This Week in CTE

May 7th, 2021

Developed with input from nearly 200 national, state and local education and workforce development leaders and supported by 40 national organizations, Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education lays out five inter-connected and equally critical principles.

Only through shared commitment and shared ownership among leaders and practitioners at all levels can we realize the possibility and aspiration of a new career preparation ecosystem that provides each learner with limitless opportunity. The This Week in CTE blog series will highlight state and local examples where CTE Without Limits has been made actionable. If you would like to highlight how your CTE program creates limitless opportunities for each learner in this blog series, please email Brittany Cannady,


This Week in CTE: May 3-7, 2021

Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem 

CTE programming in Phenix City, Alabama is anchored by credentials of value and includes opportunities for work-based learning leading to careers defined by high-skill, high-wage and in-demand. Congratulations Kiara and all other learners who are now certified! 


Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem

Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center’s (Ohio) SkillsUSA members will advance to the national competition this year with the help of local industry leaders! CTSO members were able to use skills gained from on-the-job training to compete, virtually, on the state level in leadership and skills-building activities. Through industry collaboration, learners were able to utilize industry machinery in their respective events.

“PRCTC, overall, was well represented by some amazing competitors and delegates,” said Jennifer Widdig, one of Pickaway Ross’ SKillsUSA advisors. “I loved seeing the excitement in the students and how proud they were to show off their skills and trades.”

Read more in this blog entry published on the Pickaway-Ross district blog. 


Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

As seen in CTE Without Limits, stakeholders across the CTE community must intentionally develop processes to allow labor market information (LMI) to reach learners in ways that are transparent, reliable and filled with real-time information on career opportunities, earnings, and how their educational decisions will impact their access to support services.

This week Advance CTE, in partnership with Education Strategy Group through JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s New Skills ready network, released Practical Guidance for Aligning Career Pathways to Labor Market Data in the Time of COVID-19. This policy brief is the first in a series designed to help build better pathways and offers promising practices for enhancing the career preparation ecosystem locally and state-wide by leveraging LMI to align programs to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations. 

More LMI resources can be found in the Learning that Works Resource Center


Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable

This week we celebrated National Skilled Trades Day! 

Each learner can access CTE without borders

Advance CTE released a new policy brief that provides recommendations for CTE leaders on how to address short-and long-term priorities with the new funding authorized through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Now, there is an opportunity for states to put in place transformative and bold solutions to support each learner in the career preparation ecosystem without limitations. State CTE leaders have a strong foundation to build upon, having recently done the hard work of crafting their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans. These new federal investments present a one-time opportunity to accelerate change, incubate innovation, disrupt systems that perpetuate inequities, and redesign with intention. States must strategically approach how to operationalize these funds to create a career preparation ecosystem that ensures each learner can access limitless opportunity.

Read the full resource and other COVID-19 state resources here.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

Legislative Update: Hearing on Education Budget and Updates from Departments of Education and Labor

May 7th, 2021

This week, the U.S. Secretary of Education testified to a House committee about the discretionary budget request. Read below to learn more about how Career Technical Education (CTE) came up during this hearing, as well as new resources, new grant opportunities, the budget hearing with the U.S. Secretary of Labor and information on the stimulus emergency connectivity funds. 

House Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Education Budget

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified at a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget request from the Biden Administration. This was in reference to the skinny FY22 discretionary budget request that the White House shared in April, but the hearing also made mention of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. A full budget request is expected in the coming weeks. 

In his opening statement, Secretary Cardona named the importance of CTE, as well as plans to address the full education continuum from early childhood to postsecondary education. Regarding the postsecondary level, Secretary Cardona emphasized the need to make higher education affordable and accessible for each student. He also highlighted investments in Pell Grants, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), as well as programs such as TRIO and GEAR UP. 

Throughout the hearing, Secretary Cardona reiterated that the education system needs to evolve to meet the needs of learners, and not the other way around. Representative Josh Harder (D-CA) used his time to speak about the impact of CTE programs, the need to expand Pell Grant eligibility and funding streams for high-quality short term programs and the importance of early exposure CTE and workplace skills. In response, Secretary Cardona agreed with the value of CTE and the need to give learners options early on, as well as recognizing that learning also happens outside of a classroom. He also said that he is interested in getting more perspective on funding for short-term programs. 

Other common themes of the hearing were reopening schools, social and emotional learning, civics education, charter schools, teacher shortages and meeting the needs of communities who are traditionally underserved.

ED Launches Best Practices Clearinghouse for Reopening Schools and Campuses

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse (the Clearinghouse). This website highlights the innovative work being done across the country to safely reopen K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions and early childhood centers. It also provides examples of how educational institutions can safely reopen. Through the Clearinghouse, “ED aims to collect and disseminate innovative, evidence-based, or solutions-oriented approaches to school reopening and make this information available to elementary and secondary schools, early childhood centers, and postsecondary institutions across the country so they can learn from each other.” The Clearinghouse covers three topic areas: safe and healthy environments; supports for students and supports for the well-being and professional development of teachers, faculty and staff. 

