October-November 2009


Welcome to CTE Connections! This will be a bi-monthly update from the CTE Center. We want to keep you posted on legislative news, current events, valuable research studies, resource materials, and, of course, alert you to our own products, resources, and services as they become available. For past postings, please see our archives page.


CTE Center Update


On October 14, 2009, the CTE Center hosted a Grant Management Workshop with Michael Brustein.  The workshops entitled "Implementing Career and Technical Education Under Shrinking Budgets" and "Accountability and Transparency: An American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Workshop," covered topics ranging from maintenance of effort, allocability, ARRA reporting requirements, internal controls on cash management, and recent audit issues.  If you were unable to make the workshop presentations, the powerpoint presentation is posted on our home page, www.hawaii.edu/cte


CTE in the Community


Hawai’i’s Education Leaders Encourage Students to Step Up

Students from Waialua High School and Hawai’i’s education leadership gathered at Washington Place on August 26 to join Hawai’i P-20s launch of Step Up, a statewide campaign aimed to increase career and college readiness for public high school students.  The campaign promotes students graduating high school ready for careers and college and encourages students, graduating in 2013 and beyond, to earn the BOE “Step Up” Diploma. Read more on the Step Up campaign.



Legislative Update


'Race to Top' Said to Lack Key Science

Scant Evidence for Policies, Researchers Tell Ed. Dept

Education Week (10/2, Viadero) reports, among education researchers, one complaint about the U.S. Department of Education under former President George W. Bush was that it relentlessly promoted “scientific research in education,” while at the same time endorsing some policies that lacked solid research evidence. With recently published draft guidelines for federal economic-stimulus money and Title I aid, critics are beginning to ask whether much has changed under the Obama administration.


Senate Energy Bill Contains CTE Curriculum Grants

(ACTE's Public Policy Department Online Briefings )

On September 30, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. This bill will serve as the base for the Senate's counterpart to the House energy bill passed in June (see ACTE's July 6 Legislative Update for more info). While the draft bill is more than 800 pages long and deals with a wide variety of energy issues, it does include a number of provisions related to CTE.

Like the House bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act contains legislative language that would authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible partnerships to develop CTE programs of study focused on emerging careers and jobs in clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. This language was derived from a bill, H.R. 1775, introduced by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) as the Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act. ACTE worked with Rep. McNerney to get the legislation introduced based on the requirements of Perkins and the need for training programs related to sustainability.

The energy bill also includes an information and resources clearinghouse to aid CTE and job training programs for the renewable energy sectors, a green construction careers demonstration project, and funding for the Green Jobs Act authorized as part of the Workforce Investment Act.


The draft bill still has a long way to go through the legislative process, and there are many contentious issues yet to be resolved. It is speculated that the bill will be marked up by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee later this month, with five other Senate committees also expected to have input before the bill ultimately goes to the Senate floor. It is extremely unlikely that the bill will actually be passed this year, but the introduction of this legislation is a definite sign of progress.



Publications and Research


A report from the President's Council of Economic Advisers Preliminary Data Indicate Hybrid Courses Produce Better Outcomes

Inside Higher Ed (9/22, Kolowich) reports "that hybrid courses -- those that are offered online but also involve substantial face time -- can produce better outcomes than those that are delivered exclusively on the Web or in the classroom," according to research from South Texas College. "The data showed that, over all, 82 percent of students of hybrid courses were successful, compared to 72 percent of classroom courses and 60 percent of distance courses." Lead researcher Brenda Cole said "these findings require some qualification." For example, the data "do not account for the grading habits of particular instructors," and the research "was limited to the student population at South Texas." Even so, "hybrid courses showed outcomes superior to distance and traditional courses when researchers controlled for other factors." While "the advantages of hybrid courses over online-only ones are obvious," Cole said "evidence suggesting that hybrid courses produce superior outcomes to traditional courses...is more puzzling."


GAO Offers Mixed Report On For-Profit Colleges

Inside Higher Ed (9/22, Lederman) reports that for some time, "those who watch the for-profit sector of higher education most closely...have been speculating about what the U.S. Government Accountability Office was cooking up in a report on the institutions." The report offers "some critical findings and a suggestion that the Education Department crank up its scrutiny of the career-related colleges." Notably, the GAO reported "that officials at a Washington-area branch of one publicly traded for-profit college appears to have violated federal rules when they gave answers to, and 'tampered' with answers given by, GAO analysts who posed as prospective students on academic tests designed to measure their 'ability to benefit' from a higher education." However, the GAO also "goes out of its way to note career colleges' role in the higher education pipeline, pointing out that they are more likely than both public and private nonprofit colleges to enroll older students, financially independent students, women and members of minority groups."


