State Policies Impacting CTE: 2020 Year in Review

February 26th, 2021

On the state and federal level, COVID-19 (coronavirus) fundamentally changed the conversation about education, significantly disrupting and refocusing state legislatures. Despite this, Career Technical Education (CTE) adapted to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus, continuing to deliver high-quality programming nationwide across all learner levels despite significant disruptions to education delivery. Because the pandemic was on the forefront of federal, state and local governments’ agendas, fewer policies and budget provisions for CTE were enacted than in previous years; in calendar year 2020, 31 states enacted or passed 67 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness.

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the eighth annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review report, examining 2020 legislation, executive orders and budget provisions that significantly changed funding. With research support from the Education Commission of the States, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state policy actions and coded activity based on the policy areas of focus. In 2020, states most frequently addressed the following topics: 

  • Funding
  • Industry partnerships and work-based learning 
  • Access and equity
  • Dual/concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college 
  • Data, reporting, and/or accountability 

The policy areas that states focused on in 2020 were similar to previous years. In 2019, funding, industry partnerships and work-based learning and access and equity were also in the top five key policy trends; however, in 2020, dual/concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college and data, reporting and/or accountability replaced industry-recognized credentials and governance in the top five key policy trends. Many CTE relevant bills and budgets, including those that increased state funding for CTE, were passed before the pandemic. However, due to unforeseen spending cuts, many state budgets (or supplemental budgets) enacted this year decreased state CTE funding for FY2021. This trend is expected to continue and even worsen as economic challenges continue for many states. 

States have found creative ways to keep support for CTE at the forefront of their legislative agenda. Some states, like Louisiana, have already appropriated state funding for rapid response training to assist employers with training and reskilling that will result in quickly acquired industry-recognized credentials. Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, and Ohio have all also enacted legislation creating programs to bolster work-based learning and workforce development programs strengthening learners, workers, and employers alike. Finally, states like Tennessee have relaxed requirements or sponsored wrap-around supports to strengthen CTE and dual enrollment programs. 

Because of the critical importance CTE plays in workforce and economic development, it is expected that more CTE-related policies will be enacted in the coming years to support up-skilling and reskilling efforts during economic recovery. This indicates a continued commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. To view previous years’ Year in Review reports, click here

Advance CTE and ACTE will be joined by state leaders on March 2 from 3:00-4:00 PM to discuss policy actions for 2020 and potential trends for 2021. Register today

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: New Guidance on Assessments and Next Step in Senate Confirmation

February 25th, 2021

This week, new guidance was released on assessments during the pandemic. Read below to learn more about the information and flexibilities that were detailed, as well as the next step in confirming a new U.S. Secretary of Education, updates to StudentAid.gov and a resource on performance targets. 

ED Releases Guidance on Assessments During the Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced new guidance to states that emphasizes the need to administer assessments this year, as well as the accompanying flexibilities given the major disruptions facing schools. In the announcement, Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Ian Rosenblum stated that “the Department of Education is committed to supporting all states in assessing student learning during the pandemic to help target resources and support to the students with the greatest needs. We also recognize that at a time when everything in our education system is different, there need to be different ways that states can administer state tests like moving them to the fall so that precious in-person learning time this year can be spent on instruction. Balancing these priorities is the best approach.”

Flexibilities to states include: 

  • Extending the testing window and moving assessments to the summer or fall; 
  • Giving the assessment remotely, where feasible; and 
  • Shortening the state assessment, to make testing more feasible to implement and prioritize in-person learning time. 

In the announcement, the Department recognizes that states may need additional assessment flexibility and is prepared to work with individual states based on unique needs. 

ED is also permitting states to request a waiver for the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) accountability provisions for having a 95 percent test participation rate. The full letter from ED to the Chief State School Officers can be viewed here

Senate Moves Forward with U.S. Secretary of Education Confirmation

This afternoon the Senate voted 66-32 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Dr. Miguel Cardona for U.S. Secretary of Education. Dr. Cardona’s nomination will now be brought to a full Senate vote for confirmation. This vote is likely to take place next week. 

ED Enhances Entrance and Exit Counseling on StudentAid.gov

This week Federal Student Aid shared updates to the resources on StudentAid.gov, which includes entrance and exit counseling. Modules on entrance counseling have now been integrated into the College Scorecard. This will help individuals understand their projected debt and salary so that informed decisions can be made. The new exit counseling process includes details on personalized loans and repayment options. There is also a tool that individuals can use to simulate the outcome of different repayment plans.   

Advance CTE Shares New Resource on Revising Performance Targets 

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) created a new resource that provides an overview of four steps states can take to decide whether and how they might revise their performance targets under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) as a result of the pandemic: 

  1. Quantify the impact; 
  2. Explore options; 
  3. Revise targets; and
  4. Engage the public. 

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced uncertainty into the Perkins V performance accountability system. Under the “unanticipated circumstances” provision of Perkins V, the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education is allowing states to adjust their state determined performance levels (SDPLs) in light of the ongoing crisis. You can view the full report on Mitigating Unanticipated Circumstances: Resetting Perkins V State Determined Performance Levels During the COVID-19 Pandemic here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Celebrating State Creativity and Learner Voices during CTE Month!

February 24th, 2021

While many states are still operating in a virtual environment and facing challenges to executing traditional Career Technical Education (CTE) Month activities, state CTE leaders still found creative ways to promote CTE programs and their benefits for learners. 

In honor of CTE Month, this post highlights how states have leveraged virtual events, digital media, Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), and collaborative convenings to elevate the learner voice in celebrating CTE, connect CTE to timely topics and bring CTE leaders together to plan for the future. 

Recognizing CTE Month 

17 states and territories presented proclamations or resolutions to commemorate CTE Month. 

Sharing CTE Experiences through Virtual Events 

Instead of traditional classrooms, industry and state capitol visits, many states utilized virtual events to raise awareness of CTE. Some benefits for this format emerged, including the ability to highlight a wider range of programs and connect policymakers with learners that may not have the resources to meet in-person. 

 Arkansas preserved its annual ‘Day at the Capitol’ with a virtual event that included greetings from the Governor, Secretary of Education, state Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) leadership, and state CTSO leaders. Learner testimonials and CTE program demonstrations were shared via dozens of video submissions from across the state. The state ACTE organization also hosted a digital escape room as a fun activity for CTE students. 

 

Oregon’s Community College Association hosted virtual weekly ‘Workforce Wednesdays’ throughout the month to highlight in-demand industries and provide information to access aligned career pathways through Oregon’s community colleges. 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin’s State Superintendent conducted four virtual CTE program visits and a roundtable with state leaders from six CTSOs to hear their perspectives about preserving the value of CTE programs and leadership opportunities in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Digital Media Campaigns

States utilized a variety of strategies to integrate data, learner voices and storytelling into innovative campaigns to raise awareness of CTE, market learner outcomes and highlight diversity and community. 

North Dakota released a series of six videos utilizing the theme ‘I Love CTE” that compiled photos of students and instructors displaying ‘I Love CTE’ signs in CTE classroom settings that feature the creative, collaborative and hands-on aspects of CTE programs. 

 

 

Georgia conducted a daily #CTAEDelivers Twitter campaign with colorful and informative graphics to increase awareness of CTE and its positive outcomes for learners. 

Colorado’s Association for Career and Technical Education elevated videos created by the Colorado Community College Association as part of their CTE Month Advocacy Toolkit and annual Showcase for Legislators held virtually this year. These videos, segmented for parents, students and school counselors, showcased CTE programs throughout the state using targeted messages for each audience. These videos were created as part of Colorado’s participation in Advance CTE’s grant, Strategies for Attracting Students to High-Quality CTE

Connecting CTE and Essential Careers 

Several CTE programs leveraged CTE Month to contribute to the timely conversation of the value of essential workers, and the importance of CTE in skillbuilding for in-demand careers that have been essential to coronavirus pandemic response and recovery. These communications elevated how learners felt empowered to excel in a difficult learning environment and contribute to their community. 

Oregon’s Mt. Hood Community College utilized CTE program graduates to highlight pathways to in-demand careers in healthcare. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona’s Maricopa Community College highlighted first responder pathways and how learners led problem-solving efforts to continue their learning in virtual and hybrid learning settings.  

 

 

 

Learners from the Berrien Regional Education Service Agency in Michigan had hands-on experience supporting coronavirus response efforts this month. 

 

Reenergizing CTE Leaders and Planning for the Future 

Several states utilized CTE Month as an opportunity to convene CTE leaders to conduct professional development, share best practices and plan for the future. 

Hawaii held a Pathways Summit February 18 and 19 co-hosted by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and Hawaii P-20, a partnership among the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and the University of Hawai‘i System. The Summit focused on best practices for education-industry partnerships, work-based learning experiences and short-term credential programs while also providing a platform for students to share their experiences.

This weekend, California’s CTE division will assist California Partnership Academies in hosting their annual Educating for Careers Conference, a professional development event for CTE instructors and administrators focused on improving learner experiences and outcomes.

Georgia hosted its statewide Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education Winter Leadership Conference virtually this month with over 240 CTE leaders in attendance. 

We hope these creative celebrations give you more ideas for next year and keep you energized as CTE Month comes to a close! Visit our Communications page in the Learning Resource Center for resources to continue your efforts to strategically communicate about CTE. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Exploring Area Technical Centers: Best Practices for Aligning ATCs to Advance Postsecondary Attainment Goals

February 23rd, 2021

Advance CTE’s recent report on area technical centers (ATCs), Building Better Futures for Learners: A 50-State Analysis of Area Technical Centers, revealed that ATCs have a notable footprint in credential and non-degree programs for postsecondary learners and an active role in contributing to state postsecondary attainment goals. However, the extent of their impact varies across states and territories and is strongly influenced by policymaker awareness and systems alignment.  

At the time of our report, forty-five states had set a goal to increase postsecondary attainment. This trend is largely inspired by the work of Lumina Foundation, a national leader in advancing access and outcomes in postsecondary education that set a national goal of equipping at least 60 percent of the working age population with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. Expanding access to and providing seamless transitions for learners in their journey to postsecondary attainment is critical to an equitable national economic recovery. 

This post will focus on highlighting several states that offer best practices to elevate the role of ATCs in postsecondary attainment through state oversight, the role of ATCS in statewide postsecondary attainment plans, and statewide systems alignment.

For a broader breakdown of topline messages from this report and implications for states, please read our most recent post on Medium

State Oversight 

One of the report’s key policy recommendations is for states to improve the awareness, accountability, and alignment of ATCs through the restoration or enhancement of state oversight of these institutions. 

Utah and Oklahoma provide strong examples of the benefits of robust state oversight and positioning of ATCs. Utah’s area technical centers, known as technical colleges, were recently elevated and designated as eight of the state’s 16 postsecondary institutions under the Utah System of Higher Education. This positioning was a solution to years of legislative changes that had created two systems of higher education, leading to legal and learner navigation difficulties that limited the potential of ATCs. This new position for ATCs enhances learner equity by providing well-aligned pathways from ATCs to four-year postsecondary institutions and uniform credit transfer policies. 

Oklahoma has a separate state agency, known as CareerTech, that oversees all aspects of their CTE delivery system, including 29 ATCs known as technology centers. In addition to serving as the fiscal agent for the state’s robust allotment of CTE funding, the agency also provides oversight of program quality. CareerTech partners with other state agencies to ensure that the needs of underserved populations, including the Indian Education Board and Tribal Reintegration Program and the Department of Veteran Affairs are met. 

The Role of ATCs in State Postsecondary Attainment Plans

While most states reported that ATCs were not specifically mentioned in postsecondary attainment plans, the vast majority strongly agreed or agreed that their ATCs were active contributors to postsecondary attainment goals. 

Delaware’s ATCs have a significant role in supporting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal through the administration of the state Registered Apprenticeship program. This program constitutes almost 70 percent of the state’s vocational/technical school district postsecondary and adult population and allows ATCs to be strongly connected and responsive to state workforce needs despite predominantly local oversight. 

Florida’s ATCs, known as technical colleges, are strongly tied to the state’s attainment goals. Because Florida’s ATCs are accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, they must maintain a 60 percent learner completion rate and 70 percent licensure exam pass rate, effectively exceeding the state’s postsecondary attainment goal. Technical colleges are the focal point of a statewide Get There campaign that combines program grants colleges with a public relations campaign to promote postsecondary attainment through a short-term credential of value. 

High-quality and timely state-level data collection is key to accurate measurement and evaluation of the impact of ATCs on postsecondary attainment. In Oklahoma, the state’s technology centers contributed over 19,000 industry-recognized credentials with an 88 percent adult learner program completion rate in FY2018. Florida reported over 9,000 earned industry certifications and over 14,400 full program completers through its technical colleges for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Statewide Systems Alignment

While 27 states reported providing some level of programming at ATCs to postsecondary learners, their responses also indicated that ATCs are often disconnected from the larger postsecondary system. A few states stand out as exemplars in intentional alignment between ATCs and higher education systems. 

Ohio includes its ATCs, known as Ohio technical centers (OTCs), in a statewide articulation and transfer agreement established in 2007 known as Career-Technical Credit Transfer. When combined with Career-Technical Assurance Guides that advise learners through the transfer process, these tools give learners and their credits seamless and equitable pathways from OTCs to other postsecondary institutions. Numerous OTCs have also partnered with regional community colleges to design coursework sequences that span both institutions for improved program quality and alignment. 

Florida’s technical colleges are required to achieve seamless articulation and transfer agreements under state law. Technical and state colleges must create regional career pathway articulation agreements that align a technical college program with a degree program at a state college. Clock hours must also be transferable to the aligned state college degree program. 

Effective alignment practices also extend to the relationship between ATCs and workforce development systems. In Delaware, ATCs are members of a statewide CTE alliance that includes representatives from vocational/technical school districts, the technical and community college system, and other state agencies and workforce partners. Collaborative efforts from this alliance expanded the state’s Registered Apprenticeship programs to include pre-apprenticeship and secondary learners, and more career pathways that span multiple institutions. 

We hope these examples provide valuable insight on potential reforms for states to leverage and elevate ATCs. Visit our microsite to access full state profiles for the five states mentioned in this post. A future post will explore the potential use of ATC in economic recovery plans and highlight innovative partnerships in states. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: Administration Support for Registered Apprenticeships and Reopening School Guidelines

February 19th, 2021

The Administration voiced support for registered apprenticeships this week. Read below to learn more about the details of this announcement, as well as new information on safely reopening schools and an update on the reconciliation process. 

Administration Plans to Expand Registered Apprenticeships

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced steps that would be taken to expand and invest in registered apprenticeship programs. Specifically, President Biden will: 

  • Reaffirm his commitment to expanding registered apprenticeships to reward work, rebuild the middle-class and connect a diverse workforce to family-supporting, living wage jobs.
    President Biden endorsed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, stating that “this bill will ensure these programs draw in a diverse workforce, by supporting industry and equity intermediaries who can help recruit women and people of color.” Advance CTE supports the National Apprenticeship Act and the impact it would have on expanding high-quality apprenticeship programs. 
  • Reinstate the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships.
    It has been requested that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reinstates the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships. The Advisory Committee will be focused on expanding apprenticeships into new industries, such as clean energy, as well as ensuring equitable access to training and jobs. The Advisory Committee will select stakeholders from across the country to develop registered apprenticeship programs that are successful in all communities. 
  • Reverse industry recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), which threaten to undermine registered apprenticeship programs.
    Executive Order 13801 (Expanding Apprenticeships in America), which began the development of IRAPs, was rescinded on the basis that there are too few quality standards. President Biden also asked DOL to provide new rulemaking that would halt approval of new Standards Recognition Entities and end funding for existing ones, which would slow the already planned implementation of IRAPs. 

