 19, at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. If you are not able to make that session, there will be an additional webinar next week. Registration links are provided below:

Webinar Schedule (all times Eastern):

Make a commitment

Let the White House know what new actions, commitments, or other activities you or your organization might be considering by going to the Nation of Makers website and submitting your information on the “What are you making?” form.

Nominate a Champion of Change

If you know someone who has had a significant impact on moving Making forward, you can nominate them as a Champion of Change. As part of the National Week of Making, the White House will be sharing stories of the countless leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators who work daily within their local communities across the country. The Administration wants your help to identify Champions of Change who are working to make advances in technology, platforms, educational opportunities, or spaces that empower even more Americans to become tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Nominations must be submitted by Wednesday May 18, 2016 (it just takes 5 minutes). You can read more about the call for nominations on the White House Blog and submit nominations at https://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Learn about the CTE Makeover Challenge

OCTAE launched the CTE Makeover Challenge to encourage more makerspaces in high schools. Contact your local high school to see if they were one of the more than 600 schools that entered the Challenge. You can learn more information about the Challenge at CTEMakeoverChallenge.com. The CTE Makeover Bootcamp phase of the Challenge will be concluding on May 22 when schools will submit Blueprints for their makerspaces. Stay tuned on #CTEMakeover.

Local activities

We are looking forward to the National Week of Making and invite you to join forces with us from June 17th through the 23rd and get involved in your local community. Here are a few ways folks in the maker community are already active:

  • Posting photos using #NationOfMakers to show your latest creation and share news about your events.
  • Organizing an event and/or hosting an open house at your local school, library, rec center, makerspace or set up a hangout online to connect and share your inventions with Makers across the country. Some have posted their events on a community website such as weekofmaking.org
  • Volunteering to be a mentor for someone who is interested in learning a new skill or find a mentor who would be interested in teaching a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn for a while.
  • Organizing a maker roundtable, maker town hall, or maker tour to convene thought leaders and decision makers in your community. (See what was done in Cleveland.)
  • Your brilliant idea here!

Stay updated

More information about the National Week of Making, National Maker Faire, and Making can be found on the following websites, and share your thoughts and ideas using the following hashtags.

Presidential Scholars in CTE announced

In a historic moment for our nation’s career and technical education (CTE) community, Secretary of Education, John B. King issued a press release yesterday to announce the 52nd class of U. S. Presidential Scholars, including an inaugural 20 students in CTE.

The inaugural CTE students are:

  • Tanusri V. Balla, Academy of Information Technology, Stamford, Connecticut
  • Sierra R. Day, Cerro Gordo High School, Cerro Gordo, Illinois
  • Samantha N. Dorwin, Charles H. McCann Technical School, North Adams, Massachusetts
  • Jose L. Espinel, Alan C. Pope High School, Roswell, Georgia
  • Joseph A. Fujinami, Mililani High School, Mililani, Hawaii
  • Makayla Hendricks, Bountiful High School, Bountiful, Utah
  • Carter M. Jones, Southern Wayne High School, Mount Olive, North Carolina
  • Madison Largey, Central Kitsap High School, Silverdale, Washington
  • Jordan Lee, Nettleton High School, Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Alyssa M. McGee, Sumner High School, Sumner, Washington
  • Brent R. Miller, Lyons-Decatur Northeast School, Lyons, Nebraska
  • Marlie A. Montandon, Warren County High School, McMinnville, Tennessee
  • Madeline P. Poole, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Chicago, Illinois
  • Mohammad H. Rahim, Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, Spring, Texas
  • Nicholas M. Santangelo, Marriotts Ridge High School, Woodstock, Maryland
  • Kendra L. Spier, Cambridge Senior High School, Cambridge, Wisconsin
  • Meghna S. Sreenivas, Reservoir High School, Fulton, Maryland
  • Mackenzie R. Wooten, Northwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Norman Xiong, Severna Park Senior High School, Severna Park, Maryland
  • Mindy S. Young, Coldwater Senior High School, Coldwater, Michigan

The Presidential Scholars program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to honor high school seniors for their academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students in the visual, creative, and performing arts.


Having the White House recognize that CTE students are performing at a level worthy of recognition as U. S. Presidential Scholars is a testament to the commitment to quality and rigor of CTE programs being delivered by teachers, administrators, business and industry leaders, and other key stakeholders all across the country.

—Johan E. Uvin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, OCTAE

In 2015, the White House announced that students in Career and Technical Education would also be recognized for this esteemed honor. Students were selected through a rigorous process that began with open nominations. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars reviewed the applications and selected the students who demonstrated the highest level of accomplishment and commitment to their education.

The 20 U. S. Presidential Scholars in CTE will be honored alongside the other 140 members of the 52nd class of scholars in a ceremony on June 19, 2016, in Washington, DC. During the ceremony, each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.

We extend our congratulations to each of these students and wish them all the best for future success.

Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education, OCTAE

FFA Members Exhibit Biotech and Agriscience at White House Science Fair

Talie Cloud, from Sanger, California and Mikayla Ockels from Sussex, Delaware, exhibited their projects at the sixth annual White House Science Fair held on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. The science fair celebrated the accomplishments of students from throughout the country in a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Talie Cloud – Momordica Charantia as an Insecticide

Photo of Talie Cloud standing on the White House lawn with her exhibit

Talie Cloud exhibited her award winning agriscience project at the 2016 White House Science Fair

Talie, 15, is a member of the Sanger FFA Chapter and won first place in her category and division at the 2015 National FFA Agriscience Fair, an annual competition sponsored by Cargill, John Deere and Syngenta during the National FFA Convention & Expo. The FFA Agriscience Fair features the research and results of FFA members who plan on pursuing careers in the science and technology of agriculture.

Her project explored the effects of Momordica charantia, or bitter melon seed, on the reproductive rate of Drosophila melanogaster after four generations of exposure. The purpose of the project was to determine whether the bitter melon seed could be used as a potential organic insecticide.

Her findings determined that with more investigation on the chemical makeup, ideal concentration mixture, environmental impact and application method, Momordica charantia would be a cost-efficient and effective agricultural insecticide that acts upon the reproduction of the pest, rather than the mortality rate.

Talie is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) student in agriculture, food and natural resources and was invited to exhibit at the White House Science Fair which was the last science fair to be held during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Mikayla Ockels – Feed to Egg Conversion Rate

Photo of Mikayla Ockels standing on the White House lawn in front of her exhibit while holding a hen.

Mikayla Ockels exhibited her award winning biotech science project at the 2016 White House Science Fair

Mikayla, from Sussex Central High School in Delaware, presented her project, “The Feed to Egg Conversion Rate of Heritage Hens.” This project studied which breed of heritage hen had the optimal feed-to-egg conversion rate in a pasture raised environment. Feed to egg conversion rate is the amount of feed it takes for a hen to lay a single egg. Mikayla studied heritage breeds, as these are the breeds that are the hardiest and can thrive in an outdoor environment. Her pasture raised egg business requires heritage breeds, as pasture raised means that the birds are let outside every day to roam freely. This project won awards at the state and regional levels, including the state BioGENEius competition. Mikayla also participated in the National FFA Agriscience fair in 2013 and 2014.

Posted by
Education Program Specialist, OCTAE

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.

Posted by
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.