The Empire State Welcomes Amy Cox to State CTE Director Role

November 13th, 2019

Amy Cox recently took over as New York’s State CTE Director. Having managed both secondary and postsecondary state programs, she entered the position with strong leadership experience in statewide initiatives and a promising ability to helm the state’s CTE system. Prior to her current role, Amy spent over a decade at the New York State Office of Higher Education, where she worked on Teachers of Tomorrow, Race to the Top, Teacher Opportunity Corps and P-TECH. 

Amy’s list of priorities includes developing a comprehensive framework for work-based learning that is flexible across the state, as well as facilitating greater interdepartmental and stakeholder engagement to maximize programmatic effectiveness. 

With her experience at the intersections of CTE and various statewide initiatives, Amy is positioned to be a strong communicator across diverse stakeholder groups that have historically operated in silos. For example, she is currently strengthening bridges for collaboration between the secondary and postsecondary teams that are working on Perkins — with the goal being to develop a unified team. Looking across other departments and agencies in the state as well, Amy wants to stimulate deeper conversations on topics relating to CTE and encourage greater data transparency and sharing. 

At the programmatic level, Amy’s team will also work with the state’s Technical Assistance Center to assist local education agencies in developing approvable programs and expand access to CTE, working to ensure equitable access and support for underrepresented learners. Along with this work, her team is looking to build a comprehensive framework for work-based learning that is flexible and adaptive to regional needs in the state. 

Partnering with Researchers Can Help State Leaders Build the Case for CTE

November 12th, 2019

In Massachusetts, Career/Vocational Technical Education Schools (CVTE) are renowned for offering rigorous, high-quality programs of study across a variety of disciplines. While CVTE graduates have always experienced high rates of success academically and in their careers, state leaders in Massachusetts wanted to know whether these outcomes directly result from the CVTE model. In 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education partnered with Shaun Dougherty (at the time, a researcher at the University of Connecticut), and learned that CVTE students are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and earn an industry-recognized credential than similar students who were not admitted.

Demand for rigorous research on Career Technical Education (CTE) has increased as more policymakers ask questions about the impact on college and career readiness. State CTE Directors may be interested in similar questions as researchers (such as “Does CTE improve educational and career outcomes? Do different programs help different students? What types of programs offer students the highest economic returns?”) but may not think to seek out and collaborate with them or know how to prioritize among the many research requests they receive.

This blog series, a partnership between Advance CTE and the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) seeks to break down the barriers between State CTE Directors and researchers to encourage partnerships that can benefit both.

What Can Research with State Data Tell Us?

Research can be a powerful tool to help State CTE Directors understand what’s working, what isn’t working, and what needs to change. The findings described below provide examples of how strong partnerships between researchers and state policymakers can result in actionable research.

  • In Arkansas, students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages. The study, which was rigorous but not causal, also found that students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers, and that CTE provides the greatest boost to boys and students from low-income families.
  • Boys who attended CTE high schools in Connecticut experienced higher graduation rates and post-graduation earnings than similar students who did not attend CTE high schools. Further follow-ups using both postsecondary and labor data could provide information about college completion and employment and earnings for different occupational sectors.
  • CTE concentrators in Texas had greater enrollment and persistence in college than their peers. Although rates of CTE concentration decreased, student participation in at least some CTE programming, as well as number of CTE credits earned, increased between the 2008 and 2014 cohorts. Unsurprisingly, the study also found differences by CTE programs of study. Education & Training; Finance; Health Science; and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) were most strongly associated with postsecondary enrollment, particularly in baccalaureate programs.

How Can States Use CTE Research to Improve Policy and Practice?

Here are a few things states can do today to start building a CTE research base:

