States Pave Way for More Flexible, Integrated Pathways to Graduation

July 21st, 2017

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE reinforces the principle that all learning should be personalized and flexible. Education should meet learners where they’re at, allowing them to pursue pathways and experiences aligned to their career interests. To that end, a number of states this summer have taken steps to expand flexible pathways to graduation by amending graduation requirements and exploring opportunities to enhance career advisement and integrate workforce skills throughout the K-12 curriculum.

In Connecticut, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy signed SB1026, amending graduation requirements set to take effect this year. Those requirements were adopted in 2010 in an effort to raise expectations, but were too prescriptive in terms of which courses learners would need to take to graduate. Specifically, the requirements increased the minimum number of credits needed to graduate from 20 to 25 and specified that students would need to earn eight credits in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), nine credits in humanities, three in career and life skills, and three and a half in other areas, including a senior demonstration project.

The new law makes some changes to the required number of credits but ultimately provides school districts and learners more flexibility on the path to graduation. For one, students will now be required to earn nine, not eight, credits in STEM, but local school boards have the liberty to choose which courses qualify. Additionally, the law gives students the option to receive credit by demonstrating subject matter competency through alternative means, such as work-based learning, Career Technical Education (CTE), virtual learning and more. And instead of the senior demonstration project, learners must complete a mastery-based diploma assessment.

Washington Takes Credit Equivalencies Statewide

Over on the west coast, Washington State’s budget for the 2017-19 biennium includes provisions to accelerate the state’s ongoing credit equivalency work. Under the enacted budget, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is directed to help expand and support the implementation of course equivalency credits statewide. This builds upon an ongoing state effort to streamline graduation pathways and allow students to earn math and science credit by demonstrating competency through technical coursework. Since 2015, the State Board of Education has established course equivalency frameworks for 32 courses, including the Core Plus curriculum, a model developed in partnership with the Boeing company to help students develop knowledge and skills in manufacturing.

Additionally, the budget provides for a competitive grant fund to help school districts implement the course equivalency frameworks, such as by developing rigorous assessments, raising awareness and providing professional development for educators.

Rethinking Education and Workforce Development in Idaho, Michigan and California

Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Idaho, Michigan and California to align K-12 education with workforce development priorities. In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter’s Workforce Development Task Force, launched by executive order in January, released its findings and recommendations from a five-month study into the state’s workforce development needs. Among the task force’s recommendations are strategies to connect K-12 education to career pathways, strengthen career advisement in the state, expand CTE programs and apprenticeships, and incentivize schools to integrate workforce skills into secondary curricula.

In Michigan, the Career Pathways Alliance —  a Governor-led, cross-sector effort — released a series of 16 recommendations to dramatically strengthen career preparation at the secondary level. Proposals range from continuing a statewide communications campaign to enhancing career counseling efforts and introducing more flexibility into the Michigan graduation standards, an effort currently making its way through the state legislature. While many of the Alliance’s recommendations require legislative approval, State Superintendent Brian Whiston issued a directive immediately after the recommendations were released to begin implementing some of the strategies.  

Meanwhile, California is taking steps to develop and integrate computer science standards into K-12 curricula. The state’s budget directs the superintendent to convene a Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel to provide recommendations for implementing K-12 computer science standards. Specifically, the panel’s recommendations, which are due to the superintendent by July 2019, will address professional development for teachers, define principles for meeting the needs of K-12 students, and identify strategies to expand access to computer science education.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Perkins Level-Funded in House Bill, CTE Highlighted in ESSA Discussions

July 19th, 2017

This week, Congress has been busy marking up appropriations bills, the first of many steps toward determining the overall budget and the appropriations for individual programs for the 2018 Fiscal Year (FY18) that begins October 1. In addition, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Advance CTE will also be discussing how states can connect their vision for career readiness with ESSA during a webinar on Thursday, July 20 from 1-2pm ET – please join us!

Perkins Level-Funded in House Bill

On Thursday, July 13, the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations subcommittee marked up their FY18 appropriations bill and it passed along party lines 9-6. This bill will be marked up by the full House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, July 19.

