Workforce Development: 5 Things to Know

Workforce Development: 5 Things to Know

1.   Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Publishes Guidance on Registered Apprenticeship Provisions and Opportunities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) for States

Registered Apprenticeship is an important workforce development strategy that the workforce system provides to its customers, both job seekers and employers. It is an evidence-based model for job seekers and is a job-driven strategy for employers and industries. Engagement with employers, institutions of higher education, and policy makers has ramped up significantly in order to achieve the administration’s goal to double the number of apprentices across the United States. This is an historic opportunity for the workforce system to expand its business base and offer job seekers greater employment prospects while offering employers a strategic approach to talent development.

The Employment and Training Administration has published Training and Employment Guidance Letter 13-16 (TEGL).   The purpose of this TEGL is to provide information about the new provisions for Registered Apprenticeship in WIOA, including the status of Registered Apprenticeship sponsors as Eligible Training Providers, membership on State and Local Workforce Boards, the use of WIOA funding to support Registered Apprenticeship, reporting on Registered Apprenticeship activity, and suggestions about how to coordinate with the Registered Apprenticeship system.

Attachment I – References

Attachment II – Making Registered Apprenticeship Work: Case Studies on Workforce-Registered Apprenticeship Partnerships from Detroit and Arizona

Attachment III – How to Count Registered Apprenticeship in the Workforce System

2.  ETA Releases Planning Estimate for WIOA Youth, Adult, and Dislocated worker Program Allotments for Program Year 2017

The ETA has transmitted to states and outlying areas estimated funding levels for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Title I, Adult, and Dislocated Worker Program Allotments for program year 2017.

Training and Employment Guidance Letter 14-16 (TEGL) conveys the funding levels.  The TEGL provides additional background, funding levels for the allotment estimates, and the formula data.

3.  US Department of Labor Awards $65 Million to Help Unemployed Workers with Job Searches, Support Integrity of the Unemployment Insurance Program

The US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration awarded $65 million to 52 state workforce agencies, including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, to operate Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) programs for unemployment insurance beneficiaries on January 13th.

The funding will allow states to continue operating their RESEA programs through April 2017. Upon receipt of a full year’s appropriation for 2017, ETA expects to provide additional funding to administer these programs through December 2017.      

The funds will be used to conduct in-person assessments in American Job Centers. The assessments include:

  • Developing an individual re-employment plan for each claimant selected for services.
  • Providing career and labor market information to inform their job search.
  • Help developed job skills and employment prospects.
  • Customizing reemployment services.
  • Review the claimant’s continued eligibility for UI benefits.
  • List of Funds Awarded to ERC members:
    • Connecticut $838,222
    • Delaware $265,318
    • Maine $720,716
    • Maryland $689,745
    • Massachusetts $3,387,820
    • New Hampshire $754,155
    • New Jersey $1,063,379
    • New York $11,215,399
    • Pennsylvania $830,840
    • Puerto Rico $165,018
    • Vermont $403,240
    • Rhode Island $641,101
    • Virgin Island $120,949

News Release / Target Populations / History of Investments / Listing of Awardees / Evaluation / Research

4.   State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) Examines Governors’ State of the State and Inaugural Addresses for References to TBED, Education, and Workforce Development

Since its inception in 1996, the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) has developed a nationwide network of practitioners and policymakers dedicated to improving the economy through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. SSTI conducts research on common performance standards, identifies best practices, analyzes trends in and policies affecting tech-based economic development, and fosters greater cooperation among and between all public, private and nonprofit organizations encouraging prosperity.

Early in each calendar year, SSTI presents excerpts from the State of the State and inaugural addresses by the nation’s Governors. The first round of synopses addressing technology-based economic development (TBED), education and workforce development references was released today (January 12).   Next week the SSTI Digest will continue with Part II of “Tech Talkin’ Govs” featuring news from the next round of addresses. 

Click here for the summaries.