Study Indicates Simplifying, Shortening FAFSA Would Increase Submissions

The Chronicle of Higher Education (9/23, Supiano) reports, "Helping low- to moderate-income families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and understand their student-aid eligibility increased the rate at which they filed the form, attended college, and received need-based aid," according to a recent report, "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block Fafsa Experiment." However, "even with all of this help, many participants did not file a Fafsa." Investigators said that "some participants may not have had any interest in attending college," while "feedback from the tax professionals who administered the experiment also suggests that some families are wary of submitting a federal form they do not completely understand." The researchers "conclude that the complexity of the Fafsa and the time required to complete it are substantial barriers, and suggest that shortening the form would probably increase Fafsa submissions."



CTE Around the Country


4-H Students To Make Bio fuel For Science And Technology Project

The Shreveport (LA) Times (9/20) reported, "To help celebrate National 4-H Week Oct. 4-10, Louisiana 4-H members will join millions of other 4-H'ers across the nation in participating in a science and technology project" in which "they will make ethanol, one of the most common biofuels in the country." Following the experiment, "the Louisiana 4-H'ers will continue experiments throughout the year on making biofuel," officials said. David Boldt, state 4-H science and technology coordinator, said, "Because of this year's focus on biofuels, we are going to expand the lesson and have students throughout the year make biodiesel. This biodiesel will actually be used to power AgCenter equipment."


Auto Shop and Other Industrial Arts Slated for a Comeback as Green Tech

The Seattle Times (9/29, Ramsey) reported, classes in the industrial arts -- such as automotive repair, woodworking and metal shop -- fell out of vogue as high schools pushed to prepare every student for college. Ramsey argues that it is time for schools to beef up their technical course offerings. Students can find worthwhile and lucrative careers in new industries focused on greening the world's technologies and infrastructure. Read More


Project Lead The Way Plans Large-Scale Expansion

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (9/24, Hetzner) reports, "Last year, researchers examining the impact of the project-based curriculum known as Project Lead the Way found that" seniors at Milwaukee's Riverside University High School who were "in the program attended school an average of eight more days during the school year than their peers." Better attendance, along with "other benefits, are enough for Milwaukee Public Schools to continue its rapid rollout of the pre-engineering program, with plans to add it to eight more schools over each of the next two years." The findings were "exactly what leaders at the...Kern Family Foundation want to hear." The partnership of the foundation and PLTW "has the ambitious aim to spread its curriculum to nearly three times as many schools nationwide. By 2015, the organization hopes to have courses in 10,000 middle and high schools, or about one-third of all secondary schools in the country, said John Lock, Project Lead the Way's new president."


Mentoring Program Helps Undergraduates Figure Out Career, Academic Goals

Inside Higher Ed (9/24, Epstein) reports on the success of the University of Texas at Austin's Pre-Graduate School Internship, "a program created in 2004 to help undergraduates figure out their academic and career goals by pairing them with graduate students or faculty." Richard A. Cherwitz, who founded the program, explained, "Students come to us not knowing the options available to them. They may know a few options like med school or law school, but they are often unfamiliar with research and the academy." Cherwitz added that, although "it was never his expressed intention," it is not "'really not a surprise' that...about 50 percent of the students who enroll in the internship program" are "underrepresented minorities or first generation college students." He said, "'It gives them ways to integrate what they're thinking about in terms of academics, careers and serving their communities, all with the help of someone who has gone through the same kinds of experiences."


West Virginia University Launches Service To Help Students Find Jobs

WVNS-TV Ghent, WV (9/23, Moniot) reported, West Virginia University "has signed on with" CareerShift, a job search utility "that eliminates a lot of the research students and recent graduates need to keep up while job hunting." CareerShift is "a job search engine, of job search engines" that allows students to "narrow their results using keyword, salary, geographic location, and other criteria." Students will be able to "upload their resumes, cover letters, letters of recommendation, and any other document they may need in an application." The "perception that there are few...jobs out there for recent graduates" has caused problems for WVU's Career Services Center, but "CareerShift could help students overcome that negativity about the job market, once they experience how easy a complicated job search becomes, and the many jobs that are, in fact, open." The university "is paying for the service for its 5,000 seniors, which costs an individual $25 a month."