  • Create a codebook of CTE variables in your state’s data system: Include K-12, postsecondary, and labor force variables if you have them. Define the variables clearly – what do they measure, at what level (student, program, district), and for how many years did you collect these variables? Are the measures comparable across years and across datasets?
  • Maximize opportunities to collect longitudinal data: longitudinal databases that span education levels and connect to workforce outcomes permit researchers to conduct rigorous studies on long-term outcomes.
  • Identify universities in your state with strong education, economics or public policy departments: Make a list of questions that policymakers in your state most wanted answered, and then approach universities with these proactively. Reach out to the chair(s) of these departments to connect with faculty who may be interested in partnering on answering the questions. Universities can often apply for a research grant that will cover part or all of the funding for state personnel to work on the research project. IES, which provides funding of this nature, opens its next grant competition in summer 2020.
  • Reach out to your Regional Educational Lab (REL) or the REL Career Readiness Research Alliance to inquire about partnering on CTE research: The mission of these IES-funded labs is to provide research and evidence to help educators in the states in their region. For example, REL Central is currently working with four states to replicate the Arkansas study described above (see “Review of Career and Technical Education in Four States”).
  • Stay up to date on the latest research findings in CTE: New research is regularly posted on the CTE Research Network and other websites. This can help you get ideas for what types of research you would like to conduct in your state. Another good source of inspiration is the recommendations of the CTE technical workgroup, which was convened by IES in late 2017 to guide future CTE research directions.
  • Become familiar with how researchers approach CTE research: Learn about why it’s so challenging to understand its impact. The CTE Research Network will hold research trainings for different audiences—including state agency staff— beginning in the summer of 2020. Stay tuned!

Over the next several months, Advance CTE and IES will publish a series of Q&A blog posts with researchers and state CTE leaders talking about how their partnerships developed and what states can do to advance CTE research.

This blog series was co-authored by Corinne Alfeld at IES ( and Austin Estes from Advance CTE (, with thanks to Steve Klein of Education Northwest for editorial suggestions. IES began funding research grants in CTE in 2017 and established a CTE Research Network in 2018. IES hopes to encourage more research on CTE in the coming years in order to increase the evidence base and guide program and policy decisions. At the same time, Advance CTE has been providing resources to help states improve their CTE data quality and use data more effectively to improve CTE program quality and equity.

Legislative Update: Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Learning, Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action

November 8th, 2019

In the first week of November, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations on accreditation and distance education. Read below to learn more about what these regulations mean, the recent Title IV-A day of action, a forum on education in the current presidential race and stories of Second Chance Pell programs. 

Administration Finalizes Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Education 

On October 31, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos published the final regulations on accreditation and distance education as a result of the negotiated rulemaking process that occurred over the past year. In a statement Secretary DeVos said, “These final regulations demonstrate our commitment to working with student, State, employer, and institutional representatives to develop sound policies that serve the best interests of students. These reforms are necessary to bring higher education into the current century, to be more responsive to the needs of students, and to reduce the skyrocketing cost of higher education.

Some of the regulatory changes include: 

  • Accreditors can have separate faculty standards for instructors teaching dual or concurrent enrollment courses, as long as the instructors, “in the agency’s judgment,” have either the education or work experience to be in the instructor role. 
  • Accreditors can propose a three-year grace period to allow programs to come into compliance with the accreditor’s faculty standards for dual or concurrent enrollment. This grace period is able to be extended. 
  • Removal of the seven public disclosures that institutions with distance education or correspondence courses previously were required to provide, such as what the result would be if a student moved to a state where the institution did not meet State authorization requirements. 

The final regulations also include a summary of the almost 200 public comments received and the Department’s response. 

The regulations will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The Department also announced that proposed rules for distance education and innovation, TEACH grants and faith-based institutions will be published soon. 

The full press release can be found here and final regulations can be found here

Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action 

On November 6, the national Title IV-A Coalition held a day of action to advocate for Congress to fully fund Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That title authorizes and funds the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants, which can be used by local education agencies to support student health and safety, the effective use of technology or access to well-rounded education (which includes CTE). In Nebraska, for example, Title IV-A dollars are being used to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. The SSAE grants were originally authorized at $1.6 billion a year, but are currently funded at approximately $400 million less than that level. 

CEF Hosts Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race 

On November 4, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) hosted a Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race. The panelists included Evie Blad and Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Michael Stratford of Politico Pro. The group discussed the role of education in the current presidential race, and the most pressing education topics in this campaign. There was agreement that education has been discussed more in this primary than in years past. Overall, the panelists pointed to where federal funding for higher education should be allocated, the question of how to increase salaries and the expansion of charter schools as some of the most discussed education topics by candidates. 

