CTE & Federal Policy: Recapping the Biggest Stories of 2017

January 12th, 2018

Last year marked a big year for Career Technical Education (CTE) in the federal policy arena. Read below to see the top five stories of 2017 and be sure to join us on January 25 at 1 pm ET for a webinar recapping these stories and their impact on CTE. Mark your calendars and register for the webinar here.

  1. The U.S. House of Representatives Passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act on a voice vote without objection. This bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins).  
  2. Policymakers encouraged Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to take up Perkins reauthorization. A “Dear Colleague” letter to the committee’s leadership that urged the committee to work in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize the law garnered 237 signatures in the House and a similar letter garnered 59 signatures in the Senate.
  3. Policymakers signaled strong support for the federal investment in CTE, despite the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut the Perkins Basic State Grant by 15% in Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18). A “Dear Colleague” letter encouraging appropriators to support a strong investment in CTE for FY18 garnered 140 signatures in the House and a similar letter garnered 34 signatures in the Senate.  
  4. States submitted their plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In their plans, 49 states included at least one strategy to expand career readiness and 35 states included a career-focused measure in their high school accountability rating systems.
  5. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act on a party-line vote. This bill would update the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008.

 

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

In Idaho and Indiana, Governors Celebrate Successes and Make Bold Commitments for CTE in the Year Ahead

January 11th, 2018

The 2018 legislative session is heating up and, as is tradition in many states, Governors have kicked off the season by laying out their policy agendas in their annual addressed to their state legislatures. Last year, career readiness emerged as a top priority for most states, with 24 governors elevating Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce training in their speeches. Already, it looks like that trend will continue in 2018.

In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter celebrated the work of his higher education and workforce development task forces, which were both authorized by executive order early last year, and committed to implementing their recommendations. These include hiring an executive officer for higher education, expanding capacity at postsecondary technical schools, incentivizing high school CTE programs, and expanding CTE offerings to 7th and 8th grade.

Meanwhile, Governor Eric Holcomb laid out an agenda for CTE in his address to the Indiana state legislature earlier this week. In December, the State Board of Education adopted new pathways to graduation that elevate the role of work-based learning and CTE in high school pathways. In his address, Gov. Holcomb celebrated this decision and committed to making the high school diploma even more meaningful by developing K-12 computer science standards, investing in professional development for teachers, and establishing a state work-based learning and apprenticeship office with the goal of doubling the number of work-based learning opportunities in the state by 2019.

In other states, governors committed to expanding tuition-free college, investing in work-based learning opportunities, and supporting programs like Jobs for America’s Graduates that connect at-risk youth with education and training opportunities. While only a handful of states have held their 2018 state of state events already, more than half of these speeches are scheduled to take place in January.

New Money for High-demand CTE Programs

After a busy 2017, states are turning to the work of executing new policies and programs. In last year’s session, the Indiana legislature outlined a revised CTE funding formula to better align resources with workforce demand. Under the tiered funding structure, programs receive more money if they are in demand and lead to high wages. The new funding formula will not go into effect until July, but programs are already seeing changes to their designations and are anticipating funding shifts.

In Michigan, new funding for CTE will soon make landfall through a $5 million competitive grant initiative. The initiative was authorized in November by the legislature and is part of a $12.5 million appropriation for CTE equipment upgrades. Grants will be awarded to school districts in partnership with institutions of higher education and are designed to strengthen high-quality career pathways in high-demand, high-wage fields.

Register for Upcoming Advance CTE Webinars

Finally, Advance CTE has a few webinars on the schedule related to state CTE policy:

(January 17, 3:00pm ET) Leveraging ESSA’s Momentum to Advance Career Readiness: This webinar will share the findings from Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group’s full analysis of ESSA state plans and explore trends across all states. Participants will also hear from state leaders in South Dakota and Rhode Island who are using their ESSA plans to build and capitalize on momentum around career readiness. Participants can register here.