DOL Announces New Funding for Women in Registered Apprenticeships

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new $3.5 million funding opportunity- the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grant program. Up to 10  grants will go to community-based organizations with the purpose of increasing and retaining the number of women in high quality Registered Apprenticeship Programs and nontraditional occupations in industries such as manufacturing, infrastructure, cybersecurity and healthcare. This grant is administered by the DOL Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration. Applications can be submitted here through June 4, 2021. 

Additional information on the WANTO grant program can be found here and frequently asked questions here.  

House Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Labor Budget

Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here.

On April 28, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh testified at a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education hearing focused on the Administration’s FY22 Budget Request for the Department of Labor. Workforce Development and job training programs were a large topic of discussion given the backdrop of the jobs crisis caused by the pandemic. In his opening statement Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) stated, “I think there’s a strong bipartisan commitment (for job training) in this subcommittee. We see it not only in this budget, but the education budget on everything from Job Corps to, again, the apprenticeship program to career tech kinds of programs where we managed to work together.”

Secretary Walsh went into the need for Congress to work with the Administration on passing the American Jobs Plan. He then went into detail on the proposed benefits of the plan, including funding for sector-based training programs focused on growing, high-demand sectors, such as clean energy, manufacturing and caregiving, and helping workers of all kinds to find good-quality jobs in an ever-changing economy. During the questioning part of the hearing, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) discussed the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant Program, and asked Secretary Walsh “How will the Department of Labor leverage this program, bring it to scale to address the economic effects of the pandemic to support community colleges, dislocated workers, and their families?” He replied, “That question is key to the success in the rebound of America right now. I think we have to work closely with community colleges.” 

FCC Announces Information on Stimulus Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a draft Report and Order that outlines the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). ARP included this funding to be used through the E-rate program through September 2030 for schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity and technological devices. An in depth fact sheet and the draft Report and Order can be found here and a Public Notice can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Improving CTE Data Quality: Information is Relevant, Timely and Disaggregated

May 6th, 2021

Career Technical Education (CTE) stakeholders — including families, employers and local practitioners at the secondary and postsecondary levels — need access to relevant and timely data to make informed decisions when it matters. For all the data CTE leaders collect, processing, cleaning and sharing relevant information can take a year or more, making it far less useful for practitioners on the ground. State leaders should ensure that information is relevant, timely and disaggregated so that stakeholders can understand and act on the data. This requires states to provide a comprehensive view of their career readiness system; differentiate reports by user; make data available when it matters; and disaggregate data by population, program and institution.

To improve the relevance and timeliness of CTE data, North Dakota created a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) that feeds data into public and internal data dashboards daily basis through PowerSchool, a data management system that all public school districts use to collect data on attendance, grades and other metrics. North Dakota’s postsecondary institutions also upload their data to the state’s SLDS, allowing for linkages between the K-12 and postsecondary sectors. These data dashboards provide stakeholders with timely information that they can use to make important education, career and policy decisions. 

The SLDS currently includes data on K-12 student demographics, attendance and enrollment, assessment performance, CTE participation, graduation and dropout rates, historical grades, and college and career readiness. The SLDS also includes postsecondary data on student enrollment, courses, performance, demographics and graduation rates. Workforce data such as wage and employment information are fed into the SLDS by Job Service North Dakota, the state’s workforce development agency. North Dakota’s SLDS also collects data on CTE participation, concentration and completion rates along with credential attainment. Soon, the SLDS will include data on work-based learning completion.

Through a public dashboard tool called Insights, policymakers, agencies, researchers and the general public can access data on preparation and outcomes for education and workforce training programs and use that data to make informed decisions. The reports generated on Insights are user friendly and easily accessible to the general public. Examples of reports and data that users can explore on Insights include the demand for a particular occupation, the average salary of that occupation, the CTE program of study that could lead to a career in that occupation, and which institutions offer that program.

The SLDS also provides data to the North Dakota Education Portal, a set of dashboards available to public school teachers and administrators that provide information on metrics such as predicted learner outcomes, high school and college readiness and historical learner data. The North Dakota Department of Education and its public postsecondary institutions have access to internal data on the North Dakota Education Portal, with levels of access differentiated by user. Additionally, the portal provides learners and families direct services such as access to transcripts and the ability to send transcripts to any postsecondary institution in the state or participating in the National Student Clearinghouse, thereby making applying to those institutions easier. High school students are also able to apply to North Dakota postsecondary institutions for dual credit enrollment and complete some first-year applications online through the student portal.

North Dakota’s SLDS and data dashboards equip stakeholders, including local CTE practitioners, to make data-informed decisions when it matters by providing data in a way that is timely, relevant and actionable.

Read the Advance CTE Case Study North Dakota: Data Dashboards to learn more about how North Dakota’s data dashboards have helped to foster a data- and information-rich culture throughout the state. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite

This is the fifth 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

Aligning Career Pathways using Labor Market Information

May 4th, 2021

A career pathway is a progressive sequence of at least three courses that is aligned to high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations; spans secondary and postsecondary; reinforces academic learning with related work-based learning experiences; and embeds opportunities for students to earn both related postsecondary credit in a degree-granting program and industry-recognized credentials. 