A full recording of the event can be viewed here

DeVos Shares Stories of Second Chance Pell Programs 

Earlier this week, Secretary DeVos again voiced her support of the Second Chance Pell Experimental sites initiative, that was established in 2015 to provide Pell grants to incarcerated individuals. Currently, over 10,000 students across 64 institutions participate in Second Chance Pell programs. Secretary DeVos shared videos that highlighted the Second Chance Pell program at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Oklahoma, as well as the results of a Corrections Education Scholarship from Tulsa Community College.

New Report on The Role of Data and Accountability in Growing Youth Apprenticeship Programs

November 5th, 2019

Youth apprenticeship programs can give students access to valuable work-based learning experiences that provide insights into how their interest can connect to education and the workforce. Although these programs are often beneficial for participants, there is little data to show the programmatic landscape and impact. A lack of data inhibits the development and expansion of youth apprenticeship programs. 

Advance CTE’s latest report, The Role of Data and Accountability in Growing Youth Apprenticeship Programs, explores how states are collecting data on youth apprenticeship programs, and what steps can be taken to collect high-quality enrollment and outcomes data. 

There are many challenges that inhibit the ability of state and local communities to collect and use reliable data to support and improve youth apprenticeship programs. However, there are steps that state and local leaders can take to strengthen data collection and analysis, including: 

  • Adopt a common, rigorous and measurable statewide definition of youth apprenticeship programs; 
  • Develop a data definition and business rules that align with the statewide definition of youth apprenticeship to support consistent data collection and reporting;
  • Learn what data collection looks like at the local and state levels and where gaps exist; and
  •  Leverage the opportunities provided by ESSA and Perkins V to implement data collection mechanisms. 

There are also qualitative methods that can be used to support findings and build a comprehensive understanding of youth apprenticeship programs. This report explores how qualitative data supports findings, and supplements gaps in data.

This report was made possible by the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA). PAYA was created by New America and includes Advance CTE, CareerWise Colorado, Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships at Trident Technical College, Education Strategy Group, JFF, The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and National Governors Association. PAYA is appreciative of the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ballmer Group, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Siemens Foundation.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: House Markup of College Affordability Act, Education Appropriations Halt in Senate

November 1st, 2019

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee voted on the College Affordability Act. Read below to learn  more about markup of the bill, the appropriations process, this week’s Senate CTE Caucus briefing and a new resource on employer engagement in Perkins V. 

House Education and Labor Committee Moves College Affordability Act 

From October 29-31, the House Education and Labor Committee held a markup on the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) that had been introduced on October 15. On October 31, the committee voted 28-22 on party lines to approve the bill out of committee. A number of CTE-related amendments passed, including:

  • An amendment by Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL), with a sub-amendment by Representative Andy Levin (D-MI) that would expand access to funds within Title III, including specifically for postsecondary CTE programs; 
  • An amendment by Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) that allowed language in Title IV to include language from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that would include collaboration with industry or sector partnerships; 
  • An amendment by Representative GT Thompson (R-PA) with a sub-amendment by Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) that would include CTE and Perkins alignment to specific Title IV funding for tribal schools; and
  • An amendment by Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-OR) that would emphasize the recruitment of teachers with “significant cultural and community competency.”

Education Appropriations Halt in the Senate

On October 31, the Senate voted on the first procedural motion for the four-bill minibus, H.R. 2740 that includes Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed). The Senate voted 51-41 to reject the motion and prevent debate on the bill from starting. Overall, Senate Democrats feel that proposed increase for Labor-HHS-Ed of just 1% over FY19 levels is insufficient, and so do not want to move this bill as it is now.

In addition to Labor-HHS-Ed, the minibus also includes funding for Defense, State Foreign-Operations and Energy-Water. 

Currently, federal funding is operating through a continuing resolution that was passed at the end of September and will go until November 21, 2019. 

Senate CTE Caucus Briefing Features Advance CTE

On October 31, the Senate CTE Caucus in partnership with the National Skills Coalition (NSC) hosted a briefing on “Connecting the Dots Between Perkins V and WIOA: How Can These Key Federal Policies Work Together to Drive Economic Success?” The briefing featured Advance CTE’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Meghan Wills, as well as Yvette Chocolaad, Policy Director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), Katrin Klack, Program Officer of the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Rural LISC) and Katie Brown, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at NSC. The group agreed that it’s beneficial for states to find opportunities for coordination between Perkins V and WIOA in order to maximize impact. Wills reminded the group that a combined Perkins V and WIOA state plan is not the only way to align both laws. Although just a handful of states may pursue a combined plan, there is widespread alignment within states in the visioning and planning done for Perkins V and WIOA. 