ED Shares New Information on Reopening Schools

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the release of the COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Sagely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools. This first volume of the ED COVID-19 Handbook supplements the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools Through Phased Mitigation. The handbook includes examples and strategies for educators and staff to use to implement the CDC’s recommendations for safe in-person learning. Information is included on: 

  • Masking practices; 
  • Physical distancing practices; 
  • Cohorting/podding and staffing considerations for physical distancing; 
  • Transportation considerations; 
  • Encouraging families and staff to check for symptoms at home; 
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette; 
  • Safety considerations related to extracurricular activities and athletics programs; and
  • Supporting ongoing engagement with educators, families and the school community. 

The second volume will be released by ED in the coming weeks, and it will provide strategies to respond to the disruption the pandemic has caused for students, educators and parents. This will particularly focus on historically underserved students and communities. 

House Continues Reconciliation Process

The House Committee on the Budget scheduled a markup of the $1.9 trillion reconciliation bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, for Monday, February 22. This legislation includes the 12 reconciliation bills from the House committees. Last week, the House Committee on Education and Labor voted to approve its $357.9 reconciliation portion. This bill appropriates $170.1 billion for education programs- broken down by $169.8 billion for the education emergency relief fund, $128.6 billion for K-12 education and $39.6 billion for higher education. If the bill passes next week’s committee vote it will then go to a full House vote. You can watch the markup at 1:00pm ET on the 22nd here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Resetting Perkins V Performance Levels: A Q&A with the Michigan Department of Education

February 19th, 2021

In 2020 the Michigan Department of Education began the process of revising its State Determined Performance Levels (SDPLs) for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) as a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. This blog post features a discussion with Dr. Jill Kroll, Supervisor for the Grants, Assessments, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, and Dr. Yincheng Ye, Research Consultant, at the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education.

Michigan is one of the first states to make adjustments to its Perkins V SDPLs as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Can you explain what changes you are proposing and why? 

We are proposing to reduce our SDLP for 3S1—Secondary Post-Program Placement from 95 percent to 75 percent for 2020-2021 and to 80 percent for 2021-2022, returning it to the original SDLP of 95 percent in 2022-2023.

Our reasoning for requesting this change is that we expect that student placement in both employment and continuing education will be adversely affected by the pandemic. This is based on a review of employment projections from the University of Michigan, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, and research reports and other reports indicating a reduction in postsecondary enrollment, especially among first-year college students and low-income students.

We also requested and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) for reporting the academic indicators 2S1 and 2S2 because our state did not administer the 11th grade tests in Spring 2020, which will affect the data for students graduating in Spring 2021. We are awaiting the decision on the Spring 2021 assessments. If our state receives a waiver for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the waiver will also apply for Perkins (Our state already had a waiver from reporting the Science indicator 2S3 because we have a new assessment).

We did not feel that we needed a waiver for our indicator of program quality, 5S1—Attained Recognized Postsecondary Credential because our SDPL was already set quite low in our state plan due to the fact that we will be phasing in approval of credentials over several years. This info page for our State Board of Education and for public comment summarizes the proposed changes and includes citations for our evidence.

With conditions changing so rapidly under the Coronavirus pandemic, projecting data over the next few years can be like trying to hit a moving target. How were you able to make these projections work?

We were lucky that the University of Michigan produces solid quarterly economic and employment projections. We participated in several webinars beginning in Spring 2020 on the economic impact of the pandemic so we were aware of the resources available. We felt that it was important to follow procedure and propose reduced SDPLs where appropriate, and take the proposed levels for public comment, even if we had to base the proposed levels on estimated impact.

How are you explaining to the public why Michigan’s SDPLs need to be adjusted? 

We cited the available data. We found, during the initial public comment period for our Perkins V state plan, that stakeholders and the public were very receptive as long as we provided our reasoning for our recommendations, so we anticipate the same will be true for our proposed modifications. Here is what we have listed on the info sheet for public comment:

Both employment and postsecondary enrollment have been negatively influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown in 2020. The Post-program Placement indicator needs to be adjusted to reflect these impacts.

  • In November, the Michigan Economic Outlook 2020-2022 showed the actual unemployment rate as 8.66% in Q3 2020; and forecasted the unemployment rate to drop to 7.85% for Q4 2020, declining to an average of 7.01% in 2021, reaching 5.60% by the end of 2022, but still higher than 2019-year average (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan).
  • Nationally, the data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate for youth was 18.5% in July 2020, down from 26.9% in April but still about twice as high as a year earlier. 
  • An article in Inside Higher Edcites a study by the NSC research center is showing 16% fewer freshman have enrolled this fall compared to last year. The community colleges had an even steeper enrollment drop of 23% among first-year students.
  • Additionally, estimates in Michigan indicate that low-income students may have an 8-10 percentage point drop in college enrollment.

States have to go through the same public comment process to adjust their SDPLs as when they first developed their Perkins V plans. How has this process been similar or different to the original public comment period? 

We are following the same process as we did for our Perkins V state plan, presenting the proposal to stakeholder groups, taking the recommendations out for virtual public hearings, and publicizing the public comment opportunity through an online survey on our website. We also had to present to our State Board of Education prior to the public comment period and will have to present to them again after public comment, including the public comments.

What advice would you give states that are considering whether or not to change their Perkins V SDPLs? 

My advice would be to continue to regularly review the data related to each of the indicators. If it appears that the pandemic (or any other unanticipated circumstance) may affect the state’s ability to meet the SDLPs, develop a timeline for revising the SDLPs and then do it. I think it is important that school districts feel that the SDLPs are fair and reasonable and if they are unattainable due to circumstances outside the control of the districts and/or colleges they lose their value as engines of program improvement. I also think it is important for state offices to do our due diligence to maintain the faith and trust of our educators, districts, colleges and the public.

My other recommendation is to plan, plan, plan. A timeline is critical. As soon as we realized we needed to revise our SDLP we did two things. First, we contacted the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) at USED to verify that we could adjust the SDPL and to get the deadline for submitting the adjustment. Contact information for OCTAE Perkins Regional Coordinators is listed here. Second, we immediately worked out a timeline (this was in August) and quickly realized how long the process would take, with two State Board Meetings required as part of the process. It was only because we worked out the timeline so early that we will be able to make the OCTAE deadline for revising state plans and SDPLs on May 21.

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education released Mitigating Unanticipated Circumstances: Resetting Perkins V State Determined Performance Levels During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a guide to help states revise their Perkins V SDPLs. Dr. Kroll served on the workgroup that helped produce the guide.

Research Review: Postsecondary Education Plans Upended by the Pandemic

February 18th, 2021

Almost every American has a story about plans that were upended because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. For many Americans, that story involves plans for postsecondary education. While some opted to continue their postsecondary plans but take fewer classes either online or at a different school than they were initially enrolled, more than 19 million Americans cancelled their plans altogether and, for the time being, did not enroll at any institution (Education Table 6). Among the nearly 60 million Americans surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau, 30 percent of White Americans cancelled their postsecondary plans while 37 percent of Latinx Americans and 37 percent of Black Americans cancelled their postsecondary plans. This data point continues to emphasize the inequitable impact the coronavirus pandemic has had in America. 

Previous analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) further illustrate the inequitable impact of the coronavirus pandemic on postsecondary enrollment plans. According to Georgetown CEW’s analysis, Americans in lower-income households were more likely to have members of their household cancel postsecondary plans compared to Americans in higher income households, who were more likely to have a member continue with their plans but in a different format (i.e. virtual instruction). 

The analysis also shows a disparate impact for prospective Career Technical Education (CTE) learners, as 54 percent of households with a member planning to pursue a credential from an occupational or technical school cancelled their postsecondary plans compared to 25 percent of households with members planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree or 31 percent with members planning to pursue a graduate degree. 

This data is concerning, as previous research has found that many learners who delay their postsecondary plans take at least five or more years to return to postsecondary education or do not return to complete a postsecondary degree at all. Advance CTE has written previously on the importance of postsecondary credential attainment, which is now a requirement for most job opportunities in most industries. This is especially true for Black and Latinx Americans and Americans with low-income who have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The U.S. Census Bureau identified several reasons why learners cancelled their postsecondary plans (Education Table 7). The top concern was not being able to pay for classes or educational expenses due to a change to income because of the pandemic, followed by a fear of contracting the virus. 

It will be important in the post-coronavirus economic recovery for state and local leaders to develop plans that address learner concerns about continuing their postsecondary education. The decisions these leaders make today will have significant, and potentially lifelong, consequences for learners who delay or cancel their postsecondary enrollment plans. Leaders should maintain communication with these learners and continue to encourage and support them while they contemplate their career paths. 

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

Improving CTE Data Quality: Data Is Collected Consistently and Accurately

February 17th, 2021

In order for data to be trusted, policies and protocols must be in place to ensure consistent collection of reliable, valid and complete career readiness data. States can establish universal definitions and automated processes to collect and interpret data and work with practitioners and the public to foster an understanding of data elements to build trust in their data.

One example is Texas’ automated learner identification system and statewide programs of study. Prior to the establishment of this new system in 2015, each local school district could develop its own programs of study and course sequences. This led to inconsistent data collection, as districts could have different course requirements for the same program of study. Additionally, the state relied on districts to self-report the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) concentrators based on their locally-developed programs of study. Because districts decided which courses counted towards concentration or completion of a program of study, this meant that learners could complete a course in one district that counted towards one program of study, but that same course would not count in another district. 

Texas addressed this massive data challenge by creating new statewide programs of study and a uniform framework for collecting data. To develop these programs of study, several state agencies including the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Workforce Investment Council, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board worked together to leverage labor market information and set benchmarks for in-demand, high-wage, and high-skill occupations. Related occupations that satisfy the criteria were then grouped together and a set of course sequences with accompanying course codes were developed to form a program of study. Because of these changes, every school district now has the same grouping of available aligned courses for each program of study. 

Read the Advance CTE Case Study Collecting Data Consistently and Accurately: Texas’ Automated Learner Identification System and Statewide Programs of Study to learn more about how Texas is improving CTE data quality. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite  

This is the first edition in a series of Advance CTE data quality blogs to accompany Advance CTE’s latest releases, Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool and Data Quality Case Studies. For more resources on data and accountability in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

State of CTE: Career Advisement in Perkins V State Plans

February 16th, 2021

In October 2020, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities,” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their Career Technical Education (CTE) systems. 

Perkins V includes an increased focus on career development and advisement, which is critical for ensuring that each learner can learn about, access and be successful in high-quality CTE programs. Career development and advisement is also a crucial component of states’ equity strategies because they help learners navigate increasingly complex education and workforce development systems on their way to a rewarding career, as well as support the broader social emotional needs of CTE learners.

Perkins V plans indicate that states are undertaking a number of efforts, at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, to provide robust advisement and related supports for learners. Based on Advance CTE’s analysis of state Perkins V plans:

  • Nearly half of all state plans (22 total) prioritize advisement efforts at the secondary level through their comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA) or local application processes, and 39 percent of states (20 total) indicate the same for the postsecondary level. 
  • Approximately 40 percent of states (21 total) indicate in their Perkins V state plans that they are using at least a portion of State Leadership dollars for advisement efforts at the secondary level. However, only 24 percent of states (12 total) do so at the postsecondary level. 

Another trend is the widespread state use of individual career academic plans (ICAPs) at the secondary level. While the degree that Perkins V funds directly support these efforts remains unclear, the fact that many states include references to their ICAPs in their state plans indicates that states are increasingly working toward more clearly connecting ICAPs to their CTE systems. 

State Strategies to Advance Career Advisement

Key Innovations

  • In Maryland, the state education agency is collaborating with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education to recruit and prepare industry professionals to serve as career counselors at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. This initiative aims to increase the overall capacity of the state to provide robust career counseling services to all Maryland learners. 
  • Hawaii identified counseling and advising as a critical need in their CLNA and are designing a continuum of counseling and advising, which includes the development of a statewide framework including operational definitions, standards and expectations, and  guidance materials in fiscal year 2021.

The Work Ahead

Many state plans do not distinguish between initiatives that are specifically driven by Perkins V and other efforts that states may already be undertaking to expand career development and advisement efforts. The work ahead lies in ensuring strong connections between CTE and advisement at the state, district, school and institutional level to collectively support each learner. 

States must also attend to providing robust career development and advisement for learners at all levels. For example, while 90 percent of states are allowing Perkins V funds to be used for middle grades, most are leaving the decision of whether and how to support middle grades to local districts. There is a clear state role in supporting the expansion of middle grade advisement efforts so that learners can be fully aware of the opportunities available to them when exploring career paths and be better prepared for success by the time they enroll in a high school CTE program. 

Additionally, given their role in helping learners transition to the workplace, postsecondary advisement activities are an especially important area that many state Perkins V plans do not address in any way. Ensuring that there are more robust support systems for learners at every level of CTE will help close opportunity gaps and position more learners for success.

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Jill Cook, Executive Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA)

 

Legislative Update: Senate HELP Committee Confirmation Vote and Reconciliation Process

February 12th, 2021

This week, the confirmation process for Dr. Miguel Cardona as U.S. Secretary of Education moved forward. Read below to learn more about next steps, the progression of the budget reconciliation process, apprenticeship reauthorization and an Executive Order on racial equity. 

Senate Committee Confirms Dr. Miguel Cardona

Yesterday, The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) voted 17-5  to confirm Dr. Miguel Cardona as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. The vote followed last week’s HELP Committee hearing on Dr. Cardona’s nomination. Confirmation of Dr. Cardona was supported by both HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC). Next, Dr. Cardona’s nomination will be voted on by the full Senate. 

House Committee Advances its Piece of Relief Bill
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

Early Wednesday morning, the House Education and Labor Committee voted 27-21 to approve a $357.9 billion draft proposal for inclusion in the COVID-19 relief package that’s slated to move through Congress under the Fiscal Year 2021 budget reconciliation process. The process is important because it is a maneuver used to allow the legislation to pass the Senate by a simple majority, instead of the normally required 60-vote threshold.

The bill directly appropriates a total of $170.1 billion for education programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Of the $170.1 billion, $169.8 billion is for the education emergency relief fund. Unlike the two previously enacted bills, there is no separate fund for governors to administer. Below is a further breakdown of funds.

  • $128.6 billion for K-12 education – The bill provides the funding under the same terms as previously for the Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, with 90% of the funding going to local educational associations (LEAs). 
  • $39.6 billion for higher education – The bill provides 99% of the funding ($39.2 billion) for public and private non-profit institutions of higher education, which must use at least 50% of their funding on emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Other education-related provisions
    • $1 billion for Head Start
    • $1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service
    • $23.975 billion for childcare stabilization funding for providers
    • $15.0 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
    • $200 million for Institute of Museum and Library Services  

To learn more, below are links to various documents related to the legislation:

The committee is one of several that has begun considering portions of the COVID-19 relief package within their committee’s jurisdiction. Committees must submit their legislation to the House Budget Committee by February 16. The total package, which is expected to cost $1.9 trillion, is moving under the budget reconciliation instructions included in the FY2021 budget resolution (S Con Res 5) the House and Senate adopted last week.

House Passes National Apprenticeship Act 

At the end of last week the House passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447), which was introduced by the House Committee on Education and Labor leadership at the end of January. The bill would invest over $3.5 billion to expand  registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships over five years and create close to 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities. Additional information about the bill is available, including a fact sheet, section-by-section summary and full bill text. Advance CTE is pleased to support the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. 

Executive Order Advances Racial Equity 

Following President Joe Biden’s inauguration there were numerous Executive Orders signed into law. One of these orders was on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The order directs “that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” The order outlines an interagency process led by the Domestic Policy Council, including: 

  • The Office of Management and Budget identifying methods to assess equity; 
  • Conducting an equity assessment in federal agencies; 
  • Allocating federal resources to advance fairness and opportunity; 
  • Promoting equitable delivery of government benefits and equitable opportunities; 
  • Engaging with members of underserved communities; and
  • Establishing an equitable data working group. 

President Biden also revoked former President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13950 on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which did not allow federal contractors or subcontractors to provide workplace diversity training and programs. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

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