  • The bill proposed funding Perkins at its current level ($1.125 billion, the same as was allocated in FY17) and also proposed the following allocations to education and labor programs:
    • Student Support and Academic Achievement state grants, new grants under Title IV-A of ESSA, receive $500 million. These block grants have a variety of allowable uses, one of which includes Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and activities that meet the requirements of ESSA’s definition for a “well-rounded education.”
    • Pell grants remain funded at their FY17 level. However, the bill includes a $3.3 billion rescission that would lower the reserve amount available in the future.
    • State formula grants provided through Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) would be cut by $85,724,000, or about three percent.
    • Apprenticeship grants funded through the Department of Labor would be zeroed out (they received $95 million in FY17).
  • The House Budget Committee will mark up its FY18 Budget Resolution (which provides the top-line spending number for all 12 appropriations bills) on Wednesday, July 19.

Importantly, there are a number of additional steps and decisions that need to be made before a final agreement on the FY18 appropriations is reached and we’ll provide updates as additional information becomes available.

Benefits of CTE Highlighted in ESSA Hearing

On Tuesday, July 18, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing entitled, “ESSA Implementation: Exploring State and Local Reform Efforts.” The witnesses who spoke during the hearing were Jaqueline Nowicki, Director, K-12 Education at the U.S Government Accountability Office, Gail Pletnick, Superintendent at the Dysart Unified School District in Arizona, Phillip Lovell, Vice President of Policy Development and Government Relations at the Alliance for Excellent Education, and Carey Wright, State Superintendent at the Mississippi Department of Education. Over 20 members of the committee asked questions of the witnesses, many of them focused on the flexibility provided in the law, the role of regulations, the stakeholder engagement process, how states selected accountability indicators and how they are using data about the performance of historically underserved groups, feedback received on submitted ESSA plans, and the role of the federal government in education. Notably, several committee members brought up CTE – they were curious about how it fits into states’ ESSA plans and were eager to share how their state’s successful CTE initiatives benefitted students.  

ESSA Webinar this Thursday, July 20

This spring, 16 states and Washington D.C. submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education describing their strategies to implement ESSA. While more than half of the plans that were submitted during the first window included career readiness accountability indicators, many states missed opportunities to fully leverage ESSA to support a statewide vision for career readiness (read more about how career readiness shows up in the first 17 ESSA plans in our new report here). Please join us Thursday, July 20 from 1-2 p.m. ET to hear from national experts and state leaders about connecting ESSA to your state’s vision for career readiness. Speakers include representatives from Advance CTE, the College & Career Readiness & Success Center, the Connecticut Department of Education and the California Department of Education.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Empowering All Learners

July 13th, 2017

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All learners are empowered to choose a meaningful education and career.

Career exploration and guidance have in the past been considered as services only for CTE students, and particularly for CTE students who are not considering attending a postsecondary institution. Now state leaders are working to change this misconception by promoting career advisement as an integral part of the educational process for all learners.

A comprehensive career advising system must be supported not just by school counselors, but state leaders, local administrators, and employer partners as well.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

  • Develop and implement a career advisement system that allows all learners to be successful in a career pathway of interest;
  • Provide all learners with authentic, real-world experiences linked to a career interest of their choice.

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders focus their attention on career advisement, they have access to multiple resources related to counseling, guided pathways, student supports and career awareness, among others.

Principle in Action

  • Ohio: 2014 Education Reform Bill (HB487)
    • Among many policy changes in HB487, Ohio began requiring districts to provide career exploration CTE courses in grades 7 and 8. Additionally, all districts were required to provide career guidance and advising systems, supported by state-provided implementation models.  
  • Arkansas: College and Career Coaches
    • Launched as a pilot program in 2010 and expanded to 28 counties a few years later, the Arkansas College and Career Coaches program provides career coaching services to students, along with online advising platforms and Career Cluster camps. Between 2009 and 2015, the college-going rate in these districts increased by 22 percentage points. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, career-focused performance metrics such as industry-recognized credential attainment and work-based learning were integrated into the program to better emphasize career planning and preparation.
  • Illinois: STEM Learning Exchanges
    • Launched in 2012, the STEM Learning Exchanges are public-private partnerships that provide connections between employer partners and schools. These partnerships can be leveraged to provide work-based learning opportunities, career exploration and other experiential opportunities.

Relevant Resources

Upcoming Resources

  • State of Career Technical Education: Career Advising and Development
    • In February 2018, Advance CTE will release a report in partnership with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) that examines the national landscape of career advising and development policies. The report will be based on information collected from surveys of state leaders as well as school counselors.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Registration Open for 2017 Fall Meeting

July 13th, 2017

Join us October 16-18, in Baltimore, Maryland, for the 2017 Advance CTE Fall Meeting! Registration is now open for this two-day convening offering intensive, unique professional development to state and local leaders of Career Technical Education (CTE).

This year’s meeting will focus on helping state leaders prepare for reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act with key sessions focusing on how to:

  • Create effective stakeholder engagement
  • Build a strategy to address your CTE teacher shortage
  • Foster alignment across systems to provide smooth transitions for all learners across K-12, two-year and four-year institutions

We also are bringing back our successful workshop format to give participants dedicated time to explore into the most important issues influencing CTE today.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Playbook Offers Upskilling Models to Help Companies, Employees and Communities

July 11th, 2017

UpSkill America, part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program, recently released its Upskilling Playbook. This document highlights promising practices and examples of employer upskilling strategies, and offers guidance on how other employers can implement these practices. Through upskilling, an employer can invest in the long-term competitiveness and success by encouraging existing employees to gain new skills and advance through a company. Research shows that upskilling can help company bottom lines, and increase employee retention, as most employees expect some version of upskilling as a benefit of employment.

The playbook offers several models for companies to adopt, including apprenticeship, pre-employment training, as well as providing support and incentives for completion of certifications and postsecondary degrees. One example cited is Amazon’s Career Choice Program, which will pre-pay 95% of tuition and fees for an employee to earn a certificate or associate degree in a high-demand occupation.

Even companies who already provide tuition assistance may not be fully realizing the potential of upskilling, according to recent research carried about by UpSkill America. Many companies see these benefits merely as recruitment tools when looking for new hires. The playbook argues that companies should imbed upskilling as a cornerstone of company culture.

Report Explores Effective Teacher Professional Development Models

A new report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) explores the question of effective professional development for teachers through a review of 35 methodologically rigorous studies that have demonstrated a positive link between teacher professional development, teaching practices, and student outcomes. Their research found that effective professional development, including professional learning communities, incorporates the following elements:

  • Is content focused
  • Incorporates active learning
  • Supports collaboration
  • Uses models of effective practice
  • Provides coaching and expert support
  • Offers feedback and reflection
  • Is of sustained duration

Unfortunately, realities within institutions can hinder effective professional development, including insufficient resources (in both time and funding), as well as a poor school climate. LPI recommends evaluating the use and time of school schedules to create more opportunities for professional learning, as well as regularly conducting needs assessments and gathering feedback from educators to determine the areas of highest need for professional learning.

Odds and Ends

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) has been creating and compiling resources related to foster, juvenile justice and crossover youth. Included in those resources are several recorded webinars detailing promising practices in providing career pathways for systems-involved youth. While there are many challenges and barriers to success for these youth and the organizations devoted to helping them, several institutions have uncovered some promising strategies worth exploring further.

The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE) recently released a report about the history and progress of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs. While the report covers many topics, there is an entire section devoted to gender disparities Career Technical Education (CTE). The report finds that though progress has been made in CTE, large gaps remain, and there is certainly more work to be done.

Two publications have recently ranked institutions that effectively fight the nation’s skills gap. The first, from The New York Times, describes seven postsecondary institutions that take innovative approaches to supporting students through completion. The second, from Forbes, ranks two-year institutions based on the same “return on investment” focus of their rankings of four-year institutions.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

What a 15 Percent Cut to Perkins Really Means

July 10th, 2017

Advance CTE asked its members and the readership of its Legislative Updates newsletter (sign up to receive it by checking “Advocacy and Federal Policy” here) what a 15 percent cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant (as proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget) would mean for them. Career Technical Education (CTE) advocates, students and educators from across the country wrote to us to let us know how devastating these cuts would be to programs across the country. Unsurprisingly, we heard that these cuts would severely impact every stakeholder involved in a successful CTE system – from students, to teachers, to communities – and their ability to address important issues – from student access to programs, to their ability to develop in-demand skills, to the health of the U.S. economy.