5.   JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO Announce $20 Million to Improve Career Education for Young People in 10 States

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co.  announced $20 million in grants to 10 U.S. states to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers. Developed as part of JPMorgan Chase’s $75 million global New Skills for Youth initiative, each winning state will work with government, business and education leaders to strengthen career education and create pathways to economic success.

These 10 states demonstrated the strongest plans to work across sectors to transform how they design and develop career preparedness education programs and provide young people with the skills they need to compete for high-skill, well-paying jobs. They have also committed to bring together education leaders, business partners and community partners to set ambitious benchmarks for achieving these goals.

Too many students leave high school without being prepared for college or a career. Nationwide, the unemployment rate for young people ages 16-24 is 9.3 percent, with many more working only part-time or in low-wage jobs with little opportunity to advance. At the same time, the U.S. economy is projected to produce millions of well-paying jobs over the next decade, about two-thirds of which will require some post-secondary education but not necessarily a four-year college degree.

For all states, this is an opportunity to work across sectors and pull together stakeholders in business, industry, higher education and within communities to research what has worked and what career pathways are most needed for kids in their state.

These state grants are one part of the $75 million, five-year New Skills for Youth initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with CCSSO, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs. In recent years, more than 40 states have committed to transforming career education for all students. In March 2016, JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO awarded $100,000 grants to 24 states and the District of Columbia for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of area employers. These states received targeted coaching and support to begin implementing these programs over the past year.

Testimonials from Governors and other State officials

Senate HELP Committee Passes No Child Left Behind Rewrite,  Returns More Control to the States and Reaffirms Commitment to Supporting Underserved Students

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions passed its draft of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“No Child Left Behind” or NCLB) reauthorization as the “Every Child Achieves Act” unanimously on Thursday. Like the House’s version, “Student Success Act” (passed earlier this year by the House Committee on Education and Workforce Development, the Senate’s draft emphasizes a return of some state control for some of the programs NCLB required. Specifically, the bill scales back some of the original federal control and oversight by:

Providing state flexibility…

  • States no longer have to meet the federal threshold in determining the weight of annual assessments in their accountability systems. Although states will still be required to administer the same required assessments under NCLB (annual reading and math tests for grades 3-8, one reading and math test in high school, and three science tests delivered during the K-12 system), states can now determine how to use the data from these assessments for accountability purposes. States will also have the opportunity to pilot innovative assessment systems in their districts that can be scaled up at a later date.
  • States no longer have to develop teacher evaluation systems, though they may choose to do so. States may also choose to define the term “highly qualified teacher” as they see fit.
  • States will have more flexibility in meeting maintenance of effort requirements
  • States may allocate Title I, Title II (supports for teachers and school leaders) and title III (supports for English Language Learners) to early childhood education efforts.
  • Rural schools will have additional flexibility under the two programs that supply flexible funding: Small, Rural School Achievement Program (SRSA) and the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program. In contrast to the current law, dual-eligible districts may choose which program to pursue.

Placing restrictions on federal requirements and oversight…

  • The federal government may not impose additional requirements on states seeking waivers. Prohibits federal government from imposing additional requirements on states seeking waivers
  • Although the accountability systems must meet federal parameters, the systems will be entirely state-designed. The federal government may not determine, approve or incentivize state standards, including the Common Core.
  • The federal government may not mandate, prescribe or prescribe the specific steps in a state or school district’s school improvement intervention or plan.
  • The Secretary of Education must approve state plans within 90 days of submission unless they can provide substantial evidence that the plan does not meet the bill’s requirements. States that do not receive approval have the right to an opportunity for a hearing and may resubmit a plan for review.
  • This bill prohibits the Secretary from mandating additional requirements for states or school districts seeking waivers from federal law. The bill also limits the Secretary’s authority to disapprove a waiver request.

Offering additional resources to states…

  • States may receive federal grants aimed at supporting low-performing schools that are identified by state accountability systems as needing improvement and intervention.
  • States will have access to resources to support educators and administrators, including induction programs, ongoing professional development and recruitment strategies.
  • States can participate in three grant competitions (created through the combination of two previously existing programs): High-Quality Charter Schools, Facilities Financing Assistance, and Replication and Expansion. These grants will allow states to create new charter schools, develop the facilities (including teacher preparation) of existing charter schools or scale up high-quality charter schools, respectively. States will also have access to a grant program that facilitates the expansion of evidence-based magnet school programs.

At the same time, the bill maintains the requirements and resources that support students with difficulty accessing or engaging in meaningful education program. Districts must have adequate time and training to enroll and serve homeless students, for instance, and ensure that they have the necessary services and support in place to provide a stable educational environment. Schools and districts will also have stronger incentives to improve the outcomes of English language learners, and states will have access to formula and competitive grants directed toward Native American and Alaskan students.

Unlike the House bill, the Every Child Achieves Act is a consciously bipartisan effort. However, in order to ensure the committee could pass the bill unanimously, sponsors of a few amendments addressing divisive issues—including protection for LGBTA students and the exemption of disability-specific schools from mandatory charter school lotteries—withdrew them from consideration by the committee with the intention of raising the issues on the floor of the Senate.

For a summary of the Every Child Achieves Act, click here. For the full text, click here.

For a fact sheet on the House’s Student Success Act, click here.

Connecticut, National Groups Issue Reports on English Language Learners

In response to concerns about the performance of Connecticut’s English Language Learners (students whose first language is not English and have limited English proficiency), who earned the lowest rates of proficiency and average scaled score on the NAEP in the country, prompted Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) to appoint the English Language Acquisition and Educational Equity Workgroup this February, a panel charged with making recommendations to improve the state’s English Language Learner (ELL) programs. The panel, chaired by State Rep. Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven) and Kelvin Roldán, released their recommendations this month on the heels of two national reports on ELL programs.

The Education Commission of the States (ECS), an organization that catalogues and reviews education policies for all fifty states, published a review of ELL programs with recommendations based on state programs and policies with demonstrated impact. The other report, published by the Working Group on ELL Policy (a panel of national experts in education), consisted of updated recommendations released in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act(ESEA)/No Child Left Behind(NCLB)), expected sometime next month. Although these recommendations, updated from the original 2011 set, are geared primarily toward federal legislators, they can still provide valuable guidance on best practices in ELL policy, as well as a glimpse of the possible direction the federal ELL requirements might take.

Many of the specific recommendations the Connecticut panel published touch on similar suggestions made by both the ECS and Working Group on ELL Policy reports. Some of these recommendations include:

  • Extend eligibility for ELL services from the current 30 months to 60 months

This extension of eligibility aligns closely with a Working Group on ELL Policy recommendation drawing on evidence that shorter programs did not accurately reflect the amount of time required for students at the lowest level of initial proficiency in English to become proficient. The report recommends that states introduce timelines to English language proficiency, targeting 5 years for students with the lowest initial level of proficiency and establishing shorter timelines for more proficient students.

The Working Group on ELL Policy report and the ECS review emphasize the need for flexibility for students, rather than only extending the time permitted to receive ELL services. The Working Group on ELL Policy’s report recommends that states monitor former ELL students, reporting the percentage of long-term ELL students—those not proficient after 5 years—and set expectations for reducing this number through the development of “individual acceleration plans” and supports. The ECS review includes a similar recommendation to states, recommending that former ELL students be tracked beyond the federal 2-year requirement.

Unlike Connecticut’s panel or the Working Group on ELL Policy, the ECS review of state policies does not specify a timeline or limit to eligibility, but focuses on improving the identification and reclassification of ELL students to make sure students classified appropriately. These recommended actions include standardizing statewide tools (ideally avoiding multiple tools) used for classifying ELL students, ensuring staff have the information and training needed to conduct reliable and valid administration of evaluations, mechanisms to correct identification errors. By improving the means of identifying students with limited English proficiency and determinations regarding their continuation in an ELL program, states can ensure students receive only the ELL services they need and recognizing when a student has achieved proficiency more accurately.

  • Allow interstate reciprocity of teacher certification, alternate pathways to improve capacity

Each report recognizes the lack of educators with the cultural and linguistic competency to work with ELL students, and touch on the need to improve the capacity of high-quality educators serving ELL students. The Working Group on ELL Policy offers a couple of recommendations on the need to recruit ELL teachers and administrators, as well as increase the capacity of post-secondary institutions to train educators in research-based ELL instruction. The ECS report, however, goes into much further detail, including specific strategies to boost capacity (loan forgiveness programs aimed at ELL teachers, recruiting former ELL students or parents of ELL students to pursue teaching careers) and improve quality of ELL educators (include ELL-specific criteria on teaching evaluations, requiring professional development to include ELL instruction for all teachers). ECS highlights Massachusetts’ “Sheltered English Immersion” endorsement, which the state plans to make a requirement not only for teachers, but administrators, who work with ELL students. However, the report does warn against the belief that certification/licensing or professional development are the “only answer” for ELL program improvement.

  • Facilitate research-based pilots of innovative instruction and programs for ELL students

The Working Group on ELL Policy’s report does not specifically recommend pilot programs, but makes several recommendations regarding the use of research and data. These include developing a program of research to inform instructional practice and administration of ELL programs, and addressing the research and data needs of states, districts and individual educators.

While the Working Group on ELL Policy’s report already focuses its recommendations primarily at the federal level, the ECS directs their recommendations related to research and innovation to federal policies. In addition to improving the reporting and communication methods of ELL data (“disseminating these data through a website is not enough”), ECS suggests states be allowed to build innovative approaches to ELL programs through their waiver applications.

  • Provide adequate funding for programs to succeed

The Working Group on ELL Policy does not spend significant time on the level of funding, emphasizing the uses to which formula funds are put. However, ECS takes up the issue of adequate funding in their report as the first ELL policy element. The report recognizes Maryland for having the most generous ELL funding formula in the country, providing nearly double the base rate for each ELL student through a .9 weight. However, ECS notes that providing adequate funding alone is not sufficient. Other recommendations for state funding systems include differentiated or tiered funding that takes several factors into consideration, such as disability, limited school attendance, concentration of ELL students and diversity of language within a school or district, and when students enter the ELL program. The report also recommends dedicating funding not only to the ELL program in general (preventing districts and schools to divert funds to general budgets) but also dedicating funding to specific, critical, yet often overlooked, functions of an ELL program, including monitoring ELL students after they have exited the program and at-risk funding streams to support students who qualify for both types of services.

  • Allow students to take standardized tests, including the new Smarter Balanced Assessment, in their home language

With ELL students speaking roughly 140 distinct language, this recommendation is a critical, but difficult, measure to carry out. However, because the ESEA/No Child Left Behind includes guidance on making state assessments (such as Smarter Balanced) available in a student’s appropriate language, both the ECS and Working Group on ELL Policy reports focus more on the alignment of federal assessment and accountability requirements, rather than the language, content or format of the assessments themselves.

In one of the ECS reports recommendations to federal, rather than state, legislators, the report suggests aligning the accountability and assessment requirements of ESEA Title I (assessment of core academic skills and knowledge) and Title III (assessment of proficiency of English for ELL students), and coordinating with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Working Group on ELL policy also includes a recommendation to improve articulation of Title I and Title III accountability requirements, specifically suggesting to move the Title III provisions into Title I for a more accurate, coordinated evaluation of ELL student progress. The report further recommends that states set ELL performance standards in a way that allows ELL students to meet the grade level content demands, but also reflects their English language proficiency at time in system (increasing performance expectations with length of time in the ELL program).


Both the ECS and Working Group on ELL Policy reports include recommendations the Connecticut panel has not yet released, concerning pre-kindergarten services to ELL students, as well as family engagement policies that address the unique, substantial barriers ELL families face. You can read the full ECS review of state ELL policies here, and the Working Group on ELL Policy recommendations here. For more information about the Connecticut panel’s findings and recommendations, visit the Connecticut General Assembly website.