(January 31, 2:00pm ET) State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review: Join Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education to unpack findings from the “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review” report. The webinar will explore recent trends in state CTE policy and examine how the CTE policy landscape has changed over the past few years. Participants can register here.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Register Now for the 2018 Spring Meeting

January 10th, 2018

Join us April 4 – 6 in Washington, DC for the 2018 Advance CTE Spring Meeting to learn, network and engage with more than 200 Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders from across the country. This year’s conference is poised to be one of Advance CTE’s best, where you can expect to:

  • Hear the latest about Congress’ efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act;
  • Network with CTE leaders from the local, state and national level;
  • Collaborate with your peers to share best practices and find cross-state solutions to common CTE challenges; and
  • Celebrate innovative and effective programs of study during our 5th annual Excellence in Action award ceremony and luncheon.

Register before February 9 and receive $100 off your registration.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Guided Pathways Initiatives Require Major Overhaul of How Things are Done at Community Colleges

January 5th, 2018

A recent article from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) highlights efforts from CCRC and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to implement guided pathways reforms at community colleges. The goal of guided pathways reforms is to create college environments that learners can easily and confidently navigate to completion and successful employment upon completion, and includes four main practice areas:

  • Mapping pathways to student end goals;
  • Helping students choose and enter a program pathway;
  • Keeping students on a path; and
  • Ensuring that students are learning.

Reforms in all four of these areas require major changes to program structure, advising, administrative policies and classroom practice, and therefore require buy-in across the institution and a several-year commitment to the reform process. CCRC and AACC have been working with 30 colleges to implement guided pathways through the Pathways Project, and shared some of their lessons learned from the project’s first year.

For example, Jackson College in Michigan quickly realized that its four advisors for more than 5,000 students were not adequate for helping all students learn about and choose program pathways. The college has now hired “student success navigators,” who call every single student before orientation and work with each student in person multiple times in their first semester to design a pathway that works for them. San Jacinto College in Texas reorganized its 144 degree and certificate programs into eight meta majors, allowing a student to choose one of the eight early on and begin introductory courses without being locked into a specific degree or certificate program. The college also worked on transfer-oriented programs by creating maps for the college’s five most common transfer destinations to help students choose the courses that will allow them to transfer non-elective college credit to the new institutions.

For Effective CTE, States Should Adopt Eight Non-Negotiables

ExcelinEd recently released a new playbook for state policymakers related to effective CTE. The report argues that while the importance of CTE has been recognized at the federal, state and local levels, not enough has been done to ensure that CTE programs are meeting workforce needs effectively. This is largely attributed to common challenges of the broad spectrum of programs available, the disconnect between K-12 and industry, and the negative legacy of “vocational education.” To address these challenges, the report recommends that states adopt eight “non-negotiables” related to their CTE policies:

  1. All promoted programs of study align with state and/or regional industry and labor market data;
  2. Programs of study incorporate experiential learning and capstone experiences valued by industry;
  3. Secondary programs of study vertically align with postsecondary programs;
  4. Courses are sequential and progressive in a given program of study;
  5. Secondary programs of study incorporate courses and exams eligible for postsecondary credit or hours where appropriate;
  6. Course standards are robust and accurately represent the academic, technical and employability skills learners must master;
  7. Educators receive ongoing, progressive training and professional development to ensure their instruction is reflective of course standards and current industry work environments; and
  8. Federal, state and local funding are utilized to leverage and drive programmatic changes leading to the implementation of vertically aligned education-to-career learning pathways.

 

The authors propose that these eight non-negotiables be implemented in a four-phase plan, to ensure thoughtful and sustainable changes are occurring. They provide examples of successful implementation of each of the eight non-negotiables in Delaware, Florida and Tennessee.

Odds and Ends

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a new report on the integration of education and workforce data. The report focuses on states who have created publicly available data tools in five areas:

  • Education Projections, Business Expansion, and Workforce Quality
  • Program Alignment with Labor Market Demand
  • Curriculum Alignment with Workforce Requirements
  • Counseling and Career Pathways
  • Job Placement and Skills Gap Analysis

Education Commission of the States recently released a 50-state comparison of policies related to Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs). PLAs allow learners and institutions to determine the level of previous of knowledge and experience before entering a postsecondary program, and can be used to incentivize re-entry for older learners.

