January-February 2010


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 in the Community


New Transfer Procedures Help University of Hawai'i Community College Students

Posted on January 15, 2010, News at UH

Two new procedural changes designed to better serve students who transfer between the two year and four year campuses will be implemented in spring 2010. A new automatic admission and reverse transfer procedure aims to improve degree attainment in the state and allow the campuses to work together to help students achieve their academic goals. Read more.


Hawai'i State Assessments Moving Online

Posted on January 13, 2010, Hawai'i Dept. of Ed. website.

The Hawai'i DOE's Viewpoints Podcast discusses the Hawai'i State Assessments.  The state assessments focus on the subject areas of math, reading and science.  The assessments are give in grades three, four, eight and ten.  The podcast features a discussion with Cara Tanimura, Director, Systems Accountability Office, Dr. Jon Cohen, VP, American Institutes for Research, Joel Shiroma, Counselor, Mililani Middle School, Wesley Wee, Counselor, Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School on the advantages of the Hawai'i State Assessments moving online. View the podcast.


Legislative Update


Congress Returns for a Busy 2010 Session

(1/19 ACTE Public Policy Dept. ) The Senate returns to work today, joining the House (which returned on January 12) to begin work on a busy policy agenda for 2010. Despite the long list of legislative priorities, the second session of the 111th Congress will be a short one! Congress is only scheduled to be in Washington 114 days in 2010, with target adjournment on October 8. The election-year schedule, not to mention election-year politics, will make accomplishing even small tasks challenging.

The first item on the congressional agenda is the completion of the health-care reform package. Congress has stated that it hopes to have this completed and signed by the president before his State of the Union address. The State of the Union was originally scheduled for January 26, but recent reports suggest that it will likely be held the following day, January 27, or perhaps even delayed further.

Once health care is finalized, the path is cleared for other items waiting in the wings. The Senate is expected to begin work on its versions of the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). The latest predictions indicate that the Senate may consider its version of the SAFRA legislation, which would provide tremendous new resources to community and technical colleges and area CTE centers, in early February.

Another item on the agenda will be work on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget and appropriations process. The president is expected to release his budget proposal on February 1. While this request is not binding, it does lay the groundwork for congressional action on funding and identifies the Administration's priorities.

The president is expected to use the education portion of his budget request to begin to identify key principles for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), with a more detailed proposal expected later in the spring. The Administration has expressed hope that Congress will approve a reauthorization of ESEA by the end of the summer, although this is considered extremely ambitious by many education advocates.

Congress is also expected to work on the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) early in 2010.  Staff in the Senate have indicated that this is a key priority of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee leaders, and it could move before work turns to ESEA. 


Publications and Research


State Implement Innovative, Cost-Savings Strategies: NASBE Report

(1/11-1/15 NASDCTE Blog Update)

Educators and leaders from all sectors of education are facing tough fiscal choices and seeking innovative ways to lessen states’ economic hardships on schools. A recent policy update by the National Association of State Boards of Education report highlights states’ initiatives with technology as a means to maximize impact across schools.

Rethinking the State Role in Instructional Materials Adoption: Opportunities for Innovation and Cost Savings is based on a NASBE Winter 2009 Forum that provided insights for State Boards of Education Members and other State Education Leaders.

Read more



CTE Around the Country


Course Shows Students How Science, Agri-Science Relate To Occupations

The Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise (1/18, Straehley) reported on the "Careers in Science and Agri-Science class offered by the Riverside County Office of Education" at Norco High school, which "is designed for students to see how science relates to various occupations." Students work several days each week in places such as animal hospitals, dental offices, and IT companies. "The program received a $332,000 federal grant last year," and "teachers attended a summer institute through Cal Poly Pomona and then did internships over the summer with five companies and agencies, including the Naval Surface Warfare Center." Educators noted that "the class was designed to get average students engaged in science, not just the high achievers." Prior to being "matched with employers," students were taught "to examine their interests and write resumes," and given the opportunity to participate in practice interviews.


School Implements PLTW To Help Students "Discover Their Abilities"

The Adrian (MI) Daily Telegram (1/19, Gable) reports on Madison Middle School, which implemented Project Lead the Way at the beginning of the academic year to help "students discover their abilities." The article explains, "All sixth-graders at Madison take Project Lead the Way for seven weeks as an exploratory course. Then in seventh and eighth grades, there are 48 slots available to the students who show the most promise in engineering-related skills." Principal Brad Anschuetz noted that "students are identified through a series of tests," allowing the school to tap "students with strong aptitude for science and engineering, even if they don't have high GPAs." PLTW, Anschuetz said, "can help those students blossom." The article also recounts the experiences of several students involved with PLTW at the school.


Purdue Summer Program for Educators Seeks to Increase Girls' Interest in Computer Careers

The AP (1/19) reports, "Purdue University is planning a summer program for high school teachers, guidance counselors and students in an effort to get more girls interested in computer careers. Officials with the SPIRIT program say the goal is to educate teachers and counselors about the variety of career options for girls in information technology, computer science, network engineering and technology support." The AP notes that "Purdue is also planning workshops in July for boys and girls."