Mississippi State Working On Hybrid Car for EcoCAR Competition

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (10/10, Seid) reported, "A future hybrid vehicle may have technology developed by Mississippi State University. On Tuesday, MSU's student automotive design team rolled out its entry for the international EcoCAR competition, which is sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy." And "MSU is one of 17 universities from the U.S. and Canada who are competing to design and build a plug-in hybrid, range-extending vehicle in the EcoCAR competition." While, "MSU finished third overall in the first year of the EcoCAR challenge," it also "won the ChallengeX competition two years ago." The project involves "about 130 student[s]" and the group "hopes to have its vehicle ready by the end of the year in order to test it before the May judging."




National News


Draft Of Common State Academic Standards Released

Following a report in Inside Higher Ed yesterday about the creation of national "college ready" standards, the Washington Post (9/22, Anderson) reports, "Experts convened by the nation's governors and state schools chiefs on Monday proposed a set of math and English skills students should master before high school graduation, the first step toward what advocates hope will become common standards driving instruction in classrooms from coast to coast." In math, the "proposal envisions that students would be able to solve systems of equations; find and interpret rates of change; and adapt probability models to solve real-world problems." In English, students "would be able to analyze how word choices shape the meaning and tone of a text; develop a style and tone of writing appropriate to a task and audience; and respond constructively to advance a discussion and build on the input of others." The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers "launched the Common Core Standards Initiative this year, enlisting 48 states and the District of Columbia." Two states yet to join the effort are Texas and Alaska.


Math Tests: Fourth-grader Progress Stalls

The AP (10/14, Quaid) reported that new National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores "show fourth-graders made no gains since 2007, the first time in two decades they have failed to improve. Eighth-graders advanced for yet another year." For 2009, "on a 500-point scale, fourth-graders on average scored 240 in math, unchanged from two years ago. Eighth-graders on average scored 283, up from 281 two years ago. The scores put 39 percent of fourth-graders and 34 percent of eighth-graders at the proficient level. Thus, "millions of kids are a long way off from meeting" a NCLB goal for all students to "read and do math at their grade level by 2014." The AP (10/14) also ran a list of math scores for each state.


US Surpasses $1 Billion In Renewable Energy Stimulus Funding

AFP (9/23) reports that during a meeting of a group of clean energy developers and manufacturers at the White House Tuesday Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that the "US government has spent more than one billion dollars on private sector renewable energy projects from the massive economic stimulus program passed seven months ago," as they announced "550 million dollars in new awards through the Recovery Act." In a joint statement the Treasury and Energy departments said that "the awards for 25 projects brings the total to more than one billion dollars awarded to date 'to companies committed to investing in domestic renewable energy production.'"

        One of the companies to receive funding, the Abilene (TX) Reporter-News (9/23) reports, is E.ON Climate & Renewables, which "is receiving a $122 million federal grant in lieu of faltering tax credits." According to Bloomberg News (9/22, Whitten), "European companies led by Dusseldorf, Germany-based E.ON AG, and Iberdrola SA, of Bilbao, Spain, won more than half the $550 million in grants for renewable electricity projects that the US announced today."


Survey Finds "Unexpected Confidence" In Ability To Pay For College

 USA Today (9/24, Markeling) reports, "Cost has increasingly become a deciding factor in where students enroll in college, but the economic downturn has made this back-to-school season tougher than usual for many families." In addition to "job losses and dwindling savings," some states have reduced or suspended support to scholarship programs and cut funding for schools. "And yet, the downturn 'may be strengthening the resolve of American families to pursue higher education,'" according to a recent survey. The survey, from Sallie Mae and Gallup, "found that most families 'expressed unexpected confidence in their ability to continue to pay' for college. And as families across the USA balance fears about the economy with their hopes and dreams for their children's futures, they are sounding a familiar theme." One parent said, "You pay the price to get a college education for your kids. ... That's kind of the American dream, right?"