An important factor in ensuring the alignment of high-quality career pathways is the use of labor market information (LMI). Due to the pandemic, we have witnessed a shift in many industries, which will undoubtedly affect the long-term outlook of the future of work. Now more than ever, it is imperative for state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to make data-driven decisions, consulting with industry partners to ensure each learner navigating through the career preparation ecosystem can succeed. 

Many states have shared their best practices for gathering and using LMI to build better pathways statewide in these times of uncertainty. 

In Indianapolis, Indiana, EmployIndy (a local workforce intermediary) provides labor market studies and reports on key sectors to increase access to and success in career pathways for local county residents, while supporting local employers’ talent needs. Based on stakeholder feedback to make the labor market data actionable, EmployIndy invested in its internal capacity to collect LMI and conduct its own research to better communicate what the LMI says with regards to the changes in the jobs themselves and the competencies demanded within those jobs. The goal is that both education and industry partners are better prepared to leverage the data to support learners, career pathways development, hiring and training.

Kentucky has partnered with multiple state agencies including the Kentucky Center for Statistics, or KYSTATS, to develop the state’s longitudinal data system. Through this ongoing effort, Kentucky was able to be responsive to the pandemic and future of work by using its one-stop shop for data sources and processes in place to determine if changes are needed to career pathways and what those changes should be. State leaders are now consulting the labor market data on a monthly basis as shifts in industries continue and will stay the course of making data-driven decisions on supporting and funding only those career pathways identified as aligned to good careers.

South Carolina has been reviewing its LMI and enrollment data with an intentional focus on ensuring equitable outcomes for each learner. As a result of data analysis, the state has scaled its credential offerings to build better pathways.

State and local CTE leaders must also remain committed to cross-system collaboration and engaging the industry sector to enhance LMI. 

The South Carolina Office of Career and Technical Education was flexible and nimble to the pandemic and decided to re-engage the state’s 12 regions to see if the pandemic was necessitating any revisions to the previously completed Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNAs). South Carolina hired a new business and industry liaison to help facilitate those discussions. A number of regions decided on revamping their career pathways and supports based on updated data and input from their industry and workforce partners.

Kentucky has multiple venues for incorporating the knowledge and expertise of industry partners into decisionmaking on career pathways. The Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board provides regular input and updates and the state established Business and Education Alignment Teams meet annually. These teams span across 11 industry areas. 

Today, Advance CTE released Practical Guidance for Aligning Career Pathways to Labor Market Data in the Time of COVID-19, the first in a series to build better pathways, that offers more promising practices for designing strong state and local practices for enhancing the career preparation ecosystem by leveraging LMI to align programs to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations. View the brief here in the Learning that Works Resource Center. 

This resource is part of Advance CTE’s dedicated efforts to build high-quality, equitable career pathways through the New Skills ready network in partnership with JP Morgan Chase and Education Strategy Group.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

Staff Reflections from 2021 Spring Meeting Part 4: Record-Breaking Meeting Attendance and Future Events

May 3rd, 2021

The final post of our Spring Meeting staff reflections shares data on the impact of Advance CTE’s 2021 Spring Meeting, and offers a preview of future supports and events. If you are not already receiving email updates from Advance CTE, subscribe to our CTEWorks newsletter.

Advance CTE is so pleased by the 327 Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders from all 50 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands who joined us for our first ever virtual Spring Meeting. After a year of virtual meetings and working hard to  serve learners with high-quality and equitable CTE in the face of a global pandemic, we were so thankful to provide members of the Advance CTE community with the opportunity to reconnect, reset and reimagine CTE.

Over two half-days and with the support of 16 generous sponsors, we held 19 breakout sessions, five plenary sessions, 28 Problems of Practice roundtables and eight role alike speed networking discussions. More than 54 experts presented on top-of-mind CTE topics such as the Future of Work, using data to advance equity, virtual work-based learning, The National Career Clusters© Framework and more. 

The virtual meeting format allowed for a record number of participants for an Advance CTE Spring Meeting, and, building on a year’s worth of virtual meeting best practices, we provided multiple ways for attendees to connect with one another and contribute to the conversations, from chat boxes to being on video to the opportunity to just listen to the presentations.

We look forward to building on the energy out of the Spring Meeting and continuing to provide spaces for CTE leaders to connect this summer on our Lunch & Learn series exploring the new vision for CTE, Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, webinars and, for the first time, role-alike community spaces! 

Thanks to all who joined and supported the Spring Meeting, and we’ll see you again soon! Save the date for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting, to be held virtually on October 27 and 28. 

Sara Gassman, Senior Associate Member Engagement and Professional Learning 

Staff Reflections from 2021 Spring Meeting Part 3: Celebrations and Challenges in Advancing Equity in CTE

April 30th, 2021

This post offers reflections from Advance CTE staff on key equity themes from our 2021 Spring Meeting. Visit Advance CTE’s Resource Center for additional resources on equity and access, career advisement and data and accountability. 

Using Data to Identify and Close Opportunity Gaps in Career Technical Education (CTE) Advance Equity in CTE

This year marked my fourth Advance CTE Spring Meeting, but it was not a typical spring meeting by any means. The backdrop of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic was present throughout, not just in the technology and virtual set up, but also in the conversations and session topics. The past year has thrown into stark relief the inequities across race, ethnicity, gender identity and socioeconomic status that have long been present in CTE. From the plenary panels down to breakout sessions and networking discussions, the question on top of everyone’s mind was how can we improve equity in CTE during and beyond the pandemic?

I had the pleasure of partnering with Jeralyn Jargo and Robb Lowe from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system office on a presentation about data and equity in CTE. Last year, Advance CTE worked with Minnesota to develop and conduct a multi-part workshop with consortium leaders — who represent both secondary and postsecondary CTE — to identify and act on opportunity gaps in their data. We worked with consortium leaders to develop data dashboards, conduct a root cause analysis, and review and select evidence-based strategies for action. As a result of the workshops, one consortium is now working on a pilot program to recruit Black men into the teaching profession, targeting a critical shortage of diverse educators. Later this year, Advance CTE plans to roll out the workshop training to its broader membership to help CTE leaders understand how to identify and address opportunity gaps in their own data.

Austin Estes, Data and Research Manager


Brave Dialogues for Equity in CTE 

As someone driven by equity in education, I was very excited that my first Advance CTE Spring Meeting was focused on equity in CTE. I had the opportunity to lead a workshop on facilitating brave dialogues in CTE. Brave dialogues encourage participants to be courageous and show vulnerability to engage in conversations focused on race and racism. These conversations are always important, but even more so today considering that issues related to systemic racism have dominated the national discourse over the past year. Within CTE, state leaders are anxious to address opportunity gaps that have long persisted in CTE along with tackling stigmas associated with CTE given its history of tracking marginalized learner groups into low-quality vocational programs. To address opportunity gaps and CTE stigmas, state leaders need to create the space for brave dialogues.

In the equity workshop, state CTE leaders shared challenges to engaging in brave dialogues within their state. Some common challenges include a hesitancy to acknowledge or confront CTE’s history with systemic racism or not having the language or resources to confidently speak about the challenges facing historically marginalized learners. In other cases, leaders are engaging in these conversations but are unsure of what actions to take in order to address equity related challenges. To support state CTE leaders, Advance CTE is developing an equity discussion guide to support these conversations. Built around a critical self-reflection framework, the guide supports state CTE leaders in helping their staff and local practitioners in building awareness of their own values, assumptions and biases; knowledge of how learner identities can impact their experience in CTE programs; and skills to apply their awareness and knowledge into equitable policy and practice. The equity discussion guide, due to be released in early summer 2021, will be accompanied by training workshops to support state CTE leaders in facilitating these brave dialogues. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate


Leading with an equity lens 

This year was my first Advance CTE Spring Meeting and first ever virtual conference experience. This past year highlighted the inequities that continue to exist in CTE, education and workforce development and has left states with many questions about how to best increase equity in their CTE programs. 

Many of the sessions at Spring Meeting had an emphasis on the importance of increasing equity in CTE. My session, Leading with an equity lens, specifically went into depth about this topic and how to apply an equity lens so that all state CTE decisions, policies and practices attend to the individualized needs of learners and tackle systemic and institutional barriers to success. 

This session featured Jacque Treaster, Director of Dual Enrollment and Career & Technical Education, Montana University System and Jennell Ives, Director of Secondary Postsecondary Transitions, Oregon Department of Education who led participants through their work to improve CTE data systems and examine state policies and practices to ensure learners of all ages, races, genders and abilities are positioned for lifelong success.

When asked to share their equity successes, states mentioned creating a diversity, equity & inclusion group at the state level to offer professional development to state department of education employees and schools; emphasizing equity in legislation as a driver while also addressing it in the CLNA applications; and using special populations data to drive program and funding decisions. 

Despite these promising strategies, many equity challenges still remain for states, including challenges with hiring personnel representative of the learner population, how to best use data in decision-making and how to get others on board with seeing equity as an important state issue. 

Next, Jacque spoke about Montana’s work with their data to try and break down where their American Indian, rural, and economically disadvantaged learners are taking postsecondary courses and which program areas they are most likely to enroll in to ensure these populations are entering high-wage, high-skill career pathways. They are hoping that by continuing to take a closer look at the data, they will be in a better position to figure out where to pool more resources for those students.

Jennell then presented on Oregon’s equity work and how the support from the Governor and other top agencies in the state to focus on antiracism in education has encouraged a focus on identifying inequities in their data and stakeholder feedback, collaborating directly with communities and learners impacted directly by CTE decisions and creating an internal review process to check their work for an equity and antiracism lens.

Although there is still much work to be done, hearing from these speakers about their state’s approaches to equity left the audience with tangible ideas to further incorporate equity into their own work and priorities.

Christina Koch, Policy Associate


Advancing Equity Through Research Initiatives

In my first year as an Advance CTE staff member, I was excited to hear from a wide range of experts and panelists in our first virtual spring meeting. Despite the modified format, each person celebrated the successes our community has achieved this past year and highlighted obstacles and barriers that we have acknowledged and worked through. Through each of the panels and presentations, I heard a common theme of ensuring equitable access and participation from minoritized and marginalized populations. 

One presentation I moderated was a conversation with state and local leaders based on Advance CTE research regarding the importance of area technical centers (ATCs)- CTE-focused, non-degree granting institutions that often bridge the gap between secondary and other postsecondary institutions. Our research illustrated the role that ATCs could play, especially in post-secondary attainment, upskilling and reskilling as largely open-access, low-cost program options. A significant portion of the conversation focused on the unique opportunity these institutions have of increasing access to CTE programming for all learners. Both speakers highlighted how their institutions work to improve outcomes for minoritized groups and celebrate the diverse perspectives that come with recruitment and retention of a variety of populations.

Despite the research focus on equity for these institutions, and on equity in other sessions, it was also clear there is still work to be done. Each panelist I heard speak on equity offered challenges about centering equity as a key component of our work to ensure that each learner, regardless of race or background, can access CTE. For area technical centers, one particular challenge highlighted by speakers was the difficulty in recruitment and retention practices for marginalized groups. In future research initiatives, it is vital that we examine our data with an equity lens, asking probing questions about what it means for practices, policy, and programs to be equitable. We also plan to specifically feature best practices that elevate equity as a core component. While these steps will work towards our goal of highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion in each of our research initiatives, it is vital we continue to have conversations, like those held regularly at our Spring Meeting, to ensure that equity is not just highlighted, but celebrated.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate 


Advancing Equity Through Career Advisement 

At this year’s Spring Meeting, equity was explored through a variety of lenses. My session facilitated a conversation on our vision to empower students to navigate their career journey through career advisement, featuring panelists from the Washington State Workforce Board and the Arkansas Department of Education discussing best practices to provide dedicated supports to historically marginalized populations. 

Sonja Wright-McMurray, the Senior Associate Director of the Division of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at the Arkansas Department of Education shared about one opportunity in Arkansas that aligned equity with career advisement systems, the College and Career Coach program. The College and Career Coach Component is designed to motivate and support Arkansas students and adults achieve their goals as it relates to college and career planning through intensive hands-on, programs and services. As part of the application process the state requires applicants to pay close attention or give “high priority” to students who are classified as “Special Populations”, as defined by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). 

At the time the state was looking to launch their career coach program, Arkansas was also engaged in the development of a statewide partnership with the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, which created collaborative relationships with agencies supporting special education, transition services and rehabilitation services. As a result, the state pushed all Career Coach programs to provide targeted services to students with disabilities as well as at least two other special population categories. 

The insights shared by the panelists reinforce the importance of collaboration to address learner needs as well as strong accountability processes for local systems to document equity-focused reforms and processes.. As state leaders continue their work on aligning career advisement systems I am excited to see how they integrate equity throughout the continuum. 

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

Legislative Update: American Families Plan and Hearings in Congress

April 29th, 2021

This week the White House released the second part of the Build Back Better proposal, the American Families Plan. Read below to learn about how education is included in the plan, as well as hearings in Congress that addressed workforce development and community colleges. 

Biden Releases American Families Plan With Education Resources

On Wednesday the White House released an overview of its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. This is the second part of the administration’s Build Back Better campaign (the first part, the American Jobs Plan, was shared at the beginning of April). The American Families Plan focuses on investing in education from early childhood to postsecondary, supporting children and families through avenues such as childcare and paid leave and extend tax cuts for lower and middle income workers and families. Overall, this proposal includes about $731 billion in education funding. Some of the investments include: 

  • $109 billion for two years of tuition-free community college for each learner. Individuals can use this benefit over the course of three years. If all states, territories and Tribes participate it will mean that about 5.5 million students will pay $0 in community college tuition and fees.  
  • $80 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by up to $1,400, which is a 21% increase over the current maximum award. This plan also allows DREAMers access to Pell Grants. 
  • $62 billion for evidence-based strategies that increase retention and completion rates at community colleges and institutions that serve high numbers of low-income students. Through this, states, territories and Tribes will receive grants that colleges can use to implement innovative and proven solutions for student success- including wraparound services, emergency basic needs grants, practices that recruit and retain diverse faculty, transfer agreements between colleges and evidence-based remediation programs.  
  • $46 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCUs). This would include $39 billion to provide two years of subsidized tuition for students enrolled at a four year HBCU, MSI or TCU whose family earns less than $125,000. The proposal also calls for $5 billion to expand programs in high-demand fields.
  • $9 billion to train, equip and diversify the teacher workforce. This would be done by doubling the scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 annually while earning their degree. It also would put $2.8 billion into Grow Your Own programs and year-long paid teacher residencies, as well as designating $400 million for teacher preparation programs at HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs and $900 million for the development of special education teachers. President Biden also proposed $1.6 billion to provide educators with opportunities to earn additional certifications in high-demand areas. Lastly, $2 billion would go to educator leadership.   

Advance CTE’s statement on the American Families Plan can be found here. The full fact sheet on the American Families Plan can be found here

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Recovery
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing entitled “COVID-19 Recovery: Supporting Workers and Modernizing the Workforce Through Quality Education, Training, and Employment Opportunities.” The witnesses for the hearing included Maria Flynn, president and CEO of Jobs For the Future; Deniece Thomas, deputy commissioner of workforce learning and development in the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development; Scott Ralls, president of Wake Technical Community College; and Alejandro Mendoza, human resources director at Optimax Systems Inc.

Overall, both parties agreed on the need for bipartisan proposals to provide increased funding and attention to our nation’s workforce programs. The witnesses and Committee members spent the hearing talking about the need to expand skills-based education and training opportunities, like finding ways to expand access to apprenticeships; providing better support and wraparound services to ensure program completion and success; preparing workers for the STEM workforce; reauthorizing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA); and extending Pell Grant eligibility to students who attend high-quality short-term programs at community colleges and public institutions, among others.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Holds hearing on Increasing Investments in Community Colleges 

Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

Last week the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing on increasing investments in Community Colleges. The witnesses for the hearing included Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges; Dr. Mary Alice McCarthy, director, Center on Education and Labor from New America; Dr. William T. Brown, the chief executive officer of Gateway Community College; and Kelli Jordan, Director, IBM Career Skills and Performance.

The hearing covered a broad range of issues facing community colleges and their students, such as childcare, broadband access, equity, dual enrollment, college transfers and job training, including apprenticeships. Much of the conversation addressed how community colleges can help in post-Covid economic and workforce development, with both sides generally agreeing that more investments are necessary.

In her opening statement, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) affirmed that “we need to invest in these institutions, build the architecture of the future at the federal, as well as local levels. Our community colleges are the backbone of our education system. It is crucial that we provide them with–and their students–with the funding and the resources needed to build a brighter and a more prosperous future for all Americans.” Likewise, in his opening statement, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who was filling in for Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), stated that “community colleges have proven they can adapt to a changing environment meeting students where they are, working with local businesses to develop programs that lead to good paying, sustainable jobs,” when discussing their importance in our nation’s economic recovery. More specifically, the economic and workforce development programs discussed included the Strengthening Community College Training Grant (SCCTG) program; expanding apprenticeship and work-based learning programs, and expanding Pell eligibility to high-quality short-term job training programs. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Communicating CTE: New Communications Research Highlights Key Equity Considerations in Communicating CTE to Families and Learners

April 28th, 2021


Today, Advance CTE released a new report and updated resources on messages that resonate with families about the value and benefits of Career Technical Education (CTE), and how they should be communicated to each learner to achieve effective and equitable recruitment into secondary CTE programs.

Communicating Career Technical Education: Learner-centered Messages for Effective Program Recruitment  is an update to messaging research conducted in 2017 on families both participating in (current) and not participating in CTE (prospective). This new research  includes an intentional focus on revealing differences in education preferences, experiences, and message and messenger impact among Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income to advance a shared vision of CTE programs where each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed.

Encouragingly, the topline findings showed that an overarching message about ‘Preparing for the Real World’ resonated with learners and parents/guardians across participation, race, ethnicity and income: 

Through CTE, learners gain real-world skills that prepare them to succeed in college and a career that they are passionate about. 

However, the research also revealed important equity considerations that states should consider when supporting local systems in evaluating and taking steps to improve equity in program quality in hands-on particularly in regards to program quality, the impact of social capital and messenger trust. 

1. Learners in CTE have more opportunities to prepare for postsecondary education and are more confident about completing a degree. 

The findings indicated that participation in CTE increased the likelihood that learners planned to complete a degree over completing ‘some college,’ particularly among Latinx  families and families with low income.

Additionally, 80 percent of families participating in CTE are satisfied with opportunities to jumpstart their postsecondary education in high school through opportunities to earn college credit and take advanced classes compared to just 60 percent of families not participating in CTE.

State Impact: These findings reinforce the importance of states designing seamless transfers from secondary to postsecondary education across all career pathways, removing barriers to accessing early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs), and communicating these opportunities in digestible, intentional ways to families. 

2. Informed school-based messengers are key for CTE enrollment, but online sources and messenger trust are key considerations for historically marginalized families. 

While school counselors and teachers were the top two sources for both families in and  outside CTE to receive information about CTE programs, families from historically marginalized populations also consistently included online sources such as Google search and school websites in their top two sources. 

Significantly, historically marginalized learners not participating in CTE were less likely to choose school counselors as a top source than parents/guardians. While 84 percent of prospective Latinx parents/guardians would likely consult a school counselor about CTE, only 37 percent of prospective Latinx learners would. Among Black families, 74 percent of prospective Black parents/guardians would likely consult a school counselor about CTE while only 59 percent of prospective Black learners would. 

State Impact: These findings reinforce the importance of states designing communication campaigns through multiple avenues with reinforced messaging like those found in our updated messaging triangle (LINK), as well as examining systemic barriers and solutions to building more diverse school counselor and instructor talent pipelines. 

3. Families participating in CTE are more satisfied across all aspects of their education, but intentional focus is needed on achieving equitable access to hands-on experiences. 

The great news is across race, ethnicity and income, 88 percent of parents/guardians and learners participating in CTE are satisfied with their education experience compared to 75 percent of those considering CTE. This includes aspects such as quality of classes and teachers, opportunities for career exploration and skillbuilding, and even opportunities for advanced classes. 

However, equitable satisfaction by race and income was not achieved for work-based learning experiences such as opportunities to connect and network with employers and opportunities for internships. For both of the aforementioned categories, satisfaction among current Black learners dropped 1 and 2 percentage points respectively compared to prospective Black leaners.











State Impact: As states continue to reimagine CTE programs and work-based learning experiences in this learning recovery, this finding reinforces the importance of designing programs on the margins and removing barriers to access to ensure each learner participates in high-quality programs across all career pathways, and to realize the full impact of these effective messages. 

Overall, CTE provides the education experiences and benefits that families are looking for, but program quality is critical to achieve full message impact and effective recruitment. To read the full report and to access resources to put this research into action including a message triangle with tailoring for historically marginalized populations, please visit our Engaging Families and Learners web page. For resources on advancing equity and access in CTE programs, visit the Equity and Access page in Advance CTE’s Resource Center.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Staff Reflections from 2021 Spring Meeting Part 2: Expanding CTE’s Potential to meet the needs learners and stakeholders

April 26th, 2021

This posts offers reflections from Advance CTE staff on key themes from Advance CTE’s 2021 Spring Meeting. Visit Advance CTE’s Resource Center for additional resources on elevating learner voice, strengthening career pathways and communicating with families and stakeholders.

Elevating Learner Voice in Shaping the Future of CTE 

The future of Career Technical Education (CTE) is only a success when learner voices are truly centered as state CTE leaders develop new innovative strategies and equitable policies while implementing their state Perkins V plans under the new vision: Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education

Advance CTE’s 2021 Spring Meeting provided stakeholders of the CTE community the opportunity to hear directly from learners on their experiences navigating through the career preparation ecosystem and what they hope to see for the future of CTE. 

Learners are engaged in a career preparation ecosystem when, “CTE provides opportunities for networking skills and connections to speak with industry partners and business professionals,”  said Dianna Serrano, SkillsUSA National Region 4 Vice President.

Each learner has the supports and skills to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem when, “Work-based learning opportunities cultivate personal and professional networks,”  said Rafael Bitanga, Director of Bitanga Productions, Member of Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). 

Each learner can access CTE without borders when, “Every school offers CTE pathways where learners are developing skills that continue to prepare them for future careers,” said Dhruv Agarwal, National Technology Student Association (TSA) Reporter.

Looking ahead, the future of CTE is bright, it is bold, it is equitable and it is learner-centered. Wherever learners are in their career journey, they feel welcomed and supported with the necessary tools to succeed.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

Elevating CTE in Federal Economic and Learning Recovery Policy 

Just as the past year was unconventional in nearly every way, it was also an unconventional time for federal policy. For the better part of the year “business as usual” was put on hold and the Congressional and Administration focus was on COVID-19 (coronavirus) response and relief packages. During this year’s Spring Meeting it was evident that state CTE leaders had a greater connection than usual to federal actions because they are in the midst of implementation of pandemic stimulus bills, as well as implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). This means there is a larger space for joint advocacy. 

During the panel on 2021 Congressional Priorities, featuring the Democratic and Republican staff on the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), each panelist encouraged meeting participants to contact their representatives in Congress to advocate for the CTE community. It was exciting to hear Congressional staff validate the power of each individual’s voice!

The presidential and Congressional elections in 2020 also provided a new opportunity to elevate CTE at the federal level. Not only was this brought up by the Congressional panelists, but also in the remarks provided by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Secretary Cardona shared that as a proud CTE graduate he understands the value of CTE for each learner, especially during this time of economic recovery.

I am looking forward to continuing to bring state CTE leaders together with federal leaders so that we can advocate for high-quality and equitable CTE! 

Meredith Hills, Senior Policy Associate 

Reimagining CTE Program Design through the National Career Clusters® Framework 

Without question, the 2021 Spring Meeting was very different from the first Advance CTE meeting I attended in the spring of 2008. What was not different was the valuable opportunity for state leaders of CTE to reconnect, reset and reimagine! 

During the breakouts on the second day of the meeting, I was pleased to help host a reimagining conversation with state leaders centered on The National Career Clusters® Framework. State leaders concurred that the world of work continues to change rapidly and it is time to modernize The Framework’s structure and design to ensure its relevance for current and future needs of learners at all levels and of the workplace. One participant noted that students have skills that can cross into multiple industries, and asked, “How do we create fluidity between all of the areas?”

To that end, this effort is not designed to tinker around the edges, adding a new Career Cluster or renaming one of the existing Career Clusters. The work is seeking to completely reimagine the way The Framework is organized to reflect the current and future world of work.  All that we are committed to at this stage is the purpose statement, which has been approved by the Advance CTE Board of Directors, which you can read on the project web page

Advance CTE is seeking bold and innovative ideas to help us construct a new, modern and enduring Framework. To submit your ideas, visit the Advancing the Framework portal. Please also share this link through your networks to assist in our effort to crowdsource ideas that will shape a new framework. 