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute examines the barriers community colleges face in providing high-quality CTE, including funding allocations, accreditation requirements and credit-transfer policies, among others. The report also makes recommendations for community colleges to make the most of their CTE offerings and reduce the proliferation of general studies programs at community colleges.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Excellence in Action Spotlight: School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Jack E. Singley Academy

January 4th, 2018

All learners deserve to have quality educational experiences facilitated by individuals with passion, experience and expertise. Enhancing classroom instruction with industry experts can bring the real world into the classroom and blur the lines between education and the workplace. A successful example of this collaboration between education and the workforce can be found at our 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Hospitality & Tourism Career Cluster, the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality housed at Jack E. Singley Academy in Irving, Texas in the Dallas suburbs.

The School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality delivers a host of real-life experiences, available through partnerships with industry partners and local colleges. Its location, in the epicenter of the Dallas metro area, students benefit from more than 75 hotels and over 100 restaurants just steps from their classrooms. Students participate in job shadows, internships and work in unique work-based learning environments and are mentored by some of the leading hospitality and tourism professionals in the country.

The program’s advisory board – which is tasked with providing input on curriculum, offering career exploration opportunities, and more – is stacked with industry experts from area hotels, food service establishments, and the Irving Convention Center. Partnerships with The Hotel Association, Marriott, The Irving Convention Center, The Four Seasons Resort and others give students numerous opportunities to explore careers in these industries.

Program administrators cite how crucial their team of instructors has been in the quality of the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality. Irving ISD’s Director of CTE, Shawn Blessing, credits the program’s success, “first and foremost [to our] outstanding faculty. These individuals are all highly trained and very committed, passionate. They are the drivers of the program and are behind it 100 percent. It makes a huge difference when you have highly skilled, highly trained instructors who all come from industry.”

Learn more about the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality at Jack E. Singley Academy and our 2017 award winners.

Credential Engine Launches Platform and Tools to Make Complex Credentialing World Simpler

December 19th, 2017

On Thursday, December 7, dozens of education and workforce policy professionals attended the Credential Engine launch event to see something rare – a CEO, a union representative, a postsecondary representative and a foundation head agree with each other. The discussion, kicked off by Eleni Papadakis, Executive Director of the Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, focused on the potential of the Credential Engine registry to catalog the thousands of credentials and certifications available in the United States and help learners and employers make sense of the credential marketplace.

The registry works by encouraging states and other credential providers to upload their credentials (and their associated outcomes) to a common platform using common language and definitions. From there, employers, non-profits and others will be able to use the open source information to develop apps to integrate into their other systems. For example, an employer could integrate the information into existing human resources databases, or states could use the information to connect labor market demand with existing credentials that might meet the state’s needs.

It is unclear how state or local governments will ultimately use this registry, or how well any of the apps developed will help learners understand not just what credentials are available, but which credentials are high quality. In fact, at the launch event, Jamie Merisotis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lumina Foundation, expressed his desire that government agencies hold back for the time being on using Credential Engine to make policy or build credential accountability systems, and instead let the registry and related apps leverage market forces to test and build the functionality of the registry as an evaluation mechanism.

While this platform is certainly still in its early stages, and much remains to be seen about how it will ultimately be used, there are a few promising indicators. The state of Indiana has already agreed to load healthcare credentials, New Jersey has agreed to load credentials from key industries onto the platform, and Credential Engine is working with the U.S. military to help translate military credentials into civilian equivalents. Additionally, more than 50 CEOs associated with Business Roundtable have committed to using registry data to meet employment needs.

For more information on Credential Engine, check out their website here: https://www.credentialengine.org/ or join their next application showcase on January 18 at 2 pm EST.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Legislative Updates: House Committee Passes HEA Reauthorization Bill

December 15th, 2017

As Congress wraps up its final weeks in session before the winter recess, there has been a flurry of activity. Read below to find out more about the postsecondary education legislation that advanced out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the next step in the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) and an update on the tax reform legislation moving through Congress.

Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization Proposal Passes House Committee on Education and the Workforce 

As we shared in our Legislative Update, on December 1, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act. This bill would reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008, and would make significant changes to a number of provisions within the current law. The bill and related materials from the Committee can be found online here. Advance CTE analyzed the bill based on our board-approved HEA Reauthorization Recommendations and submitted a letter expressing our views to the Committee in advance of the Committee’s markup on December 12. During the markup, Committee members offered 63 amendments on a wide range of topics. Eighteen of these amendments were adopted, but the proposal’s architecture was largely maintained. The PROSPER Act passed out of Committee on a party line vote (23-17) and the bill is expected to go before the full U.S. House of Representatives for a vote in early 2018. It is likely that the U.S. Senate will unveil its own proposal in early 2018.

Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Measure

On December 7, Congress passed a short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government open at the current funding levels, beyond December 8, when the previous CR was set to expire. The current CR expires on December 22, meaning Congress will likely need to pass another CR by this date to allow time for Congress to come to an agreement on budget caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending (which will provide appropriators with the top-line numbers they need to advance Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills).

House and Senate Tax Reform Bills Go to Conference Committee

In November, both the House and Senate passed tax reform bills. House and Senate leadership have named 29 Members of Congress to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between these bills. The conference committee is expected to come to an agreement on the legislation soon and it is likely that both chambers of Congress will vote on the legislation next week. Advance CTE had concerns about a number of provisions in each bill, including the elimination of: the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT), the educator expense deduction, student loan interest tax deductions, the lifetime learning credit and tax benefits for employer tuition reimbursement programs. In addition, the overall cost of tax reform is likely to put pressure on appropriators to cut spending in other areas going forward. This means there could be an adverse impact on education spending, including for Perkins Basic State Grants, which have remained relatively flat funded since 1991. To learn more about each of these concerns, check out this blog post from our partners at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Advance CTE partnered with ACTE to send a letter  to the conference committee expressing these concerns.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

 

Recapping the 2017 ACTE CareerTech VISION Conference (Part 2)

December 15th, 2017

Note: Once again this year, Advance CTE attended the CareerTech VISION conference hosted by our partners, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). What follows are our staff’s highlights and favorite moments. You can read Part 1 here.

Advance CTE members Charisse Childers and Heather Justice featured during Friday’s opening session

At Advance CTE, we are thankful for our members across the country and the multitude of partnerships with national organizations and groups. In this blog post, we want to celebrate the richness that our members and partners bring to the work we do as Advance CTE. 

Partner Highlights: Association for Career and Technical Education and Asia Society

Our partnership with ACTE, in fact, has allowed us to incorporate the successful Career Clusters Institute into the annual Careertech VISION conference. Also this year, we are celebrating the fifth installment of our joint publication, Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE.

Here’s an anecdote from our colleague, Austin Estes:

One key takeaway for me from this year’s ACTE VISION conference is the importance of communication and collaboration between state and local actors. At the conference, I shared some early trends from our annual Year in Review report, which we plan to publish in partnership with ACTE in January, and discussed some notable policies states passed over the year. Towards the end of my session, one of the conference attendees stood up and said that, despite her state legislature’s best intentions, a new program that was launched a few years ago had not achieved its desired goal, and that much of the money destined for teachers had been lost along the way. Sadly, stories like this are all too common.

It’s important that states identify promising practices at the local level and adopt policies that allow their success to flourish. Take Oakland High School, just outside of Nashville, for example. Oakland’s mechatronics program, which was one of our 2017 Excellence in Action award winners, was formed out of a partnership with local industry leaders who identified a workforce need and reached out to the school. And, while Tennessee is a state with high standards for program design and quality, state policies allowed the program to grow and flourish, helping students earn valuable credentials and earn dual credit. Today many students in the program graduate with up to 29 postsecondary credits that articulate directly to a postsecondary degree.

Joint session for State CTE Directors and ACTE Executive Directors

For the second year in a row, Advance CTE and ACTE worked together to create a space for State CTE Directors and ACTE state executive directors to meet and collaborate. This year’s session attracted nearly 50 state leaders from 20 states. Throughout the session, the state leaders worked to strengthen their partnerships to further advance high-quality CTE. State leaders shared the multitude of ways in which they partner — from collaborating on teacher professional development to providing a common front to the state legislature to secure more funding and quality policies.

Global CTE Toolkit

For the past three years, Advance CTE has been partnering with the Asia Society and ACTE to support the development and release of The Global CTE Toolkit, a set of resources designed to address three main objectives:

  • Educate and engage with CTE stakeholders on the need for global competence in order to prepare students to meet the demands of careers in a global 21st century.
  • Educate CTE teachers and students about the global career opportunities that exist in CTE pathways.
  • Build educator capacity to integrate global competence and project management into CTE career exploration and classroom projects.

During CareerTech VISION, Asia Society, ACTE and Advance CTE convened an advisory committee of state and local leaders and partners to reflect on the current Global CTE Toolkit, the Global Competency Through CTE course (hosted on ACTE’s CTE Learn Platform), and provide input into the next professional development resources, which will focus on global STEM projects. Look forward for more information on both projects in coming months!

Advance CTE’s Members

It’s always a treat to see our Advance CTE members at ACTE’s annual conference, and we were delighted to see how many of our state leaders were sharing best practices during sessions.

Friday morning’s opening general session was a panel featuring state leaders from across the country, including Advance CTE members Charisse Childers from Arkansas and Heather Justice from Tennessee (along with Stephen Pruitt, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education and Steven Partridge, Vice President of Workforce Development from NOVA Community College).

The panel focused on the intersection of policy and practice, and the major trends, challenges and opportunities states are facing.  Some of the highlights included:

  • Childers sharing some great lessons from local, industry-driven efforts to create innovative and regional manufacturing CTE pathways,
  • Justice discussing Tennessee’s efforts for secure a statewide MOU, allowing industry-recognized credentials earned in high school to automatically articulate to postsecondary credit at the state’s colleges of applied technology.
  • Pruitt describing how Kentucky is continuing to value college and career readiness through its Every Student Succeed Act plan (because, as he noted “while education is a way out of poverty, the real way out of poverty is a career.”
  • Partridge sharing Virginia’s innovative postsecondary funding models to support and incent credential attainment not just among “skill builders,” but for under-educated citizens looking for new opportunity.

Other members featured in sessions included:

We look forward to seeing even more of you in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2018 CareerTech VISION conference!

Katie Fitzgerald, Austin Estes, Kate Kreamer, Kimberly Green, and Andrea Zimmermann — Advance CTE staff

ESSA Marks A Watershed Moment for Career Readiness, But States Leave Many Opportunities On the Table

December 14th, 2017

This year marked a pivotal moment for K-12 education. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, state leaders have spent the last two years reexamining and strategizing they way they deliver K-12 education. Now that the last ESSA plans have been written and submitted, we finally have a national picture of state priorities for education, including how K-12 education systems will support and reinforce career preparation opportunities.

One of the key priorities for ESSA is alignment and conformity across different federal and state systems. ESSA gives states the flexibility to hold schools accountable, measure student outcomes, and provide supports and technical assistance in a way that is aligned with their own priorities. States are encouraged to streamline services across Career Technical Education (CTE), workforce development and higher education and truly support learners to achieve career success.

Today Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group released an update to Career Readiness & the Every Student Succeeds Act: Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans. The report examines state plans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see how states are taking advantage of key opportunities to support career readiness. Overall, two key takeaways rise to the surface:

  • With 49 states including at least one strategy to expand career readiness in their ESSA state plans — and 35 going as far as adopting career readiness indicators in their accountability system — this is a watershed moment for career readiness.
  • However, states left many opportunities on the table, failing to fully leverage all that ESSA has to offer. Nevertheless, a plan is just that — a plan. Given the right vision and commitment, states have considerable leeway to go beyond the letter of their plans and make career readiness a priority, and a promise, for all.

Kentucky’s plan, for example, draws on economic priorities to undergird accountability and supports across each of the different titles in the law. The plan describes the five key industry sectors in the commonwealth of Kentucky and clearly articulates the role that CTE and K-12 education play in preparing learners for success in the modern workforce. Kentucky’s accountability system reinforces this priority by measuring and holding schools accountable for key career readiness metrics, including industry-recognized credential attainment, CTE dual credit completion, apprenticeships and more.

The report also profiles state plans for Title II, Part A funding, which supports the development of teachers and school administrators, and Title IV, which provides critical funding to expand access to opportunities for a “well-rounded education.”

State leaders have completed the tremendous work of engaging stakeholders, identifying priorities and developing strategic action plans to drive education in their states. Now they are tasked with implementing those plans. Given the growing profile of CTE and the elevated role of career readiness in state ESSA plans, the path ahead is promising. But now is the critical time to act, and states should ensure that they fully leverage all of ESSA’s opportunities and follow through on the commitments they made in their plans.  

In addition to the report, a supplemental appendix profiling specific state strategies and an infographic of key takeaways are available to download.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Recapping the 2017 ACTE CareerTech VISION Conference (Part 1)

December 13th, 2017

Note: Once again this year, Advance CTE attended the CareerTech VISION conference hosted by our partners, the Association for Career and Technical Education. What follows are our staff’s highlights and favorite moments.

Career Clusters at CareerTech VISION

Every year, ACTE and Advance CTE join forces to provide attendees with the opportunity to engage in informative sessions featuring best practices in program and policy, lessons learned and innovations within the Career ClustersⓇ, a national framework for organizing quality CTE programs and cultivating collaboration between secondary and postsecondary CTE. This strand, which is curated by Advance CTE, included a number of sessions digging into compelling topics and providing resources that are useful to national, state and local leaders across the country.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Selling CTE to Parents and Students

In the session, “Selling CTE: Strategies to Attract Students to High-quality CTE,” staff presented the results of our research study released earlier this year in, The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students, providing an overview of the following takeaways:

  • Students and parents involved in CTE are overwhelmingly more satisfied with their education as compared to those not involved in CTE.
  • Finding a career passion was the most important critical selling point for parents and students (over 90 percent) – even surpassing having a career that pays well;
  • The vast majority of parents and students (85 percent) continue to value college as the post-high school aspiration;
  • CTE has an awareness challenge;
  • Across the board, CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits related to college and career success; and
  • Counselors, teachers and CTE students and alumni are among the most trusted sources of information for students and parents alike.

The session room was packed with more than 70 teachers and administrators seeking to learn how state and local leaders are tackling the CTE perception challenge. One state example included Maryland, which recently released a social media guide to be used in districts across the state.

Sharing CTE Excellence

Additionally, we were excited to put together a session that highlighted two of the 2017 Excellence in Action award winners, hailing from Tennessee and Mississippi. The award, which recognizes innovative and impactful programs of study across the 16 Career Clusters, provides Advance CTE with the opportunity to highlight exciting programs that serve students with the academic and technical knowledge and skills they need to be successful in careers of their choosing.  

Tyra Pilgrim, CTE Coordinator for Rutherford County Schools, presented on Oakland High School’s Mechatronics program and winner in the Manufacturing Career Cluster. The Mechatronic program, in its fourth year, was developed through collaboration with the school district and employers including Bridgestone and the Manufacturing Leadership Council. Pilgrim cited partnerships with postsecondary education and industry leaders as a key component to a program that provides students with pathways to both college and careers. She backed up the program’s success with compelling data demonstrating student achievement, including all students earning postsecondary credit and graduating high school, and 94 percent enrolling in postsecondary education and earning industry recognized credentials.

Eric Williams, Assistant Director, Emergency Medical Technology, Jones County Junior College (JCJC), followed Pilgrim’s presentation with an overview of Jones County Junior College’s Emergency Medical Technology program, a winner for the Health Sciences Career Cluster. JCJC, a model for rural postsecondary education in the south, requires learners to participate in 500 hours of training under the direct guidance of an industry expert and offers seven industry recognized credentials. Williams boasted that students have a 90 percent first-time pass rate on the professional qualifying exam, which far exceeds the national average of 60 percent.

Williams similarly highlighted partnerships as a critical component, not only with industry and secondary education, but also with community organizations. Throughout the year, he attends events ranging from blood drives to Halloween parades to get the word out about JCJC and more effectively market the program. This has resulted in an increase of participation from two students when Williams took over the program, to a yearly participation rate of 25, the cap for the program of study.

Both award winning programs provided attendees with two examples of exemplary programs and insights into how to effectively build a successful program of study.

Katie Fitzgerald, Austin Estes, Kate Kreamer, Kimberly Green, and Andrea Zimmermann — Advance CTE staff

 

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