IBM, Google Project Exposes Students To Giant Computers

The New York Times (10/12, B1, Vance) reports on the front page of its Business Day section, "It is a rare criticism of elite American university students that they do not think big enough. But that is exactly the complaint from some of the largest technology companies and the federal government." That is because "researchers and workers in fields as diverse as bio-technology, astronomy and computer science will soon find themselves overwhelmed with information. Better telescopes and genome sequencers are as much to blame for this data glut as are faster computers and bigger hard drives." So "the big question is whether the person on the other side of that machine will have the wherewithal to do something interesting with an almost limitless supply of genetic information. At the moment, companies like I.B.M. and Google have their doubts." So "two years ago, I.B.M. and Google set out to change the mindset at universities by giving students broad access to some of the largest computers on the planet. The companies then outfitted the computers with software that Internet companies use to tackle their toughest data analysis jobs. And, rather than building a big computer at each university, the companies created a system that let students and researchers tap into giant computers over the Internet." The firms "hope to train a new breed of engineers and scientists to think in Internet scale."




Scientists Should be Better Prepared as Entrepreneurs, Experts Say

In an article for BusinessWeek (9/21), Vivek Wadhwa, entrepreneur and senior research associate at the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, and Robert E. Litan, author and vice president for Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation write, "To create jobs and spur innovation we need to make it easier for scientists to build businesses that market their breakthroughs in the lab" While not taking issue with calls "for the investment of billions of dollars more in 'basic research' to create millions of new jobs," Wadhwa and Litan argue that "an abundance of research" already exists, and the real issue it that "we've dropped the ball on translating this science into invention," and "if we want to create jobs, we must first train scientists how to start companies." They note several potential solutions, including a "PhD+" program that would "teach the lab geeks how to get along better in the startup world."


IT Jobs Will Grow Faster Than General Employment, Study Finds.

The Seattle Times (10/5, Chan) reports, "More information-technology jobs will be created in the next four years, about three times faster than the projected rate of worldwide general employment, according to a Microsoft-commissioned study." The company "hired research firm IDC to do a study on the economic impact of information, software and the Microsoft ecosystem worldwide," and "uses the study for government lobbying." Microsoft corporate vice president Pamela Passman said, "It's helpful in getting people to focus on the human capital needs...like investing in STEM education." The report, Passman said, "demonstrates the jobs will be there," and "we have a shortage in people with these skills." Among the study's findings are that "IT spending, estimated at $1.4 trillion in 2009, is projected to rise $1.7 trillion in 2013," and that "IT employment should increase by 5.8 million jobs by the end of 2013," growing by "three times the rate of general employment growth worldwide."


Environmental Engineering Tops List of Fastest-Growing Green Jobs

(Randy Woods, NW Jobs, summary from ACTE 10/1/09 CareerTech Update)
Woods reports on the new book "200 Best Jobs for Renewing America" by Laurence Shatkin, in which the author "analyzes six industry sectors that he says will lead a shift toward a 'forward-looking economy'--education, infrastructure, health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and green technology--and identifies sectors that have the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs in the nation."
Read More






Tips for Teachers


Teacher Uses Music to Help Students Remember Science Concepts

The Dallas Morning News (10/6, Meyers) reports that fourth-grade teacher Debra Cave "has designed a curriculum that infuses music into her science classes at Frisco's Christie Elementary School, the district's lone bilingual school." She pointed out, "It's hard to get excited about chlorophyll. ... But by singing and dancing, emotion gets attached and it's stored long term." The idea came to Cave "about two years ago while driving home, her mind stuck on the day's events. She hummed a tune about photosynthesis and then couldn't forget it when she tried." Afterward, she created a DVD of the musical lessons, "which on a tip from a friend ended up being produced by the former musical director of Barney and Friends, Bob Singleton." Now, "teachers in more than 30 states" use the DVD, "some in middle and high school science classes


Program Gives Internships To Teachers In STEM Fields

The Arizona Daily Star (10/10, Friedman) reported on a "new master's degree internship program that paired 20 local teachers with nine Tucson businesses, enabling the teachers to earn industry wages while they gained credit toward a degree." The program "offered through a partnership between The Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the University of Arizona, Science Foundation Arizona and local business participants, lets the teachers take techniques used in industry and transfer them to the classroom. Science Foundation Arizona also paid 75 percent of the teachers' tuition. The goal of the program, which places the teachers in internships over three consecutive summers, is to increase teacher retention while trying to get high school- and middle-school students excited about math and science." The hope is that the experience will help teachers "make that high school- or middle-school learning experience more like developing the skills that the students will need."







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