Thank you for a great 2021 Spring Meeting!

Scott Stump, Senior Advisor 

Reconnecting with Families on the Value of CTE

Achieving a robust national recovery will require a diverse and skilled workforce, not only through upskilling and reskilling displaced workers but also giving learners the tools to explore careers and prepare for lifelong skill building. While CTE has the tools to lead the way to fill this need, recruitment into CTE programs has stagnated for the past decade and significant awareness gaps remain, particularly among populations historically marginalized from participating in CTE. 

Our 2021 Spring Meeting explored how to improve messaging about CTE to families to increase program recruitment and address equity gaps to ensure CTE can meet future workforce needs. Director of Communications and Membership Katie Fitzgerald and myself gave a preview of updated communications research on what parents/guardians and learners say is most important in their education, what messages and messenger resonate with them to consider and stay in CTE, and what message tailoring and program quality considerations should be taken to effectively reach populations historically marginalized from participation in CTE. 

Members were excited to hear that many of the previously tested messages still resonate across racial, ethnic, and income categories, and that what families are looking for in their education closely aligns with what CTE can offer. Attendees were also very engaged in asking questions about equity gaps in satisfaction and messenger trust that were found in the research. We look forward to many more presentations to share this important information with stakeholders and utilizing tools to assist states in refreshing their communication plans to prioritize our key messages and equity considerations. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: Template for Stimulus Funds and Workforce Legislation

April 23rd, 2021

This week new information was shared about how states and districts can receive education stimulus funding. Read below to learn more about the application process to access these funds, as well as continued hearings for Administration appointees and workforce legislation introduced in Congress.  

ED Releases State Plan Template for Stimulus Funds 

On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the release of the state plan application for use of resources under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. In March, states were given access to two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, and the remaining third will be made available once state plans are approved by ED. The plan must include how states will:

  • Ensure the state and districts are demonstrating transparency in their planning; 
  • Identify and meet the needs of students most impacted by the pandemic; 
  • Choose effective evidence-based interventions; and 
  • Prioritize educational equity, inclusive stakeholder engagement and strong fiscal safeguards. 

State level stakeholder engagement for this application must include: students; families; Tribal Nations; civil rights and/or disability rights organizations; teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff and their unions, school and district administrators; superintendents; charter school leaders; and other stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated and other underserved students.

Not only will the applications provide information about how this funding will be used, but it will also inform ED’s technical assistance to states and districts and its approach to monitoring implementation of funds. 

Plans must be submitted by June 7, 2021. The full press release can be found here

HELP Committee Confirms Undersecretary of Education
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

This week President Biden’s nominee for under secretary of education, James Kvaal, was confirmed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This follows last week’s nomination hearing in front of the Senate HELP Committee. Kvaal previously served as deputy under secretary of education under the Obama Administration and more recently the president of The Institute for College Access and Success..

Kvaal faced tough questioning from Senators on both sides of the aisle on issues ranging from the president’s agenda around free college and student loan forgiveness, to his previous opposition of expanding Pell grant eligibility to high-quality short-term job training programs. More specifically, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) started off his questioning by asking Kvaal if he believed that high-quality short-term workforce training is higher education, to which he simply replied, “I do.” This has long been a point of contention with many in the higher education community, with some believing that these programs should be considered workforce development and not education. Kvaal went on to further state, “I agree that career and technical education programs can lead to really meaningful career job opportunities. They deserve the same amount of support and the same amount of respect that other types of higher education programs do. And, if I’m confirmed, I’m confident we can work together to support high-quality training programs, including those that are shorter than 15 weeks.” Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jim Hickenlooper (D-CO) also voiced their support for CTE, apprenticeships and STEM during their five-minute remarks.

House Announces Plan to Reauthorize WIOA 

House Committee on Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced the start of a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Committee leadership shared the below joint statement:

“America’s workforce development programs are critical to the success of workers, employers, and our economy. Committee Democrats and Republicans are working together to advance a bipartisan reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that offers workers the opportunity to gain in-demand skills and provides employers the talent they need to succeed and grow. We look forward to holding a series of public hearings to advance this important work and continue the tradition of bipartisan support for workforce development programs.”

Advance CTE’s recommendations for WIOA reauthorization can be found here, and include priorities for connecting education and the workforce, aligning federal policy to the 21st century workforce, supporting successful outcomes for in-and out- of school youth, improving data and accountability and elevating career pathways.  

Congress Introduces Infrastructure Bill 

The Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act was reintroduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) (Co-Chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus), Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) (Co-Chairs of the House CTE Caucus), as well as Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). This bill promotes sector partnerships made up of local businesses and industry organizations, workforce boards, labor representatives and education and training providers to support workforce training programs in infrastructure-related jobs. It also includes support services to help participants succeed in work-based learning. Advance CTE is pleased to support the BUILDS Act. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy