Report to the Congress of the United States: Program Year 2

Report to the Congress of the United States: Program Year 2

Aug 2009

Executive Summary:

The second year of operation of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE), which spanned the period August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009, capitalized on the potential derived from the NRCCTE’s cooperation with organizations that provide much of the nation’s leadership for career and technical education (CTE). When the NRCCTE consortium was organized, we invited the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) to be our partners in order to ensure that practitioners’ perspectives were included in all of our efforts. Our other non-university partners include the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI); the National Institute for Work and Learning, a unit of the Academy for Educational Development (AED), which focuses on the linkages between education and employment systems; and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which administers High Schools that Work, an education reform initiative being implemented in over 1,200 high schools in 31 states. These organizations, working in collaboration with four research universities—the University of Louisville (the NRCCTE’s lead institution), the University of Minnesota, Clemson University, and Cornell University—have enabled us to design a program of work that addresses the issues of highest concern to policymakers as well as to those who have the day-to-day responsibility of delivering CTE to young people and adults.

Our program of work includes research, dissemination, professional development, and technical assistance. A key focus of our research has been on Programs of Study as defined and mandated by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-270, Perkins IV).

We have projects that are examining programs of study from three different perspectives, to be described in greater detail in this report. We are also conducting research on the following:

  • Testing two alternative strategies to integrate literacy skill development in CTE courses
  • Examining four interventions designed to promote student success in community colleges
  • Surveying of the use, challenges, and barriers of online occupational programs offered by community colleges
  • Testing the relationship between performance on occupational skills tests and postsecondary outcomes

All four of our university consortium partners, AED, SREB, and NOCTI are involved in one or more of these projects.

In partnership with the NRCCTE, ACTE has lead responsibility for disseminating the results of our research and uses a variety of media to do so. The most prominent is our website, www.nrccte.org.

Our professional development projects are being conducted by NOCTI and the SREB/High Schools That Work Consortium. The NOCTI project focuses on how CTE administrators and teachers use the results from technical assessments to guide program improvement. SREB is developing a system for assisting individuals who enter teaching without formal preparation— alternatively certified teachers—to learn the skills necessary to plan, deliver, and assess high school CTE instruction.

Our technical assistance activities are being carried out by the NRCCTE and the National Institute for Work and Learning at AED, in cooperation with the NASDCTEc and MPR Associates. These activities include working with states and large school districts to implement a scientifically verified model for enhancing mathematics instruction in CTE courses and assisting selected states to respond to the accountability requirements of Perkins IV.

This brief overview indicates how the Center has drawn upon the expertise of our consortium partners to address the topics that make up our program of work. Many of our research projects are multiyear, and in the section that follows, we summarize their current status and findings to date. The ongoing activities and projects in our other areas of work—dissemination, professional development, and technical assistance—are also summarized.

In order to monitor on-going Center processes and the quality of our work in each of these focus areas, Center management is working closely with Professor Robert Shumer of the University of Minnesota in the implementation of our internal evaluation plan. To avoid duplication of effort, this plan is closely aligned with reporting requirements established by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), the unit of the U.S. Department of Education responsible for the work of the NRCCTE. Additionally, an external evaluator, the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, was selected through a competitive process that yielded 15 proposals for review. The external evaluation will assemble data relative to the four GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act of 1993) indicators that were established for the NRCCTE:

  • The percentage of scientifically based research studies conducted by the Center that are of high relevance to CTE practices as determined by expert panels;
  • The percentage of Center products (e.g., instructional approaches, methods, programs, models, and strategies) disseminated to practitioners by the Center that are judged by expert panels to be of high quality;
  • The percentage of technical assistance services that are judged by target audiences to be of high usefulness to educational policy or practice; and
  • The percentage of professional development activities offered by the Center that are judged by participants to be of high quality.

National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (2009). Report to the Congress of the United States: Program Year 2, August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009. Louisville, KY: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Louisville.