New Resource on Employer Engagement in Perkins V 

Advance CTE released a new resource, Cheat Sheet: Opportunities for Employer Involvement in CTE, that identifies ways in which employers can get involved with CTE programs. The resources outlines ways the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) offers avenues for employer engagement at the state and local levels.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Lessons Learned from New Skills for Youth Investments Around the Globe

October 31st, 2019

Launched in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, five-year global initiative aimed at transforming how cities and states ensure that young people are career ready. In addition to the state-based investments, which Advance CTE – in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group – has been helping to lead, JPMorgan Chase has also been investing in local innovation sites across the global.

In August, Advance CTE released snapshots on five of these investments located in the United States. Today, we are releasing five additional snapshots on JPMorgan Chase’s international sites, along with a summary report that highlights noteworthy, cross-cutting strategies from these 10 sites.

Despite the diversity of the locations, the populations being served and the challenges to overcome, the initiatives share more in common than one might expect. All 10 innovation sites share a common focus on interventions that target in-demand jobs, career pathways and workforce needs; provide youth with meaningful, industry-aligned work-based learning experiences; and target at-risk and in-need populations.

Looking across the strategies and lessons learned from the 10 innovation sites reveals commonalities and the beginnings of a roadmap for other communities to follow.  Specifically, there are a handful of common and noteworthy design and implementation strategies that are yielding promising outcomes and helping the sites develop long-range plans to sustain and scale each of the initiatives. These strategies include:

  • Engaging cross-sector partners to work collaboratively toward a shared vision;
  • Intentionally focusing on addressing equity, expanding access and removing barriers to success;
  • Building will and shifting stakeholder mindsets;
  • Grounding interventions and strategies in data; and
  • Planning for scale and sustainability at the outset.

The scope and the impact of the 10 initiatives is far reaching, even though much of this work is in the early stages or still being piloted. Individual sites are engaging a multitude of government entities, schools, higher education institutions and workforce organizations, as well as teachers, parents and students. Collectively, these sites are reaching over 200,000 young people from middle and high school into early adulthood. And early outcomes are impressive, including increased high school graduation rates, work-based learning participation, and successful placement into college and careers.

The Snapshots:

Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand: EDC is partnering with secondary schools and technical colleges across the three countries to train teachers in Work Ready Now!, adaptable curriculum modules that provide students with a hands-on bootcamp experience run by local information and communications technology industry partners, as well as work-based learning experiences.

England, United Kingdom: The Education Endowment Foundation is identifying and evaluating effective interventions to help youth ages 16 to 18 achieve a passing rate on the General Certificate of Secondary Education exams in English and mathematics, a current barrier to postsecondary school success.

Maharashtra, India: Lend-a-Hand India is collaborating with the state government to integrate and scale vocational education in Maharashtra, the second most populous state in India. To date, they have provided work-based learning to over 1,000 students, engaging over 200 employers.

Orange Farm, South Africa has two organizations that are bringing technical skills development and work-based learning directly to the Orange Farm community to enable low-income youth to become more employable.

Sichuan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hebei Provinces, China: The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) is designing and implementing interventions to ensure that the skill level of vocational students meets the demand of employers, while increasing achievement levels and improving the self-confidence of secondary vocational students. CDRF is also collecting and analyzing data about the interventions to inform policymakers on how to further strengthen China’s vocational education system.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Reflections on Perkins V Implementation Meetings

October 30th, 2019

Baby, It’s Bold Inside

Last year, within three months after the reauthorization of Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), Advance CTE partnered with the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) to host four regional Perkins V implementation meetings across the country to unpack the new law and help states get a jumpstart on their planning.

Building on interest from our members – and support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Joyce Foundation – we decided to host another round of three Perkins V implementation meetings, joined once again by our excellent partners. Over the course of three months, we brought together about 300 leaders from across 44 states and Washington, DC, along with invited national CTE and workforce development experts from over 20 partner organizations, including National Skills Coalition, National Governors Association, ExcelinEd, Council of Chief State School Officers, New America, Education Strategy Group and others, to help states:

  • Collaborate with peers from other states to share ideas and solutions on major strategies within their Perkins V state plans, with a focus on quality, equity, data, systems alignment and career advisement;
  • Work with their state team to review and strengthen their Perkins V plans based on input from national experts, peers and in-state stakeholder engagement; and
  • Leave with clear next steps for strengthening their Perkins V state plans to advance a statewide vision for CTE that is innovative, bold and prioritizes quality and equity.