We plan to share these stories with the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees – the key decision makers about Perkins funding. Compelling, real-world stories have great impact on legislators. They pull on their heart strings and highlight the harsh reality that these cuts will result in a loss of opportunities for students and employers.

How Cuts Hurt Learners

“Creating my two games taught me things about computer science and coding that I never knew existed. The computer science classes that I’ve taken have given me a greater appreciation for technology and were so much fun in the process. High school wouldn’t be the same without them.” David, CTE Student in California

“Over the past five years, we have seen an increase in the number of students interested in taking a foundations CTE course rise from 358 to 802.  In a school with around 1200 students, this is a significant increase.  No longer is CTE the place where students go to fill their schedule.  Students interested in engineering, computer science, pharmacy, etc are requesting to take our courses so that they can become better prepared for their future.” Kyle, CTE Professional in Alabama

“Because these funds are used in programs across the schools, it is accurate to say every one of the 1,600+ students in our schools has been supported by instructional materials purchased with Perkins funds.” – Jack, CTE Professional in California

“Next year…there will be three new CTE programs–Engineering, Biomedical, and Computer Science…With the 15 percent cut to [the] Perkins Basic State Grant…these pathways may be in jeopardy.” Linda, CTE Professional in Massachusetts

“While [Perkins funds are] a relatively small percentage of our budget, the funds support critical services that increase students’ likelihood of earning their diploma and a credential.” – Tony, CTE Professional in Ohio

How Cuts Affect Instructors

“We rely on these funds to partially offset the costs of employing the unsung heroes of secondary Career and Technical Education programs – our industry-experienced paraprofessionals.” – Jason, CTE Professional in Michigan

How Cuts Impact Communities

“It’s a local and national economic development issue that strengthens all communities. Critical and long standing Perkins funding for CTE programs should be fully restored and enhanced.” – Aiddy, CTE Professional in Iowa

“We have finally acknowledged the value of CTE and the resources it provides to our communities and youth.  Let’s not, again, go down the path of neglecting the core of our workforce.” – Lex, CTE Professional in California

How Cuts Harm Our Economy

“The lack of these funds would impair the ability of students to find employment in the current job market and affect industries’ ability to fill skilled positions.” – Connie, CTE Professional in Kansas

“[CTE] is the solution to filling a substantial portion of the workforce demand not only in Oklahoma, but nationally. As our nation faces the difficulty of meeting the needs of a skilled workforce, we should be investing in Perkins funding, not cutting resources which are core to educational, and workforce advancements.”  Marcie, CTE Professional in Oklahoma

“The Administration’s plan to cut Perkins funding for Career and Technical Education, will not only hurt career centers, high schools and  adult training centers it will be absolutely devastating  to our overall economic growth. The current shortage of skilled workers is already an issue; this would only intensify the shortage of skilled workers and hurt our nation’s youth and adults who are in desperate need of technical training… We as a country would be making a grave mistake to continue to cut Perkins funding.” – Scott, CTE Professional in Ohio

What can you do?  

Connect with your local press: Tell them about what CTE is doing in your state and how these cuts would impact your state. Here is a great example from Oklahoma.
Contact your members of Congress: Let them know that you oppose these proposed cuts by calling them via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or contacting them through the CTE Action Center, brought to you by our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

This Week in CTE

July 7th, 2017

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

This week, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group released a report examining where and how career readiness shows up in the first 17 Every Student Succeeds Act state plans. Find out how states did.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

For the first time, Forbes released the top 30 two-year trade schools ranked according to their return on investment. Here’s the list.

