Active Advisor News
December 2013

Update from Tim Lawrence
Work Force Ready System Update

Tim LawrenceHappy Holidays from all of us at SkillsUSA. We hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and I want to personally thank you for the work you have done to lift up and inspire students this year. I've traveled to several state and district SkillsUSA leadership conferences this fall and I continue to be amazed at the power of our mission when it is manifested through your work with our members. I wish you and yours a safe, healthy and prosperous 2014. I look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Recent Reports about CTE and its Importance
On November 5, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) released a report stating that career and technical education is increasingly being recognized as an important part of public education and citing the groundbreaking Pathways to Prosperity report issued by Harvard's Graduate School of EducationĀ  and two new reports offering more support for CTE.

The first report was written by Jean-Claude Brizard, a former high school administrator and CEO of Chicago Public Schools and now a senior advisor at The College Board.

The second report, co-authored by Harry J. Holzer of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, Dane Linn of The Business Roundtable, and Wanda Monthey of The College Board, was released this past week. This report emerged from a convening of a large group of CTE researchers, practitioners and policymakers who met to identify what constitutes high-quality CTE. Holzer, Linn and Monthey examine the labor market environment confronting young people today and discuss what they believe to be the characteristics of CTE programs that address those challenges. The report illustrates the interest in CTE being expressed by influential voices outside the immediate field of CTE.


Winter Issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine
SkillsUSA Champions magazineOur winter issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will be in the mail soon. We have a guest column from Gary Beach, author of The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America's Future, who cites SkillsUSA first in his list of model public-private partnerships. This issue also features our annual "insider's guide" to the national championships. Technical committee chairs were surveyed this year on what makes winners stand out and what's often overlooked. If you don't see your competition in the print version, be sure to look for their comments accompanying the online edition. As usual, we will also have an advisor's lesson plan posted online to help you introduce this issue to your students. Note: Only those submitting membership rosters by the Nov. 15 full-service deadline will be mailed the winter issue, but the full content and more will be available on the SkillsUSA website.

Regarding the magazine, we are looking for photo submissions for our Image page. Students and advisors can submit photos that show SkillsUSA members in action. We currently do not have a photo selected for the next issue, so please consider entering this contest. The photographer's chapter will receive a $150 prize check and, of course, the thrill of seeing his or her work in print. For details, email Tom Hall at: thall@skillsusa.org.


Youth CareerConnect Grants
President Barack Obama recently unveiled a $100 million competition aimed at finding new ways to better prepare high-school students for the global high-tech economy.

The program, Youth CareerConnect, will award 25 to 40 grants next year for high schools to team up with higher-education institutions and employers, creating innovative programs that give students industry-relevant education and job skills. Grants would range from $2 million to $7 million. Applicants will be required to pony up matching funds of at least 25 percent.

The closing date for applications is January 27, 2014. For more information, go to this link.


Call For SkillsUSA Talent Reminder
Do you have a talented singer in your state who would enjoy Videoa special performance opportunity? SkillsUSA seeks talented singers for the Opening Ceremony or Awards Ceremony during the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We are looking for a SkillsUSA student or professional member to sing the national anthem or another patriotic song appropriate for opening special sessions. Singers may sing a capella or to a pre-recorded instrumental track. Audition tapes must be the singing of the national anthem.

Send in all audition videotapes of the national anthem only on CD or DVD, postmarked by February 1, 2014 to: Heidi Walsh, SkillsUSA, 14001 SkillsUSA Way, Leesburg, VA 20176. Questions may be directed to Heidi at 703-737-0615 orĀ hwalsh@skillsusa.org.


Current Listing of Scholarships Offered for 2013-14
Here is a current listing of scholarships offered for the school year. Be sure to check back often as we will add more scholarships to the list. Go to this link for the full listing.


Show Your SkillsUSA Store Design Contest
Please encourage your students to send us their designs and help with the launch of our new SkillsUSA Student Store.

We are accepting design submissions from members until December 13 for the following categories:

  • Web Designs (layout for the new site)
  • T-shirt Designs
  • Pin/Patch Designs
  • Logo Designs for Gifts and Apparel Items

Winning entrants in each category will receive iPad mini tablets, and have their designs showcased on products or on the site!

Visit this link today to see contest details and entrance information.


Need an End-of-Year Charitable Deduction?
Need an end-of-year charitable deduction for your 2013 tax return? You can reduce your tax liability and support SkillsUSA's mission delivery by making a donation to SkillsUSA's foundation. Click on the blue "Donate" button on SkillsUSA's home page, www.skillsusa.org, and follow instructions. If you already have a standing pledge to the Skills Build America Campaign, you can advance your 2014 pledge payment or make an additional one-time gift.

You may also want to consider a gift of appreciated stock. This offers several advantages.

  • Avoid capital gains tax on the stock donate
  • Acquire a tax deduction for the value of the stock donated
  • Support SkillsUSA students and programs.

Please contact SkillsUSA's Eric Gearhart at 703-737-0603, egearhart@skillsusa.org if you desire to explore a donation of securities.

SkillsUSA is a IRS-designated 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Work Force Ready System imageAvailable assessments
SkillsUSA assessments offers 42 technical and employability assessments in 10 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF. This year an optional pretest and end-of-program assessment is offered with a pre- and post-comparison report. For a complete list of assessments and the blueprints that describe the standards, competencies and academic skills tied to each assessment, go to this link. To order Skill Connect Assessments, visit this link.

Reports
In addition to the standard grade book, optional reports are available at no additional charge. Also available now are student detailed and summary (aggregated) competency reports, a pre- and post-report, and standard grade and summary (aggregated) reports. Join one of our webinars to learn more about the optional reports, or view the archived webinar hosted in November.

Training Webinars
Training webinars on our assessments are scheduled for this January and March. Join us for one or more on the following topics; "Teacher Tips for Student Success," "Meeting Industry Demands," and "Assessment Ordering and Management Tools." For a complete schedule with descriptions, and to register for a webinar, go to this link. You will also find an archived webinar - "Assessment Ordering and Management Tools" - offered this past November.

Resources to prepare students for testing
SkillsUSA offers free resources to prepare students for testing. See what's available here. Teacher Preparation Guides are an excellent resource and can be found here. Currently, we have six guides available and plan to have 11 more available by end of January.

If you have used one of our guides, please take a short survey to help us determine content for future guides and periodical updates. Provide feedback here.

Historical data from previous years has been rescheduled to deploy this December. Updates regarding when these reports will be available will be posted on the alert page when you log-on to the new Preceptor test platform.

Assessment Support
Please note our new phone number, email address and hours of operation:
Direct: 1-866-444-7779
Email: support@skillconnect.org
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. EST


Gene Haas Foundation
Machining Technology Scholarship

The Gene Haas Foundation Machining Technology Scholarship helps ease the financial burden of qualified students who are interested in machine operation and maintenance coursework.

Graduating high school seniors, GED recipients and displaced workers (anyone unemployed or looking to change their career) who want to pursue an associate degree or technology certificate in machining, are eligible for the one-year scholarship. Award amounts will range from $1,000 to $2,500 for each scholarship, depending on the cost of the applicants program. Currently the scholarship is available to United States residents only.

The online application for the Gene Haas Machining Technology Scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year is currently available and will remain open until funds are exhausted. Visit this link for instructions and access to the application. If your computer has spam ware, or a firewall that blocks bulk emails, please add foundation@sme.org to your contacts or whitelist.


Verizon Innovative App Challenge
App ChallengeThe Technology Student Association (TSA), in cooperation with the Verizon Foundation, Samsung and the MIT Center for Mobile Learning, is offering a competition for students from any middle or high school (they don't have to be members of TSA). Teams just need a faculty advisor to submit the entry.

To begin, gather a team of five to seven students who wish to creatively solve a problem in your school or community by developing a mobile app that incorporates STEM principles and content. (Bonus points will be given for apps that address education, healthcare, or energy conservation.) More than one team is permitted from a school. Register by December 17 at this link.

Then prepare a three-minute video describing the app and how it will function. Submit an essay that demonstrates the team's understanding of the design process, the app's functionality, and its potential impact or outcome. And, submit a form signed by the school's principal or administrator agreeing to the Challenge's rules and use of the prize money.

Eight winning schools will receive a $20,000 cash grant. Plus, the students retain intellectual property rights to the app, which can be brought to the open market. And, each student on a winning team gets a Samsung Galaxy tablet and is invited to attend the 2014 National TSA Conference in Washington, D.C. in June to present their app to more than 5,000 attendees.