At each meeting, states had the chance to present on their draft plans and strategies and get direct, actionable feedback from their peers and the invited partners. State leaders dug in deeply on issues including improving the quality of CTE programs/programs of study, closing equity gaps, leveraging the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment to drive local innovation and learner-focused programming, aligning CTE and workforce development, and meaningful engagement of key stakeholders, such as Tribal communities and employers.

It was truly inspiring to learn so much from states, see how BOLD they were willing to be and have the opportunity to give real-time input into states’ Perkins V plans!

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

*Photos courtesy of Bob Witchger

Maryland Welcomes Tiara Booker-Dwyer to Helm State CTE System

October 28th, 2019

Beginning her career as a researcher in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Maryland’s new State CTE Director, has since built a remarkable career around improving educational success for learners in Maryland.

While at Hopkins, Tiara developed a passion for teaching and later went on to work at the middle school and high school levels. Leveraging her experience as a science teacher, Tiara continued supporting students through the Maryland Department of Education, where she led efforts to promote STEM under the Race to the Top initiative. While at the Department, she also served as the Executive Director for the Office of Leadership Development and School Improvement, as well as the Department’s 2016-2017 Ombudsman. 

A dynamic leader, Tiara entered her new role with a bold vision for CTE in Maryland. Among her priorities is to use Perkins funds over the next year to build a more inclusive CTE culture in the state. In addition, Tiara and her team are focused on supporting school counselors, teacher development and special populations of students.

Along with her deep history on the education side, Tiara spent two years as a program director for the Maryland Business Roundtable, where she supported collaboration between industry professionals and local schools districts. Leveraging this past work, Tiara is now collaborating with the business community to develop a professional counseling model to further support school counselors. 

“School counselors need more support. Maryland is proposing to use business and industry professionals to provide career counseling to CTE students.” 

Under the professional counseling model, groups of business professionals would be trained to go to schools and provide periodic career guidance to cohorts of students. This would provide students with valuable career insight opportunities while also allowing “school counselors to focus on mental health priorities and academic advising,” she said. 

Another focus for Tiara is around the professional growth of CTE teachers. “I recognize when we get CTE teachers from the field,” she explained, “they come in with the content and need support with pedagogy and classroom management. CTE teachers must be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and resources to meet the needs of all students, including English learners and students with disabilities.” To address this gap, Tiara is looking to provide CTE instructors from the field with professional learning experiences on differentiating instruction, using data to inform instructional interventions, engaging diverse learners and other forms of support to better enable them to be effective in preparing their students for a career field.

With strong support from state leadership, Tiara and her team are working to revitalize the state’s CTE system. Central to their vision for CTE in Maryland, she believes, is the opportunity to be bold.  


FAFSA Simplification Bill Introduced, Executive Order Signed on Federal Agency Guidance

October 25th, 2019

This past week a bill to simplify the FAFSA was introduced in the Senate. Read below to learn more about the proposed bill, the recent executive order on agency guidance documents, additional information about the College Affordability Act and resources on work-based learning. 

Senator Alexander Introduces Bill to Simplify FAFSA

On Tuesday, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a new bill, along with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)- referred to as the FAFSA Simplification Act. Although FAFSA simplification was included in the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557) that Senator Alexander introduced earlier this month, the FAFSA Simplification Act is a separate standalone bill. One of the most significant changes this bill would make is to decrease the number of questions on the form by prepopulating data already collected elsewhere. 

Overhauling the FAFSA to be less of a burden for students has been a longtime goal of Senator Alexander, and a priority for him in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Trump Signs Executive Order on Agency Guidance Documents 

Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order,“Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” which requires that “agencies treat guidance documents as non-binding both in law and in practice.” The executive order states that all federal agency guidance must be clearly publicized as non-binding. Additional measures are put in place such as a required 30-day public comment period before any guidance is finalized. The order enforces that legally-binding requirements will originate only from Congress, and that “agencies may clarify existing obligations through non-binding guidance documents.”