DON’T FORGET

Harbor Freight Teaching Prize applications are open now! Nominate a CTE teacher, or apply by July 24. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence recognizes outstanding skilled trades programs at public high schools in the United States.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

How Career Readiness Fared in the First ESSA State Plans

July 6th, 2017

On December 10, 2015, the day he signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, President Barack Obama praised the bill, saying “I’m proud to sign a law that’s going to make sure that every student is prepared to succeed in the 21st century.” ESSA did provide a much-needed upgrade to the nation’s largest K-12 education program, adopting measures to ensure all learners would be prepared for success. But now that the first 16 states and D.C. have submitted their ESSA plans for review, are they taking full advantage of the opportunities to prepare students for life after high school?

Today Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group released a new brief examining where and how career readiness shows up in the first 17 ESSA plans. The brief finds that, while more than half plan to adopt measures of career readiness in their accountability systems, many states missed an opportunity to fully leverage ESSA to advance a statewide vision of career readiness.

The primary area where career readiness shows up in round 1 ESSA plans is in state accountability systems. Under ESSA, state leaders have broad flexibility to identify the appropriate metrics and methodology to hold schools accountable for student success. Specifically, ESSA’s fifth indicator, a state-selected measure of “school quality or student success,” enables states to innovate in selecting a measure that best values their priorities. Among other measures, states were encouraged to examine advanced coursework and postsecondary success.

In total, 11 out of the first 17 submitted plans identified at least one measure of career readiness in their accountability systems. In Nevada, for example, the state plans to measure the number of students completing postsecondary pathway options such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or industry-aligned and state board-approved credentials. North Dakota, on the other hand, aims to track the number of students graduating “choice-ready,” or prepared for success in college, military or the workforce. The state’s career ready pathway identifies students who complete certain career preparation activities — including work-based learning, Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway completion and industry credential attainment — on top of core academic achievements.

Yet, when it came to other areas of the law, many states missed the opportunity to further a statewide vision for career readiness. Despite what they said in their goals and accountability systems, many state plans were light on details about how they would support local districts to advance career readiness. Only five states identified state-level activities under Title IV, Part A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants) to support career readiness, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and/or dual enrollment. These included Connecticut, which plans to provide technical assistance to districts building new CTE pathways and increasing work-based learning opportunities, and Nevada, which plans to braid funding across Title programs to help districts engage families and facilitate a deeper understanding of a well-rounded education, including enrollment in advanced coursework such as CTE. (Most states listed CTE and other strategies as a state support for well-rounded education, but fell short of describing how ESSA would be used to expand these strategies).

Needless to stay, there is still time to promote career readiness through implementation. In the spirit of flexibility, the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements for ESSA plan submissions were incredibly tolerant, allowing states to describe in loose terms how they planned to implement the law. While state plans were light on details, supporting career preparation was a major theme surfaced through many states’ stakeholder engagement. It is possible that state leaders will yet be responsive to this feedback and find ways to strengthen career readiness beyond accountability.

For the 34 states planning to submit their plans in September, now is the time to ensure career readiness is prioritized. ESSA was designed to create space and flexibility for states to advance their own needs and priorities. But if it is truly going to prepare all students for success in the 21st century, states must maximize every opportunity to connect ESSA to their statewide vision for career readiness.

For more, join Advance CTE on July 20 for a webinar unpacking trends from the brief and highlighting strategies to leverage ESSA in support of career readiness. The webinar, titled Connecting ESSA to Your State’s Vision for Career Readiness, will take place from 1-2pm ET. Register here.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

New Advance CTE Resources, Increased Focus on Postsecondary

June 30th, 2017

Advance CTE has new resources out on H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (which would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins)) and will release a report on states’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans next week. While Congress and the Administration are paying attention to states’ ESSA plans, they’re also turning to issues in postsecondary education. More below on new Advance CTE resources, a webinar we’re hosting on July 20, Pell grants and legislative proposals to address postsecondary education.

H.R. 2353 Resources Now Available 

As we reported, H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, overwhelmingly passed the House last week. You can find our summary of the bill here and the letter we sent in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to the House here, which commends the Committee for their work on the bill but also reiterates our concerns about how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

ESSA Webinar on Career Readiness

This spring, sixteen states and Washington D.C. submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education describing their strategies to implement ESSA. A number of organizations have released their analyses of ESSA state plans (e.g., Bellwether Education Partners and the Alliance for Excellent Education) and Advance CTE will release our analysis next week, which will focus specifically on how the plans address career readiness. Please join us Thursday, July 20 from 1-2 p.m. ET to hear from national experts and state leaders about connecting ESSA to your state’s vision for career readiness.

Year-Round Pell Grants Take Effect July 1 

As we reported in May, Congress approved a Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Omnibus package that included the reinstatement of year-round Pell grants. On June 19, Secretary DeVos officially announced that the change would take effect on July 1, 2017, allowing students “to receive up to 150 percent of the student’s Federal Pell Grant Scheduled Award beginning with the 2017-2018 award year.” Find the press release from the U.S. Department of Education here and the “Dear Colleague” Letter issued here.

In Case You Missed It: Postsecondary Legislation Introduced in the House

On June 8, members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced two pieces of legislation as part of the “Aim Higher” initiative. The initiative, which is being led by House Democrats, has a goal of making “quality higher education accessible and affordable to empower America’s working families to succeed in our economy” (find more in the press release here).
The Jumpstart on College Act, sponsored by Rep. Espaillat (D-NY) would create competitive grants that would be awarded to “support dual enrollment and early college high schools that primarily serve low-income students” and “colleges and universities to partner with school districts to support the development of these programs.” Find additional details in the summary here.
The Advancing Competency-Based Education Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Polis (D-CO) would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) “to allow for the voluntary implementation of competency-based education demonstration projects at institutions of higher education,” which would be selected by the Secretary of Education through an application process. The bill would also create “a council to study the ongoing innovation and growth of competency-based education.” Find additional details in the summary here.
Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Committing to Program Quality

June 29th, 2017

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence

This first principle of Putting Learner Success First is a topic that has been an area of focus for many states for a while now. Many states and districts have worked to improve program quality, though the country still lacks an agreed-upon, detailed definition of high-quality for all programs of study. More work is needed from all stakeholders to ensure that all learners have access to excellent programs, no matter their zip code.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

  • Develop and implement rigorous review and approval processes and policies to ensure only high-quality programs of study exist
  • Align funding to high-quality programs of study
  • Develop and implement sustainable processes for employers to inform, validate and participate in the implementation of programs of study

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders put their commitment to quality into action, they have access to multiple resources related to program approval, program evaluation and academic and CTE standards integration.

Principle in Action

  • South Carolina: Education and Economic Development Act
    • South Carolina’s Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), passed in 2005, structures high school CTE programs to ensure effective alignment with Career Clusters. The bill requires every high school student to declare a ‘major’ aligned with a Career Cluster and requires that every district offers a standards-based academic curriculum organized around Career Clusters to provide students with choices.
  • Tennessee: Standards Revision Process
    • Beginning in 2012, Tennessee overhauled the state’s CTE program standards, bringing them into alignment with the newly adopted K-12 standards. This overhaul embedded both CTE and academic standards within full and rigorous programs of study. The process took place over three multi-step phases.
  • Nebraska: ReVISION
    • Nebraska’s reVISION grant process promotes excellence in CTE programs by offering schools the opportunity to evaluate their career preparation and career guidance systems. Schools also receive state support to improve those systems in a way that’s tailored to each school’s greatest areas of need.

Relevant Resources

  • Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High-quality Career Pathways
    • This report from Advance CTE examines successes in Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware to demonstrate how states can use the career pathways approval process to raise the level of quality across the board. The report examines common approaches and unpacks key policy levers available to states.
  • Excellence in Action Award Winners 2014-2017
    • Since 2014, Advance CTE has been recognizing superior programs of study across the nation in all 16 Career Clusters. Award winning programs of study show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success.
  • Defining High-quality CTE: Quality CTE Program of Study Framework, Version 4.0 (Beta)
    • This resource from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) builds upon the organization’s previous work defining high-quality CTE to provide a research-based blueprint for designing and implementing strong programs of study. The framework can be applied to a single, local CTE program of study spanning secondary and postsecondary education and can be used for self-evaluation, program improvement and catalyzing partnerships.

Upcoming Resource

  • Program Approval and Evaluation Benchmark Tool
    • Launching later this year, this benchmark tool will describe and define the non-negotiable elements of an effective policy for approving and evaluating programs of study.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

 

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