National News/Public Policy


Washington, DC, Task Force Calls For More CTE To Address Minority Unemployment Issue

The Washington Post (1/19, Haynes) reports, "A task force of local elected officials across the Washington region is calling on communities to band together to tackle the disproportionately high unemployment levels among African Americans and Hispanics." A recent report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments "urged political, business and education leaders to join forces in addressing the issue by aligning pre-kindergarten through 12th grade coursework with post-secondary education and job-training programs, and by knocking down barriers between jurisdictions. It also calls for more...career-training programs in high schools." The report noted that "growth is anticipated in middle-skill jobs."


What Lies Ahead for Higher Education in 2010

(1/11-1/15 NASDCTE Blog Update) This month the American Association of State Colleges and Universities released Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2010, a brief that outlines what that group believes will be the state higher education policy issues at the forefront of discussion and legislative activity in 2010. While all of the topics are likely to affect postsecondary CTE, such as state budget shortfalls, tuition, and data, some are specifically related to CTE, such as community colleges.  First, President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative (AGI), if passed into law, will invest billions of dollars into community colleges including the Community College Challenge Fund, would give $9 billion in challenge grant funding to community colleges for innovative programs such as workforce partnerships and $500 million to develop online courses.




What Lies Ahead for Higher Education in 2010

The Burlington County (NJ) Times (1/19) reports on the trend of older workers seeking to remain in the workforce, a trend fueled by a number of factors including longer life spans, concerns that existing retirement savings are insufficient, and fear of losing employer-provided health insurance. Joe Farrone, a director for Experience Works, an agency that "provides information and assistance with employment and training to income-eligible seniors age 55 and older," said that older workers seeking the agency's help "has increased an average of 33 percent over last year." Farrone added, "Unfortunately, the search for employment is much more difficult for people in this age group, because they often lack the technical skills needed to compete in today's job market." Still, Farrone said, "Older workers have a lot to offer - experience, knowledge, dependability and enthusiasm."


Biomedical Engineering Predicted To Be Among Fastest-Growing Jobs in US

Abigail Rome wrote in CTICareerSearch (1/14) that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "biomedical engineering [is] one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. for the decade ending in 2018," with 72% growth predicted for that time period. "Salaries for biomedical engineers are among the top five for the 20 fastest growing occupations," Rome noted, adding that while bachelor's holders will have a positive employment outlook, "it will be biomedical engineers with master's degrees who have the best job prospects." Rome writes, "The point is clear: If you're an engineer, or can see yourself as one, biomedical engineering is the place to be." Rome also discusses why the field is growing and notes academic initiatives, such as the University of Houston's recent announcement that its Cullen College of Engineering "will open a biomedical engineering department."


Tips for Teachers

Professor Uses Superheroes to Teach Physics

The Wired (1/19, Wallace) "Underwire" blog features an interview with James Kakalios, "a University of Minnesota professor who tapped comic books for his classroom lectures." Kakalios has since "compiled his superpowered lessons into The Physics of Superheroes, a book that uses Spider-Man to teach the concept of centripetal acceleration, Iron Man to explain solid-state physics and the Flash to illuminate Einstein's special theory of relativity." Wired is also hosting a competition to win a copy of the book.



Nontraditional/Special PopulationS

Girls Less Engaged, More Stressed During Science Classes, Study Finds

The Chicago Tribune (1/20, Sutschek) reports a Northern Illinois University study found "high school girls are bored, disengaged and stressed in science classes when compared with boys." Jennifer Schmidt, co-principal investigator, said, "It seems that boys and girls are investing the same amount into it, but for whatever reason the engagement switch is not being flipped for the girls, in spite of the fact that they get similar grades." The Tribune noted, "There could be multiple causes for the gender differences, including societal expectations and the role of the teacher." Among other things, "the preliminary results show that the teachers, who were a mix of men and women...tended to direct more of their comments in the classroom to males." Such tendencies were "all subconscious."




Emerging Technology

Robotic Cockroaches Could Eventually Assist in Post-Earthquake Search and Rescue

KGO-TV San Francisco (1/17, Hart) reported on a "mechanical cockroach" being developed by engineers at UC Berkeley that "could one day assist in post-earthquake search and rescue." The researchers have "already built nearly a hundred of the little robots," and by constructing the robots partially from cardboard and "scavenging parts from cell phones and toys, they've kept the cost to less than $1 each." The story notes that "the secret sauce is not the electronics," but rather "the structure to run like a cockroach, even to climb obstacles."


Community College Opens Nanotechnology Education Program

Virginia's GoDanRiver.com (1/19, Bozick) reported on the nanotechnology education program at Danville Community College, which began this semester with an "introduction to nanomaterials and processes" class that "gives a broad overview on understanding matter on an atomic and molecular scale, shows students how to use tools like an atomic force microscope and explains how nanotechnology applies to other fields of science and technology." The program eventually leads to "an associate's degree in applied science," after which "students can work as lab technicians or technical scientists or extend their studies at a four-year university." Beverly Clark III, director of DCC's nanotechnology education, said that "students finishing the program would be prepared to work in any science-related field where precision equipment is used."





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