House Plans for College Affordability Act Markup

Last week, House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Democrat’s HEA reauthorization bill, entitled the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674). Markup of this bill is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29. The legislation is meant as a comprehensive reauthorization and includes a significant number of proposals, including:

  • Allocating an additional $181 million to states for postsecondary Perkins CTE programs; additional funds for tribal and outlying areas.
  • Creating a state-federal partnership to fund students to attend community college without cost. This program would require states to contribute $1 for every $3 the federal government contributes.
  • Removing the student unit record data system (SURD) ban and creating a new streamlined data system. The language included is almost identical to the College Transparency Act which Advance CTE strongly supports. This would streamline data collection, reduce institutional burden and better track student success and institutional quality.
  • Expanding Pell grant eligible dual-enrollment opportunities through a competitive grant program. The bill would also increase the number of Pell eligible semesters from 12 to 14, which is meant to allay concerns about Pell grant exhaustion. 

Advance CTE’s HEA recommendations can be found here

U.S. Department of Labor Shares Resources on Work-Based Learning

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration shared a page on the WorkforceGPS website with resources to support work-based learning. Some of the topics covered include apprenticeships, career pathways and internships. New resources will continue to be added to this web page.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Equity in CTE Is Not Just About Access; States Have A Responsibility to Ensure Learner Success, Too 

October 24th, 2019

Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success Through CTEFinancial expenses, work commitments, developmental education and healthcare needs are some of the most common barriers to success for community college students, according to a survey by RISC. To minimize these barriers and bolster postsecondary credential attainment rates, Southwestern Community College (SCC) in Sylva, North Carolina has awarded 129 mini grants to help students address needs such as housing, transportation and educational expenses. 

The grants were issued as part of North Carolina’s Finish Line Grants program, which was started in 2018 using governor’s discretionary funds through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The program is administered by local workforce development boards in partnership with nearby community colleges and provides up to $1,000 per semester per student to address unexpected financial emergencies. 

The Finish Line Grant program, while relatively new, demonstrates the role states can play in removing barriers to success and supporting each learner — at the secondary, postsecondary or adult level — to achieve a credential of value and access an in-demand occupation with family sustaining wages. 

Advance CTE’s latest report, the fifth and final installment in the Making Good on the Promise series, explores other approaches states can take to ensure learner success through Career Technical Education (CTE), including: 

  • Using data-driven support systems to meet learners’ needs: To increase postsecondary credential attainment, some school districts and institutions of higher education have started deploying their data to drive a comprehensive, student-centered support system. Using a method known as predictive analytics, institutions analyze past data on the performance and behaviors of their student body to identify patterns that are correlated with success. They then use this information to identify key indicators — such as absenteeism or low grades in core academic courses — and provide proactive supports to ensure learners can make progress towards graduation or a postsecondary credential.
  • Providing integrated support services to secure wellness, academic preparation and financial stability: Like North Carolina, states can support equitable success in CTE by minimizing common barriers — such as health, academic and financial barriers — that learners encounter along their pathways. Expanding and fully funding integrated support services at both the secondary and postsecondary level can help reduce the burden on learners and ensure they can access the help they need to be successful.
  • Creating the enabling conditions for successful transitions: While completing a program or earning a sought-after credential or degree is important and should be the objective of any pathway, the ultimate measure of success is whether learners transition successfully into the next step of their career pathway, be it postsecondary education, an apprenticeship, employment or other opportunity of choice. States can support successful transitions to postsecondary education by ensuring early postsecondary opportunities such as dual or concurrent enrollment are accessible and equitable. They can also support transitions to the workforce by helping learners develop their occupational identity and expand their social networks through early career exposure and meaningful work-based learning connected to their career pathways. 

Throughout the Making Good on the Promise series, Advance CTE has explored state strategies to identify equity gaps, rebuild trust among historically marginalized populations, and expand access to high-quality CTE opportunities. 

But the work does not stop there. State leaders have a responsibility to ensure each learner is not only able to access CTE, but also feel welcome, fully participate in and successfully complete their career pathway. This means constantly monitoring learner progress and creating the conditions that are conducive for learner success. Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success through CTE aims to provide a roadmap for states to learn from promising practices and develop their own plans for achieving equity. 

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate